Archive for August, 2007

Cutting Throats

Liverpool vs. Derby

Premier League

3pm (10am EST) Saturday, September 1

The Lowdown: Saturday’s clash is a stark contrast between two clubs, each headed in completely opposite directions. Liverpool sit fourth with seven points while Derby are butt-naked last with one single point. The juxtaposition continues with a look at the goal differences; +3 for Liverpool, -6 for Derby. In four games, Billy Davies’ squad has given up nine goals. It’s obvious there is only one acceptable result for Liverpool: the complete and utter destruction the Rams.

And a cleansheet.

Andriy Voronin should be available for selection after being held out midweek as a precaution over a thigh strain. Carra is definately sidelined due to his broken rib and collapsed lung, while Gerrard has been all but ruled out. Stevie G could play with the help of an injection, but Rafa is certainly not going to risk him given the wealth of talent at his disposal (to say nothing about the opposition).

The manager on his captain’s fitness:

I spoke to Steven again yesterday and the news was not very positive. It will be very difficult for him to play on Saturday. The doctor will continue to help him, but maybe it’s too early for this weekend.

Continue reading ‘Cutting Throats’

The Road to Moscow

The club has released the dates for the group stage matches of the Champions League. Liverpool will take the first step towards Mother Russia in Portugal on Tuesday, September 18th.

Liverpool’s CL schedule:

Tuesday, Sept. 18  — at Porto

  • Probably the toughest game of the set. While one could make an argument to the difficult manner of starting the group stage with such a match, but to get the hardest (on-paper) game out of way on the first matchday is a blessing in my book.

Wednesday, Oct. 3  — vs. Marseille

  • The return of Djib and Bolo. I’m sure they’ll recieve polite applause, but the spoils should go to the men in red.

Wednesday, Oct. 24 — at Besiktas

  • Simply put, it’s a disagreeable place to play. While their teams are generally shit, teams from Turkey (and Greece) certainly enjoy a home-field advantage because of the barbaric nature of their fans. Yes, in general, I have very little respect for them.

Tuesday, Nov. 6 — vs. Besiktas

  • In theory, this should be a feast.

Wednesday, Nov. 28 — vs. Porto

  • Not a gimme by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s more than possible only a point from this match would wrap up passage to the knock-out stages. That is, if it hasn’t already been booked, which is also a (preferred, but unlikely) possibility.

Tuesday, Dec. 11 — at Marseille

  • We finish the group stage the same way we started; away from home. Hopefully, qualification will be locked up by this date and it’ll be a squad half-full of youngsters getting a run-out.

Rafa responded to the draw in an even keeled, if not perfectly predictable, manner: Continue reading ‘The Road to Moscow’

Win, Lose or Champions League Draw

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With one qualifying match still yet to be played (AEK Athens vs. Sevilla – postponed until Friday due to the passing of Antonio Puerta), presenting a potential blush should the higher seeded Spainards not prevail, UEFA went ahead and held the draw for the 07/08 Champions League group stage.

While this would have been the perfect opportunity for Michel Platini to lay waste to the proceedings and declare the CL dead from this point on (“…more dead to me than your dead mother…“), yet he apparently didn’t have the gravitas to pull the trigger. Instead, it was the usual horse-and-pony show, including slick video packages, boring speeches from dignitaries interwoven with some shiny awards. Eventually, it was Business Time and somebody finally got their hands on the balls. (huh-huh) 

Continue reading ‘Win, Lose or Champions League Draw’

Somebody Close That Window!

Although the silly season winded down (at least for Liverpool) a few weeks ago, the summer transfer window officially closes come Saturday. After the checks for Torres, Benayoun and Babel were cashed, you’d have thought that our non-youth spending was done. Yet, with Carra’s injury, the near-miss on Heinze, and (to a lesser extent) the departure of Paletta, Rafa still has one toe in the pool, testing it for a final quick dip.

I think everybody recognizes the ‘fact’ (more like ‘widely accepted opinion) that the squad could stand to be bolstered with one more centerback, maybe one who is a utilityman capable at fullback. So, it’s not shocking to hear a few rumors swirl about as the window prepares to get shut for the oncoming chill of Fall.

Ignoring the silly claim that Liverpool were going to spend £13.5 million on Arsenal/Real Madrid reject Baptista, the latest name to be linked with a move to Anfield is Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi. The 29-year old Fiorentina, who plays centerback and right fullback, is apparently keen on a move… to Spain.

His agent claims Rafa made a move for the former HSV man: Continue reading ‘Somebody Close That Window!’

Goal Buffet

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Because I didn’t get a chance to link to them yesterday, here are all four goals versus Toulouse.

Per usual, the goals come via the resourceful 101 Great Goals.

Crouchie’s goal (19′)

Sami’s headed goal (49′)

Dirk’s 1st goal (87′)

Dirk’s 2nd goal (90′)

Also, there’s an extended highlight ‘package’, with ITV’s english commentary, in which the actual highlights clock in at just under six minutes.

Dirk on his scoring:

I think I had enough chances to score maybe four goals, so I wasn’t happy with that. In the end I am happy I scored twice, but I still have to do better.

Speaking of goals, Craig Linfield notched a hat-trick for the Reserves against Karlstad (4-0 win, Brouwer also netted), as the squad finished up a tour of Scandinavia.

A Qualified Answer

Ahead of today’s match, Liverpool paid respect to murdered youngster, Rhys Jones, by playing the Everton theme ‘Johnny Todd’ before the match, followed by a minute’s applause. The players also wore black armbands during the game. A classy gesture for a sad story.

sami.jpg

Rafa used the full depth of his squad by making a few subtle changes from Sunday’s match. Kuyt and Crouch took over up top, Mascherano and Sissoko in the center of midfield, Benayoun on the right wing, with Leto making his debut on the left. The backline looked slightly more familiar with Sami partnered with DAgger, as Arbeloa moved to right back so Riise could occupy the left. Reina, as always, was between the sticks.

And why not? We’ve got the talent, so we’re going to use it.

It all went according to plan as the boys notched a 4-0 win (5-0 aggregate) and secured qualification and all the money that comes with it. Job well done. At no point were Liverpool not in control of the game, and should everybody come through injury-free, that’s about as good of a result as I could ask for.

Speaking of injuries and the team’s performance, I have serious reservations about playing Gerrard this weekend. Why risk him? We’ve certainly got the central midfield talent to see us past Derby. Mascherano and Sissoko both looked in great form today, lest we forget Senor Alonso.

Plus, with more England qualifiers beyond the Derby game, I think holding the captain out gives Rafa a stronger argument to have Stevie G sit out for England. Not to suggest that Captain Fantastic would willingly sit and watch his Three Lions in a qualifier, but I’m taking club over country each and every time.

Rafa has said this to say about Stevie’s condition (before the Toulouse game): Continue reading ‘A Qualified Answer’

Shrunken Violets?

Liverpool vs. Toulouse

Champions League 3rd Round Qualifier, 2nd Leg

8:05pm (3:05pm EST) Tuesday, August 27

The Lowdown: Victory at Sunderland was not without its price. The club has confirmed that Carra has suffered a broken rib and a pneumothorax, which for those of us who don’t watch House or ER, is a collapsed lung. Jamie won’t have to undergo any special treatment for his injuries, but is ruled out of Tuesday’s return leg with the Violets. Sami Hyypia is also among the walking wounded with a broken nose, but will not be forced to sit out, likely stepping in at centerback. That is, assuming he has full sight in his left eye, which was a problem on Saturday.

One player who will definately not be filling in on the backline on Tuesday, or ‘forever’ for that matter, is Gabriel Paletta. The 21-year old is returning to Argentinian football after being sold to Boca Juniors for an undisclosed amount. While young and talented, I always felt he was prone to mental lapses, but assumed it would be something worked out with time and experience. Interesting that Rafa chose to pull the trigger on him after such a short spell at the club. He must have not seen enough promise. Best of luck to Gabby back home. Continue reading ‘Shrunken Violets?’