The Liver Bird  

Friday, 30 October 2009

Can Roy Hodgson Continue To Roll Back The Years For Fulham?

With a trip to Craven Cottage tomorrow Liverpool face a new look Fulham. After the success of 7th place last year when Roy Hodgson helped guide the cottagers to their best finish in the Premier League it appears the years have truly rolled back at Fulham.After just a season before finding themselves in a fierce relegation battle and only surviving on a better goal difference Hodgson is clearly doing a wonderful job in London.

The last time Fulham beat us at Craven Cottage was in 2007. Last season Liverpool managed a 0-0 draw and a 1-0 win over Fulham in the two Premier League fixtures. This season we are not only looking to prevent those silly draws but we are also in a position where we almost have to win.

After beating Manchester United on the weekend and again shunning all the criticism and people who persist to write us off so early in the season it is key that we collect 3 points. The win over Manchester United will be forgotten if we do not capitalize against Fulham, there is no progress in beating the Champions and then losing to Fulham the week after.

Ok, so a draw would not be the end of the world but it certainly isn't the preferred result. Fulham are a tough team lately and by no means will this be an easy trip but with the hope that Gerrard will be back fit and therefore an option of a full team with Aquilani on the bench i feel that this is definitely a winnable fixture.

Stat Sandwich;
In the league Liverpool have beaten Fulham 9 times, Fulham have won on 7 occasions and there have been 6 draws.

If Liverpool win at Craven Cottage on Saturday they will have done this 3 times on the bounce; the first time in their history.

It takes the all competition total of goals scored for Murphy, Zamora and Etuhu to equal the amount Torres has scored just in the League (9).

My prediciton for the line - up is;

As far as predicting the score goes i am opting for 2-0 this week, i am hoping Reina can keep a clean sheet after his recent confidence boost and also that the defence can keep tight and defend properly against set pieces.

Do you think you you can preidict the line up? Head over to The Liver Bird forums. Register -> Board Index -> Benitez Bingo -> Submit Your Line-Up.

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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Liverpool Exit Carling Cup After Losing 2-1 To Arsenal

A good performance from the lads at The Emirates this evening but unfortunately not good enough. Liverpool lost 2-1 after finding it difficult at the final push to get an equaliser but despite the defeat there were positives aplenty to gain from this match.

The starting eleven consisted of several players we rarely see in Liverpool's first eleven so tonight's game gave us another insight into the players that are shadowed by Liverpool's first choices.

Kyrgiakos;
After just coming back from an injury that was orginally thought to have been worse than it actually was the Greek was somewhat of a presence in the defence for Liverpool tonight. In all honesty he didn't have a superb game, a few silly mistakes were made but between himself and Skrtel tonight i would say he was the more defensively sound.

It was a good chance to look at his dominance in defence as i had heard alot about his strength and power he used at AEK Athens and also his invaluable experience. I hope he continues to put in performances, would be nice to see him get a run in the FA Cup.

Degen;
Again another player quite recently struggling with injury and i feel he played very well tonight. Some of his forward runs and attacking play were excellent, the man has pace for a full back. In contrast however is he good enough defensively? I didn't see much of his abilities defense wise but i feel Degen given the chance could be a good team player.

Spearing;
As in the Sunderland match i felt it was clear that the local lad was hesitant and nervous maybe? It is obvious the skills and ability are there he just seems a bit weary at the moment. However with some good flashes during the game i am positive with more match time he will continue to improve and gain confidence.

Plessis;
He wasn't necessarily outstanding but i feel he did his job this game. His passing in general was good and his awareness/movement etc was too. Again i feel with some more matches under his belt, he will certainly improve. One to keep an eye on possibly.

So what could be picked out from the more familiar faces?

Babel;
Quite simply frustrating throughout the game. Time and time again when he had possesion, he lost the ball. When attacking he appeared to pull the same old trick each time, a flick into the inside and an attempt to push into the box although this was usually sussed out by the Arsenal defense.

Is it me or is the Babel "step inside" now becoming useless? It appears when gaining entrance to the box this is his only piece of skill, every team has realised this. When faced with an attacking Babel they know instantly what he is going to do. Even his pace doesn't seem to be helping him lately. A poor game for the dutchman.

Voronin;
Again, frustrating. I try to accept that Voronin is supposed to be an average player and that within a match i shouldn't expect anything fantastic from him but surely i can expect some decent control of the ball? Some decent passing? And maybe a decent shot or two on goal. It appears he is far from a decent player. Even with his loan spell at Hertha Berlin where he actually played well and scored 11 goals he isn't Premier League standard.

Kuyt;
Who was skipper for tonight's game didn't have an outstanding performance although he didn't really put a foot wrong. It was one of those "get on with it" matches and he just did what was asked. Only down side was he wasn't attacking as much as he usually would.

Insua;
After scoring an absolute wonder goal the LB appeared to be even more confident and put in a brilliant 90minutes for the Reds. I'm becoming more and more impressed with Emiliano as the games go by. He's not perfect at the moment, but just the fact that he is already so impressive and still has so much to learn is very exciting.


Skrtel;
Sloppy. Is probably the best descriptive word for his performance. A notable moment when he was faced with Bendtner and after being unable to successfully deal with the attack found himself pulling on the Arsenal forward who then punished with the second goal. It is clear why favour has been shifted to Agger, Skrtel needs to regain some form.

Arsenal were simply more fluent tonight, their attacking play was of a better quality and after the Bendtner goal went in it was quite clear up until ten minutes before the end when Liverpool instigated some more offence on the Arsenal area that they were going to walk away with the win.

So some positives to take from the game and also fortunately the loss isn't the end of the world. There are still three pieces of silverware to aim for and there is every chance that one of them will be ours come May.

Finally, (no i didn't forget) Il Principino - Alberto Aquilani - Liverpool's Number 4 was brought on towards the end and boy for 15 monutes or so did he fill you with hope. A glimpse of his play included a fantastic long range pass, two or three successful tackles, a look at his pace and an acrobatic bicycle kick which saw the effort make contact with Senderos. The attempt should have resulted in a penalty as many a player and fan were right to argue that it was hand ball but unfortunately the decision was not given.

All we can do now is look ahead to sealing three points at Craven Cottage on the 31st.



What were your thoughts on the players performances and the result?

Get yourself over to The Liver Bird Forum ... Register -> Board Index -> Results -> Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1

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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Gooners Here We Come

We face Arsenal in the League Cup tomorrow at The Emirates Stadium and you can be sure that both teams will be anything but predictable. With Arsene Wenger a fan of playing his youth throughout this tournament and Rafa often opting to play a weakened side it should be a very interesting game.

With the likes of Kyrgiakos, Riera and obviously Aquilani only just coming back you would hope that these players could feature in a game such as this. Kyrgiakos to gain more play time with the Red's, for Riera this would be a great match for him to start before returning for the Premier League fixtures. As for Aquilani, this game would be perfect for his first experience in English football. Although Arsenal's 11 will still be a strong and skillful side as we all know what Wenger's boys are like this would give Aquilani the chance to cope with ultimately the pace of the game.

Aquilani although it seems certain he will not start it is apparent that he may well be on the bench for this fixture. Benitez was quoted saying;

"He cannot start at this moment but he will be there and maybe we can give
him some minutes. If it's possible we will try to use him."


I for one would be very pleased if Alberto was given even a few minutes on Wednesday, just to catch a glimpse of what could possibly be.

Stat Sandwich:
Liverpool & Arsenal have met 9 times in the League Cup.
Liverpool have been victorious on 5 occasions. Arsenal 4.
The most prolific scorer in the League Cup from both teams is Arshavin with a total of 3 goals.

These matches are always very unpredictable and are sometimes pushed aside as almost meaningless but this season I'd like us to push more in these competitions, with the FA Cup our last trophy to have won and the last time we lifted the League Cup being the 02/03 season i just feel that this kind of silverware is worth approaching. Wouldn't it be nice to add another League Cup to our already record amount of 7?

I know we are aiming for the elusive premier league title and believe me after being born the year we last won it, i want nothing more but i just think sometimes that we push these competitions aside a bit too much, I'm not saying field a full 11 and risk injured players just maybe introduce the experience a bit earlier in the cup.

So with the hope of progression and a general freshness now to the team after Sunday i will go for a 2-1 Liverpool win.



Do you agree?

Predict the score in the sidebar or head over to the forums and have a talk about what you think this fixture has in store.

Also it's extra points up for grabs in Benitez Bingo if you can correctly guess that starting eleven.

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Monday, 26 October 2009

Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0 ... Crisis?

So with the whole of the footballing world who wasn't related to Liverpool FC & even some of our own kopites looking at this fixture and just praying that the defeat was not a humiliation it appeared that the result was written out in permanent ink before the game had even started.

Liverpool were going through a big dip in form, no players had particularly been up to scratch lately and the world had turned it's attention to Rafael Benitez. Somehow he was solely to blame, the talk of the boss having no job by Monday morning was transforming from a snowball into an avalanche. The pressure was on, on Rafa, on the players, on Liverpool FC.

Even the most optimistic fan like myself would have sat down at Anfield, in the pub, or in front of Richard Keys in their living room this afternoon thinking realistically if we don't go out and do this, our season could be over in October.

With nerves on end and excitement bubbling the news that Steven Gerrard would not make the bench only added to the worries we were all already facing, but one man, a certain Fernando Torres would start, the sudden drop in hope is again revitalised as you begin to think of last seasons double and how El Nino literally torments a United defence.

And so, at 14:00 hours possibly the most intense game in English football kicks off. After clearing the numerous beach balls thrown onto the pitch the game is underway. Manchester United begin the half kicking towards the Kop End which means the lads would have their favoured side second half.

End to end stuff for the best part of 20minutes was the feel of the game as Liverpool pushed and United pushed back. 6 free kicks were awarded within the first twenty minutes as the United defence were attempting to let the likes of Torres know they were around whilst Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher were warning Rooney that they were well and truly "around". A free kick was awarded after Fernando Torres was tripped by Evra and would be taken by Fabio Aurelio, after the commentator correctly pointed out that the area the free kick would be taken from was practically the same spot where Fabio Aurelio netted against Manchester United in the 4-1 victory last season, many a kopites heart was suddenly in their mouth.

Aurelio makes a fantastic effort, high over the wall and swinging in for the top right corner, Van Der Sar successfully enters the picture after following the effort all the way to the safety of his hands.

Shortly after Manchester United find themselves in an attacking position, due to being kept relatively quiet the Devils had spent most of their time in their own half. When Wayne Rooney finds himself on the end of a superb cross it was almost inevitable that this header was going to be the first punishment in a now string of United attacks, but no, Wayne directs the header straight towards Pepe Reina and he collects the ball with ease.

From now up until half time the play is very much in favour of a Liverpool goal, Van Der Sar was being tested time and time again whereas Reina was left relatively jobless. Liverpool pushed and pushed United, not allowing them to push forward themselves or complete passes, with interceptions, crosses and several shots on goal it was obvious this attacking play from Liverpool was needed again second half.

Half-Time and after seeing how Liverpool performed fans all over were now having that thought... "we can do this". You try to compose yourself and calm down because you just know what United are like, you also realise that anything can happen but how can a first half display like that not put "hope in your heart".

Second half begins, with no changes from both managers. Liverpool start exactly the same as they did first half with the object appearing to be, don't let United push us around. Time and time again United were forced to pass backwards to defence or replay the ball to Van Der Sar in an attempt to get themselves further up the field. The Liverpool midfield was super effective with Lucas and Mascherano having an absolute cracking game.

65minutes read the clock at Anfield and step up the Ace Of Spain. Fernando Torres after receiving a perfect pass from Yossi Benayoun finds himself on goal with only Rio Ferdinand as United's attempt at prevention. After Rio finds himself outpaced, out strengthed and simply outdone, Torres fights off the tugs from Ferdinand and smashes the ball into the roof of the net with an excellent finish. 1-0 and Rio Ferdinand was put to shame, the amount of criticism from United fans and the press these past weeks on Jamie Carragher surely shunned after a blatantly very poor performance from Rio, after being unable to keep up with the sheer speed of Liverpool's number 9 the England internationals solution is to attempt to pull him down, forgetting that this is not Drogba he is dealing with, Fernando will not go down in an attempt to gain a penalty, he finds it much more satisfactory to muscle you out of the way and finish on his own behalf. Perhaps the weak defensive stars of our league are in fact a lot closer to Old Trafford than the media, United fans and Mr. Alex Ferguson thought?

A now rampant Liverpool are not contempt with sitting back, they are out to chalk off this win good and proper, with the 12th man louder than ever and the players now subject to a massive confidence boost the team continues to fight Manchester United all the way. Free kicks galore and the game is now becoming more and more heated, with four bookings already up to the 75 minute mark it wasn't too long before somebody was going to make a very silly mistake.

Michael Owen is brought into the frame and after a mixed reaction from the crowd, clapping, booing and even the chanting of Judas were only short lived as the attention again turned back the the battle on the pitch. Nani makes an appearance after also coming on as a sub with Michael Owen.

80 minutes and the substitution board shows number 9, Fernando Torres is cheered off with a standing ovation and his replacement David N'Gog was soon to have much more of an impact than he or anyone would have thought. Amusingly the United fan on "Fanzone" this week appeared to know nothing about N'Gog and seeming very un-phased by the fact he had been brought into play. Oh how he changed his mind.




The clock is pushing closer and closer towards the 90 minute mark and as Michael Owen finds himself in possession of the ball Jamie Carragher makes a last ditch attempt resulting in a yellow card. This incident proved very controversial but i see nothing wrong because the fact of the matter is justice was done. That foul in no way deserved a red card, the yellow was given along with the free kick but of course Alex has to fall back on something to do with the referee's decision, this moment and the superb tackle by Jamie Carragher which he claimed to be a penalty decision even though nobody on the pitch in a United shirt even considered making a claim at the time were his digs this week. Mr Ferguson is obviously a very sore loser and the look on his face when he actually had to drag himself to admit that we were infact the better side was priceless.

89 minutes and what i predicted after only ten minutes into the game, happened. Nemanja Vidic after rugby tackling Dirk Kuyt was shown a red card and again traipsed off the pitch. Throughout the game Vidic was constantly troubled namely by Fernando Torres who as Alan Hansen clearly pointed out on MOTD2 he is terrified of. This defender has no idea what to do when faced with the pace, skill and intelligence of Torres.
And who sussed out this fear might you ask? Step back to the first meeting last season between Liverpool and Manchester United, Rafa Benitez was quoted in a pre-match interview saying that Vidic was weak on the turn and that he has been working with Torres on how to turn this weakness into an overpowering positive. Mr.Benitez is clearly a very clever man who now has the key to a box which contains 3 points against Manchester United. The man "knows" how to do it.

Into extra time and perhaps the only negativity from the whole match for Liverpool as Javier Mascherano is sent off after receiving a second yellow card. He was very unlucky after charging towards Van Der Sar in an attempt to block the ball he unfortunately missed, realising this he brought his legs down and in the process took out the United goalkeeper. With no malicious intent and clearly as he was trying to get the ball not the man it was a bad decision in my eyes from the referee. Nevertheless with only 2 minutes to go this moment was massively overshadowed by the prospect of beating Manchester United after a run of 4 defeats and without the Captain on the field.

95 minutes and up steps David N'Gog after being assisted by Lucas Leiva he calmly runs towards goal and slides the ball past Van Der Sar and thus burying Liverpool's three points. Pepe Reina somehow manages to run the whole length of the pitch to get to David first only to dive on him in sheer delight as the team celebrate in front of the Kop End, another classic moment that will surely go down in the video archive as one of the most memorable moments in front of The Kop.

Full time and an ecstatic Liverpool side are met with an even more ecstatic Anfield with another epic rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone and thousands of scarfs. flags and banners being waved to the despair of the 10 United players left on the pitch.

So the afternoon ends, your still in shock as you leave Anfield, buy your next round in the pub and get up from your chair at home to pencil in the result to your now more brighter looking fixture list. With Arsenal in the league cup next and then a visit to Fulham all we have to do is keep the mentality and get the results we need.


As i always say and always will; NEVER write us off.


Images courtesey of http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/

What were your thoughts on the game?
Who do you think was MOTM?
Do you think we can get three points again when we visit Old Trafford?
Be sure to visit the new Liver Bird Forums and vote for your MOTM in the sidebar.

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Friday, 23 October 2009

Is This The Turning Point Of Our Season Already?

Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Anfield on Sunday and after a bad run of results the home side are hard under fire from the media, pundits and even fans. Not only are we struggling with injuries but after failing to succeed against the likes of Sunderland and not managing to hold on to a point against Lyon the chance of coming away from this fixture victorious are looking nothing but slim.

So what stats have i digged up this week?

  • In the last 14 matches between the two clubs Liverpool have won three, there has been only one draw and United have won of 10 occasions.
  • There has been a total of 31 goals scored within these 14 matches an average of just over 2 goals per game.
  • 6 players have been sent off in the head to heads since 2002.
  • Liverpool's worst defeat was a 4-0 loss in 2003 at Old Trafford.
  • Liverpool's best victory was the Gerrard kisses the camera moment from last season after we beat the home side 4-1.
  • Liverpool have conceded on 12 occasions out of the 14 matches.

One that stood out for me was;

  • Sunday will be the 200th league game in charge of Liverpool for Rafa Benitez. He has 113 wins so far. Only Kenny Dalglish (120) of all Liverpool managers won more in that period though Bob Paisley also won 113. For the record Alex Ferguson won 87 of his first 200 at United.

Liverpool have several doubts for this fixture namely Gerrard, Torres & Riera who are all still uncertainty's. United also have some problems with Rooney and Fletcher doubts also, Ferguson was quoted saying;

"On the injury front I can't give a clear picture, there are still some doubts about Rooney and Fletcher,"

So with injury affecting both teams not much can be decided from just looking at the line ups, obviously if Liverpool are left without both Gerrard and Torres we could be in big trouble but Manchester United without Wayne Rooney is always going to have an effect. So how about if we look at form?

Liverpool - WWLLLL

Manchester United - WWWDWW

This doesn't portray a very good outlook for the lads but the fact of the matter is does form even come into it in a game as big as this? This is a game that could (in some people's eyes) change the season. It is always a massive fixture but even more so this time out. I personally feel that Liverpool's run is not going to matter for this game, this fixture is not based on form but passion, ego and strive to go out and win.

So after a week of "crisis" talk surrounding the club and manager it will be very interesting to see who jumps back on board if Liverpool manage to collect 3 points this Sunday. If you are of a differing opinion at the moment or feel as though your losing faith and you want a seriously good read take some time out to read this article by Tomkins, after all the nonsense about a club crisis, scores of fans jumping on the managers back and people already writing us off THIS is the perfect dose of medicine that may calm people and their negativity down.Don't get me wrong, opinions are excellent in football it's what makes the banter good but just read it and make your own views, i hope it at least makes people think twice.

I'm afraid i am going to have to wuss out as it were when it comes to predicting the line up and score this week mainly because with the injury situation i would find it hard to select an 11 without more information. As for the score i simply do not know, this could be a humiliation, it could be an epic draw or it could be a memorable victory.

Fingers crossed folks, I'm such a mix of excited and nervous for this fixture, i just truly hope it will be one to remember. Enjoy the game and be sure to have a chinwag on the forums beforehand or afterwards.

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Thursday, 22 October 2009

Aquilani Special


So after Aquilani made his first appearance in a Liverpool shirt last night i thought it was high time that i dedicated a post to him.

The Basics:

Full Name: Alberto Aquilani
Birthday: 7th July 1984
Birth Place: Rome, Italy
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 12.4st
Age: 25
Position: Midfielder

A Short Biography:

There have been many aspects that Aquilani has been credited for but it is safe to say that his best assets are his passing range & success rate. Alberto Aquilani was always noted as something special, when he was just 16 years old he was targeted by both Arsenal and Chelsea, Aquilani however had other plans, he wanted to pursue his childhood dreams and play football for his beloved Roma.

His day came at the age of 18 when a certain Fabio Capello gave him his debut in 2003. A season later he was sent on loan to a Serie B club (Triestina) this was so the young Italian could gain some valuable first team experience.

Aquilani returned back to Roma the following season and successfully made his name in the starting eleven. He was also a key member in the team that broke the record for "most consecutive wins" in Serie A in 2006. Things were only getting better and better for the Italian but this was not going to continue to be the case as in the 06/07 season Aquilani suffered his first major injury, the problem meant that he would be unable to play for several months. Aquilani did not return until very late in the season playing just 3 games.

Aquilani started the next season positively scoring in the first two Serie A matches for Roma. Again he had started playing with quality and style and the Roma fans were looking forward to seeing their upcoming star player feature more frequently in the league campaign. Unfortunately Alberto was injured again in October resulting in him missing a string of matches. He returned in January 2008.

Injury wasn't the only thing that was becoming a recurring nightmare for the Italian it also appeared that the month of October was becoming something of a curse, unbelievably in October 2008 Aquilani was injured again, this time in a match against Chelsea which kept him out until the following January, after just one month he was injured again in February, he appeared as a substitute against Arsenal in March after picking up this injury but did not appear again for the rest of the season.

Injury prone? Stricken? Or just down right unlucky despite this Roma still offered Alberto a new contract in 2009 which initially was supposed to keep him at the club until 2013. However as we all know Liverpool announced on the 5th August 2009 that they had agreed a deal with Roma on the transfer of Aquilani and depending on a tight medical he would sign a 5 year contract with the club.

That he did, he was now a Liverpool player with a reported fee of around £19million Aquilani was given the number 4 shirt and the first step on his new career ladder was taken.



Some fun facts about Alberto Aquilani:
*One of his nicknames is "Il Principino" which after recently starting to study basic Italian i can proudly translate successfully to the English "The Little Prince".

*He thinks the best players in the world are; Totti, Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi.

*His favourite film is "Gladiator" but he was apparently very disappointed upon finding out that Russel Crowe was a Lazio fan.

*He is a big fan of Roger Federer.

So after successfully making his debut for the reserves against Sunderland last night we are all now anxiously awaiting his first team appearance, after doing the research and finding out about the injuries etc i'm actually weary of him possibly starting in "October", it doesn't appear to be a very lucky month for the guy. Nevertheless i hope the future is nothing but bright for Aquilani's Liverpool career: Welcome to Anfield.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Liverpool Suffer 2nd Champion's League Defeat


Liverpool suffered another defeat after Lyon netted the winning goal at Anfield in the 90th minute. The lads have now gone on a run of four successive defeats, the last time this happened was in 1987. These are testing times at Liverpool and after tonight's performance, Champions League qualification is set to become a less than ideal struggle for the Reds.

Liverpool started the game with the right tempo and mentality and had fielded a relatively strong 11 under the circumstances. The only exceptions being N'Gog in for Torres and a certain Martin Kelly drafted in for Glen Johnson who was ruled out with a groin problem.

All seemed steady for Liverpool for the beginning of the first half at Anfield with the team making good passes, good movement and creating a couple of chances. Liverpool also had the ball in the net within the first twenty minutes as Kuyt headed home but the goal was disallowed for a push on the Lyon defender.

At 25 minutes a situation we never needed to be faced with, the fourth official shows the number 8 on his board after Steven Gerrard appeared to be struggling with the recent injury to his groin. Luckily the substitution was a precautionary measurement and early signs show that Gerrard has in fact not torn or done any serious damage to the groin or ligaments however this still puts a doubt on whether he will appear for the Manchester United game this coming Sunday.

So with the skipper off and Fabio Aurelio on things weren't looking up for an already disheartened Liverpool side.Nevertheless the team still continued in a similar fashion as to which they started the game, Lyon were now holding more possession but the Reds were still pushing.
At 41 minutes the Yossmeister scores after getting on the end of an Aurelio cross and Liverpool find themselves in the lead before going into half-time.


During the next five minutes an initial incident between Kuyt and the Lyon defender Cris eventually results in a Lyon substitution. After Cris was somewhat astonishingly booked for a tackle on Kuyt when his head made contact with the Dutchman's knee he remained on the deck for quite a while, after receiving medical attention off field he continued to play. Shortly afterwards the Lyon defender appeared to still be having problems and was stretchered off, this brought us up to half-time.

Second half begins and Liverpool again start positively, it is clear that Gerrard and Torres are being missed but the team is fairing well and has the confidence boost after Yossi Benayoun's first half goal. Liverpool have a few decent chances namely an N'Gog shot which was created via a Martin Kelly cross but unfortunately David could do nothing but put it wide.

72 minutes and Lyon have turned 3 points into one after Gonalons sends the ball home. A frustrating equalizer after Reina made a magnificent double save the ball comes in and Martin Kelly who had made a fabulous start for the Red's was so unfortunate not to get there to send the ball away from goal. Kelly was shortly after substituted after picking up a knock during the incident. Martin Skrtel was brought on as his replacement.

Liverpool weren't ideally looking for just a point today and continued to try and search for a winner. 85 minutes and the scoreline still reads 1-1, substitution – Benayoun off, Voronin – on. This received a very hasty reaction from a large quantity of the Liverpool fans who decided to “boo” the decision.

Within the dying minutes Liverpool still desperately try to press to turn the game around but they are sorely punished by a Lyon counter attack which leaves almost an open goal mouth for the foot of Cesar Delgado to slide the ball home.

My thoughts.
Frustrated. Gutted. I can't begin to explain, I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park but I didn't think it would be as bad as this.

For me things went from bad to worse when Carragher was pushed out to right back, Kelly made a great, great start and was supplying crosses and good play. Also with Carragher in his unfavoured position and currently in the midst of some bad form it just wasn't working.
Even when Gerrard was taken off I still felt the introduction of Aurelio had a positive effect, we still appeared to be able to go out and get the result we wanted.

Tonight I feel was far better than the Sunderland performance but I still feel as frustrated, to have been done on the last counter attack is just horrible, I don't feel as though tonight we deserved the loss, on Saturday we didn't deserve a point but we definitely deserved something from this tonight.

With Manchester United on Sunday I really don't know what to expect all I know is that it is clear that we are going to need the Gerrard and Torres partnership to even attempt the win. This will either be the perfect match or the worst match of the season.

And I'd like to just voice my opinion on the scenes at the end of the game, I have never understood and can never agree with fans who “boo” the team off. Win, Lose or Draw you should have the common decency to take that elsewhere, so the team hasn't played up to scratch? Go vent your disappointment to your friends and family or on forums & blogs don't spread the negativity to a team who already fully realise the difficulties and frustration they are creating from their performance.

How did you feel about tonight's performance?
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Monday, 19 October 2009

Lyon Arrive At Anfield Tomorrow

After a weekend to forget for Liverpool the lads face current table toppers Lyon for their third Champions League group game this season. Liverpool will not only be looking to win to shake off the woes from Saturday's performance but it is also a very important game in terms of their position in the group.

If Liverpool win it could put them to the top of the group (depending on goal difference & the Fiorentina outcome). If Liverpool draw They would only have a chance to go second again depending on the Fiorentina result. If Liverpool lose we will remain in third spot. Fiorentina are probably favourites to beat Debrecen although a draw is definitely possible however it would be unrealistic to think that Debrecen will get three points so Liverpool need to win in order to get any real positive from the result.

Lyon's main attacking threat at the moment is a player called Bafetimbi Gomis, who is top goalscorer for the club with 4 goals. Lyon have scored a total of 15 goals in their league this season and as i mentioned earlier are top of the table with 20 points. They have only lost one game in the league winning four and drawing the remaining 1.

Lyon have faced only 7 different English oppositions and in away games they have a record of just 1 win, 1 draw and five defeats. They have scored 8 goals against English opposition away from home.

So how do i think we'll fair? Well personally i don't ever "big up" the French teams as alot of people seem to do. I just don't feel they should trouble us on a European night especially at Anfield. Although think back a while and you'll remember the defeat we suffered at home to Marseille so it;s definitely possible. However i just think even in Liverpool's bad run of games that we can begin the turn around at home tomorrow night. On the other hand, many people feel Lyon are the bigger threat within the group as opposed to the Italian opposition Fiorentina and although we have the home advantage could this then spell out defeat?

My prediction: 2-1.

What's yours? (Vote in the sidebar or have a chat with fellow supporters in my new forums, see "Forum" link at top of page.)

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Saturday, 17 October 2009

The Beach Boy's Were In Town But Benitez's 11 Weren't Feeling Good Vibrations

Bad luck? Bad play? Just plain bad is all i can say. It appears that we have no excuses but to hold our hands up and admit that we were nowhere near up to scratch today. Benitez fielded let's say an interesting 11 after Gerrard and Torres were already ruled out the manager was also facing tiredness and fatigue from many players back from international duty. Benitez set out a 5-4-1 formation with three central defenders (Skrtel, Carragher,Agger) with Johnson & Aurelio positioned slightly further up the pitch. The midfield consisted of Spearing and Lucas in the heart of the line up with Benayoun and Babel on the wings and Kuyt the lone striker and of course Reina in goal.

Kick-Off and Liverpool are ready to try to turn around the smell of defeat with a victory at The Stadium Of Light. Sunderland get the game started and almost immediately the three central defenders are forced into action after a good move by Darren Bent. The striker at the moment is on fire and it simply wasn't long before he punished. Within 5 minutes of the game being started arguably one of the most freakish goals in footballing history was scored only to leave Liverpool players and fans both in disarray. A large red (Liverpool) beach ball was stationary within the 6yard box when the shot from Darren Bent came in, to Reina's surprise the shot makes direct contact with the beach ball sending it one way and the football the other. The ball ends up in the net and Reina is left utterly bemused. After attempts to convince the referee that this goal was "unlawful", Liverpool's argument was shunned and the goal was given.

Now just to get this part out of the way, I'm sure you have all read in the news shortly after the game that several referee's have in fact came out and said that they would not have let that goal stand. After scouring through "FIFA Laws Of The Game" this evening these are the two key points that i picked out... They are quite vague and it appears one referee's decision would easily be different to another on these issues...

Goal Scored
A goal is scored when
the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between
the goalposts and
under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of
the
Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the
goal.
Powers and Duties
The Referee:
“stops, suspends or abandons the match because of outside
interference of any kind”


Make what you wish of those findings but all i would say is that if a giant beast of an inflatable beach ball is not classed as an "outside interference of any kind" then my names Madonna. Either way it is still a very controversial situation, did the referee see it? Would it be fair to say the object could have been moved? Etc etc. The fact of the matter is though although this incident and goal obviously changed the game did Liverpool really even deserve a point?

After 97minutes of football played Liverpool had just 4 shots on target. None of which were converted. The lack-lustre of the team today was phenomenal. In all honesty the only players i feel that did "well" were Agger, Johnson, Carragher (at stages) and Reina, Reina being the exception as in my eyes he's the man that saved this from being a larger defeat.
Spearing started and i for one have always wanted to see him start more games to prove himself and get out there on the big stage, but not in a midfield consisting of himself and Lucas in the centre. I'm not criticizing Lucas as he's simply not AS bad as everyone makes him out to be, but starting a debutant alongside a player with little experience himself was for me destined not to work. Spearing on sitting next to Steven Gerrard or Mascherano then yes, this could possibly be more successful but today unfortunately the lad didn't work in the system. He gave away possession and didn't seem to make confident tackles. On the positive side he saw two shots slip wide and he can chalk up that appearance on his tally. I wish him all the best and hope he continues to do well but he just wasn't on it today. And he wasn't the only one...

Benayoun, Babel, Kuyt, three men who we are relying on for goals when the likes of Steven Gerrard and Torres are out and they were all over the shop. Sloppy. slow reactions, no real chances. At ones stage Kuyt and Benayoun actually clattered into each other going for a header, it was just shambolic. Today showed the flaws in our thin squad and after this result we are left quite fittingly deflated. We are left 7 points adrift of Manchester United who took top spot today after Chelsea lost to Aston Villa. But is it time to stop dreaming? Should we really just face the almost inevitable music?

NO. We should not. The league for a starters so far this season is already so different and unpredictable that it would be foolish to stand there and think that Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, City & Spurs will win all there games, or they won't drop points. As we've seen already this season anyone can beat anyone... Burnley V Man Utd, Wigan V Chelsea. This is not going to come down to "games lost" it will come down to "points won". So ironically how does losing have it's positive effect on Liverpool's chances? Well as we all saw last year, a massive collection of draws along with some jammy Utd goals from Macheda lost us the title. This season we have yet to draw, now you don't have to be a Mathematician to work this one out folks, suppose Liverpool start their turn around against Manchester United next week and go on a streak of wins as we did last season after hammering them 4-1. How long do you think, minus dropped points from silly draws it would take to be back in contention?

Now is not the time to start writing ourselves off, make no bones about it this is a shambles of a start for us, I'm the first to admit but since when have Liverpool not been able to complete the impossible? We are a club renowned for doing such a thing. Negativity spurs us on, nothing persuades you more to go out and beat Manchester United than knowing the situation we will be in if faced with a loss. So even though we are in a very big dip in form, we have injuries, we have money problems, we have problems upstairs but were Liverpool FC and no matter how hard the s*** hits the fan we bloody well keep going. This season is far from over.



Keep the faith.

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Friday, 16 October 2009

Liverpool V Sunderland Match Preview

A journey up to the North East for this weeks clash then at The Stadium Of Light. Sunderland are looking to capitalize on their emphatic efforts against Manchester United and put an end to successive losses against Liverpool.

Liverpool have won the last six meetings between the two clubs and have also managed to keep a clean sheet on all 6 occasions. Sunderland may not have the upper hand in terms of meetings but they come into this game on the back of a better run than Liverpool;
Liverpool:WWWLL
Sunderland:WLWWD

Sunderland are also on the back of four wins at their home ground. And just to add to all these positives their current on form striker; Darren Bent has scored 5 goals in his last 4 games for the club. He will surely be looking to punish us on his home turf and further improve that record.

So where are the stats that back up our lads i hear you say? Well I'm afraid at this moment in time there isn't much, what i did dig up though is that Sunderland have scored a total of 16 goals but have conceded 13. Considering the fact it feels like we've let in a million just recently our comparison is quite respectable; scored – 22, conceded – 12.
Line ups? Well a certain Bolo Zenden could feature for the opposition and it appears Sunderland do not have many injury worries. As for Liverpool the information i have gathered has been somewhat uncertain, some areas are suggesting that Torres and Gerrard may start from the bench due to knocks and there is also the chance that Mascherano, Lucas and Insua could come back from international duty today not ready. After hearing this the team prediction i have made below i am sticking by (to be perfectly honest it's because i made this bloomin' picture last night and it took longer to make than it may appear to have taken so it's staying) but in hindsight i would probably have put Aurelio at left back and possibly tweaked the midfield nonetheless i still can't see Gerrard and Torres not starting but you never know.

So there we have it, my score prediction for this week is going to be a 2-0 win. Even with Sunderland going well i just don't think they will break us down. Don't forget to predict your scores in the side bar and enjoy the match folks.
And finally, it seems we are still in wait for Aquilani but here are some pictures of him in training courtesy of http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/


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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Rafa Results

Rafa Results
So a couple of posts back I decided to talk about the so called “Rafa debate” like it or lump it the matter is on most people's lips so I figured it would be a good issue to raise on the blog.

What did I want to find out?
I thought it would be very interesting to attempt to collect views on the manager from not necessarily just Liverpool fans, but fans of other clubs within the Premier League. After posting on two website forums; Footbo & FourFourTwo I did manage to gather a few opinions and views.

What were the findings?
Firstly just so you get an idea of what everyone was being asked, this was the general question that was posted on both forums:

What do YOU think about Mr.Rafael Benitez? I'm looking for serious and honest opinions as the posts will be featured in my blog. It doesn't matter if your Liverpool, United, Celtic, Barcelona wherever you are please let us know what you think. Do you like his tactics? His formations? His play in the transfer market? Do you think he can win Liverpool the title? Does he deserve more time? Is he up there in your list of top managers? Are you a Liverpool fan who once stood by him but now feels his time is up? Do you as an opposition fan worry when he comes to town? Are you a Liverpool fan who sticks by him through thick and thin? Thank you for your time! All comments appreciated. Kirsty,

The first reply that came through was from an Aston Villa fan, he went on to say;
“He couldn't lace Shankly's boot's he is Spainish marmite you love him or hate him , because of his poor team selection/rotation from previous seasons ,his childish rant's ,his arrogance , you will never do well under Rafa (Gerard and the players have dug in to win trophies under him ,how did Rafa tatically or otherwise inspire your Euro comeback he runs a blame culture) Stevie G should have bailed out long ago now he's only got managing Tranmere's wooly backs in his old age to look forward to!) The Moores family sold you out!!!”

A very strong view there, clearly a negative view on Mr.Benitez, are you somebody who agrees with this? Is this also your point of view?

Not all of the comebacks were leaning towards a negative side some of the more positive replies included:

A Man City fan went on to say:
“I must say as a person I've always liked Rafa, but I the last couple of seasons he seems to have lost the plot. To be honest, you have one of the greatest midfielders in the world. Why in heaven's name is he up front? It will be interesting to see what tactics he uses against Man City.”

A Man Utd fan posted this reply:
rafa's a great tactician, will give him that... a great manager, who can, in future been one of the best the kop has ever seen... “

I couldn't find who this person supported but he/she posted:
“he's improved the club no end and won a champions league with them
however he's wasted money on some poor transfers
eg. Voronin


And again an unknown supporter posted this on the FourFourTwo forum:
“he's very good at making decisions under pressure, i also like his tactics

So considering all these comments were from none Liverpool supporters I would say that it is generally a good response, people seem to respect him and feel as though he can still give more to the club. So in comparison to these views what was collected from Liverpool supporters? At the moment this is where you will find the majority of people that dislike Mr.Benitez, all with their own reasons.

My first reply from a Liverpool supporter was on the Footbo forums, she went on to say:
“I have been a Liverpool fan since the 70s and i am mourning for what we have become at our great club. I thought things were bad when we had Souness as manager and we were buying nordics like they were going out of fashion!! Now we have Rafa who in my humble opinion is probably the closest thing we have to the 'real Manuel frm Fawlty Towers'!! Im afraid for the future of our club under him, he has no skill as a tactician as a man manager or as a person who can find decent players!! Torres apart who has he really got for us that can help our team?? People say we won the european cup with him!! NO we didnt we won in spite of him because stevie G dragged the team thru!! He lost us the nxt euro cup v milan with his absolute negative tactics!! remember he played the dutch guy Zenden when he was injured so he didnt last long it was an awful display of total negativity!! Whats with his fascination with full backs?? He had two decent ones in Finan and Riise what do we have now Degan and Insua!! Hardly inspirational!! And Lastly Gerrard is the best midfielder in the world what the hell is he doin up front??? Its a waste of his magic abilities!! Dirk kuyt is a total passenger in the team but rafa in his wisdom will play him every week regardless!! Whats that about!! I want to win the league but there is no way it will happen under Rafa/Manuel!!!!!!!"

A respectable point of view from a long term fan and this wasn't just mindless dribble, she backed up everything she put across. So this is a clear example of how fans who don't like Rafael Benitez feel, but this post also seemed to spark up a lot of reaction from the fans who back the Gaffa. After this post I received a couple of replies that were in support of the manager:

Fan 1
“Rafa Benitez may not go down as the most successful manager we've had however I do think that he is an exceptional football manager and there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to have question-marks hanging over his future. It was mentioned above that he has no skill as a tactician, I am going to have to whole-heartedly disagree with you there as Benitez is the most tactically astute boss in Europe. He is calm, calculating and always expecting more from his players, and you know he's the kind of guy spending hours in the tape room going over previous matches played by any opposition. In terms of where we are out now, Paul Tompkins (of Liverpoolfc.tv) continues to highlight the gulf in spending between us and the likes of United in particular, but I think its more a case of Rafa not being AS astute in the transfer market, as well as not having the backing of the owners when he needs it. The likes of Morientes, Zenden, Josemi, etc can be overlooked as absolute rubbish buys, and you could say it was only his "Spanish-connection" that netted us the likes of Luis Garcia, Alonso and Torres. Bellamy, Crouch and Keane simply didn't fit into our system, which of course revolves around the prowess of Steven Gerrard. Benitez understood this and cut his losses, as none of these players were willing to warm the bench. Kuyt is an absolute gem, the work he puts in, his willingness to play WHEREVER he is needed, not to mention a goal in the 2007 Champs-League final (how many players can say they've scored on that big of a stage?). All I can say is this year, there has been not one 0-0 draw, and I am more than happy to lose a few when our team is playing for the win."

Fan 2
rafa ..is a gr8 manager ..who knows his men's game ...an utmost loyal liverpool manager with all capabilities to remain one ..his tactical approach is good ....but certainly not better then that of fergie's ....man utd lost CR7 and still keepin the same grip and have chances of winnin the trophy ....while LFC lost alonso .....and see the difference .....rafa experiments too much instead of eleminating the strategies that dont work ......he is keen on makin those strategies work ..our club looses out its chances of gaining the title ultimately.....on this ........ .i fear history might repeat if we go at this rate ..........but i firmly believe in leaving rafa do the best he does always ...which can fetch us the title ....for i have no clue about his plans ........i ll defenetly stay by his side through thick and thin ..as a kopite its my duty to stand by it ...and i ll do it with all my heart ........after all he is the manager of LFC for christ sakes ...as kopites we are supposed thank him for his service that has taken LFC this far.. "

All in all the plan went accordingly although there was the occasional outburst with no real point to put across:
“i love rafa FOR F*** SAKE all lfc fans stick by are manager!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And...
“Shite! Hola!”

Frustrated maybe? Or just couldn't back up their views? I don't know but there we are.

So there we have it the results on Benitez, I hope you found this somewhat interesting, unfortunately i didn't get as much of a response that i was hoping for but I know I always find reading peoples views a good pass time, it's always nice to keep up to speed with how people feel and to point your own view across. I also feel now is the appropriate time to say how I feel on the Benitez matter;

I am a fan who will back the manager 100% when I can constantly see improvement in some manner. I also will back the manager when he is faced with a difficult job yet makes the best out of what he's got. I back a manager who isn't perfect and makes mistakes but is man enough to put them right on the majority of occasions. I back a manager who is fully behind the team and culture of our club. I back a manager who I feel can still push us forward besides the critics and “stats” that write him off. I back a manager called Mr.Rafael Benitez.

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Saturday, 10 October 2009

International Break - Time For A Vote


So if you're anything like me, the majority of the international break is just frustrating if anything, hanging around waiting for the next premier league game but fear not! I present you with a simple form of "something to do". Below are ten YouTube videos i have picked out (excuse some of the quality of images, i hunted down the best clarity one's i could find),10 goals scored by past or present Liverpool players on the international stage. There's a couple from the likes of Steven Gerrard & Fernando Torres, a golden oldie from "God" and that famous Michael Owen goal, even if you have had a change of opinion on him lately there's no denying that was a top goal.

So, why? I hear you ask, well it's quite simple I'd like you to place your vote for your favourite (find the voting options in the sidebar) and we shall see what your favourite goal from a Liverpool player on the international stage is. Also, if there are any goals in particular that you think should have been featured please leave a comment below or even a link to the clip.

Happy Voting!

ROBBIE FOWLER VS ALBANIA





MICHAEL OWEN VS ARGENTINA






STEVEN GERRARD VS TRINIDAD & TOBAGO





STEVEN GERRARD VS SWEDEN





PETER CROUCH VS HUNGARY (COMPLETE WITH ROBOT DANCE)





FERNANDO TORRES VS GERMANY





FERNANDO TORRES VS UKRAINE





JOHN ARNE RIISE VS GREECE





DIRK KUYT VS ENGLAND





YOSSI BENAYOUN VS SWITZERLAND


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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Rafa Debate



Is he actually the managerial version of Marmite at this point in time? Because it truly does seem "you either love him or you hate him". Time and time again i have voiced my opinion on the matter and it seems alot of fans have very different views on the Gaffa. I've been reading some articles again this week on the Boss and Gilett and Hicks, just the general "Liverpool have lost three games let's dig up the dirt and cause a panic" nonsense. Upon doing this i stumbled across several interesting articles namely this piece from the Times Online which I'm sure you would find a good read.

What struck me the most was infact a comment left by a Manchester United fan, and fair play to the lad, it made sense. He went on to say;

Rafa was only put in charge of transfers this year, so you can't blame him for the many failed ones before. Besides, the only ones remaining from when he took over are Gerrard and Carragher, two of the better players. Getting rid of the horror show that Houllier put together took time and wasn't all down to him.

This is all coming from a United fan. I'm more wary of Liverpool under Rafa than I have been at any point in the recent past. You would be stupid to get rid of him at this point. After all, Fergie wasn't successful for several years after he got fired, and look what he has done.

Something we all know but just the fact that a United fan has owned up to actually feeling weary of Liverpool says alot more than most people think. As Liverpool fans some of us are questioning the status and ability of the manager yet at the same time the opposition are still in fear. Ok, so there is every chance this comment is not sincere, maybe it is a wind up, but it makes you stop and think genuinely what are the opposition feeling? Do they respect Rafael Benitez as a manager? Do they like his tactics? The way he handles transfers? So with this in mind what i am going to do is create topics on several football forums and attempt to collect fans views on the Spaniard, Liverpool fans, Celtic fans, Everton Fans, United fans, AC Milan fans, anything, the whole shaboodle, the more diverse the better and then present the thoughts that i gather in a later post.

I sometimes feel that as a Liverpool fan our views and opinions are slightly rose tinted, as a new blog writer i have completely had to become as un-bias as possible, a few months back if i were to speak or comment about anything Liverpool i was right and that was it, no maneuvering on the situation. This is exactly why i started this blog, opinions, views and banter are now exactly what i want. So are you somebody who feels it's time for a change in management? Are you a full-time Rafa supporter? Were you once on his side but now feel he has been given enough time? Please feel free to leave your comments and lets get some discussion going.

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