Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Robbie's mixed bag

Rafa's not happy. Neither am I, to be honest. While an away draw in Spain isn't a disaster by any means, given how the match went, we should have put it beyond doubt at half time. We created loads of chances in the first half but only took one. As a result we let a ragged Atletico regain confidence and come back at us in the second half. They got their equaliser at the depth and they deserved it but we shouldn't have given them the opportunity to retrieve the match.

Robbie Keane mixed the sublime and the ridiculous. He did superbly well with a through ball from Gerrard to finish below Franco and give us an early lead. It was great to see him go one on one with the keeper and put it away. Well done Robert. But he undid the good work by trying to be too clever with a ball crossed from the right, and attempted to flick it when a sidefoot or tap in would have put it away and the game beyond doubt. As it happened, his miss left it open and we were made to pay for our profligacy. Annoying.

We did make a few more chances and had a goal disallowed when yossi was incorrectly ruled offside. The linesmen had a bit of a shocker and ruled a legitimate goal out for Atleti too. Babel went very close with a diving header from a superb Kuyt cross which went just past the post. Dossena whipped some wicked balls in from the left and had probably his best game for us, after a long bedding in period. It's still early days for him and he has a long way to go but I think there are signs that's he's adapting to the defensive system and gradually improving.

So we now have 7 points in the group with our hardest games out of the way. It looks like it will definitely be us and Atletico to progress but we'll probably need to beat them at Anfield to be guaranteed top spot and the favourable draw in the knockout round.

Eamo Dunphy on RTE was unimpressed. He reckons that LFC have "no chance of challenging for the premier league at all. "The back four's poor. Agger's a poor player, Arbeloa's a shocking player". I hope that we go onto prove him wrong this year. This is the same man that said we had no chance of winning the Champions League in 2005 and promised to retire if we won. Unfortunately, he's not a man of his word. It's a pity that he didn't as he used to be a good pundit but he's now merely a parody of himself, courting controversy, making up facts and figures and ignoring all evidence on the pitch. Being outspoken is more important to him than being correct.

Sid Lowe reports that there was great camaraderie between the home and away fans in the Calderon, which is fantastic. There were some worries beforehand, given the trouble in the Atletico v Marseille match. The two sets of fans joined in Torres chants and the Atleti faithful gave Gerrard a huge ovation when he was withdrawn with an injury.

Stamford Bridge and Chelsea is a daunting prospect for Sunday lunch. I expect that Torres won't be fit in time so it'll probably be Keane up top and Kuyt or Gerrard behind him. Xabi was superb against Atleti and I hope that he's recovered in time for the bridge. He's come in for some tasty tackles so far this season and I wouldn't be surprised to see Lampard trying to break his ankle again. I would snap your hand off for a draw now as it's possibly the most difficult game of the year. Utd at Old Trafford is in or around the same but Chelsea have a stunning home record. Could we be the first ones in years to break that record? I doubt it to be honest. We would have had a fair chance with El Nino but I think that a draw is the best we can hope for without him. Charlie Nicholas reckons we've no chance of winning the title.

Have a look at the kids. The Academy team drew 2-2 away to Utd after being 2-1 down. This is the first time I've seen highly rated players like Amoo and Pepper on camera.

Could this article by Tony Evens mean that the Americans are admitting defeat? We've been around the block with this so many times that I'm not counting any chickens yet. Let's hope that the Sheikh is still interested and Hicks and Gillett lower the asking price given the current financial climate. This could be an interesting twist, but will probably come to nothing.

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