Thursday, May 01, 2008

A bridge too far

I used this post title after the final in Athens but I think that it's more appropriate now after losing at Stamford Bridge. We gave it everything but came up short. We were rubbish in the first half but better in the second. Chelsea deserved it over 120 mins but over the two legs we were probably the better team but that's football. Fair play to Chelsea, they took their chances last night and made us pay, which we didn't in the first leg. I hope they go on and beat Utd in the final.

Injuries cost us badly in both legs. Aurelio's led to Riise coming on last week and we all know what happened there. This time Skrtel took a knock after 20 mins and had to make way for Sami. This was a huge blow as Skrtel did an amazing job on Drogba last week and looked to be doing the same this time. He was able to match Didier for pace and power, not something many defenders can say. Carragher performed his usual heroics at the back. Sami has been superb for us this year and did his best last night. But he was caught out for the peno he conceded. At the other end he should have had a penalty himself when he was tackled as he slalomed his way though the Chelsea box, like a Finnish downhill skier. Maybe he should have gone down ala Drogba when he felt the contact. The ref seemed to be about to give the penalty as he stepped forward and put his whistle to his lips but then he changed his mind for some reason. Bizarre.

Yossi did really well to set up El Nino's goal. He was quiet for most of the match and struggled a bit being up against the amazing Essien. But that one run justified his inclusion. He's a handy squad player but I doubt that he'll ever be first choice. It was unfortunate that Torres picked up a hamstring strain and had to come off for Babel towards the end. Babel showed what he's capable of with a great strike from distance which even Cech couldn't save. It was 3-2 at that stage and we gave it our all but it wasn't enough, despite Babel's goal. I expect him to come on next season and deliver on a more consistent basis. He has the talent.

Lampard really impressed me last night. I wouldn't be his biggest fan but to take the responsibility and step up to deliver like he did last night was incredible. As anyone who's suffered a personal loss like that will know, it's hard to keep your mind on the job. I wouldn't begrudge him the win.

We were told beforehand that Liverpool under Rafa were incapable of scoring at Stamford Bridge. Despite that we got two goals. Unfortunately we conceded three. Many in the press predicted a boring game. It was anything but and 5 goals on the night and seven in the tie showed that both teams were committed to attacking. Stevie is proud of the way we played, as am I. So is Rafa.
Our remaining league games seem like an after thought and an irrelevance. Man City visit Anfield this weekend. The only notable aspect is that we may see the likes of Insua, Plessis and Nemeth getting game time. Other than that I can see it being dull. Both teams have nothing to play for and will be more or less on holidays. It could be Sven's second last game in charge so they may be more up for it than usual.

Rafa is looking to the future. It's clear that we need to make a few signings during the close season and I'm sure that we'll be linked to every player under the sun. I would imagine that Rafa will want to get some of his business done now, before the euro championships, when prices can get inflated.

No doubt we'll have to put up with the ownership soap opera over the summer. There are some reports in the Liverpool press that The Dubai investment could be by the Sheikh himself, rather than DIC. That could be good news as it would mean there was less emphasis on making a profit in the short term.

No comments: