Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The new deal

Rafa has signed on until 2014. Long live the Rafalution. He's the best man for the job and is improving us every year that he's at Anfield. Some people will say they were won round in the last 2 weeks but there was never any doubt for me. Rafa is boss.

5-0 was a flattering score, for Aston Villa. If only we were more clinical, we could have achieved double figures. This was a really dominant performance from what I saw. I missed the game live but watched extended highlights. Great to see us thrash teams again. Villa were competitive up to a point and Pepe made some great saves but collapsed after the second goal. Riera's was the pick of the bunch but Dirk showed good striking instincts and technique for his. The captain stepped up to show how it's done with his first ever premiership hat trick. Well in Stevie lad.

I'm hoping that Villa will recover over the international break as they play Utd in their next match. It was joyous to see Utd lose the match and their discipline against Fulham. That coupled with Chelsea losing has put us in a great position in the table. 1 point off the top with a better goal difference is much better than we could have dreamed two weeks ago. We still need Utd to slip up again but if other teams like Villa, Arsenal and others can take points from them then we're in with a shout. We need to maintain our own from though. If we draw against Fulham on Saturday week then it's all been for naught. We have the belief but we need to show it in every game from here to the end of May. I still think that we'll probably come up short but I was wrong before. Agger could well be back fit by then which is a massive boost. I'm hoping the kid signs a new deal now that the boss is on board.

Gerrard sounds happy with his position at the club and his current form certainly reflects that. He should start contract talks on an extension in the summer.

Martin Samuel has a piece in the Mail praising Dirk. There is a lot to be said for his versatility and lack of ego.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Theatre of dreams finally lives up to its name

Sir Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney, Mick Hucknall, Roy Keane, Eamonn Holmes, Lady Ronaldo, Eric Cantona, Gary Neville. Alex Ferguson. are you listening? Alex Ferguson, your boys took a hell of a beating.Here are the facts.
Fact no. 1: Liverpool scored 4.
Fact no. 2: Utd scored 1.
Fact no. 3: Liverpool have taken 6 points from Utd and 13 out of 16 against top 4 opposition.
Fact no. 4: The ref sent off Vidic and gave us a penalty. Yes, at Old Toilet. Wonders will never cease. Maybe Rafa's so called rant about ref's at Old Toilet had an effect.
Fact no. 5: Torres is the best striker in the league.
Fact no. 6: Utd will still win the league.
The last is a most sobering thought. While Saturday was superb, it would take a catastrophic defeat for Utd to drop more than 7 points and us to take maximum points from now on. It's a big ask, too big. I can't see the teams that they will play taking too many points from them. We'll run them close but I fear it will be an ultimately futile chase.

But for now, let's bask in the glory of this. I had the interesting experience of watching the match in a bar in downtown Seoul with my mate Eoin. He pointed out to me that the Korean viewers voted Park Ji Sung man of the match. When we went a goal down, I feared for the worst. I wasn't convinced about the peno but you see them given. Don't think it was stonewall but wasn't up in arms about it. But we managed to get our shit together once Vidic decided to show why he should be player of the year. He shat his pants once Torres left him for dead and beat Edwin VDS at the far post. Beautiful. Where would we now be if he'd been fit all year? Nearer the summit if not top.

Then on the stroke of half time, we got a really soft peno when Evra took down Gerrard in the area. Stevie promptly dispatched it and we went in ahead at the break. Our domination continued in the second half. Torres was turning and tearing their defence at will. Gerrard was playing between the lines expoloiting the space that Torres made. Kuyt and Riera ably assisted on the wings. Utd had a short period of pressure but their much vaunted attack of Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo did very little. Arbeloa was injured in the warm up so Sami started in the heart of the defence and Carra went to right back. As usual Sami slotted in perfectly.

When Vidic took down a Gerrard who was through on goal, he gave the ref no choice but to send him off. The straight red means he'll miss 2 games. Hs pulled Torres in the box earlier which should have been another penalty but he got away with that one. He's been getting away with that kind of blocking and pulling all season but not this time. The excellent Aurelio swung in a superb free and VDS didn't even make an effort to save it. He is so far past it. Can't understand how people were praising him to high heavens a few weeks back. He's an average keeper behind a good defence, nothing more. Dossena added the icing on the cake with a injury time lob over VDS after a Reina kick out. 2 goals in 2 matches for the italian full back.

Poor Xabi wasn't fit enough to make the squad so javier started alongside Lucas in the midfield. It's high praise for the young Brazilian to say that Xabi wasn't missed. Carrick and Anderson weren't given a minutes peace and made mistake after mistake. They were made to look decidedly average by out south american combo. Mascherano has been immense this week. His will to win is staggering. Richard Williams in the Guardian argues that Mascherano rather than Torres represents Benitez's best signing.Now it's time for Villa. They're in shit form. I fancy us to do them as they're confidence seems to have drained. They have the pace to trouble us, especially if Arbeloa isn't back. But if Gerrard and Torres can continue their present form, who can stop them? Real and Utd couldn't. Can Zat Knight and Carlos Cuellar do better? We'll find out on Sunday afternoon.

Zidane recently labeled Gerrard the best player in the world. Gary Mac agrees so who am I to disagree with the two of them? Johan Cryff reckons that Europe fears us. Despite that, I don't really want to get Barcelona when the champions league draw is made on Friday.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Madrid done four

How's that for shit on a stick? How did a negative manager like Rafa manage to beat Real Madrid 4-0? It must be because Liverpool are shit. Couldn't be anything to do with Liverpool being good. Given that Boro beat us 2-0, does that mean they are 6 goals better than Madrid? Probably.

A great performance on a great night. We bullied them from the off. Gerrard superb all night but Torres put them to the sword. He looked as fired up as I've ever seen him. Unstoppable. He gave Cannovaro and Pepe the run around, turning and leaving them for dead at will. As Stevie said, "we were awesome".

It was a brilliant team performance. Only for Cassillas, we could have won by a lot more. He made a string of amazing saves. But he was unable to stop El Nino when Kuyt set him up from the right. Then we got lucky with a peno against Heinze. It was harsh in the extreme but Gerrard made no mistake from the spot. When the second half started we picked up where we left off. Babel fed Gerrard after beating Ramos down the left and the skipper hit a sublime volley. Real gave it a bit more of a go after that. Lucas and young Jay Spearing came on for Torres and Gerrard. Spearing put in an impressive cameo. Then Dossena scored the final goal after coming on as a late sub, his first goal for the reds. Nice one baldy.

I don't think we'll worry about facing anybody in the quarters. Bring them on. We've proved our Euro pedigree over the past few years and nobody will be thrilled about drawing us.So it's the short journey to old toilet on Sat. If we play like we did on Tuesday, we'll give them a good going over. I expect that Utd will be a harder test. They're in decent form. I hope the ref doesn't take the piss like he did in the corresponding match last year. It's going to be tough. I think we'll draw. A win would be great but I think it's beyond us.

Paul Jones in the Times has an article on the disgraceful booing of Lucas at the Sunderland game. It was shameful. Tony Barrett in the Echo has a similar article. Speaking of the young brazilian, he could be on his way to Atletico in the future.

Paul Tomkins on the official site
exposes the sky propagated spending myth. Read this if you can handle the truth.

The daily Mail is linking us with a move for Aaron Lennon. He seems to have improved this year and Rafa has been linked with him in the past. He'd give us much needed pace on the flanks but he would cost a fortune due to the english player tax.

Paul Kelso in the mail has a sobering article on the revenue gap that has opened between LFC and the other top four clubs. This is why a new stadium is vital.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Yoss we can!

LFC got back on track with a routine 2-0 home win. Sunderland did their best to frustrate and kept it goalless at the break. But Yossi said "I'm not having that" and ran at them until they gave in. I've been so impressed with him since Christmas and he's been head and shoulders ahead of the rest. He caused the black cats no end of problems and even managed to grab a poachers goal when Fulop fumbled a N'Gog effort. He linked up well with Kuyt, Gerrard and N'Gog and is clearly relishing the extra attacking responsibility he's been given with Torres out injured. Can we beat them? Yoss we can.

Sunderland parked the bus looking for a draw, after seeing so many teams stifle us effectively this year. It was up to us to break them down and Yossi took the lead in that department. David, or Charles as Jamie Redknapp likes to call him, scored his first premiership N'Goal for the club and put in an impressive performance. Riera sent over a lovely cross from the left for Gerrard to head back into the danger area and N'Goals finished from 6 yards out. How refreshing to take the lead in a match rather that having to chase a game? I wouldn't say he looked like the second coming but he showed some of the potential that the staff have invested in. He has a nice touch, decent pace and links up well with others. He still looks a bit slight and could do with some work in the gym this summer.

Javier Mascherano was pretty deadly at right back. Sky and Setanta were perplexed by the decision but he's played on the right before for River Plate. He's quick, reads the game superbly and is a great tackler. He made a few marauding runs up field and even hit the side netting with one shot. The next time that we have three right backs injured, Arbeloa, Darby and Degen, we should stick him in there. Maybe he would have been a better option there against Boro.We have a week off until the next Madrid game. I'm hoping that some or all of Torres, Arbeloa will be back fit by that stage. I'm sure that they're undergoing intensive treatment. We do have the away goal lead which is huge but it means nothing unless we keep a clean sheet. Javier had a great match in the first leg and we'll need him to be at his best again here. That's why we'll need Arbeloa fit so Javier can return to his usual post. We're in pole position but it isn't over and we can't take anything for granted.

Raul Albiol is being linked again with the fee being £13m. Arbeloa is yet again being linked with a move back to Spain, with Atletico willing to pay over £7m for him. I think he's improved on last year and has been steady if unspectacular. He's quicker than Finnan but doesn't cross as well. If he does go, I hope we get a top quality replacement in.

Adam Hammill is trying to impress the boss while on loan at Burnley. Seb Leto's loan at Olympiakos could be in trouble after a training ground bust up.