Rabotnicki vs Liverpool FC – Preview

27 07 2010

I am completely clueless as to who will start in Liverpool’s premature season opener on Thursday and so heres my team:

All I can hope for is Aquilani and Lucas start with maybe Shelvey and most probably Jovanovich getting a chance. In case the club doesn’t sell all it’s promising youngsters (along the lines of Emiliano Insua ), we might see El Zhar, Pacheco, Ayala and Kelly starting. Or if Hodgson ‘confers with his sports scientists‘ and feels that the Europa league opener is well worth the risk of playing Gerrard et al. (et al. hoping that Torres stays), we might see a senior team.

As for the game itself, anything including and upwards of a 0-0 draw would be considered a bonus, I would think.



24 07 2010

I am back after a two month hiatus during which several things academically important were completed. However, I will soon be off for a month long break. So this post is meant to whet your appetite particularly if you have sufficiently medicated yourself.

Positive things have been occurring at LFC. After the signing of Milan Jovanovich and Joe Cole to bolster the club’s attacking capabilities, all I need is for Fernando Torres to stay like Steven Gerrard has for they are destined for great things at Liverpool and it is only a matter of time (read probably this year) that Liverpool are up among the best again.

“Predictions so early in pre-season?” you ask? Sure, why not?! Move over citeh, get out of our way spurs and Arsenal and Chelsea and United (BARF)! The Liverpool juggernaut is here!!!! Ok, a little too corny but you can’t blame my enthusiasm as LFC has a new found attacking aura (on paper at least) and a new manager in Roy Hodgson. So what if Mascherano want’s out? So what if we don’t have a left-back (YIKES!)? So what if Gerrard is pushing 30? So what if Gillet and Hicks (DOUBLE BARF) are still in power? At the end of the tunnel, there is a light. Although I must admit that last year, this aforementioned light was actually a mean locomotive comprised of Spurs, Citeh, Villa et al. steaming down and crushing Liverpool. But that was last year. This is a new year and a new season!

Here’s looking forward to the English Premier League 2010-2011 and not so much the Europa League 2010-2011. Now, I must go and run my 8-10kilometers for the week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a stream for Liverpool’s preseason match against Swiss outfit, Grasshoppers today.

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.

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!

Birmingham City v Liverpool: I am at a complete loss!

4 04 2010

Set aside the glorious goal from Steven Gerrard to mark the beginning of the first half, Liverpool were mostly noncommittal, reminiscent of their match against Manchester Utd in particular.

I didn’t know what was surprising: my online stream dying or Rafael Benitez substituting Torres for Ngog much to the surprise and quizzical looks on Torres and Gerrard. Ngog would then go and miss two glaring chances  after his introduction and one in stoppage time that could have allowed Liverpool to regain the lead.

It is one thing that you get done in by bad refereeing (as seen most recently against Benfica) but this was ridiculous. Liverpool’s highly ineffectual play galvanized Birmingham City who just got ebullient as the match progressed. Suddenly, Liverpool were playing like a relegation threatened team trying to rescue a single point against a team that they would have put to the sword last year.

Benitez needs to get his priorities right: Is it Europa League glory that they are after or a Champions League place that would actually fit their status. If this choice isn’t clear, then we need a major overhaul of the coaching staff as soon as this season ends. But of course! Liverpool can’t financially afford it!

No beachball to save Sunderland! LFC 3 – Sunderland 0

28 03 2010

Liverpool came into this match at Anfield versus Sunderland certainly hoping that there would be no beach balls around. But, it was Sunderland who had all the worrying to do within the first 180 seconds.

Torres got his sixth goal in four matches with a swirling, swerving cross that against all probability and rationale was headed towards the back of the goal to put Liverpool 1-0. An early goal along the lines of that against Manchester Utd.

Fly me too the moon and let me play among the stars! http://www.soccernet.com

From then on, Liverpool consistently piled on the pressure that Sunderland somehow contrived to weather in a barely effecitve fashion. There were chances for Agger, Gerrard and two long distance half-chances for Mascherano, in the first 20 minutes.

There were several corners in Liverpool’s favor resulting from the several waves of attack that the Liverpool contingent had committed themselves to. It was an ‘in your face’ approach that Liverpool have lacked.

Now that we have nailed down the principle finding of this season that Liverpool have been less than vivacious in attack I find it an opportune moment to comment on Aquilani’s continued absence from the starting eleven.

Sunderland tried to expose Liverpool’s defensive frailties with a few counter attacking runs before the half hour but it was to be futile for the black cats.

The incessant pressure that Liverpool piled on Sunderland paid rich dividends. A sixth corner for Liverpool found it’s way to Glen Johnson who pummeled the ball into the net with the goal keeper rooted and stunned by the belter. It was now looking to be a very good day for Liverpool. 2-nuthin’ to the reds! And Steve Bruce might as well try and find the beach ball that scored the goal for Sunderland, way back in October of 2009.

As the game moved towards half time, further volcanic pressure resulted in a double chance for Torres which he expertly hit at the post and skied the rebound.

The second half saw Sunderland move forward with greater intent given that they were looking at a two goal deficit and a third or fourth would damage them psychologically and not as far as the points table goes.

Just as Sunderland tried to squeeze their way into the game, Torres spoiled the party for them with a beautiful goal under pressure from a splendid pass from Johnson. At this stage, I could not envision Sunderland to fashion any sort of a comeback, particularly as they were bludgeoned by jeers from the Liverpool half of the crowd about a certain beach ball. And quite rightly so!

I was happy to see that Liverpool displayed an insatiable hunger for the fourth goal having put the result beyond doubt! This is what champions are made of. I was also happy to see that Aquilani came on for Dirk Kuyt to suggest that there would also be a possible.

As the match further progressed to the inevitable conclusion that there were no beach balls this time around to save Sunderland, David Ngog came on for the supreme destroyer, Fernando Torres. Nabil El Zhar  and came on for Steven Gerrard who had a better day but could still improve.

The only time that Sunderland actually threatened was when Reina had to concoct a diving save to parry a rather strong shot on goal by an unidentifiable Sunderland player. Ah it was none other than ex-Liverpool player, Zenden!

The three minutes of stoppage time did little to improve Sunderland’s predicament as Ngog failed to make it 4-0 in Liverpool’s favor. this was an important victory for Liverpool who would want to continue in the same vein for their next 6 matches.

Anfield trip ‘hazard’ous to Lille. Liverpool make quarterfinals!

18 03 2010

News of Fulham spectacularly dumping Juventus out of the Europa league could have only galvanized Liverpool to perform at their very best against Lille OSC who proved to be quite the feisty opponents as suggested by the 0-1 deficit that Liverpool had to contend with.

Aquilani was not part of the first team or the bench as a result of a stomach virus or some such while Riera was suspended by the club for unsavory comments regarding the gaffer Rafael Benitez.

I wasn’t really pleased with Lucas coming in for Aquilani but I was in for a pleasant surprise! The usually defensive and much maligned Lucas Leiva was perhaps the most dashing player in red in the first quarter of an hour and to his credit, also won a penalty! A penalty that allowed Liverpool to catch up to the score line and restore parity through Steven Gerrard’s calmly taken spot kick.

The first half came to a close with a 1-1 score line which in fact was a little flattering in favor of the red contingent given their below par performance for large portions of the first half, barring probably the first 20 minutes or so.

Steven Gerrard looked quite out of sorts while Kuyt seemed to absent despite being on the field. Fernando Torres was full of verve but also possessed heavy first touches which saw him absent from the score card. The last few seconds of the first half saw Gerrard cause a major hiccup in the Lille defense but given Torres’s offside disposition, Liverpool couldn’t inflict further damage in the half.

Liverpool started the second half with a real sense of purpose and in similar vein to the first ten minutes of the first half, they scored! Torres was the goal scorer this time around as he caught the Lille defense asleep. Frankly he caught me asleep as well and I couldn’t quite see who the provider was as I was caught off my feet making tin foil ramekins!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet? http://www.liverpoolfc.tv

As the match progressed to the hour mark, Torres continued to torment the Lille defense which looked like an over caffeinated jumpy kitten. However, it was too early for the result to be written in stone as the aggregate stood merely at 2-1, although in Liverpool’s favor.

Liverpool seemed to be content with sitting back on their derriere’s (French pun intended!) and they almost paid a penalty for their newly assumed non-chalance had it not been for not the best of efforts by Lille from a free kick.

Eggs benedict

Eggs benedict in tin foil ramekins.

With less than 10 minutes of regulation time to go, Liverpool looked quite nervous. And why shouldn’t they be? Given the nature of knock-out cup football such as the Europa League is, although Liverpool were 2-0 up on the day, all Lille needed was a single goal to hurl Liverpool out of the Europa league, on away goals.

Kuyt was going for hard hitting shots on goal but Lille goal keeper, Landreau, parried his salvo of shots with certainty.

At this juncture, the commentators thought best to plug a Van Damme movie: “In hell” which apparently would follow after this match. Liverpool AND Lille were both on tenterhooks and were most definitely “In Hell”  for the last ten minutes of this game. And Jerry Vandamm would come on for Lille for Hazard, Lille’s goal scoring midfielder from the previous round.

The tension was getting to me and as I reached for a Biscotti, the dynamic duo of Gerrard and Torres put the reds into the quarterfinals — Gerrard playing the part of provider and Torres getting his second goal of the game and Liverpool’s third of the night!

The whistle blew confirming Liverpool’s mini resurgence and I can’t wait for the game on Sunday. The big one!