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.

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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 Ngog started as the lone striker with Gerrard playing an unusual (unusual for Gerrard i.e.) withdrawn deep midfield position.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.




Liverpool v Fulham – European supremacy Part 1

10 04 2010

The title shows an obvious lack of ideas for … er …titles. However, it is rather surprising that given their antecedents this season, Liverpool and Fulham are the only two English sides still in any European competition, a stark contrast of a situation as compared to the EPL’s supremacy in Europe.

Anywhooo, this isn’t about the Europa league. Or the Champions League. This is about the Premier League. It is about whether Liverpool would reclaim fourth place which has so often been their’s over the last couple of seasons.

Given that Fulham are in the lower middle half of the table, I have a sneaky suspicion that they may rest a few key players  so as to avoid injuries to key players which might hamper their European adventure. On the other hand, Liverpool should probably play a full strength squad with Ryan Babel, possibly, returning to the starting line up after sitting out Liverpool’s mauling of Benfica. Having said that, if you know Rafael Benitez then there’s a good chance you can’t quite predict the starting line-up for tomorrows clash at Anfield!

On a side note, would we see Lucas Leiva start again or would the gaffer prefer 20 mil. man, Alberto Aquilani?

Predictions, predictions, predictions… Liverpool can’t afford a sub-par performance like the one they demonstrated against Birmingham, so I would say it would, in all probability, be a Liverpool victory: 2-0 or 2-1. Please do note that the key phrase here is “in all probability” and everyone who has followed Liverpool’s dismal season would understand my lack of confidence!





The race to fourth place

21 03 2010

The race to fourth place is all but over for the red half of Liverpool. Some would say that the proverbial fat lady had actually left the building a week ago when we lost to Wigan. I was strongly of the opinion that a positive result today would have stoked the remaining dying embers that are Liverpool’s chances of a fourth place finish but Liverpool have probably thrown water on the said embers with a watered, somnolent display.

Unless we have a miracle, Liverpool would

Bawl!!!!!!

e plying their once attractive football in the Europa league, much to the chagrin of the Liverpool faithful. This would in turn affect their exchequer and, god forbid it, but it might lead to the exodus of players.

I think it is a given that Albert Riera is on his way out. Dirk Kuyt has failed to make an impression in the last couple of weeks or so and has looked a shadow of his former self. Gerrard has looked completely out of sorts as if he were in a foreign land and was asking for directions with disastrous results. Torres, despite being involved in a glut of goals, has looked a petulant child. As for Rafael Benitez, his days seem to be numbered and probably the only thing that will keep him at Anfield at the end of this season is the massive payoff that would need to be doled to him in case of a premature termination of his contract.

Liverpool will take on Sunderland this weekend. I would like to say that it looks like 3 points are for the taking but given Liverpool’s recidivist attitude this season, I would not like to make sensational predictions in their favor!





Liverpool throw lead away at Stoke

16 01 2010

Liverpool are presenting a classic case study on “Further escalating troubles” as they managed to throw away a 0-1 lead in the 90th minute and allowed Stoke City to clinch a single point from the game with themselves being denied what could have been a crucial win. With 6 changes from midweek’s encounter, Liverpool fielded what was predominantly a defensive team with as many as 6 defenders and a further 2 defensive midfielders in Leiva and Mascherano.

Maxi Rodriguez was given a hurried debut in the 75th minute with Aquilani coming on too. Liverpool looked a broken side throughout the match and although Kyriagkos got his first goal for Liverpool to put the reds 0-1 up, the persistent droop that they’ve displayed in recent weeks was lifted only mere millimeters. And then came the dagger through the heart as Stoke City scored of a corner, in the 90th minute as Liverpool’s set-piece-diarrhea continued. Kuyt almost won the match for Liverpool in a desperate literal last second header to only see the post come to Stoke City’s rescue.

Rafael Benitez is living on borrowed time and I can’t really see how long this will continue even though there is a large severance package that the Liverpool board room would need to pay him if he were to be removed from service. I am at a complete loss of words and don’t have it in me to hope that Liverpool finish 4th.





It’s been a while…

29 12 2009

It has most certainly, unequivocally, been a while. A while since Liverpool went on a winning streak and a while since I published a blog post. The former is as a result of Liverpool’s own failings while the latter is on account of a rather heavy Yuletide schedule.

Goal number 50! www.soccernet.com

Goal number 50! http://www.soccernet.com

After what could be considered an important, if not pretty 2-0 win against a 10 man relegation threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers, Liverpool would want back-to-back wins to improve their rather disgraceful league position. Of course, Aston Villa wouldn’t prove to be pushovers and could be considered one of Liverpool’s main rivals for the Champions League 4th spot.

Surprisingly, Rafael Benitez chose to start Aquilani. Back-to-back starts for the 20 million pound man from Roma: a first for Rafa, a first for Aquilani too! The rest of the team was more or less the same as the one that beat Wolves on boxing day at Anfield.

Reina makes crucial save. www.soccernet.com

Reina makes crucial save. http://www.soccernet.com

The first half provided it’s share of hi-jinks. Liverpool had a larger share of the possession, had two shots on goal and half a dozen corners against the Villans inferior possession, one shot on goal and two corners. The reds, however, didn’t capitalize on all these chances while the Villan’s almost made it 1-0 in their favor if it wasn’t for Pepe Reina’s instinctive save of off a Stuart Downing belter. The reds were having a tough time contending with Agbonlahor, Stuart Downing and James Milner. In favor of the reds, Dirk Kuyt was proving to be a regular thorn in the Villan’s side and Gerrard looked like he was about 20-25 minutes away for regaining his usual, devastating form.

The second half picked up where the first half left off, if with a tad more zest. Liverpool commanded proceedings for the first quarter of the hour but continued to lack the sting, the tooth that would allow them the dispatch the ball into the net. With about 75 minutes gone, Aston Villa came into their own as they pummeled the red box with all the force they could muster. Soon they were seeing eye-to-eye as far as the number of corners that Liverpool had garnered. The Villan’s however had the better chances of the two teams but the scoreboard remained dormant at 0-0, a situation that would not please the red half of spectators,to say the least.

Ryan Babel was introduced to irritate with his pace and so was Martin Skrtel for the injured and ineffective Glen Johnson. There were 4 minutes of stoppage time as a result of a long stoppage in the second half when the crowds were treated to a some foot-gear antics by Reina. Aston Villa tried to ensure that they kept possession in the final 4 minutes of one of the most crucial games of 2009.

There were wanton errors committed by both teams and the ball switched feet faster than in a tennis match. One such error saw the ball rebound of off Yossi Benayoun and fall to the feet of the one and only Fernando Torres. And Torres being Torres, he made no mistake and rocketed the ball into the net, past the usually tidy Brad Friedel’s hands giving Liverpool a 1-0 advantage with 30 seconds or so to go!

Torres scores winner! www.soccernet.com

Torres scores winner! http://www.soccernet.com

This was Torres’s 50th goal in a red shirt and was the fastest ever 50 goals by any player in a Liverpool jersey. But what was most important was that Liverpool clinched all 3 points with this win promoting them over Birmingham City and within 2 points of the elusive 4th place!





Liverpool win (at last!)

29 11 2009

The 212th derby between Liverpool and Everton had quite an eventful first half. Notably, Gerrard was back and appeared to be fully fit. The half was all about losing possession as both teams were quite quick in doing so as the ball shifted hands or rather feet quite regularly.

Only Mascherano's 2nd goal for Liverpool. www.soccernet.com
Mascherano celebrates dubious goal. http://www.soccernet.com

The breakthrough did come, against the general run of play, of a deflected goal from a Mascherano shot! It was 1-0 in Liverpool’s favor with about 20 minutes of the first half gone. It was quite a relief for Liverpool, but given their recent misdemeanors in front of their own goal by their defense, it was no reason to get all bubbly. Everton had two goals disallowed in the half as a result of blatant offsides. Gerrard had little or no part to play in the first half of the match while the Liverpool defense still had the general frailty that has been on display all season long!

The second half saw the balance of power swing from one side to another. Louis Saha was brought on by the blue half of Liverpool on 65 minutes to inject some freshness up-front. Liverpool had 3 corners in quick succession but lacked the tooth to have a further impact on the score sheet. Reina was a real Liverpool hero on the 70th minute as he thwarted a double shot at goal by Everton which almost opened up Liverpool’s uncertain defense yet again.

On 75 minutes Benayoun was introduced for an ineffectual David Ngog. Aquilani is yet to make an appearance on the field for Liverpool. And by appearance, I don’t mean one that lasts a minute like in midweek!

And here goes. Its 75 minutes gone and thats cue for Benitez to make further substitutions as Albert Riera made his entrance for Fabio Aurelio after a really long lay off. David Moyes was matching substitution-for-substitiution at this point. You might have realized that the game had set itself into such subdued lethargy that the only notable moments in the game were that of players coming on and players going off.

The match was again stirred into action through a goal (at long last!) from Dirk Kuyt (at long last!) by a combination scrappy attack orchestrated by Gerrard and Riera to be clinically finished by Dirk Kuyt for whom a goal was wayyyyy overdue!

At 2-0 to Liverpool the score was more or less written in stone as it proved to be a happy derby day for the red half of Liverpool. Plus, they kept a clean sheet after a real long time in the Premier League! It was a highly subdued match punctuated only quite infrequently with the ardor that is associated with a derby clash but Liverpool will be happy to take all three points from this match to aid them in their quest for 3rd/4th spot.