Liverpool vs. Arsenal Preview

12/08/2010 § 1 Comment

It’s Round One for Roy Hodgson, then. After a summer of bountiful optimism, what with the new managerial appointment, Gerrard and Torres pledging their futures, Joe Cole and Jovanovic coming on board for free, and new ownership on the horizon, no doubt that us Liverpool fans are pretty chuffed.

So while Roy Hodgson’s present record can boast of a couple of victories home and away in the Europa League, his first real test will come with Arsenal, when we welcome the Londoners to our lovely home on Sunday.

Arsenal have been a hard nut to crack over the last few years. Damn that gobby little Russian. And the fact that the Gunners have acquired a tallish Moroccan chap means that their aerial presence up front will be damning. Aerial threat, might I add, was a real pain in our hindsides the last time around.

So while Fabregas and Van Persie might miss the game, the upside for Arsenal is the fact that even their lesser gifted players can simply lob the ball up thoughtlessly and vaguely towards the head of Chamakh and watch Jamie Carragher comically try to outsmart him. But we can trust Arsenal to do better than just that, can’t we?

The Gunners seem to have hit on England’s latest prodigy—a phrase which loses its importance after every World Cup, because the England fans after a shambolic performance simply sniff and sneer about that phrase anyway. Jack Wilshere might start the first and one of the biggest matches of their season, because, well, Wenger’s mind works slightly differently than that of most people.

It remains to be seen which half-baked goalkeeper Arsenal field because their attempts to lure Mark Schwarzer have more or less been canned. We can expect their defense to be tight, their midfield fast, and Chamakh to be tall. And if nothing else, there’s Arshavin too.

And now to the Liverpool side of the match. Well, Gerrard just banged in a couple of lovely goals yesterday—one of them took me back a few years—so we can expect him to be in top form.

Cole and Jovanovic must have an itch on their backsides to back up their great love for the club! There is Glen Johnson of course, dodgy as ever in the defense. Jamie Carragher will partner either of Agger or Skrtel in the heart of the defense, something which hinges on whom Roy Hodgson places his trust for occupying our traditionally weak left back spot.

Arsene Knows—so in all probability will send some really tough chap on their right wing to make our life miserable. One wonders if Mascherano will start at all or if he’s already built his imaginary castle in the Utopian Barcelona/Inter Milan/Juventus. Lucas will play. Aqua will play some part at some point of time.

Torres’ fitness is a question which needs answering—and fast—lest we be left with the poverty of playing N’Gog as the lone man in front.

Since the aforementioned optimism has got the better of me, I’m going to put my head between the guillotine, tongue between my teeth and go for a 3-2 in favor of Liverpool.

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David Villa Warns Liverpool FC; Boy Am I Scared. *sigh*

02/08/2010 § Leave a comment

David Villa finally proved himself to be a true blood Barcelona player by rubbing his nose in where it isn’t always welcome. Barcelona players have been doing this shameless verbal arm-twisting with numerous clubs and players over the past few years and David Villa, their newest signing proved himself capable of dissing rival clubs with remarkable efficiency by registering his ‘surprise’ at Fernando Torres choosing to stay at Liverpool when all evidence available suggest that he ought to jump ship and travel southwards to Chelsea instead.

Now sure they may be the world champions and the best exponents of the much celebrated tiki-taka football – which basically means that Xavi will make 1078 meaningless passes before he does the smart thing and gives it to Messi/Villa (depending on which team we’re talking about) – but surely that does not confer upon the Spaniards the right to pass seemingly candid judgments about where they believe their presently non Barcelona affiliates ought to run around? Xavi, Pique and recently Carles Puyol have been incessantly riling Arsenal about their captain Cesc Fabregas and been trying to exercise public sympathy for his predicament right from claiming that the Catalan blood runs through his veins up to comparing his perfectly legal contractual agreement with Arsenal to modern slavery or some such. David Villa on the other hand has taken a to a slightly different target in a completely different club and somewhat a different proposition for improving his flagging decision making skills.

So according to David Villa and his annoying soul-patch, Fernando Torres should go to Chelsea and win some trophies. Torres staying at Liverpool FC sounds ridiculous to the Spanish masterstroke. Clearly, in his mind, winning trophies with rich ostentatious clubs is closer to his heart than mundane things such as loyalty, respect and love for the club. Chelsea of course being the club that he himself deemed to lowly to go to when compared with the glorious half of the two horse race that runs in Spain. What he basically wanted to say was, “Don’t come here and give me trouble claiming my spot in this glorious bountiful Catalan team young Torres. Go to some other club that wins at least one trophy every year. Don’t bother yourself with the big boys like the brotherhood of Barcelona. Stay in the Premier League join their half successful club where the Blaugrana will never be bothered with your dazzling runs and your brilliant stop-and-run brilliance and threat in front of goal.”

God, how I hate Barcelona. That dastardly holier than thou attitude. Their mes que un club proclamation. Them and their UNICEF sponsorship for free; another little something which tries to position them as a cut above the rest. Unfortunately they do not realize that all this nose poking in the wrong direction is only spoiling their image in the eyes of the neutrals. Its time they put their noses where it needs to be put (on their own faces) and try to come up with a way to checkmate their newest adversary recruited by Real Madrid to knock them off their effing perch.

Liverpool Re-Sign Fabio Aurelio

01/08/2010 § Leave a comment

In a piece of news which is going to make most of us go ‘what-the-eff?’, Liverpool confirmed resigning Fabio Aurelio, the 30-year old out-of-contract left back who was let go of by the club earlier this summer. With this ‘signing’ Fabio Aurelio joins the burgeoning contingent of talented players signed by Liverpool this season without having to rummage our very meager pockets.

By his own admission, Aurelio, the Brazilian left back said, “I feel very pleased and proud. It feels like I am signing for the first time – everything has changed so it is like a new beginning for me with new confidence and a new boss.”

With Emiliano Insua having more or less completed his transfer to Fiorentina, the need for a left back was pretty urgent. And with Fabio Aurelio available, fit and well acquainted with the club, I’m assuming that it took very little common sense on the part of Roy Hodgson to run to the John Lennon airport before Fabio departed into oblivion forever and sign the very versatile player.

Roy said in an interview with the official club website, “I asked the club to find out whether Fabio had found a new club. When we ascertained that he hadn’t, we invited him back to Melwood so both myself and my staff, and the medical team could properly assess the player.”

Fabio Aurelio has been a fan favorite since Rafael Benitez procured the Brazilian from Valencia and it is a signing several Liverpool fans will welcome. But given his overwhelming record of injuries, the purchase of another left back is imminent. And with the money Roy saved in signing Aurelio, perhaps we could go in for another Fabio at left back. Coentrao, anyone?

Joe Cole Puts Pen To Paper, Will Now Be Seen in a Liverpool Shirt

01/08/2010 § Leave a comment

Liverpool is the sort of club that never ceases to amaze you. One moment we’re in an abysmal place—seventh in the league for those who need reminding—with the toad owners refusing to sell up, and the next second there is a new coach and a couple of quick cheap signings.

Welcome to Anfield, Joe Cole.

It’s a funny place, as you will soon find out. Official reports suggest—as opposed to extremely widely-off-the-mark speculative reports—that Joe has put pen to paper at the only club that matters to me.

The ink is still fresh and wet on the contract document and the fans are probably ecstatic. I know I am! Perhaps at a high wage you might argue—90k/week is the number currently doing the rounds although there is no official statement at the time of writing.

But Joe Cole will be a quality addition no doubt.

Firstly, he addresses one very important position on the pitch that has been quite troublesome for the last few years—the left wing.

While bitter Spurs and Arsenal fans may whine about Joe Cole being too mercenary, pricey and what not, he saw an opportunity at Liverpool FC which he possibly didn’t see at other clubs—the opportunity to be a sure starter. The lack of which drove him out of Chelsea, the availability of which brought him to Anfield.

And his ability to play in the hole behind the striker is an added bonus, although all vacancies for that position are currently very well stocked the way I see it.

More than the absolute quality and creativity of Joe Cole, which a lot of people continue to hurrah about, I personally would like to focus on a different aspect of this signing.

It may perhaps be a bit premature to say this, but bringing in Joe Cole says something about the type of football Roy Hodgson intends to make Liverpool play.

Tactically speaking, Joe Cole adds versatility to a squad that definitely needs it. With Joe Cole on board, Liverpool might actually see a 4-3-3 formation with Joe on the left, Fernando Torres in the center and Kuyt or Jovanovic on the right.

On the other hand, we may see the more successful (as proved during the World Cup) 4-2-3-1 with a genuine left-winger for a change. The addition of Joe Cole to the squad means that some of the responsibility of attacking currently shouldered by Gerrard will be reduced, as he will be able to sit deeper from where he can see the game and dictate it.

Secondly, it sends out a message of reassurance to our beloved stars. Fernando Torres demanded quality signings. Here’s one to start with.

Welcome to Liverpool FC Joe Cole. YNWA.

Rafa Benitez’ Step-By-Step Plan For Internazionale’s Destruction

01/08/2010 § Leave a comment

[DISCLAIMER: Right, so now let me make the matter of me being somewhat an Inter fan very clear. I basically support Liverpool, but you know, you need to have some team you like in every league, right? So there is Inter, Wolfsburg, and the others. But it really peeves me how the Waiter continues to coach a lot of the teams I like. Being not too big a fan of his is the inspiration for this satirical effort.]

The fat Spanish chap you see in the image left my beloved Liverpool FC in shambles, the boardroom torn, the dressing room messy, and more or less robbed us of a figure which is reportedly (depending on which ‘report’ you choose to believe) between three and nine GBP. Some bollocks he has, making a slightly less financially-lucrative move to the European champions after taking the compensation package, threatening to hijack the Jovanovic deal and bidding lower than his own valuation of our whiny defensive midfielder, Javier Mascherano.

Curse that man. I pity Inter for their future—as predicted by a source almost as credible as that pesky German Octopus—is given below.

2010-2011: Swaps Cambiasso + 12 million for the whiny Argentinian. Pisses Thiago Motta off by telling sniffing at him disdainfully and telling a former Barcelona player that he will never be as good as Lucas. Motta promptly hotfoots it to Real Madrid, followed by Maicon, since Benitez is superman and doesn’t need a right back because he plans to play a 3-5-2 system. In the Italian league, yes.

2011-2012: Realizes that Javier Zanetti is starting to ‘I’m-Getting-Too-Old-for-This-Stuff’ his job and inexplicably sells Cristian Chivu and buys a Hispanic defender. Bids for Torres and successfully purchases the Paraguayan midfielder.

2012-2013: Acknowledges Milito’s advancing age and responds by playing Mario Balotelli on the left-hand side of the midfield. Because that’s what he does best. Grumbles something about Lucio being too ugly and has his own face disfigured by the Brazilian hardman.

2013-2014: Complains something about not having transfer funds and about Massimo Moratti being too cheap. Peeves Wesley Sneijder by courting Eljero Elia. Sneijder leaves, Elia joins the Manchester City All-Star Team, and Benitez consoles himself by buying an old Greek centerback.

2014-2015: Still no sign of new strikers as Milito’s hair goes gray and Eto’o strolls around the training ground with a walking stick and bifocals.

2015-2016: Fails to notice that Goran Pandev left the club, won the Italian league with Parma, retired, and has been working as an Italian football pundit two years ago.

2016-2017: Spots an African man on the training ground and asks him his name. African man replies, “Sulley Muntari”.

2017-2018: Oh did i mention Inter got relegated three years ago?

2018-2019: Brings out the ‘facts’ sheet against new Juventus coach Walter Samuel. Asked by Massimo Moratti to leave. Benitez refuses. Moratti secretly calls up a friend in Palermo, Sicily. “Hello, Mr Corleone?…”

Europa League: Liverpool FC 4-1 Benfica

09/04/2010 § 2 Comments

And to think, I was a wee bit downcast to see the name ‘Lucas’ on the team sheet.

Armed with an away goal, Rafael Benitez was undoubtedly thinking somewhere on the lines ‘if we score the one goal, we’re through’. And surely with Torres up front it wasn’t much to ask for?

But Benfica started so well that for the first 10 minutes or so, Rafa must’ve been having kittens with his decision threatening to backfire. Benfica had the possession, the tackles, the attacks and a couple of shots as well. Pablo Aimar was at his wily best, the most craftiest Benfica player on the night while David Luiz was getting into some disconcerting enough positions. Agger occupying the left back spot in the absence of Emiliano Insua looked like a babe in the woods early on. Even Torres missed a couple of chances early on.

But that opening goal which Rafa had his keen, bespectacled eye on was not too far away. Liverpool won a corner and Steven Gerrard’s expert delivery meant that it was a simple job of out-muscling the Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar for the erstwhile awful Dirk Kuyt by heading the ball into the net. 1-0.

Keeping in mind Manchester United’s exit from the Champions League, perhaps our Reds thought there was a pressing need to score another just to keep the slender away goal advantage safe. So the captain marshaled the troops forward. And it was his through-ball that sent a blond man through, clear of all defenders in his path. A little side step on the poor, unassisted Julio Cesar and the ball was put in expertly with a graceful enough finish. And despite the a little shakiness in the early exchanges, Liverpool were, quite surprisingly 2-0 up.

But not so surprisingly as was the name of the goalscorer. To think, this expert finish did NOT come from Torres, NOT from Kuyt and since Gerrard was the one putting in the through-ball, presumably not from him either. Step up Lucas Leiva.

It’s hard to say which of the parties involved in the game was more surprised at the remarkable intelligence and calmness shown by one who has been regarded as one of the dumbest, and truly one of the crappiest players to hover around Anfield. Benfica were stunned. Their fans were stunned. The Liverpool fans were stunned. The self-confessed Lucas hating bandwagon came to a screeching halt. The wheels were off the damn thing. Well at least for that night. Liverpool’s worst player had suddenly scored a goal.

And what followed was a bloody riot. 2 goals ahead means that Liverpool had the cushion to play freely for the first time since that lovely evening at Anfield against Sunderland.

It was an end to end game really, full credit to Benfica for putting on a great show despite, well, being crappy in some departments. Clearly, I’m not too big on the Portuguese league and I really didn’t see what’s the big deal about that Oscar Cardozo guy is. He was terrible all through the game. A good free kick-taker, I’ll give him that But otherwise really lost against our defense. And Ramires was pretty much on the fringes and his only contribution to the game was theatrically tripping just at the edge of the box and handing Cardozo a free kcik from close range.

And in the end it was only a simple matter of wrapping the thing up. Torres mopped Benfica up with two well taken goals in the end.

Ratings!

Reina: 6. Not much to do for him. Not much he could’ve done about the goal either.

Johnson: 5. Clearly a weak link. With every match I’m more and more convinced that he’s not really too strong in the head. Angel Di Maria wasted no time in exploiting his rather slow thinking.

Carragher: 8. Did a stellar job in containing Aimar who looked like he was just one Carragher away from making a decisive pass. Solid performance.

Kygriakos: 6.5. Again, not the most intelligent fellow around and his only reaction too being in possession and threatened by Benfica was to promptly boink the ball behind the goal for a corner. Perhaps a more craftier player than Ramires or Cardozo could have given him a good test.

Agger: 7. Out of position and clearly a little wary of going forward. But mopped up defensively well.

Mascherano: 7. Understated performance. Tackled well and passed well too.

Lucas: 8. One point more than Mascherano for a well taken goal.

Benayoun: 8. Another player who really troubled the Benfica defense quite a bit and looked terrific going forward. Deserved a goal perhaps, but neither of us are complaining.

Gerrard: 8. Two assists. And a good hard running performance. Coming into his own. But not quite there yet.

Kuyt: 6.5. The goal and the assist masked an otherwise less than average performance.

Torres: 9. Went down a bit too easily and unconvincingly at times which was irritating. But two goals and for the fourth consecutive time at Anfield meant it was another 9/10 performance.

YNWA

Are Liverpool FC Making a Bad Signing to Compensate for a Good One?

31/03/2010 § Leave a comment

The most ridiculous reports are out there for all to see. Liverpool are ready to rescue Raul from his current Real Madrid nightmare as he continues to be overlooked by Real Madrid’s coach Manuel Pellegrini. Which will clearly be a terrible signing given that Raul is no longer the man he used to be and would be a pure waste of money, however big a legened he may have been for Real Madrid.

A promising ‘signing’ indeed was that of a certain Peter Brukner a doctor who specializes in sports injuries and their cures. Dr. Brukner claims that it will be a great challenge working for Liverpool FC. Well, I;ve got two words for you doc…

Fabio Aurelio.

YNWA

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