Audentis Fortuna iuvat
— from Virgil’s Aeneid — translated as ‘Fortune Favors the Brave’.
Sounds about right, doesn’t it? Sit back and expect things to happen and they tend not to materialize. Put on a brave face and step forward to forge your own luck and good things tend to (eventually) happen.
I tend to think this is a good rule of thumb for both football and life in general.
This quote is close to my heart as I’ve come incredibly close to having it inked onto my forearm. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as I didn’t), it’s a mantra I have not always embraced in actual practice. Neither have Liverpool. But, it would seem, both of us realize the folly of our ways and are endeavoring to change them for the better.
Firstly, me… I’ve wrestled with letting this blog die because of issues in my personal life which have kept me away and I was fast losing my lust for writing. The muse had gone silent and I’ve looked back at a body of work that is quite mediocre. Too often I’ve rushed pieces to publish for the sake of getting them done, without taking time to properly craft them. And for what? I’m not getting paid. So why aren’t I taking the time to put my best work out there? What’s another two hours?
While I’ve written drafts (that I ultimately didn’t publish) the last week, it wasn’t until I watched Charlie Rose interview Jay-Z last night that I decided I needed to stick with it for the right reasons. For the love of the game and the love of writing. While the HOVA is chasing history, I need to climb my own summit. I need to strive to sharpen my own game and build back up the muscles I’ve allowed to atrophy through indifference.
The posts may not always come as quick as they once did. I still have a personal & professional life to tend to. But, I’m not going to abandon the blog or all you good people who, for whatever reasons, have elected to come back time after time.
Quite simply, shit is going to tighten up ’round these parts. This is my promise.
It’s time to be brave.
And it would seem, Liverpool may have realized the same.
Heading into the Fulham match, you had to like Liverpool’s chances. The Cottagers haven’t won at Anfield, in any competition, in God knows when. Plus, Lawrie Sanchez’s men haven’t been able to win away from home yet.
Yet, it wasn’t quite that simple. While Liverpool were industrious and looked to slice open the Fulham defense with some quick exchanges, the visitors kept their shape while the Reds failed to put it all together and find the net. Fulham even looked ready to put their hosts in danger on the counter, with Reina seeing as much early action as he’s had in quite some time.
I admit, I began to worry about another draw once we got within twenty minutes of time. But, true to form, Fulham faded down the stretch and ended up folding like wet cardboard. Eventually, Liverpool found the catalyst for the win. Once Torres hit the field, preceeded by an industrious Babel, the tumblers of the combination lock all fell into place and El Nino finally unlocked Niemi’s goal.
After that, it was a done deal. Fulham imploded and Liverpool were robust with confidence. Crouchie took a clip from Bocanegra (tough call at full speed whether it was in or out of the box) and Captain Fantastic finished the game off with a typical penalty take. Better late then never.
3 points, gentlemen. Feels good, don’t it?
I’m glad to see Torres back in play. Quite honestly, there’s nobody I get more excited to watch play.
Rafa sounded happy with him:
It was good to see Fernando come back and score a really good goal. It was good for him and good for us. But the other strikers did a good job too. Okay in this case it was Fernando who scored but Voronin had three or four good chances and I was pleased with them.
The idea was to keep him on the bench and if we needed something we knew he was there and the supporters would always be behind him.
And, we kept another cleansheet. No Hyypia own goal. And with Agger’s return right around the corner, things could be on the up-and-up.
Let’s hope the momentum continues in two weeks time at Newcastle.
(Links courtesy of 101 Great Goals)
My thoughts on the match:
- Rafa doesn’t make one single change in the starting line-up from the midweek mauling. Shocking? A bit, but then again, Team Northern Ireland (formerly known as Team USA) may not only a small step up in quality from Besiktas.
- No Kewell on the bench but my annual seduction by the lure of a healthy Kewell may actually get stronger as he gets rested.
- Danny Murphy tested Reina 18 seconds in. Memories of free kicks against United immediately come to mind. While I never wept over his departure, he certainly has a soft spot in my heart.
- I wonder if Liverpool wouldn’t be better off with somebody other than Gerrard taking the corner kicks. I realize it’s been a point of contention (or at least, grumbling) for awhile now, but we don’t seem to generate as much from them as you’d expect. I’d be interested to see our stats against the Premier League median. Maybe Paul Tomkins will address that in his next stat-filled column.
- JAR is sporting himself a fresh crew-cut.
- After a lovely exchange on the right flank that put Yossi clear, the ball eventually fell in a dangerous spot for Gerrard, who shockingly put it over.
- Riise’s new haircut let him down on his first shooting chance. Or perhaps more correctly, his first touch let him down. We haven’t seen the left-footed laser successfully deployed in some time — he’s due.
- We saw it against Besiktas, but it looks as if Benayoun and Arbeloa have forged themselves a profitable understanding — more so than Pennant and Finnan.
- Speaking of Finnan; Has his first-choice status at right back been lost for good? Does the nimbleness of Arbeloa mean more bench time for the older Irish defender?
- It seems as if Reina is distributing the ball via a throw/roll more than often today, which I like. Liverpool retain possession and dictate the play much more that way. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s a trend or an anomaly.
- Because of my radio silence, I didn’t get to comment on last weekend’s debut of the yellow/blue ‘winter’ ball. Color me excited! (not really)
- Voronin got robbed on an offsides call. Not. even. close.
- Riise and Auriello switched positions. A nice little wrinkle, but JAR, to this day, still doesn’t fill me with genuine confidence at full-back.
- Fulham crapped the bed on a clearance, but shockingly, the skied ball was allowed to hit the ground eight yards out. Crouch was first to it, but produced nothing.
- The Auriello set-piece is the closest Liverpool came to a first-half goal as the woodwork is stubborn with Crouch’s header.
- After the first half, Liverpool looked good for a goal (or plural) but just couldn’t put all the pieces together.
- With Benayoun enjoying a purple patch, Pennant may find himself with some real work to do upon his return to duty after the New Year. While I’ve been an ardent supporter during the education of Jermaine, Benayoun has looked good on making the wide right position his own.
- Stevie G made a trademark stride up the middle only to be cynically clipped from behind by Danny Murphy. Auriello put the free-kick on frame and Yossi punted the save well over. Fabio displayed his dead-ball proficiency today.
- Voronin continued to tease the faithful with near misses. His power, vision and workrate cannot be doubted, though.
- Babel for Riise after 62 minutes. Immediately, he made a contribution, feeding Benayoun who forced Niemi into a quality save. In another wrinkle, Babel is on the right, Yossi switches to the left flank.
- Yossi slotted Voronin through wonderfully and the Ukranian went barely wide. No Liverpool player plays that sneaky through-ball into the box better than Benayoun.
- Babel’s insistence on trying to force the ball through defender’s shins is maddening. Megging is one thing, but passing matter through matter is quite another. Trust me, Ryan, I spent my whole youth trying to master that trick — it doesn’t work. Somebody get the kid a physics textbook.
- El Nino sighting! Unfortunately, it was for Voronin and not Crouch.
- Babel took a corner instead of the captain. The result, however, isn’t any better.
- Babel showed some speed down the left flank, pulling away from a shirt grab. His shot didn’t challenge Niemi much though.
- 76 minutes gone and my nerves began to warm up. The butt muscles got the signal from the manager to warm up for some clenching.
- Great header from Torres to put Crouch through. Problem was, Peter was offsides.
- Lucas for Masch after 80. It’s encouraging that Rafa thinks highly enough of the youngster to continually hand him minutes off the bench.
- Torres jinxes his way into the box and slots home a crafty shot inside the near post (and between the defenders legs). My Man Crush is in full bloom. I love watching him play.
- El Nino almost did it a minute later. Fernando may have just single-handily kept the LDC from moving back a minute.
- Crouch is clipped outside the box, but the PK is awarded nonetheless. A tough break for Fulham but it was a tough call, only obvious through the slowed video replay. Stevie G stepped up and continued his scoring spree.
- With the waters well-bloodied, Liverpool continued to snipe at the Fulham defense. They really looked like a different team since Torres came on. Looks as if he was the missing piece.
- The TV commentator dropped an interesting nugget — Elton John’s uncle played for Fulham and once scored a hat-trick against Liverpool. Interesting symmetry as the Rocketman was in my neck of the woods last night for a concert. And for the record, Coked-up/Watford-owning Elton John > Post ‘Lion King’ soundtrack Elton John. Imagine if he’d OD’d in the mid-80’s… instant legend.