Archive for March, 2008

I Like To Do Drawings

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From the Land of Knives and Misses (Switzerland), the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals (and semi’s) has been held and the results are in…

Liverpool will face Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday, April 2 and back at Tuesday, Anfield on April 8. As much as anybody would have loved to seen the weaker sides of Schalke or Fenerbahce, we all just had to know that we’d be facing another English team. While former Ian Rush look-a-like John Aldridge had recently said he wanted United, this tie will pit the last two losers of the CL final against one another. I certainly prefer them over United (whom are now on the other side of the draw). Maybe the Arse will even be pre-occupied with a title race?

And in keeping with that sentiment, should we advance past the Gunners, we get the winner of Chelsea-Fenerbahce. Chelsea in the semi’s — shocking.

The rest of the draw:

Roma v Man United
Schalke v Barcelona
Fenerbahce v Chelsea

The semi-final draw:

Arsenal or Liverpool v Fenerbahce or Chelsea
Schalke or Barcelona v Roma or Man United

Chelsea and Barca get what most people would assume are the easier draws, so hopefully one of them will choke on it. I certainly don’t envy United as Roma are in surging form and will likely look to right the wrong of last year’s elimination.

Whatcha think?

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Michael Caine Movie Reference

1-0 (3-0 aggregate). Liverpool advance, Milan goes stays home and Mancini is quitting.

I canz unclench butt muscles now?

So, the team continues to prove it knows how to advance through Europe. While Inter had their chances, everybody on the pitch for Liverpool did their jobs effectively. I won’t go into a review of the performances now, but maybe we can talk more about Europe on Friday after the drawing for the Quarterfinals.

(edit: This is a particularly enjoyable first-hand account of the match by Robert Gotta)

Bringing back an old favorite (of mine, not necessarily yours)… my thoughts on (from during) the match:

  • I really like the Liverpool training gear. The white track top is particularly sharp. I need to put that thought out of my head… As if that’s just what I really need — more fucking Liverpool gear.
  • ESPN is already on top of their game, running video of Arsenal’s Fabergas when Tommy Smyth is talking about El Nino. Truly the World Wide Leader…
  • I remember a time when I actually feared Patrick Vieira’s influence on a game. Now? *laugh* His inclusion is good news.
  • Obviously, Rafa thinks highly of Skrtel (or ‘Skittles’ as JT has named him) if he’s pushing Carra out to deputize at right back (with Arbeloa available). Yet, it also gives them some flexibility with three centerbacks on the field. Having another young CB learning the ropes should prove invaluable next season once we have the DAgger back.
  • Babel gets a yellow card for… um… ignoring the ref’s direction to line up with the wall? Meh…
  • What started off as Liverpool pressure has evolved into constant Inter pressure. I worry about defending for such long periods of time over the duration.
  • I find it amusing everytime somebody talks or writes about Alonso missing the game, it’s b/c ‘his girlfriend is having a baby’. A baby… they never say his baby. I understand it’s assumed, but I have yet to read a single report saying he stayed back in Liverpool for ‘the birth of his child’. Maybe they know something I don’t? (I’m kidding…)
  • Kuyt and Carra try to get an exchange going on the right wing with poor results. Cue ‘The Odd Couple’ music. Continue reading ‘Michael Caine Movie Reference’

El Fantastico Speaks About, um, Itself

While reposting player-speak is nothing new ’round these parts, I found one half of El Fantastico (Captain Fantastic) speaking about the other (El Nino) in such a frank manner rather refreshing. Ahead of the Inter match, Stevie G is obviously pysched to finally have a true equal in the final third of the pitch:

The lad who comes into their side for Materazzi will not be looking forward to his 90 minutes against Fernando. He roasted Materazzi in the first-leg. He (Materazzi) might think he was hard-done-by to be sent-off but he could have been booked for a bad tackle before he had one yellow, never mind the second one. It shows how easy Torres’ pace and strength unsettled a World Cup winner.

We will be looking to hit them on the counter-attack and Torres plays that game better than anyone around. Not only can you stick the ball over the top and let him chase it, but he can make things happen himself like he did against Marseille earlier in the tournament, when we needed to win in France to go through to the last 16.

He’s brilliant, fantastic. I wouldn’t swap him for any other striker anywhere. He has been massive for us and gives us so many different options up front. He’s banging them in and always looks a threat every time he plays. You can play him on his own or with a partner and he just adapts perfectly.

He’s certainly made life tough for the foreign boys coming to England now. When you look at the impact he has made in just seven months here, it means that no-one now can make excuses about needing time to settle. I feel England suits him even better than Spain. He suits the constant flow and the rough and tumble of the Premier League better than the stop-start technical La Liga.

He is just a kid really in football terms, and he is going to get better and better. That is a frightening thought, but not for us. It’s frightening for the defences he is going to be coming up against.

The more I think about this ‘partnership’, the more excited I get…

Not like that.

What If?

I have to say, it was an interesting, if not fun, weekend for English footy. The FA Cup was overflowing with pixie dust as giant-killers Barnsley put Chelsea to the sword in front of their home fans, the Footy Gods conspired against United to see Pompey through and even the Bluebirds got in on the action by walking away from the Riverside with a Premiership scalp.

Back in league action, with their rivals busy on cup duty, Arsenal had a chance to solidify their slim lead in the league, but stumbled away from Wigan with just one point (sitting at 66 points). So, now with a game-in-hand, second-placed United only sit two points behind the Gunners (I suppose I could mention Chelsea has two games-in-hand on Arsenal whose full allotment would bring them within two points of the Londoners).

The run-in to the championship will be worth watching. As Jim Ross would say, business is about to pick up.

Yet, all the way back in fourth place, Liverpool have been taking care of business, re-staking our claim for Champions League football (otherwise known as ‘The Bare Minimum’). As alluded to yesterday, the team has been on a good run, picking up 12 straight points from their last four league matches and taking lead (on goal difference) in the qualification battle over the Bitters. Yet, we still sit ten points behind Wenger’s leaders (11 if one assumes United wins their game-in-hand and takes over the pole position).

We all know why we’re out of the title race. More than anything, the final nails in Liverpool’s league title coffin were the woeful string of results after Boxing Day. They included:

Continue reading ‘What If?’

We Got The Hook-up

So, after Stevie G’s comments/grousing/whining/refreshing admission, the Reds have turned up the heat on the pretenders for fourth place with their improved form. Regardless of what you might have thought about the captain’s words, there is no denying that the team have gone about their business since the Barnsley loss, setting themselves up nicely for the return leg at the San Siro and dispatching their last four league opponents, each with no less than three goals in each match. Granted, these were clubs who make up the bottom half of the league table, but we all know that has not necessarily guaranteed a Liverpool result in days past (well, it never does, really…).

Obviously, leading the line (figuratively and literally) is El Nino. 25 goals in 34 matches, 18 in the league, 13 goals in the last 12 starts… At this point, having been on the his bandwagon from Day One, I’m at serious risk of developing a medical condition from all the slurping I’ve continually thrown his way (in fact, we may have to consider changing the name of this blog). So, I’ll grab a quick breather and let King Kenny do it for me (whose replica ’81 Hitachi jersey I just got in the mail the other day) in a rather succinct manner:

Torres just oozes class in attack. For me the kid is the best buy anywhere in Europe this season. The worrying thing for everyone else is the fact that I can only see him getting better and better as the season continues.

Best buy of the season, hands down. Hell, he could be Liverpool’s best buy of the decade. Especially since Dalglish is spot on — he will likely only get better. Granted, he hit the ground running but imagine what next season could hold with the knowledge and experience he’s gained from this season?

But, that’s not what I’m really on about today. What really fills me with hope/excitement is the obvious partnership being formed. While we all would like another productive striker to put up top with Torres, he’s already forged himself quite the understanding with the other World Class player on the pitch — Stevie Gerrard.

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(pic: Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)

Watch today’s El Nino goal — how lovely is that Gerrard pass? It’s not the first time we’ve seen it. And, ever the gentleman, Fernando returned the favor. These two work incredibly well together and are meshing in a promising manner. Having two players buildling a monsterous pipeline from midfield to the front line should result in continued returns.

No doubt, there are a few additions (and some attention paid to consistency) yet to be made to truly make this a squad that can lift the Premier League trophy. But, I’m optimistic (it’s a disease, really) that the future remains lit (I’ll hold off on ‘bright’) with these two titans playing together.

So, as the rest of month promises Inter, United and the Bitters, here’s a toast to the continued fruition of El Fantastico — the new partnership.