Archive for September, 2007

Will He or Won’t He?

Liverpool at Wigan

Premier League

3pm (10am EST) Saturday, September 29

The Lowdown: After two draws in the league, Liverpool travel to Wigan in search of goals and three points. And in light of Fernando Torres’ Carling Cup performance, much of the pre-match spotlight has been thrown back on Rafa’s rotation.

elninocelebrate.jpg

“Will El Nino start or will the Hat Trick Hero find himself on the bench, a victim of rotation?”

With Gerrard apparently having had that ‘not so fresh’ feeling and Agger and Alonso crocked with cracked feet, the schedule has been kind enough to give Liverpool a softer opponent with which to refind their winning ways.

Wigan currently sit twelth in the table, fresh off a 2-1 loss at the hands of Reading. Before that, a draw with Fulham and a loss at Newcastle had tempered the relative positive (well, not horrible) start the Latics had made to the season.

Two former Reds now make their home at Wigan — Emile Heskey and Chris Kirkland. But the former won’t be playing Saturday as he’s sidelined with… you guessed it — a fractured metatarsal! The big man actually had a pin inserted two weeks ago, and now there are rumors floating around that he could be on the move come January. But, manager Chris Hutchings has dismissed the speculation he knows his club can’t afford to lose any talent, even non-scoring strikers. (I kid, I kid)

For those of you who enjoy (or play, but don’t enjoy… like me lately) the Fantasy Premier League, you might recognize that Wigan midfielders Jason Koumas and Antoine Sibierski have thrown up some decent points this season (Sibierski earlier, Koumas more recently). Lucky for the Reds, their influence in the real world isn’t nearly as impressive or tangible.

Sibierski does have three league goals, but they were all scored in August and he hasn’t found the net since. And, one can’t forget that mighty Titus Bramble starts for this Wigan defense, which has conceeded seven goals, but only one in three matches at the JJB Stadium (to Fulham).

Continue reading ‘Will He or Won’t He?’

Free the Anfield #9!

 freetorres7.jpg

Recently having disassociated myself from Rafa’s rotation policy and having adopted a neutral stance (yet still retaining some of my sympathizing tendancies), I’m here to announce that I’ve fully entrenched myself in the newly created (by me) ‘FREE THE ANFIELD #9’ campaign, a movement solely dedicated to the idea that Fernando Torres should be starting (when not injured) every Premier League game.

Preferably, the young Spainard would be starting every Premier League and Champions League game, but I understand that’s not really realistic. To be honest, starting every Premier League game is equally unresonable, but the point is clear: Alongside Gerrard, Carragher, Agger and Reina, El Nino should be one of the first names on the team sheet.

If Liverpool are truly going to have a chance at winning the Premier League, then its best talent should be starting in the bulk of the league games, not rotting on the bench in hopes of keeping fresh legs for the months down the road when the team could (and recently has) find themselves significantly behind the league leader(s) and effectively out of the title race.

By no means would I expect Torres to start two games each and every week, but in light of his place on the bench against Portsmouth and Birmingham and the results of those matches compared against his performance against Reading, the #9 must start with more frequency!

His talent is more than sheer pace, which would relegate him to games where ‘there is no space’. No, the 23-year old has a multitude of skills. His touch is sublime but can play with power and he’s already demonstrated (on multiple occasions) the ability to seemingly create a fantastic chance where none previously existed.

But, mind you, he’s not strictly a finesse player. He took a battering he took at the hands (and feet and elbows) of the Reading defence without overreacting or dramatically going to ground, instead battling on and carving himself out his first Liverpool hat trick. Why wouldn’t we want this burgeoning superstar to lead the line in the league and help restore Liverpool to past glory?

So, we (er, me) put forth this imperative to Rafa:

FREE THE ANFIELD #9!

START TORRES!

Like with any dynamic movement, there needs to be a recognizable logo. So, after having whipped up a few proofs (some which would look quite sharp on a t-shirt, JT), I need your help in selecting the FREE THE ANFIELD #9! image.

While I’m no Photoshop wizard (I just downloaded a trial version to do this – I learn quick), I am quite proud of these efforts but need your opinions (because, unlike other South Carolinians, I can’t kill my babies).

Continue reading ‘Free the Anfield #9!’

Midweek Hodgepodge

Just a few items now that I’ve calmed down and realized we won a game last night…

FourFourTwo magazine have named four Liverpool players in their ‘100 Greatest Players in the World’ poll. Stevie G came in at #6, El Nino is 34th, Masch 94th and Carra at #97.

For more amusement, the captain and last night’s hat-trick hero were asked to pick their Top Fives.

Stevie G:

  1. Kaka
  2. Messi
  3. Henry
  4. C. Ronaldo
  5. Ronaldinho

Torres:

  1. Stevie G
  2. Kaka
  3. Ronaldinho
  4. Rooney
  5. Henry

I love how El Nino picked his captain first. Not that I’m arguing with his personal preference, but Fernando, you’ve got something on your nose.

Who knows how long they’ll be up for, but 101 Great Goals has links to last night’s goals.

They also linked to this montage/tribute video. Enjoy.

There is also a longer studio highlight package (complete with Rushie!), featuring an interview with Carra and El Nino. Actually it’s more like an interview with Carra as he and the interviewer talk about Torres as if he’s not standing right there.

Continue reading ‘Midweek Hodgepodge’

I Smell a Rat

I’ll admit it, Rafa has me utterly baffled and exasperated. I really don’t know what to think or even expect after tonight’s Carling Cup line-up.

The starting XI: Itandje, Finnan, Carra, Arbeloa, Aurielo, Benayoun, Lucas, Sissoko, Leto, Torres, Crouch.

The bench: Martin, Gerrard, Riise, Hobbs, Putterill.

I have my issues with starting Arbeloa ahead of Hobbs, but that can be rationalized by saying the Spainard could use the practice in the center should we need him to deputize for Hyypia. Then again, when is Hobbs going to play? When emergency dictates he must be forced into action without any experience?

But that’s not what really bothers me. What bothers me is Fernando Torres’ inclusion in the starting line-up. Why the fuck is he fit to start in the fucking Mickey Mouse League Cup but not fit for a starting place in a proper competition like the Fucking Premier League, three days earlier, where we actually need him?!

What the fuck is Rafa thinking? Bullshit excuses about defensive tactics aside, why would you sit El Nino against Birmingham only to risk him in the least important competition when you can play any number of youngsters in his place? Why is three points in the league (the admitted ‘bread and butter’ of the club) less important than the earliest round of a trophy no Liverpool fan would ever take over the other three?

God help me if Torres doesn’t start at Wigan this weekend.

Continue reading ‘I Smell a Rat’

Mickey Mouse Time

Liverpool at Reading

Carling Cup Third Round

7:45pm (2:45pm EST) Tuesday, September 25

The Lowdown: M-I-C…   K-E-Y….   M-O-U-S-E!!

It’s probably still not fair to refer to the League Cup as the Mickey Mouse Cup, but old habits die and it’s still a bit amusing. As far as priorities go, the CC has to be last (once again) for Liverpool behind the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup. And although I think the team needs a win right about now, I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing the youngsters dominate the squad sheet, having them bow out of this competition early but honorably thus saving against future fixture congestion.

I suppose, though, an early exit could wait another round.

Reading are fresh off a home 2-1 victory over Wigan, but dropped their two previous league games. Before that, they notched a 1-0 win over Swansea to advance in the Cup. It’s been a disappointing beginning to the season for Steve Coppell’s men as they’ve now just climbed out of the relegation zone with this weekend’s points.

Striker Dave Kitson looks to be returning to form for the Royals, along with winger Bobby Convey. After spending much of last season injured, the American will no doubt be needed to soften the blow of Steve Sidwell’s defection to the Chelsea bench. Striker Leroy Lita is finally fit and available for selection, but was left out of his team’s 16-man squad this past weekend.

Otherwise, injury news for Reading isn’t readily available.

Continue reading ‘Mickey Mouse Time’

That’s Why They Call It The Blues

Not. Good. Enough.

Simple as that. Liverpool were not good enough today. And, as of right now, they are not good enough to win the title. After two scoreless draws in the league, dropping four points that not only should have been, but have to be ours, I’m incredibly unhappy with Rafa’s team. 

This crowd deserves much much more.

Title contenders find a way to win these games. Regardless of what’s gone on for the majority of the game, who’s on the pitch, where the game is being played, championship-caliber teams secure all three points. Liverpool do not have the look of title contenders.

‘Pretenders’ is more apt a label.

Liverpool don’t look sharp, lack a killer edge and quite frankly, don’t look up to the challenge. We should be sitting top of the table right now, with wins at Portsmouth and against Birmingham. While taking two points from those games isn’t criminal, I’m getting fed up quickly with these results. Two dropped points may be allowable. But then, it turns into four. Then it’s six, and so and so on.

Continue reading ‘That’s Why They Call It The Blues’

Bring on the Blues

Liverpool vs. Birmingham

Premier League

3pm (10am EST) Saturday, September 22

The Lowdown: After two consecutive draws and the unfortunate news of Agger and Alonso’s injuries (yet another reason to hate international friendlies), Liverpool look to get back on track against the lowly Blues at Anfield.

Birmingham currently sit 12th, having most recently edged out bottom-dwelling Bolton 1-0 at home. Luckily for Steve Bruce’s side, the squad aren’t carrying many injuries with the exception of midfielder Damian Johnson (hamstring). Unluckily, one of the more recent meetings between Liverpool and the B’ham was the 7-0 train wreck in the FA Cup. But, those were in the Championships days and Birmingham have now earned the right to sit at the grown-up’s table once again.

While I’m spitting out dates and numbers, I’ll point out that LFC have only lost three of the last 20 league matches between these two clubs, but two of those losses have come in the last four. The last scoreless draw between the Blues and Reds at Anfield came in 1931. And, Rafa has never beaten Birmingham in the Premier League.

Vaguely interesting statistics, indeed, but they what do they tell us? Actually, nothing. Let’s move on.

Continue reading ‘Bring on the Blues’