Archive for November, 2007

The Muppet Show

The internet is a funny place. And to paraphrase Sir Charles Barkley, ‘”by funny, I mean stupid.” I tend not to put any stock into, let alone even read, random internet strangers’ opinions, with the few exceptions of my own comment section (that means you wonderful people), some other select blogs and Deadspin.

 muppet.jpgBut, in the course of trying to satisfy my insatiable taste for footy news, I ventured into an unexplored back alley of Sky Sports’ Football section — The ‘Sky Sports News Debate’ where they house/throw-away all the insightful analysis/arguments a 13-year old can handle.

This particular topic of debate was “Benitez on brink?” — an obvious talking point after the he said/they said of the past week. So, weakened by hunger for all things Liverpool and in a rather snarky mood, I snuck a peek and cherry-picked some of the most amusing/retarted lines for our amusement/judgement.

‘Dipo Abbey disu’ starts us off with his best Sherlock Holmes/Dwight Shrute…

Continue reading ‘The Muppet Show’

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Bolton — I Mean, How Do You Get A Fun Title From That?

Liverpool vs. Bolton

Premier League

3pm (10am EST) Sunday, December 2

The Lowdown: It would be fair to say it’s been a (predictably) disappointing season for Bolton. After the departure of the (then) over-achieving manager Sam Allardyce, the writing was on wall (although it was probably more like graffiti on a bathroom stall… “For a Good Time, Call Big Sam) — Bolton’s days of wringing productivity out of bargain-basement players for a top half finish in the table most likely walked out the door with their recently departed boss. They started the season collecting a whopping three points from their first six matches, putting immediate pressure on Sammy Lee — my preseason pick for first manager sacked. But, Bolton couldn’t even get that right as Mourinho’s departure made Sammy only the second casualty come mid-October.

Since then, Bolton have become something of draw specialists. Well, ‘specialists’ may be too generous, as I’m not sure they really do anything all that well. After 14 matches, the Wanderers are sitting a point above the relegation zone with 11 points. Gary Megson is the new man in charge after leaving his post as Leicester’s manager (after a whole six weeks at the helm) and has overseen the club’s continued mediocracy. At least until last week, when Bolton claimed Man United’s scalp at the Bolton Stadium.

It should be pointed out that Bolton are undefeated since their ginger manager took over. But, this match is at Anfield and Bolton have yet to win away from home in the league, notching two draws (West Ham and Derby) and four losses in their travels. Yet, with Liverpool’s sometimes unconvincing home performances in the league this season, former Reds like El-Hadji Diouf & Nic Anelka may find some hope.

Let’s hope that hope drowns in the River Mersey.

Continue reading ‘Bolton — I Mean, How Do You Get A Fun Title From That?’

A Hero in the Making

4-1.

*exhales*

They may have left it late, but the Reds eventually wore Porto down (a few times, for good measure) and live on to fight another European night.

I was worried. The juxtaposition of the first and second half Liverpool performances was almost maddening (through 78 minutes, that is). What started as a sharp-passing team, venturing forward with swashbuckling spirit came out of the locker room for the second 45 a cataract-suffering shell of itself. Although the game always felt like it had a deciding goal in it, it could have come for and from either side.

That is, until El Nino stepped up. Again.

I’m comfortable in my heterosexuality and am not afraid to say it — I’ve got a full-on Man Crush on Fernando Torres. I get genuinely excited when I see his name in the starting XI, because he’s capable of producing something sublime with each and every touch of the ball. It could come from a solid build-up of play or appear out of thin air. Either way, I’m thoroughly entertained by his play and have supreme confidence in his ability to lead Liverpool to victory.

(photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

elninoheader.jpg

And that he did today. After opening the game (and his Champions League account) with a well-taken header, he successfully seperated himself from his defender to put Liverpool ahead and keep them in the hunt for knock-out stage qualification. And that second goal served as the adreneline-filled needle to heart that jolted the boys (as well as fans) in Red on to another two goals.

*swoons*

Let it also be said that ball fed to Torres for the winner came from substitute Harry Kewell, who continues to tease me with visions of a fully-fit Aussie torturing defenders on the wings. I think/hope Rafa will do his best to keep Harry in decent shape, not wearing him out, instead deliberately doling out the minutes in measured amounts. Should he stay healthy, he could make a severe impression on the Premier League.

Let me also note that Gerrard, emblematic of the team, faded in and out of the match but notched the penalty to tie him with Little Mikey Owen as Liverpool’s leading European scorer. Maybe one day Fernando Torres will be challenging that record.

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(photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

As for Rafa, he must be pleased with the way the team has responded in the last few matches, as well as with the pro-Benitez demonstration by the Liverpool faithful. I didn’t hear it myself, but word is that amongst the various chants was “Rafa’s going nowhere“. One would hope with continued results like today, that should be certainly be the case.

Rafa on the fans (and the owners):

I want to say thank you to our supporters because I think that they were as always magnificent. The most important thing is the team so I say thank you for the support. To the players it was important as I said before the game and it was also for me, so I say a thank you, a big thank you.

I am really proud to be here and I say thank you because they know I want to stay and fight for my club.

I don’t have any personal problem with the owners or anyone. We will talk and try to go forward.

Forward, indeed. The team has some momentum now, headed into Sunday’s match versus Bolton. Here’s hoping that the off-field BS gets resolved properly. Families fight — it’s just a fact of life. But, it’s the strong ones that know how to patch things up.

So, where does this victory (coupled with Besiktas’ win) leave us?

Continue reading ‘A Hero in the Making’

No International Hangover

3-nil.

After the unfolding midweek drama between Rafa and G&H, the team responded positively by comprehensively beating an utterly piss-poor Newcastle team. But despite the lack of quality put up by the opponents, we all know that certain teams in red have been known not to dispatch inferior opponents on previous occasions, so three goals and a clean sheet were a welcome Thanksgiving dessert.

On the flip side, it wasn’t exactly a Liverpool performance that would have earned them much against a top side, but I suppose that’s besides the point. The team did more than enough to win the game, basically rendering it to one-way traffic with maybe a collective three minutes where Newcastle threatened Pepe and the backline. But, I would hope that the team will generally play sharper when we line-up against Porto mid-week.

Sissoko looks to have reverted to his offensive retardation as, in the first half, he was often further up the field than Lucas, doing his best to muck up Liverpool possession. But, he made strong challenges defensively throughout the match, so I won’t gang up on him too much. Otherwise, everybody else turned in solid performances.

It doesn’t appear as there’s much of an English hangover for Stevie G. He notched his sixth goal in seven matches and turned in a familiar energetic performance. His free kick was restaurant quality and gave Given no chance.

(pic: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

torreswide.jpg

Torres was supremely unlucky not to find himself on the scoresheet. He created chance after chance, but the stars were aligned against him today. On the other hand, Kuyt was handed a goal after Sami did the lion’s share off the corner.

Babel was sharp in his subsitute’s role. He notched a quality goal and flashed another one wide. He seems like a shot in the arm to the side when he steps on late, as opposed to his lessened impact in a starting role. Rafa will no doubt look to get more of out him over 90 minutes.

Quite simply, the score could have gotten out of hand if not for a few inches and the odd bounce of the ball. But, it was a quality three points and take us third, three points behind Arsenal.

I’d usually include quotes, but both Stevie G and Rafa had nothing of real interest to say outside of the usual company line jive.

Read the Official Site’s match report.

Stevie G’s wicked free kick goal.

Kuyt’s fortunate knee-ball.

Babel knocks one home.

Links courtesy of 101GreatGoals, where you can also watch other non-goal highlights of today’s match (amongst all the other match highlights they post).

My thoughts on the match: Continue reading ‘No International Hangover’

A Turkey Day Appetizer

Merry Thanksgiving to everybody!

(‘Happy Thanksgiving’… We say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ in this country!)

After a quiet international break (not counting the anguished moans of Three Lions fans), the Premier League is powering back up and Liverpool are set to travel to Newcastle on Saturday.

But what have we missed in the interim? Before I gorge myself on equal parts of Guinness Extra Stout and turkey & mashed potatoes, let’s run through all the ‘news’ that may have escaped our proper scrutiny as we inexplicably found ourselves in the holiday season.

Firstly, Tom Hicks and George Gillett released the following statement:

We made a significant investment in the playing squad during the summer and desperately want this team to succeed.

There are some very important games coming up in the next couple of weeks and all of us need to focus on winning those games and getting the best out of the players we already have at the club.

We will leave any talk of buying or selling players until we come across to Liverpool in December and sit down with the Manager then.

Yes, that’s the long and short of it. Interesting, no?

Continue reading ‘A Turkey Day Appetizer’

Stevie G is Xenophobic!

Not really.

I’m just auditioning for a tabloid headline writing gig. (A boy needs to pay the bills and streetwalking just isn’t what it used to be)

While the Premier League continues to enjoy continued success (especially in the financial department), the debate over Foreign vs. British talent has reignited (since it’s constantly smoldering). Does the constant influx of non-British talent actually weaken English football?

You’re familiar with the argument: As more foreigners come to play in England, homegrown talent doesn’t get the chances it historically was afforded to develop because now there are less spots available and therefore less time for the talent to grow. Instead they’re forced to prove themselves (and fail) before they’ve had a realistic amount of time to blossom and mature.

gerrardnomore.jpgNow our own Captain Fantastic has voiced his opinion that a limit on the number of foreign players in the English leagues would likely (or more realistically, hopefully) help the woeful English national team improve.

Gerrard’s words:

I’m sure it won’t do any harm and I’m sure it would help the national team. We want as many homegrown players in that league as possible. It is important we keep producing players. There is no point having the best league in the world if the national team is going to suffer in the long run

I think there is a risk of too many foreign players coming over, which would affect our national team eventually if it’s not already.

We all want one thing at the end of the day, we want our national team to be very good and our league to be good. You always think to yourself the top English players will come through and play but there are some who are late developers and they get pushed to the back of the queue because there are too many foreign players.

The foreigners have helped raise the standard of our game but if you want to be greedy you would want English players to raise that standard further.

Just like anybody, I have my own opinions on the matter. And since you’ve asked so nicely, yes, I will share them with you.

Continue reading ‘Stevie G is Xenophobic!’

What Am I Supposed To Do Until the 24th?

The past week gave us ten goals, two cleansheets and a realistic hope that our fortunes in our two biggest competitions (PL and CL) may be on the way up as we ease into another international break. But as Chinese philosophy dictates with its concept of the yin and the yang, with the good comes the bad, the sweet with the sour, with Liverpool red the Evertonian blue.

If the yang was two quality wins (not to mention the return of Torres and Kewell) then the yin may be the news that Yossi Benayoun should miss roughly three weeks with an abductor tear. Apparently, as inspired by El Nino, this must be the new chic injury at Anfield, replacing the metatarsal break.

The long and short of it is that the Israeli captain will miss out on the qualifier against Russia, therefore weakening England’s hope that God’s chosen people could secure a result against the Ruskies and salvage the Three Lions’ Euro ’08 qualification dream.

benayoun.jpgAs I see it, the domino effect could actually work in Liverpool’s favor. Assuming the tear isn’t massively serious, the hat-trick hero gets a little rest (granted, while he’s in the middle of a run of above-average performances) and will probably miss the Newcastle and Porto matches. With Pennant’s absence, that’s less than ideal but Babel and Kewell can step in (and don’t give Rafa a real excuse to play Stevie G on the wing, because he won’t think twice about it). But Yossi’s injury certainly weakens Israel, which could falter against Russia, which could then knock England out of this summer’s European Championship. And as I’ve stated previously, England missing a major summer tournament may actually be beneficial for Liverpool.

In other injury news, Daniel Agger is inching his way back to action. Word is that he’s be running and is back in the training set-up at Melwood. Rafa has this to say on his return: Continue reading ‘What Am I Supposed To Do Until the 24th?’