Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hammer blow

Last minute penalties are a killer. I was sickened at the end of the match at Upton Park. We hadn't played brilliantly, but had created some good chances. A draw and shared points probably would have been the fairest result. But the ref could have given us a peno a few minutes earlier when Lucas Neil touched the ball with his arm. He turned us down and then he gave them one a few minutes later on the stroke of full time. If we'd taken our chances then it wouldn't have mattered. We didn't and paid the price as has been the case many times this season.

Sunderland visit Anfield tomorrow. We are in crap form at the minute but this could be the perfect opportunity to turn it around. Sunderland have terrible away form with only 2 points from 36. Jones will cause us problems but their defense is pretty crap so we should be able to win. Surely we have enough to put he black cats away? I think we'll do it. I'm going to this match so I'd love to see us bang in a few goals and get the season back on track.

Momo completed his move to Juve this week. I hope that it works out for him and he goes on to have a great career. A letter from him was published on the official site today. As Rafa would say, "a nice boy".

The news that Opare, a young Ghanain defender we've been tracking, has opted for Real Madrid is dissappointing. The fact that he was with our feeder club, Ashanti Gold, is even more annoying.

We drew Barnsley at home in the FA Cup. It's a decent draw and we can't say fairer than that really. There are only six premiership teams left in the cup and United and Arsenal playing each other, we have a decent enough chance of going all the way.

The youth team beat Arsenal in the FA youth cup on Tuesday. The team is a young one and only has a few members from last years victorious team. When you consider that we're going for three in a row here, it's a great testament to Steve Heighway, Hugh McAuley and Rafa. Pako Ayestarán was at the match which is interesting but may not mean anything in itself. He recently left his job with Real Sociedad.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hawks downed

While the media might have us believe that the greatest upset of all time was close yesterday, I don't know if the result was ever really in doubt. I heard some of the match on the radio and saw highlights today. While they gave us problems in the first half, I think that we were always going to crush them in the end, and rightly so considering our relative positions. But fair play to them for putting it up to us for 45 mins. Some of the fringe players who had a chance to impress didn't do themselves many favours which is a bit disappointing. Lucas had a good match form what I saw and scored a cracking goal. If Momo does move, I hope and expect to see him play a bit more. He looks to have a good future ahead of him. Yossi got his second hat trick of the season. He seems to be filling the Garcia role of drifting inside and scoring. I don't know if he'll ever be a nailed on starter but he's a very useful player to have in the squad. Always good to see Crouch score, even if it was offside. Pennant put in some nice crosses from the right but Crouch and later Kuyt didn't really make the most of them. Skrtel made his first start and had a nervous first half but made some nice passes and improved in the second. You can read a full match report form Dave Usher of TLW here.

After the distraction of the cup it's back to the "bread and butter" of the league. The cheeky chappies, the 'appy 'ammers are our opponents on Wednesday night. It's clear that we're in shit form at the moment and it's not the easiest ground to travel to. Given that, I wouldn't be surprised to see us draw yet again. Our away form has been better than our home form so maybe we can break our drawing streak but I wouldn't bet against the points being shared.

Tom Hicks was on the excellent BBC Sportsweek programme on radio 5 live. He was saying that the club and his shares aren't for sale. Gillett is notable from his absence this week when the announcement about the refinancing deal and the 71000 seater stadium. The Daily Telegraph reckon that the DIC deal is still on the cards. Duncan Castles in the Obeserver has similar observations about the lads from Dubai. Christ Bascombe in the NOTW says that Parry and Moores could be in danger of being removed from the board by the Americans. Foster Gillett has cleared his desk and left Liverpool to return to the states which may be significant. Some of the reports during the week said that Mascherano would now be signed to show the faith that Hicks has in Rafa. Pablo Aimar was also linked in some papers. AImar is a genius and one of my favourite players but he's 28 now and has been injured a bit in the last few years. He's currently out for the next two months so I'd say that this link is mailnly press speculation but the fact that Tony Barrett has an article in the echo about it suggests there may be something in it.

I'm going to Anfield next weekend for the Sunderland match and I don't have any tickets as yet. I know it's a long shot but if anybody reading this has two spares, I'm more than happy to take them off your hands. Any help greatly appreciated.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Villa vindicated

Well it finished 2-2 but you won't see a more one-sided match. We battered them for 70 mins and then they scored 2 goals, the second of which was a flukey deflected OG. But it's been a recurring theme this year that we dominate teams, but don't turn our chances and domination into goals. We need more top class players to do so. Kuyt had a great first half but was dire in the second. Yossi did well for his goal and had a decent match. We were so in control at the start of the second half that it seemed a question of how many would we win by. But then the defence seemed to go to sleep and Harewood hooked one in after the ball was headed back across goal. It really shouldn't have been allowed to happen and I'd imagine that Rafa went apeshit when he saw it. The second goal was a freak occurrence when a shot rebounded off Aurelio and went in past Pepe. The team were in shock for a minute but then stepped it up again. Skrtel came on for the injured Arbeloa and did well enough. Crouchie came on and put himself about. He did well to finish from a cough angle, through a crowd of players. Well done big man. He obviously had his nachos.

Javier Mascherano was immense last night. Stevie had something of a quiet night but El Jefe made up for it and was the driving force in midfield. At times it looked like Villa couldn't get past him, no matter what they did. He is absolute quality and was always available. We really need to buy this guy in the summer. But given the current board situation, I wouldn't hold out too much hope.

The mighty Havant and Waterlooville visit Anfield on Saturday. My pulse is definitely not racing. Hope we see some of the kids getting a run out. This would be one to watch with the sound down to avoid the endless cliches of magic of the cups, David v Goliath, Giantkillers etc.

The boardroom saga rumbles on. Dion Fanning had a fantastic article on it in the Sunday Indo. Talk over the weekend suggested DIC are about to launch a bid for somewhere in the region for £350-500m. But then Hicks said that he doesn't want to sell his shares. This may mean that Gillett will decide the future of the club. Al Ansari, the CEO of DIC is a lifelong Liverpool fan and often attends games at Anfield which is a good sign, I suppose.

It looks like we've failed with a £400000 bid to sign an 18 year old Croatian player called Vida. He's decided to stay in Croatia and play for his club rather than sit on the bench with us. Fair enough. Sure he might change his mind in a year or two.

Of interest to Irish reds is the news that Steve Finnan is to retire from International duty. I suppose that it's good news for Liverpool as he won't be going away during international breaks and will get more rest. It is definitely bad news for Ireland though.

There were rumours that Leto and El Zhar might be on their way to Racing Santander for the rest of the season. It now appears that they will both be staying here. It's hard to know if either has a future with us in the first team. Probably not.

Let's get DICed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Luton lamped

The sky generation might say "easy, easy", but it was fairly handy in the end. 5-0 makes the garden look a lot rosier this morning.

A Stevie G hat trick was added to an opener from Ryan Babel and a header from Sami. Babel had a good game and hit the post early in the match with a fine curling shot. But he was the go to guy just before half time when el Nino played him in on the right. Ryan unleashed a superb shot which left their keeper with no chance. That made the second half a lot easier. Stevie got on the end of a Crouchie header across the 6 yard box to head into the bottom corner. His second was a side footed finish. But his third was the pick of the bunch, a long curling shot from the edge of the area. Fantastic. After a spate of draws, I was happy to see us get a win and some goals, albeit against poor opposition. It was good to see Babel and Pennant do well on the wings. More of that kind of thing.

It now means that we'll be facing Havant and Waterlooville in the next round. Fair enough. Should be a great night for them at Anfield, with the magic of the cup etc etc. Get ready for loads of David against Goliath guff in the press.

It was Jamie Carragher's 500th game for Liverpool last night. He received a guard of honour at the start of the match which was well deserved. He's been a fantastic servant for the club over many years. He may not have been up to his incredibly high standards this season, but Agger's injury has left him a little more exposed. I hope that Jamie will form a decent partnership with teenage mutant ninja Skrtel when he's match fit. Carra still has a few years left in the tank and could well end up on the coaching staff when he finishes.

Our next match is Aston Villa on Monday night. This is going to be tough. They are in decent form and Young and Gabby Agbonlahor look dangerous on the wings. I would worry about what they might do to Riise if he plays. We've had far too many draws recently, especially at home so it'd be great to get a win against a good team like Villa.

Guillem Ballague of sky sports and the times has a good piece on the Hicks and Klinsman debacle. There is a lot of speculation that Hicks and Gillett will not get their refinancing deal which will leave them open to a takeover from DIC or somebody else. It's a case of wait and see, I suppose. I fear that they will not sell and will sack Rafa in the summer despite what we achieve or win this season.

This might say that Lauri Della Valle has signed for Liverpool but I need to brush up on my Norwegian to be sure. I've heard talk about this kid on the forums for the last few months. Apparently he's the greatest talent to come out of Finland since Jari Olavi Litmanen. A friend of mine has had Finnish colleagues raving about him. He was at Inter last year but didn't settle. Hopefully Sami will make him feel at home here.

Yanks out, Dubai in.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Boro bother

I hate Boro. They are a sad, small time club who play stupid music when their team (occasionally) score. This makes it even more galling when they manage to hold us to a draw. I've nothing against Southgate but I don't think he's doing a great job. He'll be happy enough with how he did against us.

I didn't get to see the match yesterday but saw highlights. From what I saw and read, we were fairly lethargic until we scored and we launched a late barrage. But it's another case of too little, too late. We should have been at them from the off, rather than giving them the impetus to get a goal in front and have them trying to hit us on the break. The goal wasn't great from a defensive point of view and looks like it should have been dealt with.

But yet again that kid Torres gets us out of jail. He decided that he wasn't going to take being beaten by a rabble like Boro and ran at them before unleashing an unstoppable shot. That's 11 league goals already. There is some talk that we are too easy to stop offensively as our goal threat lies only in Gerrard and el Nino. There is some truth in that but I'm hoping that Babel will start to add to the threat. He went close a few times yesterday. But it is a point that we do need to spread not only the goals, but also the attacking threat around a bit more.

Rafa says that he's going to pick his strongest team against Luton on Tuesday night. I was hoping to see the likes of Insua and maybe Nemeth get a run out but I would imagine that Rafa is trying to get back to winning ways first. As I've said before, the domestic cups are nice competitions to win but don't matter much if you lose.

It now looks as if Momo will not be going to Juve. But the same article from Sky Sports has quotes from Mancini at Inter who seem to be interested in him too. I like Momo but he hasn't been the same since his injury and I would be in favour of letting him go if we get a good price.

Rafa has signed Martin Skrtel from Zenit St Petersberg. He is big, strong, young and quick according to Rafa. These are qualities that we could definitely do with in our defense. The fee has been debated and it's either £4m or £6.5m depending on who you listen to. I don't think that we'll be doing any more purchases this month but we may see Momo leave.

There has been some speculation in the observer and some other papers today that Hicks and Gillett are having problems refinancing their debt and they may sell up. DIC from Dubai, who failed to buy the club last year, are rumoured to be interested in buying them out. The DIC rumours have been bubbling under on the forums for the last few months so it's nothing new. I'm not going to say too much about the boardroom wranglings because, frankly it bores me.

Let's twat the hatters.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hatters earn replay

1-1 and we were lucky enough to get a draw. It was a terrible display from us and a draw was the least that Luton deserved. The tie will now go to a replay at Anfield, probably on Tuesday 15th. Nobody came out of the game with much credit bar Itandje who made a couple of saves and Crouch who took his goal well. The rest of them were poor enough. The tackling and effort was often sub standard and the passing was well below what it should have been given that we had a the likes of Lucas, Alonso and Yossi in the team. Definitely one to gloss over and forget very quickly.

It's a trip to Teeside to face the might of Midlesboro on Saturday at 3. They are a pretty crap team but given how poorly we're playing at the moment, I expect them to cause us problems. I'm hoping that the likes of Torres, Gerrard and Aurelio will be back. Still no sign of Agger making a first team appearance. The sooner he returns to the team, the better.

A 17 year old Ghanaian defender Daniel Opare is being linked with a move to Anfield. I don't know too much about him but he plays full back and did very well at the u-17 world cup last year. He's been on trial with us already apparently but there are some work permit issues are Real Madrid are sniffing around him now.

Venezualan attacking midfielder, Juan Arango, is being linked with a move from Real Mallorca. He holds a Spanish passport and doesn't have too long left on his contract so he might be a cheap option.

Bring on Boro.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Don't Panic

While I was away in Barcelona, I only got to see bits of the City and Wigan matches. Given Cities home form, I don't think that a no score draw was that surprising or that bad a result. They've already had good home results at home against top four clubs. But the Wigan result was terrible. It was another match where we created a good few chances but were unable to finish the opposition off. Torres scored a superb goal after some great build up from Finnan and Gerrard. But Kirkland pulled off some great saves to deny Gerrard, Mascherano and others, to make sure that we were vulnerable to a sucker punch like the one delivered by Titas Bramble with 10 mins to to go. Sickening.

I don't know why our home form has been so bad this season. Part of it can be explained by the lack of key players at vital times. Agger and now Sami missing, we aren't half as resilient at the back. In previous years we would have beaten Wigan 1-0 by shutting up shop once we took the lead. I think that Agger's return will bring a bit of stability and confidence back to the defense which has been a bit panicked of late. Xabi is back now and he should also bring some stability and passing penetration to the attack. I know that he wasn't at his best against Wigan but I think that his passing sharpness will return with game time.

It's the "magic" of the FA Cup 3rd round on Sunday when we face lowly Luton We have to travel to Kenilworth road to face Kevin Blackwell and his hatters. Like the Carling cup, this is a good competition if you win it but doesn't matter all that much otherwise. I wouldn't be unhappy to see some of the youngsters play on Sunday even if they get beaten.

Goran Pandev could be on the move. He's done pretty well for Lazio over the past few years. I don't know how much he'd cost but he might be a good option if we're looking to offload Crouch who's only 18 months left on his contract.

There has been some online chatter that we are looking to buy Ezequiel Garay from Racing Santander at the moment. He's a 21-year old Argentine central defender who can also play at right back. He also has an impressive record of scoring free kicks for a defender. The fee being mentioned is around £8m which would be a bargain.

Fulham are looking to steal a march on Bolton and others by lodging a £3m bid for Danny Guthrie. He's done well while on loan at Bolton and Roy Hodgson sees him as the man to inject some life into Fulham's bid for survival.