Toulouse 0 – Liverpool 1: The Reds got the job done in France, keeping a cleansheet and picking up an away goal for their troubles. Ahead of the game, some of the Toulouse players thought it wise to run their mouths, to the tune of “We’re going to turn up the heat on them (Liverpool)”. It turned out the worst heat came from the sun as the temperature was around 90°.
Rafa made six changes to the starting line-up we saw at Villa, starting Hyypia, Benayoun, Mascherano, Babel, Crouch and Voronin. Not shockingly, the press has wasted no time in latching onto this rotation. Expect another season of ‘rotation’ and ‘tinker’ talk.
Voronin got his first official goal for the club, netting from outside the box in the 43rd minute. Sadly, I was only able to watch the closing minutes so I can’t speak on the match with great authority. Oh, You Beauty… has it covered.
One thing did strike me… As we were in France and couldn’t have an alcohol advertisement on our shirt, we played in unmarked red kits. While I like that look with the last Reebok shirt, the adidas jerseys looked empty and unbalanced without them. Funny how the Carlsberg logo has become such a staple of the kit.
Carra, not one to get carried away, had this to say about the match:
It’s a good result for us because we were aware they are a good side at home. It was great to get a win, especially in the conditions because it was so hot. I think the training we did in pre-season in Hong Kong helped us cope because we knew about the conditions.
Andriy scored a great goal and full credit to him for that because he’s been as good as anyone so far for us. I was right behind it when he hit the shot and could see it was going in.
The tie’s not over yet though. We didn’t play particularly well tonight and in the past at Anfield we haven’t played too well in the qualifiers so we’ll be looking for a different story this time around.
Rafa made some familiar noises:
It was a fantastic goal and Andriy showed the quality he has. He is different from the strikers we have as he has game intelligence, he links up the play well and he can score goals.
It was a really difficult game. It was too hot for football and the pitch wasn’t the best but I think we have done a professional job. We will need to work hard in the second game at Anfield because they showed they can be dangerous on the counter attack. It will be a difficult game and we need to finish off the job.
So, what are you saying Rafa? We have strikers that don’t have game intelligence? Is that a veiled threat at Crouchie?
(I kid, I kid)
Gerrard took a good kick on the toe and it’s unclear the extent of the injury and whether it will affect his availability for the Chelsea clash.
Next up, Chelsea comes to Anfield. Sunday, 11am EST.
In other Liverpool news, Rafa has taken Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi on a one-year loan, with an option for a two-year contract. The 17-year old had a trial with us last month and apparently did well enough to earn himself a loan deal.
As for the action back in England:
Tottenham 1 – Everton 3: Tottenham have limped out of the gate with a woeful start to the season. Injuries aren’t helping Martin Jol’s backline, but as the saying goes, you’ve got to go to war with the guys you’ve got. I’ll say this, the Spurs weren’t play for or with one another against Everton. Especially in the second half, the ball would end up on the wing, somebody (like the unimpressive Chimbonda) would hold his ground, thinking about taking on a defender, then pass 10 yards for a stationary teammate who would then do the same. They’re playing uninspired footy right now. Something has to change.
As for Everton, new boy Leighton Baines is back in training and could make his debut for the Toffees in the next week. Shockingly, Liverpool’s lesser half sits on top of the table. Enjoy why it lasts, boys. Mediocracy awaits.
Birmingham 2 – Sunderland 2: Michael Chopra gets his second goal in as many games as Sunderland are currently sitting fourth. If the season ended today, Roy Keane would be back in the Champions League!!
Speaking of Roy Keane, he’s apparently no fan of the ladies.
Fulham 2 – Bolton 1: David Healy is teasing me by finding the net after I passed over him for my fantasy team, Clash City FC. It could be a long season for Bolton, but Sammy Lee has brought in 29-year old Portsmouth defender Andy O’Brien in to help the cause.
Man City 1 – Derby 0: It wasn’t one of Sven’s new buys that helped City to another win, but 19-year old midfielder Michael Young. It’s a strong start for Man City, but things get tougher as they meet Man United and Arsenal next.
Meanwhile, an arrest warrant has been issued for Man City owner Thaksin Shinawatra (and his wife) by Thailand’s Supreme Court. It’s been issued in connection with corruption charges over a shady Bangkok land deal. ‘Fit and Proper’ indeed…
Also, Billy Davies had his contract extended and will manage Derby in the Championship until 2010.
Portsmouth 1 – Man Utd 1: Tevez’s debut ended on a less than stellar note as Manchester United still have yet to rediscover the killer instinct that won them the title last season. I’d be lying if I said seeing United stumble out of the gate wasn’t enjoyable. Two points in two matches is hardly an impressive start to their title defense and Sir Alex’s blood pressure has to be rising.
Ronaldo saw red for a headbutt and will likely find himself on the sideline for a few games. Once again, problems for United are amusing for me, but my fantasy team has limped out of the gate and this should only aggravate its poor start.
Reading 1 – Chelsea 2: After Andre Bikey gave Reading an early lead, second half strikes from Drogba and Lampard gave Chelsea the three points.
After facing Man United and Chelsea back-to-back, things will only get marginally better for Reading as Everton visits. But fear not, fixtures with Bolton and West Ham lie just beyond that.
Jose Mourinho is inching closer to landing talented Brazilian fullback Daniel Alves from Sevilla. Funny, after talking about how Liverpool has spent so much money and Chelsea haven’t, Mourinho is right back to his old tricks, dropping close to £50 million on two players.
Wigan 1 – Middlesbrough 0: Antoine Sibierski’s goal was the difference between the two sides.
Gareth Southgate, obviously desperate to replace Mark Viduka’s output, has oddly chosen to bring the cancer known as Mido from Spurs. While he certainly should play more than he did at White Hart Lane, the Egyptian’s best output is his crap attitude.
Wigan manager Chris Hutchings thinks Emile Heskey is the man for England in light of recent injuries. I have to be honest; I’m now rooting for England to miss out on Euro 2008 qualification. The FA need a slap upside their collective head and missing out on a major tournament with such a wealth of talent should prove as such. Sadly, I’m well aware that no lesson would be learned by those in charge, so sitting out next summer will simply have to serve as a punishment for the FA (and unfortunately, a nation).
So, after five days, the Premier League table looks like this…
|2 Manchester City||2||2||0||0||3||0||+3||6|
|12 Manchester United||2||0||2||0||1||1||0||2|
|16 Aston Villa||1||0||0||1||1||2||-1||0|
|18 West Ham||1||0||0||1||0||2||-2||0|