Monday, October 29, 2007

Honours even

Well well well. What a great game of football? In terms of the result, it could have been better but it could have been a lot worse. It wasn't the beating that many pundits had predicted we'd received. We led for most of the match and created a few good chances. But despite that, Arsenal were great at times and a draw was probably a fair result overall.

On the upside, Gerrard had another decent game following his display against Besiktas. Hopefully he can continue it over the next few games, god knows we're going to need him. He took his goal well and really hit the shot with some venom. His chance at the end was close and I think that he would have scored if Toure hadn't of blocked his shot.

The defence also performed well and seems to have bucked up a bit. Carra was back to his imperious best. He was throwing his body in front of the tackles and making vital interceptions. We still need Agger back as soon as possible but Jamie regaining his form should help to bridge that gap.

On the downside Torres and Xabi had to come off. This is really bad news. We're missing the spine of our team and it now seems like they'll be out for the next few weeks again. There doesn't seem to be a definite date on their returns yet but it sounds like it'll be three weeks at a minimum before Torres is ready as he has an abductor muscle injury. While it was a good match and we played well, we were at home and if we want to challenge we need to be winning these games at home.

The Carling Cup Cardiff match on Wednesday seems like a sideshow after yesterday. It'll be great to see Robbie back at Anfield if he plays for them. But I would imagine that we might see some of the younger players get a run out. Blackburn away on Sat will me a much tougher challenge I would imagine.

Until next time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Turkish despair

You may be wondering why updates have slowed down. Well I've been busy in work but the real reason is that I bought Football Manager 2008. Beware, this game is highly addictive and will take over your life. But I've managed to tear myself away so here's a quick update.

The Besiktas game wasn't great, was it? Hyypia didn't do well and I think that his lack of pace is making the defence sit deeper and it seems to have injected a lack of confidence throughout the defence. Even Carra and Finnan aren't playing well now. We went 2-0 down but Gerrard got one back. He had tow other good chances and we could have nicked a draw. We did create a good few chances but without Torres up front we seem to lack that cutting edge to finish off chances. We'll now need to win all of our remaining games to get out of the group. It's going to be tough but we can do it. Lawro thinks that we will which is a bad omen as he's usually wrong about everything.

The Arsenal match kicks off at 4 today. I'm worried. I don't fancy Sami against Adebayor and the pace of Walcott if he plays. But we are at home and have a good record against Arsenal in the league at Anfield. Xabi should be back which is a boost. Our midfield hasn't looked as calm and efficient since he got injured. Torres was training this week and might play. Pennant will be out for a few weeks so we might see Gerrard on the right if Xabi starts. Agger doesn't seem to be ready yet, which is a shame. We really need him ASAP. I know think that Rafa should have had a backup plan for centre back when he went for Heinze. Sami will need replacing in Jan.

So here's to a victory against the arses today. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Derby delight

It's that rotation policy again. Rafa takes Gerrard off and brings Lucas on, who is awarded the match winning penalty. When will he ever learn?

It was amazing. I'm still a bit horse. Memories of the Gary Mac derby in 2001 came flooding back. To win the Derby is sweet. To win the Derby in injury time after being 1-0 down is even sweeter. To hear David Moans and the rest of the bitter blues giving to is the icing on the cake. No doubt the conspiracy theorists will be out in force now. But while the Lescott penalty shout at the end looked fairly strong, we had an offisde goal chalked off that should have been given. Veronin also had a penalty claim early on. We were by far the better team and created loads of chances. They only had one effort on target all match. I think that if Torres was playing we would have won handy enough. Voronin had a couple of chances where he would have done better. Riise had a superb chance where he blazed over the bar. Momo had a fantastic chance with a few minutes to go. Overall I was much happier with the performance than in recent games.

At half time I predicted a draw so I was thrilled when we won. Notable performers were Kuyt, Yossi for a time and Lucas when he came on. Dirk has been getting a lot of stick from some fans, as they see him as a new Heskey in so far as he tries hard but doesn't score enough. I don't agree. I've been a big fan of his since he arrived. Put your hands up for Dirk Kuyt. He was our top scorer last season and 4 in all comps so far this year. He had a really clever and unselfish game yesterday. He showed bottle to take his two penos and could have had a hat trick of assists if his team mates had finished better. His father passed away during the summer after a long battle with cancer. I do like Voronin too but I think Dirk will go on to prove the best partner for El Nino.

Gerrard was much improved too. Some knobs in the press, like Andy Grey, will try to make a big deal out of the fact that he was subbed. I think it was more a case of him having played two England matches and we have two important matches coming up this week. Lucas changed thing when he came on and would have won the match for us if it hadn't of been for Nevilles "save". It's a pity for the lad but we got the result which is the main thing. Seeing Neville and Hibbert walk was a bonus.

It's a pity that our rivals, Arseanal, Utd and Chelsea all won. After the Besiktas match on Wednesday, we face Arsenal at Anfield. They are playing well at the moment, better than us, but we've a great home record and hammered them 3-1 at Anfield in March. I was at Anfield that day and it was very one sided. Crouch was amazing and the best player on the pitch by a mile. Even though he's not playing much and seems to be out of form, I wouldn't be that surprised to see him play for this one. Van Persie is out which good news for us.

Alan Stubs cleverly got a dig in before the match. Good motivational tactic from him.

Tony Barett of the Echo had a good article on rotation reprinted on the official site. So it seems to me that when Fergie rotates his squad it doesn't count. It remind me of the Brass Eye episdoe about good aids v bad aids. It seems that Man Utd practice good rotation while we practice bad rotation. Rotation is a stick used by the press to beat Rafa when we're losing along with zonal marking when we concede goals and Cup/Lucky manager because we haven't won the league. It seems that it's not very hard to be a journo or pundit these days. Just use the same old tired cliches and misconceptions and you'll be hailed as a genius.

There has been a good bit of talk linking us to Fernando Amorebieta of Athletic Bilbao. He's a versitile young spanish defender, the kind of player that Rafa finds hard to resist so expect him to be on his way here in January.

The echo had some good news in relation to a fall in football related arrests at Anfield despite a rise nationwide. It goes against the percieved wisdom in some sections of the media.

Will Buckly in the Observer had a good article on the inane punditry on Sky. Offside doesn't count if it's Rooney apparently. How does Jamie Redknapp have a job?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Spurs stalemate

Sometimes a draw feels like a win and sometimes a draw feels like a loss. I don't know what this feels like. We played quite well in the first half and should have been out of sight at half time. Then we let them get one either side of half time and we only salvaged a point in injury time with a goal from Torres. It was great to get a draw rather than a loss but we really should have won at home against a team in the relegation zone.

What was surprising here was the manner in which we conceded the goals. Berbatov beat Sami and then Carra to high balls from the back. Robbie Keane managed to evade the other defenders and latch onto the flick on. His finishes were good but we shouldn't have gotten the time and space to get a shot off. It was very uncharacteristic of our defence but it was only the first 2 goals that we're conceded from open play. I reckon we'll improve at the back when Dagger returns.

We were quite good going forward and could have had a couple of goals. Voronin did well to put in a rebound for the first goal. He had a good match and linked well with Fernando and the midfield. Gerrard had a few shots and was unlucky to hit the post. If we had taken one or two more of these then the game would have been over.

After another boring international break, we have the Derby at Goodison. This is usually a tough match for us but it's going to be even harder as we're in poor form. They were beaten 3-2 by the Toon at the weekend which is good news. The Echo reports today that we might have some good injury news in the form of Alonso and Agger coming back. Xabi is the more likely one to be fit for the derby. We could do with both of them, badly.

Here are two interesting articles on our current form from the UK broadsheets, the Times and the Guardian. I don't agree with all of them but they make for interesting reading nonetheless. have a great interview with Marcus Babel. He was a wonderful player at right back when we won the treble in 2001. It's such a pity that he became ill and never really recovered his previous form. It's good to hear that he's doing well as Stuttgart assistant manager now. Good luck to him. has linked Jeremy Menez of Monaco to us. I don't know too much about him but he's only 20 and is a promising attacking midfielder. A good dribbler who can play on the wings or through the middle by all accounts.

I was watching Red Dwarf yesterday and while I was looking at Holly the ships computer, I was thinking that he reminds me of somebody. Then it came to me. Separated at birth?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Marseille massacre

That was terrible. I haven't been able to bring myself to write a post on it until now. As Rafa himself said, that's as bad a performance as we've put in at home since he arrived. We were unlucky to see El Nino hit the post at the end but it would have been unfair on Marseille who were by far the better team. We were shocking.

Only Pepe, Finnan and Aurelio can come out of that with any credit. Only for them we could have lost by a few more. Momo was awful. I really like Momo but he's been shit this season. But he's not the only one. Our entire midfield was useless on Wed night. I think that the lack of Agger and Alonso has hit us hard. We haven't passed the ball well since they got injured. I'm hoping that they will be back in training once the international break is over. We'll need them badly for the Everton and Arsenal matches.

El Nino revealed that he's a bit manic to the official site. Fair enough. As long as he keeps scoring, let him continue with his rituals.

Rumour has it that Crouch may be on the way in January. I don't claim to have any inside track here, I'm just reporting what I've read on the forums. Word is that he is pissed off with his lack of games so he'll be sold with Klaas Jan Huntelaar as his replacement. I've been a big fan of this kid since I saw him fillet Ireland in Lansdowne road last year. While I"d be sorry to see RoboCrouch go, I'd be happy to see us replace him with pure Klaas. Think of all of the crappy puns I could come up with if he signed.

Spurs match tomorrow should be interesting. They're in worse form than us, which is handy. Robinson in goal could be our ace card. Rafa should tell all of the midfielders and strikers to shoot on sight. This guy is one of the worse keepers in the league and can't save long distance shots. Their defence is quite porous so I would expect Torres to be able to take them apart. A moral boosting win is needed after the debacle of Wednesday night. A win here would set us up nicely going into the international break. I'm hoping that we'll come back from it refreshed and rejuvenated. The last break really fucked us up as we were flying before it but haven't played well since. I'm hoping that this one will have the opposite effect and put us back into form. I was hoping that Spurs didn't lose last Monday as Jol might have been sacked. They drew 4-4 and he kept his job. If we win tomorrow, he might lose it. If we lose, I might lose it.