Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Published: 29 August 2007 source from the online newsapaper The Independent
It can't possibly get any easier for Liverpool wherever their travels take them in this, their 35th European campaign. Without raising a full gallop, they sidestepped the sort of qualifying-round stumbles of which they have been guilty in recent years to record their fourth victory in five games this season, with the other controversially drawn, and progress to tomorrow's draw for the Champions League Group stages.
Peter Crouch's eighth goal in 10 European starts doubled their aggregate lead in only 19 minutes, the striker then blundering with five misses of varying degrees of embarrassment.
Sami Hyypia, soldiering on despite breaking his nose on Saturday, showed him the way with the second, but only Dirk Kuyt's late double made Liverpool's 50th home win in the competition anything like as conclusive as it should have been.
"You could see the competition for places we have, with every player trying to play well," said the Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez.
As well as being an utterly one-sided encounter, the evening proved another poignant Merseyside occasion. It began on a highly emotional note, with the playing of Everton's Z Cars theme preceding "You'll Never Walk Alone" in tribute to Rhys Jones, the 11-year-old murdered in Croxteth last Wednesday.
Members of Rhys' family remained at pitch-side during the minute's applause, his father and elder brother in blue shirts and his mother greeted with a hug and kiss from Benitez.
The manager gave a debut on the left of midfield to Sebastian Leto and, in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, turned to another of his summer signings, Yossi Benayoun, in a predictably revamped line-up.
Liverpool's early pressure resulted in Kuyt's deep cross from the right finding Crouch stretching to steer home from close range. Crouch lashed wide from a tight angle, nodded wastefully over when Benayoun again delivered well, this time from the left, and completed a hat-trick of gaffes by floating a header off target from Alvaro Arbeloa's centre.
Thankfully for Liverpool, the next big chance fell elsewhere, with Hyypia using it to establish even more breathing space. He was picked out in a ridiculous amount of space from Benayoun's out-swinging right-wing corner and headed in at the near post.
Kuyt both nodded and drove off target and was out of luck with a powerful right-foot shot from the edge of the area that was deflected almost at source against the bar. But there was no denying Crouch the leading role in the calamity capers. He displayed great skill to bring down a ball on his chest only to then volley high into The Kop, before scooping beyond the far post from the left.
Kuyt confirmed Liverpool's superiority when he speared home a low right-foot cross-shot when well set up in a crowded area by the substitute Ryan Babel three minutes from time. And he made it four by dinking over the keeper from a through ball by the impressive Benayoun.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Arbeloa, Hyypia, Agger (Finnan, 81), Riise; Benayoun, Mascherano, Sissoko (Lucas, 68), Leto (Babel, 75); Crouch, Kuyt. Substitutes not used: Itandje (gk), Torres, Alonso, Pennant, Lucas.
Toulouse (3-5-2): Douchez; Fofana, Cetto, Ilunga; Cesar, Dieuze, Emana (Felix, 76), Sirieix, Mathieu (Sissoko, 81); Gignac (Bergougnoux, 54), Elmander. Substitutes not used: Riou (gk), Jonsson, Mansare, Batlles.
Referee: W Stark (Germany)
Monday, August 27, 2007
After the battle royale against Chelsea, we are back to the meat & potatoes of winning championships – a trip to the atmospheric Stadium Of Light against Roy Keane’s newly promoted Black Cats. It was games like these that derailed our previous league campaigns and last season, our boys not only started sluggishly but only managed a measly 18 goals away from home.
So it was imperative we staked our claims early on and Rafa had a chance to steal a march on our rivals with an early kick off. Nearly 50 comrades turned up at Mbar and once again the place was awash in a sea of red and a chorus of Kop anthems. Not least the “We have the best midfield in the world” when Momo Sisoko broke the deadlock in the 37th minute with a rifled shot from the edge of the area. His performance and goal underlined Liverpool’s new strength in depth as he ably stepped into the huge boots of an injured Stevie G.
It was amazingly Momo’s first goal in Red (and Liverpool’s 7000th league goal) and his shot curled at the last moment to swerve past Britain’s most expensive keeper, Graig Gordon (10m sterling pounds) who up to that point had performed heroically to keep the scores level.
Prior to that magnificent goal, it had been a tough, physical battle which came to a fore early on when Big Sami Hyppia’s nose was broken by a flailing Sunderland elbow. Captain for the day Jamie Carragher also suffered serious injury later with a broken rib and collapsed lung after a collision with Pepe whilst defending a corner kick. (Luckily, Big Sami is expected to be fit to take his place in the upcoming home fixtures against Toulouse and Derby before an extended international break will allow Carra time to mend.)
Overall, it was tough, tight game and even though we had a better squad man-for-man, Sunderland battled hard, giving our boys little space and even less time to dwell on the ball. But this is where our “superior” quality is supposed to shine through. First up for special mention is Jermaine Pennant who is finally beginning to show the class he once promised as a young gooner. Throughout the game he tirelessly hogged the lines and took on defenders while the quality of his crosses has also improved dramatically.
Our star striker had another good game though he didn’t make the score sheet; linking up well with Voronin the pony-tail as the last gasp goal highlighted. Having received the ball from Babel after some neat pass-and-move football, Torres took his time to tee up Voronin who buried the ball into Gordon's far corner.
Torres had three wonderful chances stopped by the great efforts of the current Scotland no1 who kept the score line respectable. The former Athletico star also showed devastating Rushie-type pace that left the Sunderland defence for dead on numerous occasions and let’s hope he can emulate the moustached one’s great scoring record as well.
In the end, Roy Keane acknowledged his team had been outclassed and they had to accept the result. On a slightly negative note, Babel didn’t have the best of games as he continues his learning process but virtually everyone else rolled up their sleeves for a bit of graft. Another downer was the performance of ref Mark Halsey who showed way too much bias towards the home team though luckily his whistle didn’t lead to a Rob Styles-type fiasco!
But in the end, we were celebrating a hard earned win with even more beer guzzling (plus mandatory rendition of YNWA) and if it keeps on going this way, all us Reds gonna have some big and bulging beer bellies come the end of the season . . .
It’ll be worth it if we do number 19!
We are MyRAWK (Malaysian Red and White Kopites)
ps. a great big many thanks to Eric and Lorenzo for having us at M Bar and making it as ANFIELD as much for us MyRAWKites! Cheers!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Yes, every single Kopite around the world was sick as a parrot over the Rob Styles debacle but in all honesty I don’t think it affected our chances of winning the league. Clashes among the ‘Big Four’ are always close affairs and good results against the other three don’t necessarily win you the league (e.g. Arsenal beat man U at Old Trafford while managing a draw at home last season but finished far below the champions).
Better yet, look at our own performances against our big rivals last term and you’ll agree we did play reasonably well with the exception of Man U away. We won two but lost four which translates into a six point deficit but we all know we finished a massive 21 points off the pace.
Over the last decade, Liverpool have always upped the ante against these bigger teams (and of course in the derby games) but our undoing has been against the so-called minnows or less fashionable sides in the league. Don’t believe me? In 2004/05 season, we managed to conquer Arsenal at home and Chelsea in Europe but we lost home and away to (eventually) relegated Southampton!!! These are the games that really derail our title challenge and we need to change this trend, starting this Saturday against Sunderland. This fixture is followed by Derby (h), Pompey (a), Birmingham (h) and Wigan (a) – games in which we must collect maximum points if we are seriously going to win that elusive 19th title.
I view these games in September as the crucial ones, especially Sunderland away (never easy going up against newly promoted teams who'd kick you and trying to bully you out of the game).
We all saw how difficult Pompey can be during the pre-season tour of Hong Kong while Wigan can conjure up some unexpected results.Though other teams have been sticking goals pass them for fun, we always tend to struggle in this “tricky banana skin” encounters. And let’s face it; this year probably sees the most difficult premiership challenge yet with virtually every team reinforcing their squads.
"You not gonna get any easy games this season, what with West Ham and Man City splashing the cash . . . Everyone’s having a go and there’ll be points dropped for everyone” pronounced veteran manager Pompey manager Harry Redknapp at the beginning of this campaign.
In the case of Sunderland, Spurs have already found out to their detriment and let’s hope we don’t go the same way. Roy Keane is fast establishing himself as a quality gaffer and the last thing we need is for an ex-manc skipper to add our scalps to his managerial belt. So c’mon, you Reds, let’s get behind our boys for what could be a crucial encounter this Saturday. It’ll be a true litmus test of our title credentials . . .
You'll Never Walk Alone,
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Anyways, we soon found a willing host in the form of Mbar, just a few feet away from Phileo Bay, and we managed to wrangle a decent beer price as well (RM60 for two jugs or a tower). This was just as well as many of the early birds had started celebrating Man City’s triumph against the mighty Devils. Great start to the evening. By kick off, crowd had swelled to over 60 Kopites (good turnout considering it was a late Sunday game) who were getting right into the mood with an out-of-tune but boisterous You’ll Never Walk Alone.
In the 16th minute, the moment
we all has been waiting for.
El Nino announces his arrival with some aplomb. Collecting a
beautifully weighted pass from Stevie G, Torres’s first touch was exquisite and with a quick dip of the shoulder, left Tal Ben Haim for dead. With still an advancing Petr Cech to beat and a narrow angle, Torres showed the composure of a veteran Rushie to calmly find his spot in the far corner of the Chelsea net. Cue mighty eruption at Mbar, more beer being guzzled and lots of singing especially at half time (“Steven Gerrard, Gerrard to the tune of Que Sera Sera was a particular crowd favourite). Guest DJ also added to the atmosphere with his wicked mixing of Liverpool anthems with contemporary RnB tunes – certainly got the more imbibed fans going!
Time for Jose to once again show his tactical acumen (as he did against Reading in midweek); this time he brought on the highly rated Claudio Pizzarro for a somewhat ineffective Salomon Kalou. Almost paid instant dividends when Pizzaro set up John Terry whose header luckily sailed over the bar and minutes later Pizzaro failed to convert an almost perfect Shaun Wright-Phillips cross. Game was tight with both sides having a go and we were beginning to feel that it was going to be decided by Torres’s strike.
Unfortunately for us, the over zealous ref Rob Effing Styles decided he wanted to hog the headlines. In the 61st minute, he awards an incongruous penalty for Florent Malouda body checking Steve Finnan. What should have been a free kick for us tuned out to be Chelsea’s salvation as Frank Lamped coolly despatched the spot kick. Rest of the game degenerated into a “who can collect more bookings” competition with sub Ryan Babel coming closest to breaking the deadlock with a volley that flew inches wide.
Everyone at Mbar was kind of deflated by that stupid decision which ultimately robbed us of two points. Still the night ended with a rousing rendition of YNWA and much applause for our boys who showed the Moneybags from London we mean business this season. We trudged home at nearly 2am with the general consensus being it was a great match with a good turnout at our new ‘home’. Ultimately, evening was ruined by a wanker called Rob Styles . . .
You'll Never Walk Alone
Monday, August 20, 2007
Despite all that has happened at Anfield during the Chelsea game, this is the goal that all KOPites have been waiting for a very long time. Our No. 9 "Messiah" has come. Enter the EL NINO! Kudos to Fernando Torres on his first goal for Liverpool on his home debut game at Anfield.
Our quest for No.19 has begun and may it end at Anfield!
And there will be many more goals like this at Anfield, in England and all of Europe.
ENTER THE EL NINO FERNANDO TORRES!
Thursday, August 16, 2007
There will be a change in venue for this weekend's match against Chelsea. The owner of Da Phileo Bay will be away this weekend and thus will not be able to accommodate us. He sends his deepest regret and apologies . M Bar is opposite from Da Phileo Bay, next to the parking payment machine. We will be there early to point you in the right direction should you come early, or you could just follow the noise! We apologise for any inconvenience caused but hope to see you there
You'll Never Walk Alone
From Paul Walker, PA Sport, Toulouse
Liverpool have one foot in the Champions League group stages after this highly effective triumph in the heat of south-west France.
It is a long road from here to the final next year in Moscow, and the Anfield club will face much more difficult opponents than Toulouse.
But boss Rafael Benitez will be pleased with the start his expensively reassembled squad have made to their season.
They followed up Saturday’s win at Aston Villa with another success on their travels, thanks to a spectacular goal on his full debut by Andriy Voronin.
Liverpool should be expected to complete the job in a fortnight in the second leg of this third qualifying round match - and claim the £12million assured for clubs who reach the final 16 of the competition.
Next up is Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League at Anfield on Sunday, and Liverpool will be more than confident after this success.
Benitez delivered on his promise to rotate his squad, making six changes from the side which beat Villa on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season.
Peter Crouch - unhappy at his omission on Saturday - was in the starting line-up, alongside Yossi Benayoun, Sami Hyypia, Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano and Voronin.
Jermaine Pennant was left at home, while Daniel Agger, John Arne Riise, Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Dirk Kuyt all rested to the bench.
A packed municipal stadium, sweltering in temperatures approaching 90 degrees, were present for Toulouse’s return to European action for the first time in 20 years.
Steven Gerrard hit a 20-yard free-kick inches wide in the third minute, but Liverpool were having to do a lot of running to keep the hosts - who finished third in their domestic league last season - at bay.
Captain Nicolas Dieuze needed his head heavily bandaged after a clash of heads with Voronin, but that did not stop the flow of Toulouse’s football.
A slight error from Hyypia allowed striker Johan Elmander a 20-yard effort, which was held by Jose Reina after a lunging tackle by Jamie Carragher had taken the sting out of the shot.
In the 28th minute, Steve Finnan, Crouch and Benayoun worked the ball down the right and when play was switched to the left by Gerrard, Babel went on a fine run before laying the ball back to the England man - but the shot was too high.
Reina was only called into action to block a Paulo Cesar break down the right in the opening half, which ended in fine fashion for the visitors when Voronin made the breakthrough in the 43rd minute.
Finnan’s long ball was nodded down by Crouch, and with Dieuze failing to react, Voronin lashed a rising drive into the top corner of the home net.
Toulouse sent on Fode Mansare for Bryan Bergougnoux at the break to give Elmander some more support up front.
Gerrard took a painful kick on his ankle from Pantxi Sirieix soon after the break and it took him some time to run it off.
Crouch was almost gifted a chance for a second goal when a ball from Benayoun fell into his path, but as he tried to take the ball round Nicolas Douchez, the goalkeeper scooped it off his foot.
Liverpool replaced Benayoun with Riise in the 59th minute, with the Norwegian taking up a left-wing role.
A minute later Elmander was booked for a foul on Mascherano - and four minutes after that the Swedish striker finally managed to evade the clutches of Hyypia and Carragher to send in a flicked shot which was held by Reina.
Gerrard was replaced in the 65th minute by Mohamed Sissoko, while Elmander had another decent chance in the 69th minute when he sent an angled header over the top from Cesar’s cross, the midfielder being replaced by Andre Gignac seconds later.
Voronin made way for Torres in the 78th minute - and soon after Cetto was booked for dissent after the Spanish striker had tangled with Sirieix.
Moussa Sissoko took over from Ebondo with six minutes left, with Toulouse now looking frustrated and short of ideas - to the dejection of most of the 30,380 crowd.
report from Liverpool Echo August 15, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
The late kick off was greeted by an almighty cheer as many of us had been there early to soak up the atmosphere as well as to greet new (and prospective) My RAWK members. The massive beer intake also helped grease our collective throats for some very boisterous singing and chanting which, if I may say so, certainly enlivened the proceedings.
Initial signs were good with an adventurous 4-4-2 with ever reliable Pepe in goal and he was protected by the redoubtable Carra and Agger while the flanks were patrolled by Finnan (r) and Aberloa (l). The midfield engine consisted of Alonso and captain fantastic Stevie G with Afro-boy Pennant on the right wing and surprisingly Riise on the left (I was expecting Kewell or new boy Babel).
Game starts Liverpool taking the lion’s share of possession but without actually threatening the Villa goal. Martin O’ Neill had done well to shuffle his pack by staring with a 4-4-2 which quickly morphed into a 4-5-1 to allow a dense midfield to stifle the game. Alonso and Stevie G’s mobility proved useful in confusing the markers as both took turns to defend and attack thus pulling the Villans out of shape.
In the danger area, Kuyt and Torres were showing signs of a possible fruitful partnership as the opening goal demonstrated. Though it was an own goal, it started with a fluid passing movement which led to a stinging Torres shot being parried by the Villa goalie but Kuyt showing the usual steely determination to chase down lost causes, retrieved the ball and sent it across the six yard box to a waiting Torres who had read the situation. But the pass was intercepted by Laursen who did us all a favour by smashing it into the roof of his own net. Cheers!
In the second half, we were expecting us to go in search of number two but instead were pushed back by a resolute Villa. Carew in particular took delight in bullying Agger and was a constant thorn in our backsides. This highlighted our discomfort in dealing with long ball tactics and I hope Rafa is working on this Achilles heel as many teams will employ it especially at Anfield. Some supporters thought that Hyppia should have been in the team to neutralise the threat of Carew but let’s face it, he is too slow, and would be vulnerable to people like Agbholahor and Reo-Coker.
We were just about able to contain Villa when an unlucky bounce caught Carra on his hand. Spot kick! (We can’t complain, it was a penalty.) Barry smashed the spot kick in with aplomb leaving the whole pub slightly deflated as it was less than 10 minutes from the end. “Here we go again, yet another winless start to a season,” we all thought. But up stepped our Captain Fabulous – Steven “effing” Gerrard (as he is known to opposing fans) who curled a free kick just from the edge of the area into absolute top right hand corner of the goal. Taylor was in full stretch but there was nothing any keeper in the whole wide blinking world could do about it. Absolutely vintage Roy of the Rovers stuff!
Whistle was eventually blown, cue rousing rendition of "You’ll Never Walk Alone" and even more downing of beer! Granted, there was plenty that left to be desired but on the positive side, Babel showed plenty of promise when he came on as a sub. Torres and Kuyt look like a long-term partnership and most importantly, we collected all three points on the first day of the season (last time we did was in 2002 season where we beat Villa 1-0 with a Sami Hyppia header).
The feel good factor was obvious as many stayed back to celebrate a winning start to the new campaign. In a slightly belligerent mood, the assembled Kopites at our first ever viewing party were mouthing the inevitable - “Bring on Chelsea!” We hope to have an even bigger crowd assembled for this coming Sunday’s 11pm kick off against Jose’s troops. Me, I am wondering what the odds are for Torres to open his Liverpool account with a goal against Chelsea. . .
You'll Never Walk Alone
For more info and booking pls contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Kopites are crying out for a natural born predator in the mould of Rush, Fowler and those old enough to remember Toshack, to prowl the penalty area and finish off the half chances that could have seen us win many an away game (e.g. Chelsea at the Bridge anyone?). Excuses included the usual injury list as well as two years of non-stop footie from Istanbul to early qualifying rounds the following season and the run towards FA Cup glory. In between, slot in the World Cup and we did indeed have a tired bunch of legs and limbs. But isn’t it the same for all the big teams across Europe?
This season, however, is the first time Kopites can actually boast of some top class signings. For once, Rafa was allowed to break the bank to bring in his top target of Fernando Torres – a finisher who we hope will end our drought up front. In addition, he was allowed some cash for an interesting supporting cast of Voronin, Benayoun and the young Babel. In all, we can actually say we have cover in every position, so the old excuses should no longer carry any weight.
But, of course, we all know winning that elusive 19th League Championship is going to be tough and I certainly hope all the new faces will bed in quickly for us to hit the ground running. Not just in the league but against Toulouse in the Champions League qualifier.
What we need to do is to get behind our team and live up to our much vaunted "You’ll Never Walk Alone" spirit. Too often, many of our brethren have crawled under a rock when the going gets tough. Remember, WE ARE KOPITES - Legendary for being among the most knowledgeable fans in footie land. We are the supporters who gave the mighty Barca a standing ovation after they beat us 3-1 in our backyard. We are not the type to send hate mail to the gaffer when things start to go wrong (although Souness and Houllier towards the end did invite some criticism to put it mildly). For now, we should have faith in the new American owners who are working with Rick Parry to try and bring some glory back to Anfield. They have put their money where their mouths are with the recent acquisitions as well as paying for a new stadium. And of course, unequivocal support for Rafa who has delivered two major trophies so far.
The future is bright and certainly Liverpool RED!
You'll Never Walk Alone,
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
News of the gathering spread through nothing but word of mouth and forum postings. The number of REDS that showed up at the event totaled about 200 from an originaly estimated 50!
The successful gathering prompted and inspired us to keep it going as nothing beats the atmosphere of having a big crowd of REDS chanting and singing, just like the Kop. We are going all out this year to organise even more gathering and attracting sponsors for a bigger, more electrifying viewing experience. Please bare with us while we fine tune and improve the organisation process. The MyRAWK team is working hard to make this happen!
The Future's Great & It's RED,