Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Liverpool vs Chelsea Champions League

Liverpool deal themselves a Champions League hammer blow
Liverpool gave themselves a bit of a mountain to climb against Chelsea in this Champions League tie. Leading 1-0 and looking relatively comfortable, John Arne Riise headed into his own net with the last touch of the game.

After an absorbing game, particularly the second half, Liverpool had just about done enough to deserve the lead going into the second leg, but Chelsea got a Champions League get out of jail card.

Chelsea started this Champions League semi-final the better of the two teams, but as against Arsenal, Liverpool eventually got into the game and began to stretch their opponents. For 30 minutes either side of half time Chelsea were on the rack a bit, as Liverpool started to create chances.

Dirk Kuyt got a deserved opener, after dispossessing Lampard and running onto Mascherano's speculative chip over Terry and Carvalho, to calmly slot the ball past Cech. For large parts of the second half Liverpool were dominant, but it must be said Chelsea also had some great chances, with Cole in the first half, and Malouda in the second, wasting when well placed.

That Chelsea are still in the tie is due in no small part to Petr Cech. He made three outstanding saves, two at close range from Torres, and one from a Gerrard volley that he tipped over the bar.

Chelsea were also fortunate to have a lenient referee, with some brutal treatment handed out to Liverpool's Fernando Torres. Their back line constantly led with the elbow when jumping for the ball, or simply went through the back of him. Not until the 90th minute did a Chelsea player get booked, much to the sarcastic cheers of disgruntled Liverpool fans.

So it's to Stamford Bridge, with a fortunate advantage to Chelsea in this Champions League duel with Liverpool. Liverpool must now score at Chelsea or they are out. Simple as that!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Arsenal News

Arsenal News: Wenger and the boys getting lampooned big time!

Arsenal News
Quality bit of Arsenal lampoonery. Seen this on a Liverpool forum - its absolutely quality!! No idea what it is but I think its great! Seen it here Hopefully Arsenal fans will laugh at it too in amongst all the bad news surrounding their team!

Not quite Arsenal news in the true sense but a good laugh all the same

Liverpool vs Chelsea Champions League

Its the Anfield hothouse for Liverpool vs Chelsea in the Champions League

Liverpool vs Chelsea in the Champions League will have Anfield packed to the rafters, for what the Liverpool fans hope will be another special Champions League night. Chelsea meanwhile will be hoping to come away with a clean sheet, or moreover, a priceless away goal to swing the tie their way come the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Champions League specialists Liverpool, have a major worry over captain Steven Gerrard, who has a minor neck injury, and remains a 50/50 doubt for the game. Otherwise, the ever absent Harry Kewell, and long term injury victim Daniel Agger apart, Liverpool will be at full strength. The loss of Gerrard for the first leg would be a major blow, given the recent form and partnership he has formed with Fernando Torres. Interestingly Gerrard, Carragher and Aurelio are all on yellow cards going into this game, so another means they sit out the second leg.

For Chelsea, Frank Lampard is available after missing games due to his mothers illness, which has given them a major boost ahead of this third Champions League semi-final against Liverpool. However Michael Essien is suspended for this game. Otherwise Avram Grant has a full squad to choose from.

Tactically expect Liverpool to come out of the blocks racing, hoping a high tempo and their fans will quickly kill off this first leg in their favour. Chelsea meanwhile, will hope to survive an early onslaught, and not to be unnerved by the Kop as they were in 2005 and arguably 2006. If they can get to half-time with a clean sheet and a foothold in the game they will be very pleased.

The absence of Essien is a big blow to Chelsea, particularly for the first leg, when big hearts will be required. Liverpool have coped admirably without Daniel Agger, with Skrtel, Hyppia and Carragher all showing outstanding for throughout the season. Expect Liverpool to have a physical back line of Carragher, Skrtel, Hyppia and Aurelio for both legs.

Liverpool vs Chelsea in the Champions league - they don't get much bigger. Footy focus just can't call it! It really could go either way!

Cristiano Ronaldo the best ever

Rooney sees Ronaldo as the best ever player in the Premiership
Manchester United ace Wayne Rooney has hailed teammate Cristiano Ronaldo as the Premiership's greatest ever player.

"He has not just been the best player of the last two seasons, he's the best player the Premier League has ever seen - and that's including Thierry Henry, Gianfranco Zola, Eric Cantona, Dennis Bergkamp and Alan Shearer.

"Cristiano is rightly talked about as the best player in the world. I was surprised he didn't get the world player award last season. He's got to get it this time."

It's hard to disagree with Wayne Rooney. Ronaldo is certainly above the players mentioned, with the possible exception of Thierry Henry, and it is most likely he will eclipse his achievements in the Premier League given time.

Footy Focus thinks Cristiano Ronaldo will eventually be looked back on in the same manner as George Best, that is a phenomenon if his time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Liverpool & Peter Crouch - time to split?

Peter Crouch can't stop scoring but can't get into the team

Is there an unluckier player around than Peter Crouch? He scored again yesterday, for the second succesive game, and is likely to be on the bench come Tuesday against Chelsea.

Of all Benitez's signings that don't get a regular game eg Pennant, Benayoun, Voronin etc, Crouch is surely the most puzzling admission. Before he discovered his present system, Benitez was laughably at times playing Kuyt and Voronin together upfront, giving Livepool the most imobile and one-paced front line they'd had in years! Plus you can count the goals they've scored on the fingers of one hand! Crouch's scoring record is generally pretty good.

Whenever he plays, he generally gets goals. He might not be a thirty goal a season man, but he is easily capable of 20, with the same number of assists. Liverpool would clearly be in a better position, if they'd used Crouch more this season - just five more goals from 12 more starts could well have put us 10 more points better off. Not quite title challenging stuff, given Manchester Uniteds form, but we'd have been in the race post Christmas at least!

It now seems certain Peter Crouch will leave Liverpool this summer, as all the media briefings etc are pointing that way. If Crouch does go it will be a shame, and someone else's real gain. Unless we are spending another 20 million on a striker he's worth keeping - there's not many around in the Premiership who can get 20 a season.

Come on Rafa Benitez, see sense, keep Peter Crouch at Liverpool!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ronaldo - Manchester United right for me

Ronaldo insists Manchester United is the place to be
With rumours that Real Madrid are prepared to obliterate the world record for him refusing to go away, Ronaldo's latest pledge of devotion will serve to ease some of the concerns of United fans the world over.

“At the moment I feel very good and feel I am at the right club,” he told the Friday Football Show. “I love these people, I love the football and at the moment I think it is the best football in the world.

“The stadium is full every game, and for me it has been fantastic. The fans have been fantastic too, and not just this year, but every year. They sing my song and I see it in their faces that they like to see me on the pitch and they like to see my tricks and passes.

“For me I feel comfortable here at the club.”

Ronaldo, who is reportedly in line for a new contract worth £150,000 a week, then had some words of appreciation for George Best, whose highest goal haul from a United winger he surpassed last month.

“I got the opportunity to see a few tapes of him last month,” Ronaldo added. “He was an unbelievable player – a great player, and to be compared to him is very good. I feel very proud of that.

“This has given me more motivation to work more.”

Liverpool Lucky - I don't think so!

Jibes about Liverpool being lucky against Arsenal and Inter Milan just don't ring true

Liverpool FC LogoAs a Liverpool fan I really do take exception to the myopic jibes that say we were lucky to get through against Inter Milan and Chelsea. Critics cite that against Milan, the tie went our way due to the Matterazi sending off and the injury to .

Against Arsenal, they also cite the injury to Flamini as a defining moment, together with the two penalty decisions that went our way.

Well this all may well be true enough but as they say, this all evens out in the end. Liverpool has had equally many things go against them in big games to more than equal out the decisions and events against Arsenal and Milan.

What you ask. Well for a start who remembers Xabi Alono's joke of a yellow card after Eidur Gudjohnsen went down like a sack of spuds in the Champions League of 2005? That kept Alonso out of the second leg. Moreover that came shortly after comeback after three months out, due to a horrendous Frank Lampard tackle on New Years day that broke his ankle. Being deprived of a keep midfielder for three months and for the second leg of a Champions League semi-final? Lucky Liverpool.

What about the penalty this season at Anfield, that was given to Chelsea to enable them to snatch a ill-deserved draw. After being outplayed for most of the game and trailing to a wonderful first goal from Torres, Chelsea were awarded penalty, when Rob Styles was fooled by Malouda's dive. Lucky, lucky Liverpool!

Another piece of luck for Liverpool, was the four month lay-off for Momo Sissoko due to a dislocated shoulder. At the time he was best holding midfielder in the Premier League, but one bad fall at Birmingham in the Carling Cup and Liverpool had to do without a key midfielder for four months. This was repeated when he almost lost an eye against Benfica again depriving Liverpool of his talents for a number of months. We at Footy Focus are glad to see he's won over the Juventus fans, and is now displaying the talent he showed in his first season at Liverpool, before the dreadful injuries he suffered knocked him off course.

More on the bad luck front, has seen Liverpool without Daniel Agger for most of the season, with a broken Metatarsal. Alonso as well has been out for a number of months with this injury.

I'd like to see Arsenal without Gallas, and or Fabregas/ Flamini for most of the season and see where they end up in the Premier League. At least Chelsea are still in the race despite being without Carvalho and Terry for chunks of the season.

I've just thought of another - what about the diabolical free-kick given against Liverpool last season away to Bolton. Pepe Reina came racing out the box, never hand-balled in a million years, yet Bolton were given a free-kick and promptly scored.

Arsene Wenger winds me up when he calls Liverpool lucky!!! Yes maybe we got luck in not conceding a penalty when Kuyt was pulled down, but the other one was a 50/50 call - as much given as not. As for the injury to Flamini, give me break! Thats football Arsene!

Lucky Liverpool - no more than anyone else!!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

David Beckham booked by Police

Beckham gets a ticket to add to his week of woe

David Beckham has had a week of woe in LA. Not only did LA Galaxy lose at home on Saturday, earlier in the week the LA Galaxy soccer star was been booked after police pulled him for doing an illegal right hand turn.

The star was given an on-the-spot fine after taking an illegal right turn on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. The star also received a point on his license following the incident, which took place as he drove his flashy people-carrier down the famous LA street.

Beckham's luck can only get better after the double whammy of getting booked by the police, and experiencing defeat with LA Galaxy!

Beckham down after LA Galaxy Toronto Defeat

Beckham struggles to put a brave face on LA Galaxy Defeat

David Beckham was clearly disappointed after LA Galaxy crashed 3-2 at home to Toronto FC on Sunday. Beckham played all 90 minutes but could not prevent LA Galaxy sliding to defeat at home to the previously winless Canadian side.

'We are disappointed,' he said. Three games into the season we can't panic too much but it is obviously not the result we wanted.'

Danny Dichio put Toronto ahead on 42 minutes, with Landon Donovan equalising for the Galaxy a minute later. Jarrod Smith got Toronto back into the lead after 53 minutes before Beckham helped to win a penalty for his team when Carl Robinson handled his attempted cross inside the area.

Donovan converted the spot-kick but Galaxy's hopes were dashed when Jeff Cunningham scored a breakaway goal with three minutes to go, leaving the hosts to rue a series of missed chances.

'As long as I can create chances at some point we are going to score,' he said. 'Hopefully that will start soon.'

The Galaxy play defending MLS Cup champions Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center on April 19.

Manchester United vs Arsenal: Ronaldo scores again

Ronaldo ice-cool as Arsenal wilt in the heat of Premier League battle

Manchester United stormed to a six point lead in the Premier League, as they defeated Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Arsenal again showed themselves as not having the mettle to withstand the heat of battle, as they again failed to hold onto a winning position in a crucial game. After gaining the lead through Adebayor, somewhat controversially as he appeared to use his hand, they again conceded a penalty. This time Gallas was at fault, handling inside the area, to give Ronaldo the chance to level the scores. Despite having to take the penalty twice, Ronaldo remained ice-cool to slot home with some aplomb.

Arsenal's season finally collapsed after 72 minutes, when Michael Carrick stepped up to curl a superb free-kick into the top right hand corner of Lehmann's net.

Manchester United vs Arsenal had started with Arsenal showing no signs of a hangover from the midweek defeat to Liverpool, however by the end it was again all too much for the North London side, as Manchester United overpowered their rivals and won all too comfortably. Back to the drawing board for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Liverpool: Parry, Hicks and Gillett battle it out

Liverpool's Parry & the boardroom battle are media fodder once more

At the end of a week in which Liverpool reached their third Champions League semi-final in four years, after not reaching it for the previous twenty (a fact lost on Rafa Benitez's critics), Liverpool’s unseemly boardroom battle plunged new depths in the national media.

Tom Hicks letter to Rick Parry, demanding his resignation, and which was splashed all over the media, was sent in the in full knowledge that he couldn’t force Parry's resignation. Moreover he was unlikely to get it given the support Parry has from the rest of the board (Hicks and his son aside).

Parry himself remained dignified, commenting only on the need for unity and focus as Liverpool chase fourth place in the Premier League, and more glory in the Champions League. Rafa Benitez too, chose his words carefully, particularly as his criticism of Parry’s transfer dealings were part of the reasons given for demanding Parry’s resignation.

David Moores has been quoted as saying he’s ‘heartbroken’ at the present situation Liverpool find themselves in, and that he’s determined to put it right. What he can do is clearly limited but at least he’s in there battling for Liverpool’s future. You can’t help feeling sorry for Moores. He’s done what he believed was in the best interests of the club, only to see his beloved Liverpool become engulfed in all his worst nightmares rolled into one.

Sources in the press say DIC’s pursuit of Liverpool is ‘remorseless’, and the caveat that gives one of the partners veto on the sale of the other’s share runs out in a month. Then events should pick up, with DIC waiting in the wings to do a deal with Gillett, and then force Hicks out.

Liverpool is clearly a valuable commodity, given the amount of battling that is going on to take control of the club. It really is unclear how this is going to end. For someone supposedly looking for an exit Tom Hicks is doing a good impression of a man determined to remain in control, come what may. You would have to think that somethings got to give in the end; the question is whether it will be Hicks, or the opposite camp of Parry, Gillett and DIC.

The Footy Focus team is praying it’s Hicks! This Parry resignation row really is plumbing new depths, and is as Moores says making Liverpool a laughing stock!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Liverpool vs Arsenal Champions League

Liverpool vs Arsenal the trilogy concludes in the Champions League

Liverpool entertain Arsenal in the champions league in the final game of the mother of all Battle of Britain ,Super Sunday trilogies, or whatever Sky want to call it!

Rafa Benitez is again expected to tinker with his side, with Peter Crouch fully expecting to be on the bench, despite an outstanding performance and goal against Arsenal at the weekend. Benitez's lack of use of Crouch really does beggar belief! He is a 20 goal a season man, who teams can find unplayable, and is technically very skilful. How Kuyt and Voronin have so often been preferred is really unbelievable, and has cost Liverpool vital ground, whatever Benitez says.

Back to the Arsenal game and Liverpool are likely to bring back Torres, Mascherano, Kuyt, and Gerrard at the expense of Crouch, Pliesse, Benayoun, and Pennant. Arsenal meanwhile are likely to start with Hleb and Adebayor as they seek to snatch the required away goal to at least take the tie to penalties. If they score, they would probably be confident of getting the second to snatch the tie.

This Liverpool and Arsenal battle really does hinge on the first goal. If Liverpool get it, Arsenal are as good as out, as they won't get three. While an Arsenal opener really does put them right back in it and will really rattle Liverpool.

Footy Focus prediction: Liverpool to just edge Arsenal out of the Champions League!

Liverpool Crouch hints at Exit

Peter Crouch hints at Liverpool exit and doesn't expect to start against Arsenal

Peter Crouch gave the clearest hint yet that he is likely to leave Liverpool in the summer. Talking ahead of the Liverpool vs Arsenal Champions League tie, he admitted that the lack of football this season has led him to consider his future, despite their being an offer on the table from Liverpool.

Crouch said:"It's pretty clear I probably won't start," he said.

"Obviously if the manager plays one up front, he is more than likely to go with Fernando - and rightly so, he's been fantastic this season.

"Before when he was rotating at least I was getting a game here and there. But the manager's obviously stuck with a formation now that seems to be working, and credit to the players that have been playing in that system

"We have certainly been playing well and I think we have got a great chance of going through to the semi-finals now in Europe.

"But for me, I will just have to obviously keep working hard and try and change his mind."

Crouch revealed: "It can be disheartening, but you have to keep going.

"I am one of those players that will keep going, I keep working hard in training, and, if called upon then hopefully I'll do what I did at Arsenal.
"At a big club there is always that pressure. Even if you start every game, if you don't perform, you know you are going to be out.

"But maybe me more so, with the fact that I haven't played that much this season, so, when I do, I have to make sure that I do well and do the business to try and stay in."

We at Footy Focus are at a loss why Crouch has not played more this season. Persisting with the immobile and ineffective Kuyt and Voronin, when Torres was injured or rested beggared belief and cost Liverpool vital points. It would be madness to let Crouch go! He's a 20 goal a season man!!


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Arsenal vs Liverpool: Part 2 Premier League

Its Arsenal vs Liverpool Part 2, in the Premier League

Back to the Emirates we go for Arsenal vs Liverpool, this time in the Premier League. Liverpool find themselves not for the first time, in a game they can afford to lose as they chase European glory and fourth spot in the Premier League.

I find this really frustrating as a Liverpool fan. Oh to be in Arsenals position, fighting for the title and European glory. Yes it's tougher but it's what it's all about - it says it all that this is a bigger game for Arsenal than Liverpool.

Adebayor is likely to feature for the Arsenal despite having an ankle knock. Meanwhile Rafa Benitez is for the first time in a number of games, set to rotate his Liverpool side. Kuyt, Torres, Gerrard and maybe Hyppia are all set to be rested, with the likes of Finnan, Pennant, and Benayoun all pressing for a start. Maybe even Peter Crouch, Liverpool's forgotten man may get a game!

My preferred line-up, given Tuesdays game coming up would be: Reina, Finnan, Skrtel, Hyppia, Riise, Aurelio, Benayoun, Alonso, Lucas, Pennant, Crouch. Benayoun could play the link between midfield and attack, with Aurelio and Pennant the wingers. Radical - yes but a much more balanced teams than what Rafa often serves up.

Footy Focus prediction: I'd love Liverpool to surprise everyone by going out performing well, and winning, but I can't see past Arsenal. Arsenal need it that much more. This is a Saturday lunchtime game. with Arsenal and Liverpool being broadcast around the globe by SKY.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Arsenal v Liverpool Champions League

Champions League frustration for Arsenal vs Liverpool

Arsenal vs Liverpool turned out to be as expected, with a tight
Champions League encounter ending in a 1-1 draw. Arsenal enjoyed the
majority of possession apart from a 20 minute spell in the latter half
of the first half, but just could not break down a typically resolute

Arsenal took the lead through an Adebayor header after 23 minutes, when
some slack Liverpool defending from an Arsenal corner gave the Arsenal
man a free header, which he powered home. Liverpool's zonal defending
came unstuck big time, as neither central defender picked up the big
Arsenal striker and he was given all the time in the world on the edge
of the six yard box.

Arsenal's lead didn't last long though, as Liverpool hit back in
the 26th minutes with a Dirk Kuyt goal, after he was set-up by some
great Stephen Gerrard play. That signalled the start of a purple patch
for Champions League specialists Liverpool, who looked likely at times
to go on and get a second.

Fernado Torres was being well shackled by William Gallas, as Arsenal
were clearly determined not to concede further ground in this Champions
League tie. He and Gerrard struggled to get near each other to provide
an attacking edge to Liverpool's play, and typical of Liverpool's
season, Kuyt and Babel again just didn't cut it as an attacking force
and the half ended at 1-1.

In the second half Arsenal came out fighting and played the game at a
tremendous pace but two incidents apart never really rattled Liverpool.

For the first incident, they were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty
when Dirk Kuyt pulled back Alexander Hleb in full view of the referee.
Secondly, in slapstick fashion their substitute stopped a Fabregas shot
on the Liverpool goal line to prevent Arsenal taking the lead.

After that Liverpool defended stoutly, and brought on Benayoun for the
disappointing Babel to ensure they kept possession more often than they
were. The Brazilian Lucas was also pitched into the fray as Liverpool
sought to slow the tempo of the game, and keep the ball.

In the end it was enough, as Arsenal just couldn't get that vital
second goal, and it's Liverpool who now go into the second leg with a
treasured away goal. Arsenal vs Liverpool is always a big game, but this
Champions League tie was one of the biggest, and it's finely poised as
we go to Anfield for the second leg!

Blog Partners