Is it over yet?

9 05 2010

By the time I could access an online stream that worked, it was close to half time. However, it didn’t take me too long to realize that Liverpool have been quite pathetic this season and they seemed to continue to ebb away even in this game against Hull City!

This was further bolstered by the fact that 4th placed Tottenham had 2 goals in by 42 minutes in their match while Liverpool had probably their first chance, that too a dispirited effort by Agger that was hit into row Z from about 5 yards out. How the once mighty (Liverpool) have fallen.

Disgusting is one word that comes to min. I also am beginning to comprehend the reason for Torres’s petulance this season. I suddenly can empathize with him.

…And then my stream went down again.

Whence I got my live stream back I was treated to some more of Liverpool’s unimaginative game play with Hull posing more of a threat that they did in the first half. The only energy emanating from the Liverpool side was the gaffer, Rafael Benitez, traipsing about in the ‘strategic area’, that too with a somnambulant pace.

You know what, I don’t even want to write about Liverpool’s last game.





Officially no more fourth place

2 05 2010

Only in an alternate universe. http://www.liverpool.theoffside.com

Liverpool wrapped up their final game at Anfield for this season through yet another listless performance for which the Europa league exit is sure to be blamed for.

Despite an emotional Europa league semifinal exit, I expected the Reds to show some tooth here. But it was not to be as Drogba capitalized on a bad pass by Gerrard, in the first half and Lampard put one into the net in the second half to keep Chelsea in pole position and firm favorites to take the title next week.

As for Liverpool, it was a disgusting performance and they were largely disinterested in the proceedings. There were some surprise inclusions in the team for the reds as Aquilani started again but was not half as effective as he was in midweek.

Ho-hum, one more week to go but I just don’t care anymore. I think the fat lady has left the building after her ear drum piercing aria.

For a transcript from a live blog hosted on the wonderful http://www.liverpool.theoffside.com,  click here.





Liverpool v Chelsea – Preview

1 05 2010

I’ve not been getting any blog posts churned out off late because there exists on the horizon, a distinct possibility, that I’d be taking a major step towards graduation through a dissertation proposal defense which I should get done with soon (~ 2-4 weeks time).

This preview comes amidst the innumerable reports that Rafael Benitez might be on his way out, possibly to Juventus and that Dirk Kuyt might follow him out through the door. I don’t know how much truth exists in that but I would only assume that it isn’t entirely untrue.

Liverpool’s match against Chelsea, in the early kick-off on Sunday, would be the cynosure of several eyes which would include Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Aston Villa and the board of directors of Juventus. The reds would be quite tired, physically and emotionally, after their loss to Atletico Madrid which resulted in their ousting from the Europa league, the only minuscule chance of redemption that existed this year. Chelsea on the other hand would want to fortify their pole position and would like to beat Liverpool blue (pun intended) to help them in the said fortification which would keep their noses an inch or so ahead of Manchester United.

But the question to ask is, are Liverpool going to throw in the towel on the back of the trials and tribulations that they’ve faced this season or would they go in for the kill and go for the throat akin to a wounded animal. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. Of lesser probability is the hope of matching my team sheet with that of Rafael Benitez’s. But I’ll try:

Possible starting line up against Chelsea. http://www.liverpoolfc.tv

I am unsure of whether Ngog would be fit for the game and even if he is, if he would start in Kuyt’s place. The latter didn’t have the brightest games or the best latter half of the season, for that matter.





Pyrrhic victory(???) for Liverpool

19 04 2010
HELL I JUST CANT SEEM TO GET MY RETURN KEY TO WORK FOR THIS POST!
Rafael Benitez continued to frustrate me with his team selection (although it would prove to vindicate him later). Ngog started as the lone striker with Gerrard playing an unusual (unusual for Gerrard i.e.) withdrawn deep midfield position. No Mascherano, No Aquilani (What’s that all about….?). Lucas started.
Both teams started in subdued manner. West Ham were mellow as a result of their low morale in all likelihood while Liverpool’s muffled approach was probably as a result of the feeling of missing out on 4th place sinking in along with the news of Torres not being able to complete the season and who might have very well played his last game for the reds.
Notably, a number of seats lay derelict and empty at Anfield — an anachronism of sorts.
Liverpool did take the lead however on the 20th minute through Yossi Benayoun’s chested deflection from a superb free kick by Steven Gerrard. Soon Liverpool took what might be considered an unassailable lead for West Ham to overtake through… wait a minute… David Ngog. (I pictured Rafael Benitez waving a milatory finger at me saying “I told you so”)
However, there was a lull in Anfield at half time as this might just be a pyrrhic victory for Liverpool. Too little too late.
The second half started in similar drab fashion as neither team tried too hard to wake the crowd from it’s deep slumber. Despite the somnolent nature of the game, West Ham allowed Kyrgiakos to score only his second goal for Liverpool from a Steven Gerrard free kick (it is debate at this juncture whether it was an own goal by West Ham goalie, Rob Greene), with nearly 40 minutes to go!
It was Liverpool 3 West Ham 0 and it looked bad for the hammers while not looking very uppity for the Reds themselves given their current league position and that of Tottenham, Man City, Aston Villa and even Everton.
The only person proving to be quite a handful was Yossi Benayoun who was flashing past defenders like they were daisies in a field.
It was the 66th minute before West Ham elicited Reina’s first save of the game from an innocuous attempt on goal by Carlton Cole. That told the story of the match.
Liverpool made their first substitution of the evening in the form of Javier Masceranho coming on for Steven Gerrard as a precautionary measure for their midweek Europa league fixture. Momentarily, Ryan Babel, Liverpool’s super-sub came on for David Ngog.
Although Liverpool won the game in clinical fashion, the match lacked the usual fervor that is characteristic of Liverpool and their supporters. They desperately need to play more attractive football.




Possible starting eleven – Liverpool v West Ham Utd

18 04 2010

Let’s just keep aside, for the moment, West Ham’s inability to get a win on the road and focus on Liverpool’s inability to challenge for fourth spot. I hate to say this but LFC need to wake up, smell the coffee (or tea if thats was gets you a kick…) and consolidate.

They must consolidate their current position (which is 7th thanks to Aston Villa beating lowly Portsmouth) or lose out on any chance of playing in Europe next season. Their fourth place chances (if any at all), have taken a cruel hit with the announcement of Fernando Torres’s unavailability for the remained of the season due to injury. Considering that Torres was the only player in the side who looked to heap misery on oppositions, it’s quite scary that we might just see a goal drought for the next couple of games. I hope I am wrong.

I would like to see the following team tomorrow against West Ham and pray to the millions of gods in Hinduism that Benitez leaves Ngog and Leiva out of this, for once.

Possible starting eleven. http://www.liverpoolfc.tv

I also hope that Gerrard and Kuyt get on the score sheet tomorrow or all might be lost.





Kissing fourth place goodbye

13 04 2010

Optimists (read ‘people who see the bright side of a plague’) might say otherwise but I think I am bracing myself for Liverpool’s absence from the Champions League next season and possibly the Europa league as well.

I might sound fatalistic but I think we need to face the facts now. If the two consecutive draws against Birmingham City and Fulham were not bad enough, Manchester City continue to make a case for themselves as far by netting 3-4 goals every game.

This brings me to think what was amiss in Liverpool’s season and this is what I conclude:

  • Lack of world class strikers other than Fernando Torres. Ngog is no where close to Torres and LFC effectively play with one striker in their whole squad. Shameful.
  • Lack of a play-making midfielder. Ever since Xabi Alonso left Liverpool, Alberto ‘I am injured’ Aquilani has done little to fill the rather gaping hole in midfield. Lucas doesn’t belong to the same mold as Alonso and it is safe to assume that Lucas may be on his way out although I might be wrong about that (sitting on the fence in an ambiguous manner there!)
  • Steven Gerrard’s less than fruitful season. Captain Fantastic hasn’t clicked this season and has lost his touch. Some say that he might be on his way out. I sincerely hope not.
  • Have the wingers ‘provided’? Barring a some good performances by Glen Johnson who isn’t really a right side midfield player, LFC clearly lacks wingers who can provide devastating crosses. The one hope that they have, Ryan Babel, has featured less than he would have ideally liked (and made that quite clear on his Twitter page!)
  • Bench strength. Lets face it. Liverpool have a weak bench. Reinforcements are sorely needed.

Anything you might want to add to this, please leave a comment! I guess we just need to bring in the changes now.





Liverpool’s fourth place chance only a mathematical possiblity now

11 04 2010

Could have been a happier picture if it were not for a draw. Courtesy: LFCTV

As expected, Rafael Benitez made his trademark changes, ‘squad rotation’ as it is stylishly referred to as. Torres was left out, probably as a precautionary measure and David Ngog was bestowed with Torres’s ‘lone striker position’.  The other surprise inclusion was that of Alberto Aquilani who was on instead of presumably battle weary Lucas Leiva.

Liverpool showed plenty of attacking intent in the first half hour of the game with Alberto Aquilani, Ryana Babel and Maxi Rodriguez being very sharp and incisive. Liverpool would have certainly had a goal or two if it wasn’t for veteran Mark Schwarzer’s interventions. The game had all the makings of “one of those days” feelings that Liverpool would fully like to avoid at all costs!

There was a moment of contention in the 35th minute when Jonathan Greening, already on a yellow card, infringed on Glen Johnson’s right to keep his feet on the ground and contrived to clatter him. Much to Rafael Benitez and Liverpool’s pique, Greening stayed on the field as he didn’t see red flashed in his face. That kind of, effectively, summed up Liverpool’s boorish season.

Somehow, all this while, Steven Gerrard seemed quite M.I.A. although he had showed flashes of brilliance every fifteen minutes or so. Much to infrequently, I would like to imagine, for a player of his caliber and class.

The first half drew to a close with Liverpool failing to take the lead. I am sure that they fully know the consequences of not winning here against Fulham. Meanwhile the somewhat heart warming news of Manchester Utd’s ineffectual display against Blackburn Rovers: a 0-0 draw transpired.

This might have well been Steven Gerrard given Liverpool's ineffectual display. http://www.soccernet.com

The second half started with somewhat the same flavor as it’s predecessor, the first half. Schwarzer continued to thwart any and all efforts by Liverpool to take the lead. Aquilani had quite a few chances in the first five minutes which were all taken weakly. The benefit of the doubt would be given to the Italian as he is, after all, just getting back to competitive football (read soccer in case you are American…) after a lengthy lay-off.

Heres a breakdown of the match so far:

  • Fernando Torres’s absence was telling on Liverpool’s strife to get a goal.
  • Fulham were at Anfield for a draw.
  • Liverpool were playing with half a striker in Ngog, up front.
  • Gerrard wasn’t venturing forward enough.

It was surprising that with Liverpool hogging possession, 77%-23% between minutes 55-60, the reds had failed to come cloes to scoring. A shame. A couple of minutes later, Ryan Babel came up with perhaps the best attempt of the match which Schwarzer put away to safety, yet again.

Dirk Kuyt was all primed and prepped to come on and provide inspiration in the face of desperation! Aquilani was withdrawn for Kuyt suggesting that Liverpool might switch into a more attacking formation with 3 up-front, with Gerrard playing in the hole in all likelihood.

As Fulham’s mainstay striker, Bobby Zamora, came off, Liverpool midfielder, Yossi Benayoun looked to come on soon. Meanwhile, Maxi Rodriguez displayed his coming of age at Liverpool as he continued to demonstrate cross-field crossing that Liverpool have failed to see in the last couple of years. With about 20 minutes to go, further attacking reinforcement was provided by Benayoun who came on. At this stage Fulham had committed about half a dozen players to defensive duty. Liverpool, however, knew that points were not awarded in the Premier League for scaring the opponents into their own box.

Time was no longer a luxury and Liverpool had to get a goal in or kiss their fourth place chances goodbye once and for all. The unfortunately ineffective, David Ngog came off for young striker Daniel Pacheco who got a rousing applause from the Anfield faithful.

An 86th minute shout by Liverpool, for handball was turned down, further adding to Liverpool’s despair this afternoon. There were three minutes of added time for Liverpool to somehow squeeze in a goal to squeeze in a shout for fourth place. As the match ended, I couldn’t help but feel that Liverpool would not be featuring in the Champions League in the coming season, what with their closest competitors for the coveted fourth place, Manchester City, leading 3-1 at Birmingham City.

Now it is only mathematically possible for Liverpool to get in and I shudder to think of the ignominy that possibly awaits Liverpool in the next season.