Friday, April 24, 2009


A 3-1 win away from home was a case of job done. But it wasn't done very cleverly in a bad day at the office for most of the team. We were poor in a poor first half. Hull did well to close us down really quickly. Time and again we were caught in possession or had passes blocked by Hull players. Arbeloa and Mascherano were disappointing for the second game running. The whole team looked a bit rattled by the pressure exerted by Caleb Folan et al. But just before half time Javier broke down field and got a free kick when he fell over. It was really harsh on Hull but got worse when Xabi put it away. His initial effort hit the wall but he cracked the rebound into the bottom corner on the volley. Lovely strike, his fourth league goal of the season. I don't really understand how his passing is so sublime but his delivery from frees and corners is often askew. Strange.

The second half started much better than the first. Once Folen lost the plot and got sent off for a kick on Skrtel, things got easier. Dirk got a touch on a Skrtel shot to make it 2-0. Giovani pulled one back for them to make a little more tense. But Kuyt scored again in the 90th minute to put the result beyond doubt. Game over. Dirk now has 10 league goals which is superb given his position and reputation. He might even improve on that over the next few games.

Insua lost his man for the Hull goal but was much better than our other full back Arbeloa who had a really poor game. It's a pity that the spaniard has lost his form in recent games as he's had a good season to date.We can look forward to the Toon army visiting Anfield next Sunday. Shearer and co will be well up for a fight but are short on confidence. It's one that we really should win and we'll need to if we're going to push Utd all the way.

Could Rafa be interested in signing Man Utd loanee Carlos Tevez? Rafa refused to comment on him when asked in Fridays press conference. Fergie reckons he wants him to stay but we'll see. I think he'll leave Utd but I don't see us signing him, Madrid would be more likely. He'd be a nice addition to our team but we need somebody to compete for the Riera and Kuyt spots, not Gerrard and Torres positions. O'Neil seems to be preparing to let Barry leave this summer. Expect a cut price bid from Rafa given the fact his contract is up in 2010.

Lauri Della Valle scored 2 more goals as the junior reds beat Birmingham 3-1 second leg to seal a place in the FA youth cup final. Alex Kacaniklic scored the other to give an aggregate score of 6-1. They'll face Arsenal to win it.

Jack Hobbs who was part of the 2006 FA youth cup winning team, has sealed a permanent deal with Leicester. The young defender has helped them gain promotion from League one to the championship. I hope he does well in the future.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Done four?

3 defensive lapses cost us against Arsenal on Tuesday. May have even cost us the title, admittedly it was a long shot to begin with. 4-4 may have been good to watch but the result was sickening. We had it in our hands at 2-1 up but we threw it away and had to chase the game when 3-2 and 4-3 down. In the end we paid the price for our poor defending and got one point where three were required and would have been deserved.

We dominated Arsenal for much of the match but we gifted them goals that they didn't deserve. Mascherano, Aurelio and Arbeloa all made bad mistakes which led to Arshavin goals. Fairplay to the lad who took his chances but other than that had a poor enough game if such a thing is possible.

Dirk set up our first two goals for Torres and then Yossi. El Nino scored another and Yossi got the equaliser in injury time. This was the Israeli's best ever performance for the Reds. He revelled in the number 10 role usually occupied by Gerrard. I fear his absence much less with Yossi in this form. He showed great courage to throw his head into the mix for his first goal. A brave player who gives everything.Well done to the Everton fans who showed some merseyside solidarity with the 96 at the FA cup semi final against Utd on Sunday. I was happy to see them win and will be cheering them against Chelsea in the final. Let's hope that these kind of gestures will thaw the atmosphere in the Merseyside derbies which had become poisonous in recent years.

Gerrard is unlikely to be fit for the Hull City match on Saturday according to Rafa. His abductor muscle is still problematic. Yossi will deputise. I think we should be able to win this one despite what motivational miracles Phil Brown might try to pull. Utd don't play until Sunday but Spurs are safe now so I can't see them presenting too many problems for Slur and company.

The guardian are reporting that we could See a King Kenny comeback this summer slotting into a youth development role. Great news if it happens. Sammy Lee is in favour as is Alan Hansen. The King himself is desperate to help the club he loves in anyway he can.

It's great to see that the kids have one foot in the FA youth cup final after a 3-0 first leg win against Birmingham. Della Valle grabbed two goals and David Amoo got the other from right midfield. I expect we'll see quite a few of this team make first team appearances over the next few years.

Rafa's comments should be reassuring to Xabi and ensure that there isn't any repeat of last summers shenanigans. I'd be gutted if Xabi left. We know that Tores will leave us one day. I hope that day is far far away and I had assumed it would be to return to Atletico. But El Nino says he would like to try Serie A before Spain. Not what I expected but let's hope it's the distant future.

Alvaro Negredo of Almeria is being linked to Anfield by Setanta. The 23 year old striker has had a great season and has scored 17 goals. Sky sports reckon that we could be in for Mauro Zarate as Lazio only have 2 weeks left to take up their option on him. His agent says that there's been interest from two English clubs. He's a quality player who did well at Birmingham on loan but he'd cost a lot and I'm not sure where he'd fit into the team. If we bought him it could be the Robbie Keane scenario again where he's too good for the bench but no clear place in the team. The Daily Mirror reckon we're going to bid for Roque Santa Cruz of Blackburn this summer. He wants to leave but I can't see us competing with city in an auction for him as it would be too expensive.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A bridge too four

The pride of the Liverpool was evident last night. 4-4, an epic European contest. They said that there was no way we could go to London and score three. We went one better and scored four. We led 2-0 at half time but inevitable we left gaps at the back and Chelsea punished us. At 2-0 and 4-3 up, we were one goal from being ahead on aggregate but it wasn't to be. Despite it all, even deep into injury time, we never gave up. The spirit and desire of this team and this club is unmatched.

If we had Mascherano in the first leg and Gerrard in the second would the tie have turned out differently? Possibly but we'll never know. Stevie wasn't risked and watched from the stands. In his absence, Lucas did a decent job at the apex of the midfield where the captain normally plays. He put in a good shift and scored a goal thanks to an Essien deflection but Xabi stepped up as the main man on the night. He was awesome. I'm a huge fan of the basque schemer and this was up there as one of his best displays ever. I hope that Rafa never again considers selling him. Dirk was full of heart and running as we expect in European games. He took his goal well and has a habit of scoring important goals in this competition. Aurelio was another who recovered well from the first leg and his free kick goal was superb.

Drogba caused more problems as he did in the first leg. His diving and rolling around was as distasteful as ever. Anelka caused problems down the right and helped set Drogba up when he got a lucky touch off Pepe's glove. I wouldn't fault the keeper on it, it was just a freak deflection after the Ivorian had done very well.So now we can "concentrate on the league". Scant consolation but maybe the need to rotate will be lessened and we'll see our first choice team every match from now until May. Next Tuesday will be a vital league showdown with Arsenal at Anfield. The gunners will have a big say in the eventual destination of the title as they have to play us, Chelsea and Utd before the end of the season. They're in decent form at the moment but have a few defensive problems with Gallas, Clichy and Almunia injured. I fancy us to win it especially if the captain returns from injury.

Tony Evans in the TImes has a moving piece on going back to Hillsbourgh on the 20th anniversary. As I've said before on here, Evans is one of the few hacks that I respect when it comes to writing about LFC. You can hear him most weeks on the Game podcast from the Times.

The guardian rumour mill is linking us with another move for Javi Martinez at Bilbao. Could that mean that Lucas or Xabi are on their way this summer? Maybe he's being lined up as an alternative if moves for Gaz Baz fail again. I think the Englishman is a much likelier signing, mainly due to his nationality and his price. Another player linked is Wesley Sneijder who Real Madrid are willing to sell and David Silva who Valencia have to sell. Guillem Ballague reckons that we're interested in both of them but Real want Alonso and are using Sneijder as bait. I'd like to see us sign the Dutchman but not at Xabi's expense.

Babel says that he's not happy with sitting on the bench. Fair enough, but when he's played this year he's been fairly average. He's a prime candidate to be sold this summer from what I can see. We should be able to get a decent price for him as he's a young and talented player but I don't see him realising his potential with us.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Normal service has been resumed

In the run up to the match, Stevie spoke about his personal loss on the 20th anniversary of the Hillsbourgh disaster. is 10 year old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley was the youngest victim that day. You can make a contribution to the Hillsbourgh families support fund by buying this single. Steven Warnock laid the wreath in front of the kop before the minute's silence which was a nice touch from Blackburn.Blackburn had planned to keep it tight and frustrate us to get a scoreless draw. Fat Sam tired to take a leaf out of Jose's tactical notebook by playing Samba, a defender, in the striking position. As it happened they didn't legislate for El Nino who did this after 5 mins which put us on our way to a 4-0 win. Van Basten would be proud of that one. Goal of the season for me. He added a second with a towering header from an Alonso free kick. He was taken off before the end to rest him for the champions league. He could have had a few more but it was a great performance from Fernando who made light of the absence of Gerrard through injury.

We had numerous other chances and could have been 4 or 5 up at half time. We got a bit sloppy in the second half but made some subs and got two late goals to put a smarter gloss on the scoreline. Agger, who came in for Skrtel, struck with a trademark long range strike. I'm a huge fan of the dane, even though this wasn't his best performance. He says he wants to stay in L4 but I think he'll leave this summer. Then David N'Gog came on and headed in from a yard out after Lucas headed back across the goal from a corner. Nice move and good confidence booster for the french teenager.Tuesday night will be do or die. We need to win by three clear goals to win the tie which is a really tall ask. They did concede three second half goals to Bolton today but that was after they had scored 4 in the first half. A big difference from the first leg will be the return of the suspended Mascherano who was superb today against Blackburn. John Terry will miss the game but Carvalho returns from injury which is a pity as he's a better defender than the English captain. I hope we can win it to keep our momentum going but I fear it's too tall an order.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Anfield gets the blues

While it may not be palatable, we need to admit that we were beaten by a much better team last night. We may have beaten them twice in the league this season but we faced a different Chelsea in the champions league. They were really hungry and capitalised on the fact that many of our players played poorly. We got the early lead after some great build up play and a superb ball from Kuyt to Arbeloa who set up El Nino for a first time finish. We should have pushed on but Chelsea started to control the midfield and the match.

The defence had a collective nightmare. Pepe wasn't bad and Arbeloa was good in the first half. But Drogba caused all manner of problems to Carragher and Skrtel. Aurelio had as bad a game as he's ever had for us. It was uncharacteristic. The defending for the corners was pathetic.

Babel and Dossena offered nothing when they came on. Lucas has shown in recent times that he can fill in admirably in midfield but against the Chelsea midfield he looked off the pace and out of his depth. We badly missed Mascherano. His presence at the bridge will give us a sliver of hope in the return leg. But we'll need to score three away goals which is a very tall order even if Terry can't play. It would a comeback of Istanbul proportions if we managed it.And after all of that, it now looks as if Gerrard has a groin problem and may not be able to face Blackburn on Saturday morning. While Essien did a superb marking job on him, he wasn't as free moving as he normally is. Blackburn being a big Sam team won't be a pushover despite their league position. I'm hoping that Yossi will be fit enough to start if Stevie can't make it. He's been in very good form recently and deserves a start.

Rafa says that he's not interested in signing Simon Kjaer from Palermo. The 20 year old defender is target to replace Agger according to some reports. Kuba at Dortmund, is another target who we've been tracking for a while. His club are trying to tie him down to a long term deal, which will stave off our pursuit of him.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

All bar one

It was one of those nights. We dominated inferior opposition and created loads of chances. We even hit the woodwork four times. But not matter what we did the ball refused to go into the net. We looked destined for yet another disappointing draw but Yossi wasn't having it. Coming on as a sub he stamped his mark on the game deep into injury time, drifting in from the right to fire past Swartzer and send reds worldwide bouncing. The commentary in that clip is quite special. Yossi to the rescue. Yossi got injured while away with Israel. I doubt Rafa was too impressed with that but maybe he'll forgive him after this.

Rafa made three changes beforehand by bringing in Insua at left back, Lucas in the middle and Dossena on the left wing. All three did well. Insua is going to be some player and between him and Aurelio we're well set in what was once a problem position. Dossena was a potent threat going forward on the left while he was freed from defensive labours in this position. This could be a better role for him as he has been shown up defensively at full back. I still don't know if he has a future at the club beyond the summer but he will contribute during the run in.

It would have been a grand miscarriage of justice if Fulham had managed to hold out for a draw. They were beaten all ends up by us. Swartzer made some good saves to keep them in it and the width of the woodwork thwarted Xabi, Torres and Dossena twice. But we got our just deserts in the end. Now we have to hope that Villa can do us a favour today.Chelsea. Yes that's right, Chelsea. Yet again. I'm sure we'd prefer to have the second leg at Anfield as we saw in the tie last season. Hidink has them well organised and it won't be easy. I find these games interesting rather than exciting but I think I'm the only one there.
Stevie G gave us a good start to the weekend by signing a 2 year contract extension. The backroom staff have all followed Rafa's lead and signed contract extensions. Not to be outdone, Dirk agreed a two year extension. Let's hope that Dagger jumps on the bandwagon.

Del Bosque is impressed with Xabi's beard. Maybe we should all grow beards.

Rafa has denied any interest in Valencia attacker David Silva. Valencia are broke and are selling their stars to balance the books this summer. Could Arda Turn of Galatasary be a target this summer? He's a fan going by this interview. He's fast, tricky, plays wide and has performed well against us in the champions league. Sounds ideal. The BBC gossip column has us linked with Eto'o for £18m. While he is a class player, I don't see where he'd fit into our current formation. I'm not really into paying that much for a squad player or playing him out of position. Maybe we'd change formation? They also say that Hertha Berlin have agreed a £4m deal for Voronin. They should have the cash as they'll almost definitely finish in one of the champions league spots. Not bad for a player that we picked up for free. Agger isn't in any hurry to sign an extension. I had hoped that Rafa's new contract would have given him some encouragement but alas it doesn't seem to be happening. I fear he's off in the summer and maybe Albiol will be his replacement.

Here's a good sky compilation of footage and player interviews after the win at the theatre of prawns. Worth a full screen viewing.