Thursday, October 30, 2008

Liverpool 1-0 Portsmouth, a tiny win that speaks big

Liverpool's unbeaten run in the PL was kept ongoing in style when a changed Liverpool side made no mistake to defeat Portsmouth at Anfield, courtesy of a Steven Gerrard penalty kick which sent the red arena ablaze. Liverpool won the match by the tiniest of scores to secure an additional 3 points to remain top of the PL table. Rafa changed 4 men from the side that faced Chelsea. Hyypia got the call to the starting line up and so was Pennant, Babel and Lucas.

It was on the very rarest of occasions that Portsmouth threatened the Liverpool goal. Crouchie was well marked as were a host of other Portsmouth players. Undoubtedly, Liverpool were the better side attacking their opponent and creating goal occasions which they could not convert. Clearly Liverpool should have won the match by more than a goal, but as most will agree, a win remains a win. From my point of view, Pennant didn't perform at all. He was going down too easily and his runs weren't fruitful. He very rarely crossed the ball. Come January, i bet he'll be placed on the transfer list. It seems to me that he's not the player with the right mentality that Benitez needs.

The introduction of Benayoun in the second half to replace Pennant enabled Liverpool to attack with more venom. It was clear, Pennant couldn't do in an hour what Benayoun did within just minutes of entering onto the pitch. Besides, Babel is a player who is always going to progress. He is young and his techniques on the ball will become better. His pace and ability has many times threatened the Portsmouth players during the match. Gerrard was again our captain fantastic controlling the midfield alongside Alonso. As for Lucas, well, i have not much to say. Let's give him one more season to prove himself. Not to forget, Keane nearly opened his PL scoring account during the dying minutes of the match, after he had just been introduced on the pitch.

All in all, Liverpool's performance didn't come close to that demonstrated at Stamford but it was enough to beat a resilient Portsmouth side. Match 10 is now over, with hard earned 26 points for us fans and Liverpool players alike to savour. Next up is Tottenham at White Hart Lane. If we can overcome Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, there is no reason why we cannot snatch 3 points from White Hart Lane. Belief and hard work will be the key attributes for a possible win.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool, fantastic Xabi seals the win to give Liverpool top spot

It was not much of a surprise when Liverpool beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to claim a 1-0 victory that ended Chelsea's 86 unbeaten home games. Xabi Alonso gave Liverpool FC the lead when his deflected shot successfully found the net. Liverpool seemed too strong tactically for a quality Chelsea team. Pepe Reina hardly had an important save to make throughout the whole match. Though Chelsea had lots of possession, they were out of ideas. Every Liverpool player played for the shirt and worked their socks off to make Rafa Benitez's tactics outshine that of Scolari. It was their first encounter for the new season and Liverpool came out winners in style.

It was really pleasing to see a such determined Liverpool side. After years of watching Liverpool FC play, for the first time I'm starting to believe that we now have the players with the right mentality to win us the Premier League. Kuyt was once again outstanding. Gerrard was brilliant and Riera was absolutely a joy to watch. All in all the whole team showed character. Liverpool FC showed that they can win a match against a top side without their star striker Fernando Torres. Out due to injury, Torres must have undoubtedly wished he could play a part in Liverpool's win on Sunday.

It was a moment of jubilation to see Liverpool win and claim top spot in the PL table in style. Better was Man U's draw at Everton. 9th round cleared and 23 points already secured, Liverpool keep their momentum towards challenging for the holy grail. The win at Chelsea has unmistakably sent a message to every team in the PL: Liverpool are back in business. So, let's keep on watching. Belief is the key for our first PL trophy since 18 years. The PL 10th round will see Liverpool play Portsmouth at Anfield. 26 points after 10 matches would be the perfect start to a genuine title challenge.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Liverpool FC, a fair Liverpool performance.

Once again Liverpool showed why they are one of the most respected teams in Europe. The first half of the game at Vicente Calderon saw Liverpool control the game and dominate possession. The blistering pace of Gerrard was always going to setup Keane for a magnificent occasion which he made no mistake to convert. Albert Riera was instrumental in the wide area giving problems to the defenders. But Liverpool should have killed the game in the first half when a superb cross by Gerrard was wrongly negociated by Robbie Keane who failed to make it 2-0. While this seemed to be the miss of the night, there was plenty of positives to take from the match even though Atletico found the equaliser in the dying minutes of the second half.

Atletico played well in the second half as they introduced Aguero who helped to create enough space on the pitch. On the other hand Rafa had to substitute three key players in the name of Gerrard, Keane and Alonso. Gerrard was tired while Alonso had received knocks and Keane had a muscle problem. This definitely provided enough area on the pitch for Atletico to build their game. But from my point of view, Liverpool played well and a draw at Vicente Calderon speaks for itself.

With three matches already played and 7 points safely in the bag, Liverpool FC have confirmed a good start to their CL campaign. Liverpool's 2008-09 campaign will undoubtedly send a warning to all those doubters. Has the giant finally woken up? I have not stopped saying: this can indeed be our year. So let's keep on watching. Next up is Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Can Liverpool break Chelsea's home record of 86 unbeaten matches? Let's wait to get this answer on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Liverpool 3-2 Wigan Athletic, Kuyt and Riera ease Liverpool to a fantastic win.

I nearly thought i would come here and write about Liverpool's loss but that simply wasn't to be. Once again Liverpool have got something out of nothing. Liverpool again showed the character to overcome a 2-1 deficit at first half to win the match 3-2. I must say what a great performance by Dirk Kuyt and company. One more time Riera was impressive but this time his work was paid in goal. The absence of Torres in the attack is missed. On that day, while i watched Keane play, i kept on saying that the lad is unable to fill Torres's boots. I am not criticizing Keane. We all know how good a player Keane is and what he offers to the team. His runs and his never say die attitude say it all. He's just lacking the finishing touch, which in my opinion will come after more training with his new teammates.

Before the kick off against Wigan i was pretty confident that we would win the match rather comfortably. Reflecting on the opening 10 minutes of the first half, I can say that Wigan were all over us. Their 2-1 advantage in the first half explained that they had indeed come to Anfield with a victory or at least a draw in their minds. But the match changed as soon as Valencia was red carded. Rafa was very wise to switch to a more attacking formation allowing El-Zhar and Benayoun to come into play. The tactic employed by Rafa immediately made an effect as Liverpool gained the equalizer through Riera and eventually the winner thanks to a magnificent strike buy Kuyt.

There are certainly positives to take from this match but there are as well negatives. Liverpool have to start to make their lives easier. They need to secure the win as from the first half against the Wigans and Stokes of the Premier League. It isn't as easy to do as to say. But Liverpool are a match to anyone and can certainly play good football and score goals. The biggest positive for me with Liverpool this season is the mentality to come back and win a match. Am I starting to see a Liverpool with the character of the 80's? I wish that this could be our season. But it's too early to predict anything, especially with Chelsea gathering points and goals alike. If we can beat Chelsea at Stamford, which in my opinion would be tough but not impossible, we then stand a good chance, especially with Man U playing catch up.

Eight matches cleared and 20 points in the bag, Liverpool stand close second with Chelsea. Next up is Athletico Madrid for the CL group stages. As Rafa says, let's think about one match at a time. So' we'll speak about the Chelsea match later on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fernando Torres- the kid with an eye for the goal

It has been a really long time since Liverpool have bought a striker as prolific as Fernando Torres. During his very first season, Fernando Torres scored 33 goals in all competition. He found the net 24 times in the Premier League on his debut season, a feat that saw him overtake Ruud Van Nistelrooy to become the most prolific foreign striker in England. All the Liverpool supporters have been so proud of El-Nino, including myself.

Numerous have been the times when i would be seen jumping and celebrating after Fernando Torres has scored. His presence on the spearhead of Liverpool's attack alongside teammate, Keane, makes watching them play all the more jubilating. Everytime Torres touches the ball inside the penalty area, you would feel he can score at any moment. Fernando Torres can beat defenders with his pace and his ability to find the net while targeting the most acute corners of the woodwork is just mind blowing.

Only a season at Anfield and Torres is already an idol. The song: "We bought the lad from sunny spain, he gets the ball he scores again" says it all. Anfield would erupt at times on the tune of this song to encourage Torres or after he has just found the net. Liverpool have a new legendary number 9 after the shirt was available due to Fowler's departure.

Before Torres signed for Liverpool he had already spent around 12 years at Atletico Madrid. This states that since his boyhood, Torres played at Atletico. The blow to the fans can be felt when Torres decided to move to Liverpool. He went on to become Atletico’s youngest ever captain at the age of 19 before bagging 21 goals in the 2003-04 season. His first senior International game saw him make the debut against Portugal in 2003. His first ever International goal at senior level came against Italy. He then went on to find the net three times during the World Cup in Germany.

As the song mentions: “His armband said he was a red…”, it was clear that Torres had his heart set on Merseyside. After a couple of months of speculation, Torres was finally signed from Atletico for 20 million pounds. He made his debut for Liverpool against Aston Villa on August 11, 2007. The following week saw him score his first goal in the PL for Liverpool after he made a great run past Chelsea’s defender to slot the ball comfortably in the far corner of the net to set Anfield ablaze. His scoring form kept on rising as he scored successive hat tricks at home versus Middlesbrough and West Ham.

Euro 2008 saw Torres score the only goal as Spain turned out to be winners of the tournament. It was the icing on the cake to seal a glorious season for Fernando Torres. The start of the 2008-09 season has already been fruitful for Torres, having already bagged 5 goals in 7 outings. He scored two successive doubles, notably against Everton and Manchester City. I feel the best is yet to come from Torres. El-Nino will not cease to amaze us all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Steven Gerrard- the name of a true legend

Once in a while there comes a player such as Steven Gerrard. He is a man who plays with passion for the red shirt. Everytime he steps on the pitch, it is with pride that he wears his number 8 shirt. Since his inception in the Liverpool first team squad, Stevie Gerrard has made a name for himself at Anfield. Steven Gerrard is arguably one of the most respected players in the Liverpool squad. His presence on the pitch gives a driving force to the team. His passes are excellent and has one hell of a right boot. Numerous had been the times when Stevie G has made us all happy with his goals. No Liverpool supporter can forget the winner he gave us thanks to his long range missile against West Ham in the FA Cup Finals at Cardiff. This day has already gone down in history as Steven Gerrard's day.

Steven Gerrard is undoubtedly an all rounder and certainly one of the best midfielders in the world. I have never seen such a complete player. He has pace, awareness, strength, power and most importantly a never say die attitude. His abilities were given more credentials and he gained even more respect when he captained Liverpool to an emphatic victory in the CL Finals at Istanbul in 2005. Throughout his career at Anfield and as senior player, Gerrard has amassed just about every trophy and medal, except the Premier League. It's unquestionable, Gerrard wants to have the PL trophy as a Liverpool player before he retires.

Aged nine, Liverpool discovered Gerrard as he was playing for Whiston Juniors at that time. Nobody knew that the very nine year old would grow to become a gem. After 8 years of training at LFC, Gerrard became ready for first team action and went on to sign his first contract as a professional footballer. On November 19, 1998, Gerrard made his first team appearance against Blackburn Rovers as a second half substitute. During his first season, Stevie G played around 13 games. Having endured ups and downs in his career due to injury problems, Gerrard managed to establish himself as a first team regular at the start of the 1999-00 season . His first ever professional goal came at Anfield against Sheffield Wednesday.

Since then Gerrard has progressed enormously as a player. He was once again the key player to a magnificent treble in the year 2001. It was the same year when Liverpool tasted European glory as they beat Alaves by 5-4 to claim the UEFA cup. Gerrard was one of the scorers and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year for his wonderful achievements. After years of striving on the pitch Gerrard was gradually handed the captain armband in place of Sami Hyypia. His achievements saw him become one of the nominees for the most respected Golden Ball Award. He as well gained the title of UEFA’s most valuable player.

Steven Gerrard has now 100 goals to his account as a Liverpool player. He scored his 100th goal in a Liverpool shirt against PSV Eindhoven in the 2008-09 CL group stages. He has also scored in 4 major finals, a feat that any other English player has yet to match. Gerrard has tasted lots of success at Anfield. But he has also known how to handle defeats. His optimism was clear after the 2-1 CL finals defeat at Athens when he penned a 4 year deal which will keep him at Anfield until 2011.

It would sadden me and every Liverpool faithful around the globe when Gerrard will part ways with Liverpool. Gerrard’s love affair with Liverpool had been a passionate one and will forever be remembered. As for Gerrard, he will unmistakably go down in history as one of Liverpool’s most legendary players.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Manchester City 2-3 Liverpool, a sweet double by Torres and a wonderful late strike by Dirk Kuyt gives Liverpool the winner

Manchester City v Liverpool has undoubtedly been one of the most breathtaking matches since the start of the season. Liverpool overcame a 2 goals deficit to win the match 3-2 after an injury time strike by Dirk Kuyt. This proved once again Liverpool's intent for a serious challenge in the EPL. Rewind a year back and you would have seen Liverpool losing such matches. And what a time for Dirk Kuyt to open his scoring account in the EPL. It was the first time since November that Kuyt scored in the PL and it gave Liverpool the winner.

Fernando Torres was once more outstanding, scoring a double to give Liverpool the equalizer. He scored Liverpool's 1000th goal and at the same time became the most prolific foreign striker ever to wear the red shirt. As much as the win was sweet, every Liverpool supporter would not forget the injury of Martin Skrtel. I was really sad to see the lad taken out of the pitch. Clearly he was in agony. Reports later confirmed that he had damaged his cruciate ligaments, which could see him out of action for more than 8 weeks.

Albert Riera's impressive form was striking throughout the whole match. It seemed like he is starting to gel well with the whole squad. The training sessions are working well for him as he gave Zabaletta a tough time on the left flank. Everytime he got the ball, he got the better of him and could find space and make some dangerous crosses. Give him a couple more months and he will be the key to most of our wins. He gives Liverpool's game a new dimension and dominates the left flank remarkably well, feeding the ball to the strikers when they need it.

Both goals conceded by Liverpool were due to defensive mistakes. But on the whole, Liverpool played a great game and came out with 3 points. 7 matches played and 17 points in the bag, Liverpool stand second, after Chelsea in the table. Now, Liverpool have to score as much goals as possible to close the gap in goal difference with Chelsea. Liverpool players will take their international break with smiles on their faces. Next up is Wigan Athletic at Anfield Road.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

LIverpool 3-1 PSV Eindhoven, Kuyt, Keano and Gerrard inspire Liverpool to an emphatic win

Liverpool have kicked off their 2nd match of the Champions League yesterday with a 3-1 win over PSV Eindhoven at Anfield. Thank you Kuyt, Keane and super captain Stevie G. It was a superb thunderbolt of a free kick that hit the back of the net with enormous power. And not to forget, we also witnessed the first goal for Robbie Keane in a Liverpool shirt. Oops...i nearly forgot. Gerrard as well hit a century of goals in a red shirt. I was so proud yesterday of the whole LFC squad. As soon as we were pressing PSV, it was resulting in a goal. Though not playing at the best of our levels we beat PSV 3-1 with ease from my point of view.

There are lots of positives that can be drawn from this display. Liverpool are now really starting to gel as a unit and you can sense the winning mentality in each player. Every time Albert Riera plays i am impressed. Kuyt and Keane are such hardworkers. At times we even saw Keane running to the other end of the pitch to defend. And the next moment he was forward constructing the attack with Gerrard and Torres. For me, Torres was a bit unlucky yesterday. He slipped a couple of times in the box and we had all seen that the first goal was created due to his shot parried by the PSV keeper.

Torres' ability to find space is amazing. We all saw how he rose up for a header that went wide. As soon as Gerrard got the ball, he was finding the space and running at defenders. And the Robbie Keane goal was setup by him. He was a key player in the game yesterday. He can only improve as he is still 24 years of age. But there is one player who has to improve, it's Lucas. He is still very young, yet playing at this level of football. We'll see how he improves in time cause at the moment, he gives the ball away too much.

I for one am very happy with Liverpool's performance yesterday night. With 6 points already on board, we are heading for a neat qualification. Of course there are more matches to come, but the most difficult thing has been done. A draw at Atletico would be enough in my opinion. In the PL, Manchester City awaits us on Sunday. It's definitely going to be a tough game but we need to keep concentrating on winning. We can play them off their own park and take 3 points home. We just need to keep fighting and believing we can do it.