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.
As 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:
We don’t have a definite date in mind for Daniel just yet but it is looking very positive for him at the moment. If he continues to progress the way he has been then maybe he will be back in one or two weeks.
The thing we have to keep an eye on is that the player can be fit, but that is not necessarily the same thing as being ready for a match. If he can run this week without any problems then maybe he can be involved in games soon.
In other words, barring a breakdown/setback, DAgger’s inclusion at Newcastle is a distinct possibility.
In additional uplifting news, Javier Mascherano is making all the right noises about a permanent switch to Liverpool.
I am calm and relaxed about it. From my point of view it is simple; I want to play for Liverpool. I want to sign a permanent deal. I have told Rafa Benitez this and he has told me he wants to keep me.
I have had enough of travelling the world from club to club. I want roots, and I want them here in Liverpool. I don’t want to move again next summer but if I do not sign for Liverpool then I will not play for another club in England. Not Manchester United, not Chelsea or Arsenal. If I am not with Liverpool I don’t want to be in England. It would be impossible for me to play against them in the Premier League because of the respect I have for the club. I want to stay in England, but only with Liverpool. The club created an opportunity for me which I am grateful for so no other English club will come into my thoughts.
By staying here I will become a better player and that way I can help Liverpool to be more successful. It would also be fantastic to form a long-term partnership with Steve Gerrard. Everyone knows he is one of the best midfield players in the world.
His loan deal is up come summer and the price being bandied about for his permanent signature is £17 million. Obviously, it would be money well-spent, but I personally hope that he and the club will be able to put pressure on his dirty Iranian agent in order to drop that figure by a few mil.
For his part, Rafa is just as keen on Masch:
Mascherano wants to stay, he is very happy here. He is a key player for us and I have been talking with him and he is really pleased to be at Liverpool. His family are settled here and his wife is learning English and he is very comfortable here.
Javier also knows that the supporters like him and I think if everything is okay he will stay with us. We are happy with him so it would be good for everyone if he stayed at Liverpool.
Despite real interest from Barca and imagined/laughable interest from Man City, I can’t imagine a real scenario where Liverpool does not shell out the cash to keep him in red, but until something gets done and the ink is dry (and the loan deal goes until June 30), we’ll just have to wait and see.
I’m also curious to see, now that the club has city council approval, when ground will be officially broken on the new stadium. Right now, the most time-specific date I’ve heard is “spring”. But, some of the surrounding non-stadia area in Stanley Park is set to undergo restoration this week. Let’s get this bad boy started…
(photo lifted from Liverpool Echo)