Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tallaght tyro turns up trumps

There'll be a party in the square in Tallaght after that goal. What a way to open your account for your boyhood club? Fantastic instinctive finish, the type Robbie excels at. Good man yourself Rob. I hope that he goes from strength to strength now he's got the monkey off his back by breaking his duck. It's worth noting that he set up Torres on Saturday and El Nino returned the favour with a great cross after a strong run and pass from Kuyt. I think the two of them are learning each others games and a promising partnership looks to be forming. Hopefully Rafa will nurture it to maturity and it'll bear fruit and a bounteous harvest will be reaped by all.

It was Dirk who opened the scoring after 4 minutes. Kuyt has now scored 10 goals in his last 16 Champions league games. Can anybody else in Europe compare with that? Somehow I doubt it. He's proved time and again that he's a must pick in the champions league. Not bad for a player who's a donkey according to Eamonn Dunphy on RTE television. He also called Mascherano a donkey on Wednesday. It's a pity because he used to be a decent football pundit a few years back but now he's just a parody of himself. He was so sure that Liverpool wouldn't win in Istanbul that he promised to retire if we did. Unfortunately, he's not a man of his word.

Gerrard put the icing on the cake with a second half free kick. It was a noteworthy goal for the skipper as it was his 100th. The Times has a feature on 5 of Gerrards best goals out of his ton. Some crackers in there. It's some achievement for a midfielder at the age of 28. Of his 100, 72 have been scored under Rafa as detailed here in the echo. Hopefully he'll go on to score another 100.

It's time to visit Middle Eastlands this Sunday at 3. This will be a test. City are a decent team if a bit unpredictable. We seem to be improving every game at the moment and this is the kind of game that we need to win if we want to challenge this year. Given that Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd all have winnable games, we need to keep up the pressure at the top rather than falling behind and playing catch up like we do most seasons.

Afellay didn't play which is a pity as I would have liked to see him live. He looked good for the Dutch team in his cameo during the Euro's. Rafa is a fan too.

Rafa has revealed that he wants to see more from Babel on a 90 minute basis. He only got a few minutes to display his wares last night. If we qualify for the champions league knock out stages after 4 games, which is possible, then we might see a few starts for Babel.

The "A Liverpool thing" website has a good feature on Lauri Della Valle. The young Finn signed a professional contract this week and is very highly rated within the club.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Everton won't like that"

Why are the blues so bitter? Given how easy the match was for us, the prematch comments from this chap look fairly stupid now. I can't remember a derby that was so one sided.

Moyes and his negative defensive tactics played right into our hands. Rafa must have been rubbing his hands when he saw the five man midfield with the negative Neville and Fellaini in the centre. Gerrard and Alonso thrived against them even though they were outnumbered. The commentators on BBC 5live said that Everton looked and played like the away team rather than the home one. We utterly dominated possession. Pepe didn't have a save to make all game. Handy number for him.

Two heartening aspects from the match were the combination play from Keane and El Nino. His first goal was a thing of beauty. Keane hit a superb ball from the byline back into the centre and Torres was waiting to volley it home first time to break the deadlock. Great goal. Keane looked very happy with himself and Torres ran straight over to celbrate with him. Robbie knew he was the architect of an artistic move. He also played a crucial role in the second goal with a lovely pass for Dirk to get through on goal. Lucky for us, the tackle from Jagielka only sent it back towards Torres who was waiting to dispatch it for the winner. He scored a third which was incorrectly ruled out by Reily who is a shit ref.

Nice to see little Timmy Cahill get his marching orders too. He likes to act the hard man with brave and courageous tackles from behind. Fairly snide and sly player in my view.

Tony Barrett in the Echo is effusive in his praise of Stevie. "Bossed the midfield in a mature and intelligent display which proved beyond any doubt that he can play with head as well as heart." It was his best display of the season by far according to most observers.

Stevie says that Rafa has improved him as a player. He seems happier now with what position he plays on the pitch, wherever Rafa plays him. Andy Gray and Jamie Redknapp won't be happy to hear that. The Mirror have a picture special featuring everyone of the captain's 99 goals.

Once again there were disgraceful chants and songs from both sets of fans. The days of the friendly derby are well and truly gone. It's become poisonous and vile over the last decade or two. Sad situation.

PSV will be the next team to try to become the first one to beat us this season. I was unimpressed with them when we played them last year. Affaley looks like a good player but I don't remember them having much beyond him. I fully expect us to get the win on Wed night.

It appears that the Academy is getting a new addition. But rather than a Spanish teen, it's Wrexham's head of youth development Steve Cooper. Will this mean the end of Elias or Hamberg who are currently in similar roles?

Could this young Brazilian centre back become the new Sami?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stoke and Crewe

Stoke was a stinker of a game. When I read that it was 0-0 at half time, I had an idea that it would end that way. After seeing the highlights, I think that the Gerrard goal should have stood. But besides that, we should have been well capable of beating a team like Stoke at Anfield. We created the chances but didn't take any. Some of the players are looking tired, like Dirk and Javier, who didn't play here. Others are off form like Robbie and Torres, who hasn't got into his grove so far. It'll come. This was disappointing in so far as we could have gone top of the league and we need to be taking these opportunities. We drew far too many games last year and I don't want us to go down the same route this year. Teams will come and sit 10 behind the ball. We need to be cleverer about how we break them down, be it Albert and Ryan on the wings or Yossi on the edge of the box.
The sparkling spectre of the Carling Cup has rolled around again. Against Crewe, we played Sami and some of the youngsters. The average age was 22 if you removed our Finnish veteran. Unfortunately for Phil Degen, he broke a few ribs on his debut so will be out for a while. This could be an opportunity for local right back Steven Derby. We knew that he had a history of injury so this was him living up to his rep. Another player making his full debut was Diego Cavalieri. The goals came from an Agger free and a header by Lucas from a pennant cross. The bonus was that we got to rest some first teamers while giving some of the youngsters some valuable competitive experience.

Sat morning sees us visiting Goodison for the first Derby of the season. They'll be well up for it, as usual, and we'll need to match them. Moyes has a shite record in these games against Rafa so let's hope that continues. The senior players will have benefited from the midweek rest and should be full of energy. I think reds everywhere would be happy if this were the game that Robbie manages to get off the mark in this one.

Pepe reiterated his desire to stay with LFC. I hope that he doesn't move any time soon. He's a superb keeper and is improving each season. It's not by fluke that he's won the golden golden gloves three times in a row.

The Guardian have an interview with our former midfielder Igor Biscan. I wonder if Igor still looks like he just got out of bed?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Valuable velodrome victory

A Marseille fan flares a box of matches to celebrate their short lived lead.

What a goal? Absolute stunner. I don't think he'll score a better one this season and maybe not any other season either. Incroyable as they might say in Marseille. Added to his penalty, it wasn't a bad contribution from the skipper in his first start since his double groin op. Hopefully he's put his injury probably behind him and will be fully firing now.

Overall we weren't great. We looked quite good going forward but quite vulnerable to pace at the back. Our normally efficient offside trap failed to spring a few times and through balls were snapped up by Marseille's nippy forwards. Cana managed to score against Pepe on one such instance but our keeper stood tall and made a couple of vital saves. Only for him it could have been a draw or worse. But it's a very important win against a very good team, away from home. That was the second hardest match we'll have to play in the group. I expect the visit to Madrid to be even tougher.
Pepe has a great quote in the guardian about the feeling in the camp at the moment.
"The atmosphere is special at the moment and we don't go out thinking about anything else but winning," said Reina. "We are Liverpool and we are favourites. We are in the business of having to win."
I like the sound of that. We're favourites and we accept the pressure that goes along with it but we're going to win regardless. With that in mind, we should be able to beat Stoke handy enough. It would be a disastrous slip if we got anything other than 3 points at Anfield on Saturday. Given that Chelsea play Utd at the bridge on Sunday, it's a good opportunity for us to put some distance between us and them. Let's hope we take it and stay at the top end of the table.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Liverpool beat second biggest team from Manchester

We've had to wait six seasons for this. Does that make it sweeter? What a result? We outplayed them by their manager's own admission. What was even more impressive about the victory was the fact that it was achieved without our two best players. That Rafa doesn't have a clue.

I only got to see the first half of the match live as I was in the airport about to get on a plane. I then had to sweat on the result for an hour and twenty minutes while the plane was in the air. I don't have to tell you that I was overjoyed when I turned on my phone after we landed. The only downside is that I'm not at home to discuss it and slag a few people. I'll have to make do with a beautiful beech in southern France. Tough break for me.

This is the team that I would have played but I didn't think that Rafa would start without Kuyt.
As it happened, Dirk did start, up front with Keane, and had a great match. True he should have scored, definitely once, and maybe twice, but his movement and link up play were very good. He did really well to get his head up and pick out Babel for the winner. Despite the fact that he can do a job on the right, he should be played up front. If he isn't going to get a game there then he should be on the bench and used as an impact sub.

I do feel slightly churlish talking about individuals in what was a superb team performance, but I have to mention monster Masch. He was awesome. He could have done better for the Tevez goal but after that he bossed the midfield alongside Alonso. Once Carrick went off it got even easier for them. Scholes and Anderson were fairly poor as was the Utd passing in general. Vididc getting sent off was the icing on the cake rather than being a direct cause for victory as we had the game won anyway at that stage.

Ryan Babel made a huge impact when he came on. His nutmeg on Wes Brown was quality. Poor Browny looked like a mug. Liverpool were in control when Babel came off the the bench but he really put the book in and put them to the sword. I hope he does continue to deliver like this against the big teams and make the step to deliver on the vast talent he possesses.

What about young Albert? Riera made a stunning debut. His dribbling skills were sublime. He was a joy to watch and got the Kop going. If he can do this consistently then £5.5m will look like an absolute steal.

Jocky Hansen assess our tactical approach and our potential title challenge for the BBC. "After the international break you don't usually get a match like that, the quality and entertainment was just so high compared to other matches we've seen between the top four." He also says that Rafa's "tactics won at the end of the day." Never let a cliche opportunity pass.

The champions league is upon us once again. Just like last year we're playing Marseille. They stunned us in the first game at Anfield last time out but I hope that we've learned from this and we can put them away in the Velodrome tomorrow night. Losing Nasri and Cisse must have hurt them even though they did buy Ben Arfa.

The Liverpool Daily post suggest that we could be back in for Gaz Baz in Jan.

Soccerlens have a review of the Liverpool youth and reserve team, focusing on those players who are likely to make an impact in the coming seasons. They do manage to leave out Bruna and Pacheco which is a glaring omission on their part. Another Hungarian teen is on the way to the reserves. Poloskei, a 17 year old midfielder, will join on a season long loan from MTK in Budapest.

Pepe reveals that when he returns to Spain in the future he would like to play for Atletico. Thankfully, that won't happen any time soon. He also says that he recommended the Villareal winger Cazorla to the staff. Xabi's agent has hinted that he could move on in January. Does that mean that we'll make another effort to sign Barry?