Wednesday, April 30, 2008
In solidarity with the other REDs that have showed their support for the cancer stricken Red: Liam Harker, MyRAWK would also like to extend a warm and heart-felt tribute to him. Given just weeks to live, he has shown courage beyond normal to stay on to support our beloved club: LFC. This lad deserves our support in return. Let's win no. 6 for him.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Italian referee Roberto Rosetti will referee the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea.
Born on September 18th 1967 in Turin, he is a hospital manager back in his homeland and can speak French and English. He lists tennis, movies and books as his main interests.
He has been on the FIFA list since 2002 and his first International match was on 11th January that year was between Tunisia and Cameroon.
It will be the second time he has refereed us this season, back in November he was in the middle of our 4-1 home win against FC Porto. He has also refereed Chelsea this season as well, in October he oversaw their 2-1 win in Valencia. In his previous 5 Champions League games this season, that Chelsea win was the only time the away side has won.
Last season he also refereed Chelsea and ourselves once each, in March Chelsea beat FC Porto 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and we beat PSV 1-0 at Anfield.
He was in the final ballot for World Cup referees in Germany, but failed to make the cut. However he was suddenly recalled after Greek referee Kyros Vassaras was sent home after one of his team failed the fitness test. This made Roberto the second Italian referee in the tournament but he became the only one after Massimo De Santis was sent home after he was implicated in the foot-balling scandal at that time the country.
Rosetti went on to referee 4 games in the tournament including Argentina's 6-0 demolition of Serbia and France's 3-1 win over Spain in the knock-out stage. In those four games he cautioned 16 players and sent-off former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman. At over 6ft he was the tallest referee in Germany and had the second lowest ratio of cards per game in the tournament.
Roberto and his two assistants will represent Italy in this years' EURO Championship in Austria and Switzerland.
He was the referee last year when Croatia beat England 2-0 in the EURO 2008 qualifying match.
His assistants are Alessandro Griselli, Paolo Calcagno with Andrea De Marco as the fourth official.
Some memorable matches involving Italian referees and Liverpool.
12th Sept 1972 (C. Lo Bello) - Kevin Keegan and Emlyn Hughes scored to give us a 2-0 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the first round of the UEFA Cup.
10th Dec 1975 (C. Gussoni) - Jimmy Case scores all three goals as we beat Slask Wroclaw in the UEFA Cup.
16th Sept 1997 (G. Cesari) - Michael Owen scores his first European goal in a 2-2 draw at Celtic in the UEFA Cup.
26th Sept 2001 (P. Collina) - A single Jari Litmanen goal is enough to beat Dinamo Kiev at Anfield in the Champions League.
6th Nov 2003 (S. Farina) - Djimi Traore scores a brilliant goal in a 1-1 draw in Bucharest against Steaua in the UEFA Cup.
3rd March 2006 (M.de Santis) - Benfica end Liverpool's reign as European Champions with a 2-0 win at Anfield.
22nd November 2006 (D.Messina) - Liverpool claim top spot in Group C with a 2-0 win over PSV Eindhoven.
28th November 2007 (R.Rosetti) - Fernando Torres scores his first Champions League goals in a 4-1 win over FC Porto.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Date: 1 May 2008, (LABOUR DAY HOLIDAY)
Cheers and YNWA!
Liverpool’s B string ensured Rafa Benitez’s top dogs will be in the Champions League next season after a dramatic fight back against fast-fading Birmingham.
Trailing 2-0 with just 27 minutes left, Rafa’s barely-recognisable Liverpool – none of his big hitters featured – looked dead and buried.
But that was before Peter Crouch and Yossi Benayoun intervened to earn the Merseysiders the point that guarantees them fourth place and Champions League qualification.
In stark contrast, Birmingham are now facing the prospect of dropping straight back into the Championship. This result does nothing for their already-slim survival chances.
If chucking away a two-goal lead was not painful enough, news that Fulham, who they meet next week, won in the last minute was a crushing blow for 18th-place City.
Both managers rang the changes big time, for very different reasons. Benitez fielded nine new faces from the team held by Chelsea in the Champions League last week, with his focus clearly on the second leg of their all-English semi-final.
While the Blues’ relegation rivals may not agree, at least rotating Rafa was being consistent in respect of the dogfight. This line-up was almost identical to that which swept aside Fulham seven days earlier.
Blues boss Alex McLeish probably wished he could have axed a similar amount after his side’s 5-1 thumping at Villa Park. But the depth of his squad does not allow such shuffles.
Gary McSheffrey, Mauro Zarate and Cameron Jerome were dumped, though, for Olivier Kapo, Seb Larsson and top scorer Mikael Forssell. And McLeish’s selections had the greater impact – in the opening half at least.
Maybe Liverpool’s fringe players knew that whatever they did here they were not going to get a look in at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
For, unlike at Fulham, they were off the pace and seemingly already thinking of their hols. That handed Birmingham the chance to take a grip in midfield and gain momentum.
Forssell was the first to give notice of the home side’s threat when, in the 20th minute, he did brilliantly, firstly controlling a bouncing ball and then hooking a volley at Pepe Reina.
Ten minutes before the break, the Finnish striker fired the Blues ahead. Fabrice Muamba’s crunching tackle on Lucas sparked the attack, James McFadden’s cross evaded the Reds’ defence, and Forssell chested it down to slam in his ninth of the season.
At 1-0, there was never any chance of anybody at St Andrews thinking job done. Birmingham’s rearguard is too fragile, hence the sigh of relief from home fans in the 55th minute.
When McFadden was clattered 25 yards out, Larsson stepped up to curl the free-kick into the top corner.
If anyone doubted how significant a strike that was, Crouch soon put them right by reducing the deficit within eight minutes. Jermaine Pennant’s centre found the England ace, who drilled one past Maik Taylor. Now it was all Liverpool.
An equaliser was inevitable and arrived with 14 minutes left as Lucas, in acres of space, crossed for little Benayoun to head in via a deflection.
Benitez said afterwards: “Hopefully we can now progress in this year’s Champions League and if we get there focus on the final. Fourth place was always the minimum for us. I was very happy with the second half. To change so many players and still create a lot of chances was very
Blues boss McLeish moaned: “I’m very disappointed. Before the game I’d have taken a draw but having gone 2-0 up, you think it’s sewn up.
“But it’s still a point and one which could keep us in the Premier League.”
Birmingham City: Maik Taylor, Kelly, Jaidi, Ridgewell (Queudrue 77), Murphy, Larsson, Muamba, Nafti, Kapo (McSheffrey 77), Forssell (Zarate 87), McFadden.
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Jerome.
Booked: Murphy, Nafti.
Goals: Forssell 34, Larsson 55.
Reds: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Skrtel, Riise (Insua 64), Pennant, Plessis, Lucas, Benayoun, Crouch, Voronin.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Gerrard, Kuyt, Carragher.
Goals: Crouch 63, Benayoun 76.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).
Man-of-the-Match: Jermaine Pennant
Match & Goal Highlights: Birmingham City vs Liverpool FC
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Below is a source taken from http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/european/liverpool-1-chelsea-1-riises-lastgasp-howler-throws-chelsea-an-unexpected-lifeline-814037.html since most of us are either bleary-eyed or half asleep to write anything. Please enjoy.
I look forward to seeing everyone again on SATURDAY April 26 for the game against Birmingham City at 9:30pm.
Maybe the lads need some playing practise before we go to Stamford Bridge.
Its a European Cup game and as such, it will always be special for Liverpool.
By Sam Wallace, Football Correspondent
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Avram Grant may not yet have proved he is a good manager but last night reinforced something about him we already knew: he is a very lucky manager. There were 94 min, 2 sec played when this Champions League semi-final tie was turned on its head by John Arne Riise's own goal. It was one more goal more than Chelsea deserved.
For once that famous Anfield roar was quiet, not so much silenced as gagging on disbelief. Liverpool's only crime was that in their periods of dominance, particularly at the start of the second half, they did not build on the lead that Dirk Kuyt gave them two minutes before half-time. Riise's own goal was at the same end where Luis Garcia scored that famous ghost goal against Chelsea in 2005. No ghosts this time, but a personal horror show for Riise himself.
The story of Rafael Benitez's Liverpool team in Europe over the last four seasons has been laced with last-minute goals and improbable comebacks; some might even call it luck. Last night they discovered that fate can work both ways. Now Liverpool must go next Wednesday to Stamford Bridge, where they have never scored a goal under Benitez and break the habit. You can only believe that Chelsea, even after Saturday's Premier League title decider against Manchester United, cannot play as badly as this again.
As Liverpool's players jogged round the pitch in their post-match warm-down, Jamie Carragher was miming to Steven Gerrard how Riise came to head Salomon Kalou's cross past Pepe Reina. The Liverpool captain looked disinclined to believe what he had seen. If that goal comes to decide this semi-final, thousands of men of a certain age on Merseyside may require therapy for years. Which is nothing compared to the kind of help poor old Riise, on as a substitute last night, might need to get over the event.
If Chelsea had not scored the equaliser there would have been a few people demanding to know why Grant had finished the game with Florent Malouda in centre midfield and Nicolas Anelka on the right wing. Those details were lost in the incredulity at Chelsea's late goal but, for those 94 minutes, nobody was advancing the theory that Grant had cracked the puzzle of beating Benitez's Liverpool in the Champions League that had eluded Jose Mourinho for three years.
As they celebrated in front of their own fans, the gestures of Didier Drogba seemed to be encouraging the Chelsea faithful to keep the faith. It was certainly stretched very thin last night. For long periods they were way off the pace. Drogba and Michael Ballack did not look fit; Malouda and Ashley Cole did not look fit for purpose. By the time Gerrard and Fernando Torres went close in the late stages, defeat by a single goal looked like a decent result for Chelsea in the circumstances.
Watching from his yacht in the Mediterranean, Roman Abramovich will have recognised that this result was not the outcome of a well-executed game plan, rather outrageous good fortune. If there is a defence for Chelsea it is that they did not give up, no matter how unpromising the circumstances looked. Even Drogba, whose touch was reminiscent of his nervous skittish self when he joined in 2004, kept plugging away long after it looked like a futile exercise for Chelsea.
Drogba had half a shout for a penalty when he and Carragher chased a ball into the Liverpool area on 29 minutes but in the chaos of the collision it seemed the defender made the tackle outside the area at the very least. Chelsea's best players were Petr Cech, John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho, who held them together at times in the centre of defence, but they had to ride their luck in moments when Liverpool broke through.
It was not Torres' finest 90 minutes for Liverpool this season. He had two chances to score, including one in the final minutes, that this young assassin would normally bury. On 31 minutes he was played in immaculately by Gerrard and then, behind the Chelsea defence, took two touches instead of one to control the ball. When he hit his shot it was straight at Cech.
For an easy comparison in the varying fortunes of the two sides you did not need to look much further than their wide players. Malouda and Joe Cole were scarcely in the game yet the unpolished Ryan Babel and Kuyt, the least natural winger on the pitch, saw plenty of the ball. Kuyt embarrassed Ashley Cole down the right wing more than once and, two minutes before the break, scored the goal that Anfield was praying for.
The move began with a quick free-kick by Alonso that set Kuyt off down the right. His cross was cleared by a diving header from Terry which fell to Frank Lampard on the edge of the box. There, however, the England man lingered too long on the ball and so Chelsea's fate unfolded.
Kuyt won the ball from Lampard and possession fell to Javier Mascherano while the Dutchman scampered into the area. Mascherano sliced the ball into the box where Kuyt, holding off Claude Makelele, tucked his volley through Cech's legs. It was a goal that showed up all Chelsea's failings at once – frailty in midfield, weakness down their left flank and a tendency to come off second best in tackles.
In the first 20 minutes of the second half Liverpool could have put this game to bed, but after that Chelsea drifted back into the match. On 65 minutes Drogba cut the ball back to Lampard who, instead of hitting it first time, tried to take the ball on and succeeded only in running it into touch. He slapped his forehead in frustration, Homer Simpson-style, a gesture that might have been best suited to Grant on the touchline for whom events were looking increasingly desperate.
Cech stopped a thunderous shot from Gerrard and another effort from Torres. Then, in the closing stages, it fell apart for Liverpool. Chelsea pushed forward in haphazard style, and with the four minutes of extra time seemingly elapsed, Kalou crossed low from the left and Riise, conscious of Anelka behind him, dived forward and headed the ball past Reina from close range. The noise died in the throats of the Kop. Even Chelsea did not seem able to believe their luck.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio (Riise, 61); Mascherano, Alonso; Kuyt, Gerrard, Babel (Benayoun, 76); Torres.
Substitutes not used: Itandje (gk), Hyypia, Crouch, Pennant, Lucas.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, A Cole; Makelele; J Cole (Kalou, 62), Ballack (Anelka, 86), Lampard, Malouda; Drogba.
Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Shevchenko, Mikel, Alex, Belletti.
Referee: K Plautz (Austria).
Goal Match Highlights
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Good stuff, Sanjeev! For all those not sure, the game is on tonite, Liverpool FC vs Chelsea FC- WED 23 April @ 2:45AM @ Ch. 812 ESPN.
Winning, they say, is a habit, and Liverpool are certainly in the habit of winning European Cup semi-finals.
The Reds go into this latest Chelsea clash having lost just one of their eight semi-finals in continental football's premier competition – and that was 43 years ago.
FC Zurich, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayern Munich, Dinamo Bucharest, Panathinaikos and Chelsea have all been dispatched at this stage, with only Inter Milan able to boast a last-four victory over Liverpool.
Here we look back on all eight encounters – and if you thought 2005 was dramatic, you better think again.
INTER MILAN 1965
Liverpool 3-1 Inter Milan
Anfield's first big European night will always rank as the greatest among more senior members of the Kop fraternity. The arrival of the World Club Champions was eagerly anticipated, with lengthy queues snaking around the ground from midday. Come kick-off, the raucous crowd (roused further by the sight of injured Gerry Byrne and Gordon Milne parading the FA Cup) seemed to frighten the life out of the Italians. Liverpool proceeded to hand out a footballing lesson to Inter's array of stars. By half-time the Reds were 2-1 ahead thanks to Roger Hunt and Ian Callaghan. Ian St John sealed a memorable victory late in the second half, prompting a round of 'Go Back To Italy' to the tune of Santa Lucia from an exuberant Kop.
Inter Milan 3-0 Liverpool
Inter might have been European champions, and they might have had the meanest backline in the world, but Bill Shankly's Reds travelled to the San Siro with an air of confidence. What they hadn't banked on, however, was a seemingly biased referee intent on giving every decision to the home side.
Disaster struck after just eight minutes when Ronnie Moran upended the Brazilian Jair. Spaniard Jose Ortiz de Mendebil indicated an indirect free-kick, yet turned a blind eye when Corso slammed the ball straight into Tommy Lawrence's net. Two minutes later, Shanks' frustration turned to astonishment when Joaquin Peiro kicked the ball out of Lawrence's hands and swept it home. The goal would never have been allowed in England.
With 82,000 Italians setting off firecrackers, flares and rockets, the odds were now firmly stacked against the visitors. On 62 minutes, Giacinto Facchetti shattered the Merseysiders' European dream when he burst through and fired an unstoppable drive beyond Lawrence.
FC ZURICH 1977
FC Zurich 1-3 Liverpool
The Reds were handed what was, on paper at least, the easiest semi-final draw, and that's how it proved to be. Mind, Bob Paisley's men were given an early shock when Tommy Smith fouled Fredy Scheiwiler in the box. Peter Risi put the Swiss ahead from the spot, though nine minutes later the scores were level - and it was a goal straight from the training ground. Phil Neal ghosted in at the far post before casually chesting Ray Kennedy's free-kick and slotting calmly into the net. A second-half strike from Steve Heighway and a penalty from Neal left the tie firmly in Liverpool's favour as the sides headed to Anfield.
Liverpool 3-0 FC Zurich
The first of two semi-finals in a week for the Reds. With a Cup clash against Everton just around the corner, and Liverpool sat proudly at the top of the league, a unique treble was still on for Paisley's world beaters. The home crowd had to wait half-an-hour for a breakthrough when Jimmy Case robbed Chapuisat to create a 4-1 aggregate lead. The number eight added a second with 15 minutes remaining before Kevin Keegan wrapped things up with a close-range header. Next stop Rome, where Liverpool would win the first of their five European Cups.
BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH 1978
Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 Liverpool
Bob Paisley is said to have flinched when he heard the draw for this semi-final. Although his side would have had a testing time against either Juventus or FC Bruges, it was Monchengladbach, a team full of West Germany internationals, who the great man feared most. The tie was given an extra edge by the fact Liverpool had beaten their opponents in the previous year's final. Paisley knew they'd be out for revenge, but with the league, FA Cup and League Cup now out of their grasp, this was the Reds' last chance of silverware. Paisley sent out eight defensive-minded players with firm instructions to give nothing away ahead of the Anfield return. The plan seemed to be working until rookie defender Wilfried Hannes headed home from a corner early in the second half. The Liverpool bench was forced to act. On came David Johnson and Graeme Souness, the latter getting his first taste of European football. Talk about inspired. Johnson darted through the German defence on 88 minutes to nod in Jimmy Case's cross, and although Bonhof curled a 25-yard free-kick beyond Ray Clemence just a minute later, the holders were more than happy to fly back to Merseyside with an all-important away goal.
Liverpool 3-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
After entering the fray so effectively in Germany, Souness was handed the number 11 shirt for his first start in continental football. Characteristically, he took his chance, rolling the ball around elegantly in midfield. Anfield waited a mere six minutes to erupt when Ray Kennedy headed home a Kenny Dalglish cross. The roles were reversed on 34 minutes when Dalglish steered the ball past Wolfgang Kleff after Kennedy's knock down. The tie was then killed as Jimmy Case dummied Hannes before cutting inside and blasting past the helpless Kleff. Liverpool were through to their second successive European Cup final, where they'd meet FC Bruges.
BAYERN MUNICH 1981
Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich
The Germans flew into Merseyside armed with one of the most deadly weapons in the world game – European Footballer of the Year Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Bob Paisley had a new goalscoring sensation of his own in 19-year-old Ian Rush, but as fate would have it, it was defenders, not attackers, who came out on top during a stalemate first leg. Without the drive of the injured Souness, the Reds were unable to breach a well-marshalled Bayern defence. As the final whistle blew, visiting coach Pal Csernai knew he held the upperhand.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Liverpool
The home side were so confident of securing a place in the Paris final that directions to the French capital were given to locals as they entered the Olympic Stadium. Bearded Bayern skipper Paul Breitner even came out in public to write off Liverpool's chances, but in doing so he played right into Scouse hands. Inspired by those taunts, an injury-hit Liverpool stunned the Germans. Rookie winger Howie Gayle, an early replacement for the limping Dalglish, ran the Munich defence ragged. In fact, he did so much running that, by the closing stages of the second half, he had to be substituted himself. By this stage, Liverpool were in the ascendancy. A Ray Kennedy strike seven minutes from time confirmed their superiority on the night – with Rummenigge's late equaliser proving a mere consolation. It was the Reds who were on their way to Paris, where they'd face the original European Cup kings Real Madrid.
DINAMO BUCHAREST 1984
Liverpool 1-0 Dinamo Bucharest
The Romanians arrived at Anfield with no fear having eliminated holders SV Hamburg, and the first leg proved tough in every sense for Joe Fagan's Redmen. Rarely had Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush received such man-handling. The pair were scythed, spat at, kicked and dragged for 90 minutes. But when the visitors tried it on with Graeme Souness, it resulted in a broken jaw for Lica Movila. A Sammy Lee header from Alan Kennedy's free-kick made it advantage Liverpool going into the second leg, though there was still much to do to make the final in Rome.
Dinamo Bucharest 1-2 Liverpool
Rush Dinamo Bucharest 1984With a 70,000 crowd baying for blood (preferably that of a certain Scottish midfielder) the game quickly descended into something only vaguely resembling a football match. Souness was booed at every turn; though the Romanian players kept their distance, no doubt fearing the same fate as Movila. They instead took their revenge on Ian Rush, whose treatment would have thwarted a lesser player. But Rushy was not one to be intimidated, and his 39th and 40th goals of the season kept the Reds on course for a unique treble.
Liverpool 4-0 Panathinaikos
European kings Liverpool were clear favourites to reach a second successive final, though boss Joe Fagan refused to take the Greek champions for granted ahead of the first leg. "Once you reach the semi-finals of any competition, there are no favourites, only winners and losers," the bootroom legend warned his players beforehand. As it turned out, the Reds had all but ensured they were the former with more than 90 minutes to spare with goals from John Wark, Jim Beglin and Ian Rush (2)...
Panathinaikos 0-1 Liverpool
...Not that there was any telling the 60,000 fanatical Greeks who turned out in Athens equipped with firecrackers and horns. But Liverpool had seen and done far too much during 20 years of continental football to be caught in the headlights. A classy Mark Lawrenson strike on 60 minutes added further gloss to the result and the Reds were on their way to Brussels. The final, however, would prove to be one of the darkest days in the club's history.
Garcia during the FA Cup win over Chelsea
Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool
A first leg which was cagey than a zoo - not that it was short of drama. French referee Alain Sars flashed yellow at Xabi Alonso following an innocuous challenge on Eidur Gudjohnsen, a decision which would rule the influential midfielder out of the Anfield return. Liverpool's best chance on the night fell to the head of Milan Baros, but a world-class save from Petr Cech meant the tie was on a knife-edge as the teams headed to Merseyside.
Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea
A European night etched indelibly in the mind of every Liverpool fan. Even if you do need reminding, there are no words to describe the way we felt when Luis Garcia's shot floated over the line, nor the sense of dread which overcame each and every one of us in the seconds prior to Eider Gudjohnsen's miss. Pure, unadulterated emotion.
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
Rafa Benitez surprised many by selecting Bolo Zenden on the left of midfield – but the maligned Dutchman was actually one of the better performers on a disappointing night for Liverpool. It took 29 minutes for Jose Mourinho's men to draw first blood when Joe Cole shook off Alvaro Arbeloa's challenge to latch onto a Didier Drogba cross. It could have been worse but for the excellence of Pepe Reina. The key question as the Reds headed home was how they'd stop the seemingly irrepressible Drogba in a week's time.
Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea
Rafa during the Champions League semi-final versus ChelseaA training ground leveller from Daniel Agger on 22 minutes set up one of the most nerve-wracking nights in Kop history. As Anfield did its best to match the atmosphere of two years ago, Peter Crouch, Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard, John Arne Riise and Dirk Kuyt all came close to a decisive strike. Kuyt actually had a goal wrongly chalked off for offside, but destiny wanted a Champions League semi-final to be decided by penalties for the first time. A year earlier Pepe Reina made a hero of himself in an FA Cup final shootout, and the Spanish stopper did it again in front of a cross-legged Rafa Benitez, saving from Arjen Robben and Geremi before Kuyt netted the crucial spot kick. It was later revealed that, while Reina booked Liverpool's place in Athens, thieves were ransacking his home. No one, however, could ever steal memories like these.
Monday, April 21, 2008
On another front! BiGGUPS to our WHY WE LOVE LIVERPOOL FC contest winners: Nasir, Michael Tan and Jaikumar! We hope to see you guys around more often. Watch out fellas! More stuffs to give away so watch out MyRAWK TV all around Klang Valley!
Finally, BIGGUPS to our member BingLoon who celebrated his 21st birthday on SATURDAY at the M Bar. BIGGUPS and many congratulations on your first step to MAN-HOOD! Cheers and many happyt returns of the day!
Well and without further adue, please enjoy the read we have prepared for you!
Source taken from http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/fulham-0-liverpool-2-benitez-focused-on-chelsea-after-cottage-breeze-812705.html
By Glenn Moore
Monday, 21 April 2008
Having despatched one west London club to the brink of the Championship, Rafael Benitez turned his attention to knocking another out of Europe.
Saturday's comfortable defeat of Fulham was the perfect warm-up for tomorrow's Champions League semi-final, first leg, with Chelsea at Anfield. Despite resting the bulk of his first team, Benitez was able to all but secure a qualification place in next season's Champions League, leaving him free to focus on the ongoing campaign.
"Anfield is amazing, and is the key for us," he said of tomorrow's match. "It has been in the past and can be again. If we can score goals and keep a clean sheet, it will be fantastic. If we cannot, the second leg at Stamford Bridge will be really difficult. But we're a top side, with experience, so we can manage."
Benitez has twice put Chelsea out of the competition at this stage and, while Avram Grant has replaced Jose Mourinho, he insisted nothing had changed. "I was watching the game at Everton on Thursday and they were playing more or less the same. The key to Chelsea is [Roman] Abramovich. He built a fantastic team. The only change is in the press conferences."
Does he miss Mourinho? "The press do, but not me. I have enough things to do in Liverpool now." This was a veiled reference to the unprecedented turmoil in the Liverpool boardroom. Benitez, though, looked relaxed enough and he added: "When we have some problems and am under pressure, I always think about people who are in a worse position than us [in other walks of life]. So I try to enjoy my profession."
It helps that the team are winning. Eleven wins and two draws in 14 matches insulates any manager. In general players only begin to worry about who owns the club when there is a danger, as at Bournemouth and Rotherham, of their not getting paid, or even having a job. That is not an issue at Anfield. Peter Crouch admitted: "It's not something we really care about. We talked about it a bit when it first started, but although we read things in the papers, to be honest it's not something that's been discussed among the players.
"We're not told anything about what's going on and don't really expect to be. You can tell by our results it's not something that's affected our form."
The instability at Fulham has come in the dugout and the club look like paying for it with the loss of their elite status. Roy Hodgson is the third manager in 13 months and his team is a patchwork of players signed by himself, Lawrie Sanchez and Chris Coleman.
A year ago a fortuitous victory over a depleted Liverpool earned Sanchez a "permanent" job. Fulham probably played better this time, but Liverpool's squad is stronger and "weakened team" is a relative term. Benitez still deployed 14 internationals. While Fulham began brightly, Lucas and Javier Mascherano ran the game much as they pleased after Kasey Keller waved Jermaine Pennant's shot past him after 17 minutes.
"I don't think Kasey will be happy today," admitted Hodgson, who had opted to retain the American ahead of the fit-again Antti Niemi. The keeper should also have done better with the second, scored by Crouch, though a sloppy pass by Danny Murphy, and poor marking from Aaron Hughes, were equally responsible. Similarly, Pennant made Brede Hangeland look very ponderous as he ran on to Lucas's pass for the first.
Thoughts turned to how Fulham may do in the Championship. "People regard spirit as players flying around the field smashing into others and knocking them over," said Hodgson. "We aren't that kind of team. We don't have any midfield players who can do that." Nor is Hodgson that kind of manager, but while West Bromwich Albion have managed to prosper without such a player they are something of an exception.
Goals: Pennant (17) 0-1; Crouch (70) 0-2.
Fulham (4-4-2): Keller; Stalteri, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Davies, Bullard, Murphy (Andreasen, 78), Dempsey; Healy (Nevland, 76), McBride (Kamara, 81). Substitutes not used: Warner (gk), Bocanegra.
Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Reina; Finnan, Skrtel, Hyypia (Carragher, h-t), Riise; Pennant, Lucas, Mascherano (Alonso, 72), Benayoun; Voronin (Aurelio, 82); Crouch. Substitutes not used: Itandje (gk), Torres.
Referee: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire). Booked: Fulham Healy.
Man of the match: Lucas.
Friday, April 18, 2008
However, we despite the rumblings going on at Anfield, we feel that the Malaysian Liverpool FC fans should know what actually transpired from the interviews with Sky TV.
As you know this is exclusive and we at MyRAWK were here first. Enjoy and we hope to see you at our viewing games!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
John Alfred Anderson (62)
Graham John Wright (17)
Monday, April 14, 2008
"WHY I LOVE LIVERPOOL FC" in NOT MORE THAN 20 words by sending them to email@example.com
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5. Bestari Nasi Kandar- Plaza Damas, Damansara Intan)
6. My Spicy Corner – Sungei Way)
7. Bestari Nasi Kandar – (Kelana Parkview, Mont Kiara Solaris)
8. Buharry – (Heritage Row)
9. Restoran Nasi Kandar Kampong Pandan – Kampung Pandan)
Contest is open from 13th to 17th of April. When submitting entry, please include the title in email as “MyRAWK TV Contest” to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, please include:
Entry: WHY I LOVE LIVERPOOL FC (NOT MORE THAN 20 WORDS)....
Terms and Conditions
1. Contest would be open from 13th of April 2008 to 17th of April 2008.
2. Submission of entry would grant MyRAWK the right to use and publish the entry’s content and the contestant’s name.
3. Only details with accurate name and contact number would be valid.
4. The decision of the winner would be at the sole discretion of the MyRAWK committee.
5. Winners would be required to collect the prize at MyRAWK’s official gatherings.
6. All winners will be contacted via email or contact number provided.
So with that in mind, in place of our away-on-leave writers, below is a match report from the Independent and goal highlights from Daily Motion for all you LFC fans out there!
Liverpool 3 Blackburn Rovers 1: Torres thrives on Gerrard's support act in Anfield stroll
By Jon CulleyMonday, 14 April 2008
If Liverpool's players were in any way distracted by the civil war raging off the field at Anfield, it was not enough to be of any benefit to Blackburn in their quest to be the Premier League's representative in the Intertoto Cup, nor to Everton in their now diminishing hopes of finishing in the top four.
Liverpool ultimately had too much determination and too much class for Mark Hughes' team. The scoreline may have been a little flattering to them, inflated as it was by two goals in the last eight minutes, but there was no argument with the merit in the result, which puts Liverpool five points ahead of their Merseyside rivals with four matches to go.
Inevitably, the determining influences were Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, who continue to bring a smile to the face of their manager, Rafael Benitez. They have been Liverpool's match-winners all season, but with the evolution of their relationship on the pitch the threat they pose to opponents is more potent now than ever.
Settling into a position just behind Torres in what was effectively a four-man Liverpool attack, with Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel in the wide positions, Gerrard was in his element, striking fear into Blackburn through his ability, with a burst of acceleration, to tear a hole in their defence in an instant.
After his first, telling charge, midway through the first half, he was convinced he should have had a penalty, tumbling over the body of Brad Friedel. The referee, Mike Riley, noted the position of Gerrard's trailing leg, however, and gave the Blackburn goalkeeper the benefit of the doubt.
Later in the opening half Gerrard was bundled over by Christopher Samba, outside the box this time, but was denied even a free kick.
Then again, Riley ruled leniently in Liverpool's favour more than once, notably when Jason Roberts, about to race into a one-on-one chance against Pepe Reina at 1-0 down, was pulled back by Martin Skrtel, who received only a caution when a red card might have been appropriate.
The match-turning moment came after the introduction of Yossi Benayoun. Intercepting a stray pass by Roque Santa Cruz deep in Blackburn territory, it was the Israeli who launched the breakthrough move, one that ended with Gerrard exchanging passes with Lucas before surging past Samba and steering the ball wide of Friedel.
Torres made his mark in the 82nd minute to put the result beyond doubt, the Spaniard rising unmarked to head home a perfect cross by Gerrard to claim his 30th goal of the season. Andriy Voronin, who replaced Torres in the last five minutes, slid home the third goal in the last minute, before Santa Cruz, with a deft volley, claimed small, stoppage-time consolation for Blackburn
"After the praise for the way they played against Arsenal, it was difficult for the players to be ready to play again," Benitez said. "In the end, Gerrard and Torres were the key."
Goals: Gerrard (60) 1-0; Torres (82) 2-0; Voronin (90) 3-0; Santa Cruz (90) 3-1.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio; Lucas, Alonso (Riise 87); Kuyt, Gerrard, Babel (Benayoun 58); Torres (Veronin 85). Substitutes not used: Itandje, Hyypia.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock; Reid, Bentley, Vogel (Dunn 73), Pedersen (Dunn 73); Santa Cruz, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Brown, Ooijer, Mokoena.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
Booking: Liverpool Skrtel.
Man of the match: Gerrard.
Fernando Torres is the first Liverpool player to score in seven consecutive home League games
13 April v Blackburn (1 goal)
8 April v Arsenal (1)
30 March v Everton (1)
15 March v Reading (1)
8 March v Newcastle (1)
5 March v West Ham (3)
23 Feb v Middlesbrough (3)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Apr 12 2008 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
A HEARTBROKEN David Moores today called on Liverpool's warring co-owners to sort out their differences for the good of the club – or else stand aside and let someone else take over.
In his first interview since selling the club to Tom Hicks and George Gillett in February 2007, Moores told the ECHO how:
* He was left disgusted by the treatment of chief executive Rick Parry by Tom Hicks
* He believes Hicks and Gillett must either find common ground or walk away
* He feels let down by the “unacceptable” way the club has been run since he relinquished ownership
l He will do everything he can to get the club back on an even keel after so much turmoil.
Moores, who continues to act as honorary life president at Anfield and who maintains a place on the Liverpool board, said: “It's heartbreaking. I'm almost lost for words about the damage that's being done to the club at the present time.
“As a fan, and as someone who loves the club, it is totally unacceptable to see this being played out in the public arena.
“This is most certainly not what the club is about. In fact, I can't ever remember, even going back to when I was a supporter as a kid, stuff being played out in public like we have seen in the last six months.
“It is embarrassing and it is not an acceptable way of doing things.
“I've never known anything like it and I'm just absolutely shell-shocked.”
As far as Moores is concerned, one of the most upsetting things of all is the way the success Liverpool enjoyed on the pitch in beating Arsenal to make it through to the semi-finals of the Champions League has been almost forgotten amidst the off-field turmoil which has erupted since Hicks called on Parry to resign.
“The most heartbreaking thing about all of this is that we were on such a high after the Arsenal game on Tuesday night and then this comes along and completely takes over the great things the players and the manager did,” he said.
“The wonderful success they had that night has been completely diminished, it is completely gone, because of all of this being brought out into the open.
“All I can say is I feel very sorry that it has come to this, that how great it was on the night has been taken over by something which should have been dealt with in a far more delicate way and certainly not in public.
“It certainly doesn't help the team, because they're not getting all the praise they should be getting because of other things are taking priority.
“Everyone should be going on about how well they performed and how brilliant Rafa's tactics were. I mean, for goodness sake, three Champions League semi-finals in just four years is an unbelievable achievement.
“But the gloss has been taken off it and you should never do that.”
When Moores stepped down as owner, he welcomed Hicks and Gillett to the club but has become increasingly concerned at their apparent inability to act as “custodians” as they had promised and also their seeming lack of willingness to put the club ahead of their own personal interests.
And he today called on them to resolve their differences or leave the way clear for someone else to own the club who can provide the unity and stability it needs.
He said: “I didn't know Hicks very well, I knew George a lot better.
“George came across as a bubbly, enthusiastic man who loves his sport and is knowledgeable about it.
“But he didn't have the money to do the deal without bringing someone else on board.
“It was really right at the end that I met Tom Hicks so I didn't really get a chance to get to know him but I took George's word for it.
“It was in total good faith. I believed these fellas, I believed everything they said to me and they said it all again to the fans via the media and you can judge for yourselves whether they kept their promises.
“I am surprised because I thought that the pair of them, from what they said to me and to the fans through the media, that they appreciated the heritage and the values of the club.
“They talked about putting the money in and the new stadium and having no debt on the club. At the time I think we all felt it would be a good deal but it's not all materialised.
“I do feel let down. With everything that's going on, I have to feel let down.
“This is not how I foresaw it and I'm sure it's not how the fans foresaw it.
“If I could have afforded to take the club forward I would have done, but I couldn't. I didn't have the sort of money you need for a new stadium and £30-40m a year for new players.
“So I had no option. I would love to still be in charge but I would have held the club back.
“That's why I am asking these two gentlemen to think of the club, not their own kudos.
“The fans, the manager and the team all deserve better than this.
“We should now be focusing on continuity, stability and working our socks off towards enjoying what will hopefully be a super night in Moscow.
“But when things are played out like they are at present it virtually makes the club a laughing stock and that's not acceptable.
“How can they be acting as custodians when they are split down the middle?”
He added: “It needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. The two owners don't agree on a way forward and unity is essential.
“They have got to stop thinking of themselves and start thinking of the club, its values, its traditions and its heritage.
“They have to do what is best for the club and get it sorted as quickly as possible because what is happening at the moment is not doing it any good.
“I think the damage can be repaired but those two gentlemen have got to come to a quick agreement about the way forward.
“You would have to say if they can't do it then they will have to stand aside and let someone else do it.
“I can't say what these two gentlemen will do. Will they sell? I don't know.”
Having seen Liverpool suffer greatly in recent weeks as the battle between the two owners continues to rage, Moores today committed himself to doing everything in his power to get the club back on an even keel.
“We have got to keep the ship going and I will try my best, and I'm sure Rick will, that we will go on and try to get success at the end of the season, try to get off the politics and concentrate on what's happening on then pitch.
“You look at the fans and as everyone keeps saying they are like a 12th man.
“They were unbelievable again the other night and they deserve better than what's going on at present.
“All I can promise them is that I will do my damnedest to make certain that the club comes through this and we get back to concentrating on what happens on the pitch not off it.
“It is not my club anymore but I will do everything I can and I would like to give a huge vote of thanks to the fans for the wonderful support they have given the manager and the team.
“European nights at Anfield are something you wouldn't see anywhere else. They are unique, unbelievable and the fans make it that way.”
Saturday, April 12, 2008
What ever happen to the "Liverpool Way" of conducting our business behing close door? It's as if it theres not enough dirty linens already being washed in public the past couple of months. Congrats Hicks! You've self-signed your death warrant.
Liverpool Echo will run an exclusive story where David Moores will open his heart on the current shameful situation in Anfield. We will post excerpts and links to the article once its up later today. Be sure to check back.
Check out Tony Barrett's article on the situation below. It's taken from the Liverpool Echo , click on the link to acces the article directly:
Liverpool FC crisis: Tony Barrett on the boardroom war that's split Anfield in two
Apr 11 2008 By Tony Barrett Liverpool Echo
IT WAS only a little over 12 months ago when Rick Parry told Liverpool's outgoing shareholders that the club would be in safe hands with Tom Hicks and George Gillett. at the helm.
Today, Parry will no doubt be regretting his ringing endorsement of Hicks, who has plunged the knife deep into the back of Liverpool's chief executive by telling him to quit.
The shock demand was delivered to Anfield by letter yesterday afternoon, while Parry was at FA headquarters in London. making an unsuccessful attempt to have Javier Mascherano's extra one game ban overturned Parry was blissfully unaware of the letter. The first he knew of it was via text messages from family members asking if the story breaking on TV was accurate.
There had been no board meeting to discuss his position as protocol demands, nor had there been any verbal communication from Hicks.to suggest that his position was under threat.
Despite this, Parry was not shocked by the dramatic turn of events, mainly because members of the Hicks clan have made no secret of their desire to see the 53-year-old ousted from the club during recent visits to Anfield.
The timing was also unsurprising, coming two days after Parry had accompanied Gillett on a visit to the city centre office of Liverpool's commercial director Ian Ayre, who is viewed by the pair as Hicks's ally on Merseyside.
The ECHO understands Gillett gave Ayre only 15 minutes’ warning that he wanted to meet him, and on arrival launched into a tirade, reminding Ayre he answers to Gillett as well as Hicks.
It was now Gillett and Parry against Hicks and Ayre.
As soon as he learned of Ayre's dressing- down by Gillett, Hicks hit the roof, and hearinghat Parry was also present only served to hardened his desire to see Parry removed.
Sources in the Hicks camp insist this meeting was not the catalyst for yesterday's developments, and that the Dallas-based businessman had simply been waiting for the three matches against Arsenal to end before making his move. They also say Hicks could not afford to wait until the end of the season to make his move because a new chief executive would have to be found in readiness for the busy pre-season period.
The ECHO understands that Tom Hicks junior has been informing friends in Liverpool for the past six weeks that they want Parry out. so there was no need to wait until the Arsenal games to be out of the way – yesterday's dramatic move could have been made at any point before then
On February 26, the ECHO was made aware of Hicks's desire to sack Parry and sent him an email asking if he was planning on firing him. But Hicks refused to answerthe question, saying: "I won't comment on management."
The boardroom battle has been going on for some time but much of the fighting has taken place behind closed doors. Now it’s on open show.
The fact that the internecine battle for Liverpool was played out on a satellite news channel yesterday will greatly upset Anfield traditionalists and those who continue to cherish the much fabled "Liverpool Way".
As will the revealing of private discussions between Rafa Benitez and Hicks about misgivings the manager has over Parry's ability in the transfer market.
Benitez has been privately critical of Parry for some time, and was particularly irked over the loss of long-time target Florent Malouda to Chelsea, but Benitez has never made his concerns public. Yesterday, Benitez was no doubt as shocked as Parry to see such detail laid bare. Similarly, Liverpool’s players will be at least disappointed and at worst disgusted that their magnificent achievement of reaching the Champions League semi-finals in such glorious circumstances three days ago will now be overshadowed by yet more unseemly events off the field.
Hicks’s decision to go public with his call for Parry to quit could simply come down to the fact that he does not have the power or the authority to sack him.
It would take a majority vote by the Liverpool board to sanction a dismissal of such a high ranking employee and the current make-up of the board means Parry's position is safe.
With Gillett, his son Foster and life president David Moores all supporting Parry, Hicks and son Tom junior would be out-voted, and with Parry having no intention of quitting there is an impasse.
It is the most bitter of power struggles, one with no immediate sign of resolution
That is the reason why Dubai International Capital's chief executive Sameer Al-Ansari produced a bombshell of his own yesterday, announcing DIC were shelving their bid to buy Liverpool.
DIC's desire to buy the club has not lessened but they believe a deal remains impossible while the boardroom rows continue.
Hicks remains unwilling to sell to DIC while Gillett has previously indicated his willingness to do a deal. But in recent weeks both men have attempted to put in place the finance to buy the other out.
In the current credit crunch the possibility of that happening remains slim. as even the world's biggest financial organisations are unwilling to lend out the kind of capital required to fund such a venture and It seems likely that Unless either party can attract a second party as an investor, Hicks and Gillett seem stuck with each other for the time being. at least.
The ECHO understands a "first refusal" agreement between the Americans, in which one must offer his slice of the club to the other before selling to a third party, does not come to an end until the end of May.
That is an unpalatable thought for everyone at Liverpool, as one senior Anfield figure put it today: "We simply cannot go on like this, one of them has to go.
"We've got a European Cup semi-final coming up and maybe even a final, all this is doing is damaging the team's chances.
"How can owners act like this?"
If rapid change does not occur then the position of manager Benitez will inevitably be brought into question.
The Reds boss has been a patient figure as civil war has raged around him, and has managed to keep his players focused despite the obvious distractions.
But basic common sense tells us that the position he is in, with two bosses at loggerheads and the club's entire decision process now so complex and fraught, is not one which any manager would enjoy, never mind one with the kind of CV which would inevitably be attractive to Europe's top clubs.
Up to now, Benitez has avoided taking sides in the battle but yesterday he found himself dragged into it by Hicks.
It is a similar situation for the Liverpool fans who are now taking sides and worryingly for Hicks, it seems that many of them are backing Parry against him.
Parry is not a particularly popular figure among Liverpool's fan base and many have not forgiven him for the role he played in the tickets fiasco ahead of last year's European Cup Final.
But there is something about the way Hicks is currently conducting club business which means the American’s every move has the potential to backfire.
It is all so different to a year ago when Hicks was given the seal of approval by Parry in that fateful letter of his own to shareholders.
At the time he said of Hicks and Gillett "To them, our virtues, heritage and culture are precious assets that will help to inspire everyone connected with us to continue to strive for further success – both on and off the field."
Having now been told to depart so abruptly, Parry's opinion of Hicks will today be quite different.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
April 9, 2008 by Martin Samuel as taken from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/european_football/article3709457.ece
When the noise had subsided, the victors and vanquished departed, when Anfield was at last silent, empty and still, the question remained: why? What was it that possessed a defender as experienced as Kolo Touré to take fright, to be so terrified at the prospect of lasting just six minutes at this remarkable arena that he should give away the penalty that cost his team the game and the dream of a first Champions League crown?
And the answer will come back: it was Liverpool. It was this club, this particular team, and what they have come to represent in Europe. Touré was disturbed by the legend of a Liverpool who will not lie down, who return from the dead like The Shape in John Carpenter’s Halloween films. Remember that scene in the pitch-black bedroom when the monster rises again, his white mask all that is visible in the darkness? On nights such as this, Liverpool are like that: unstoppable, remorseless, their power inexplicable.
They were beaten, make no mistake of that; or they should have been. In the 84th minute, when Emmanuel Adebayor tapped a cross by Theo Walcott into a net guarded only by José Manuel Reina, the goalkeeper, as Liverpool’s defence lay scattered across the field, the score on the night was 2-2 and the game was over.
Arsenal were going through on away goals and Chelsea lay in wait. What followed defied explanation, or belief. From the next attack, the very next attack, Ryan Babel, the Liverpool substitute, broke down the left, strode into the Arsenal penalty area and Touré pulled him back. Why? Only he knows. It cannot have been pace because defenders deal with pace all the time. It cannot have been Babel’s fearsome reputation as a marksman, either; no Ian Rush, he. Maybe even Touré doesn’t know what possessed him. Who knows why rational people fear the bogeyman?
The penalty was given in an instant by Peter Fröjdfeldt, the referee from Sweden. Steven Gerrard stepped up, struck the ball to the right of Manuel Almunia, the goalkeeper, and scored. Soon after, Babel held off Cesc Fàbregas to give the scoreline a conclusiveness it did not entirely deserve, but that will become part of Liverpool’s mythical status, too.
Looking at the Barclays Premier League table, scrolling through a grisly roll call of victims, there is no logical justification for their presence in the last four of the Champions League, just as there was none for their path to the final last year, or in 2005. They beat better teams on the way, won in circumstances when other teams would have surrendered, were given the last rites and pronounced dead at the scene, before grabbing the attendant by the throat on the slab in the morgue, making everyone jump.
Yet while the particular circumstances may elude reason, to scratch beneath the surface of this win, look at the second Liverpool goal. It was the reason Arsenal were so jittery, the distilled essence of everything Rafael Benítez, the Liverpool manager, was trying to achieve. The finish, a thing of grace and beauty from Fernando Torres. The set-up, a route-one clearance with more than a hint of old-style Wimbledon from Reina. In between, the merest touch from the pylon-like presence that is Peter Crouch. Combined, it should have won the game for Liverpool. Tellingly, it was always intended to.
Managers bristle at being given the long-ball label, but it is no criticism to say that Benítez set his team up in a manner as unorthodox as anything seen in this country since Graham Taylor’s first spell at Watford. He played, in essence, 4-2-4 with Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt kept consistently high on the flanks, Gerrard coming inside from dead balls and clearances only to allow Crouch to use his height against Touré, Arsenal’s makeshift right back.
The jury is out on the extent of the touch Crouch got to Reina’s long kick in the 69th minute, but it did its job in unsettling the Arsenal defence and allowing Torres to turn, with far too much space in the penalty area, before lashing his shot past Almunia. It was this targeting of Arsenal’s defensive weakness that Liverpool had been searching for.
Often, it was not pretty to watch, and purists would have got most out of the first 25 minutes when Arsenal passed Liverpool off the park — as they did here earlier in the season — but Benítez has since fashioned the best way to beat Arsenal and he stuck to it right up until the last 12 minutes when he removed Crouch, introduced Babel and, irony of ironies, pace won him the game.
Benítez will not see it that way, of course. He will insist that his direct tactics earned Liverpool a 2-1 lead that should not have been surrendered, and he has a point. The problem with his game plan initially was that it relied heavily on getting the ball up to Crouch for knockdowns and by its nature that can make play haphazard.
Against this barrage, Arsenal’s intricate passing game looked even more alien. Had so many of the trappings around Anfield not belonged to the branded, packaged billion-dollar industry that is 21st-century football, this could have been a European Cup tie from the 1970s: one team continental in origin, the other as English as pudding and rain in July. The difference was these Englishmen were mostly foreigners, marshalled by a Spaniard.
The game was made by the fact that Arsenal scored from the first clear-cut chance of the night, an outstanding sequence of passes that resulted in the ball pinging around the outskirts of the Liverpool penalty area before finding its way to Alexander Hleb. He played Abou Diaby in and the Frenchman, included at the expense of Robin van Persie, the forward, beat Reina with a ferocious shot at his near post.
Gradually, Liverpool began to apply the aerial pressure that has caused problems for Arsenal this season. In the 30th minute, a left-sided cross by Fábio Aurélio, the full back, took a deflection and was palmed out for a corner by Almunia. Gerrard took it, Sami Hyypia lost Philippe Senderos, perhaps for ever, and headed into the far corner, where Fàbregas came up short, in the true sense of the phrase, much like Arsenal’s season.
Liverpool (4-2-4): J M Reina — J Carragher, M Skrtel, S Hyypia, F Aurélio — X Alonso, J Mascherano — S Gerrard, P Crouch (sub: R Babel, 78min), F Torres (sub: J A Riise, 86), D Kuyt. Substitutes not used: C Itandje, A Voronin, Y Benayoun, Á Arbeloa, Lucas Leiva.
Arsenal (4-4-1-1): M Almunia — K Touré, W Gallas, P Senderos, G Clichy — E Eboué (sub: T Walcott, 71), F Fàbregas, M Flamini (sub: Gilberto Silva, 41), A Diaby (sub: R van Persie, 71) — A Hleb — E Adebayor. Substitutes not used: J Lehmann, A Song, N Bendtner, J Hoyte. Booked: Senderos, Touré.
Referee: P Fröjdfeldt (Sweden).
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Wenger loses his cool and title gripArsène Wenger berated his players, berated the referee. As frantic as the game refusing to bend to his will, he paced his technical area, chased down footballs to restart play, then bent over, almost doubled, balling his fists and screaming across the Ashburton Grove turf. Seasoned observers remember seeing Wenger like this just once before. And he lost a title that day, too.
Episode II – The calm before the storm
When the team line-ups were announced, nobody was surprised that Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez made changes to their team. What was even more surprising was the introduction of a certain 20 year old French debutant, Damien Plessis. His position was to be in the middle of Liverpool’s midfield in a surprised 4-1-4-1 formation for the day. In maintaining some conformity, only Reina, Skrtel and Carragher were retained from the previous match to face Arsenal again.
For Arsenal though, Almunia, Toure, Gallas, Flamini and Fabregas were retained to give the Arsenal team some extra incentive. This was to break down a changed Liverpool team whose priority lies in the Champions League. This is to provide Arsenal with a fringe of a chance of maintaining their challenge for the EPL crown this season.
So it seems.
The match started slowly enough with both changed or rotated depending the view for sides that were probing each other. Not a threat to each other’s goal. Seemingly, the Liverpool’s Daniel Plessis appeared calm and composed when faced with Arsenal’s ‘experienced’ youngsters and gave an assured opening few minutes.
However, moving far away from dullness Peter Crouch crafted an opening in the 4th minute and immediately tested Almunia with a 40 yard shot which was well on target and had to be tipped over. The visitors were looking more assured and assertive including a Peter Crouch swift move away in a one-on-one with Manuel Almunia had the linesman not incorrectly flagged for offside.
In full confidence of playing like a member of the 1st eleven, Daniel Plessis was enjoying his debut at the Emirates. In one swift move of making possession in the centre circle, he played the ball into Peter Crouch who then saw the marauding Riise and played an amazing through ball which Riise did well to collect the ball just outside the penalty box but alas, Riise’s right foot shot posed no threat to Almunia.
Subsequently, Yossi Benayoun had a golden opportunity. He was played through on the right by the ever impressive Crouch and Benayoun in his moment of haste and indecision, played neither a shot nor a cross as it went harmlessly wide with Riise too far away at the other to retrieve the cross-shot.
At the Gunners end, there was intelligent inter-play between Fabregas, Eboue and Gilberto. The triple combination were doing well and were making inroads into the Liverpool end. In once of those moves, they created a half chance for Bentner just outside the penalty box but he scuffed the shot harmless straight into the greatful arms of Pepe Reina.
Just before half time, Reina pumped a long kick towards Crouch and beat Toure to the ball by playing a one two pass with Benayoun and at tandem together enabled Crouch pushing aside Willam Gallas who was watching him closely, to releas a powerful shot that just landed between Alumina and the post.
1-0 to Liverpool just before half time!
It was a well deserve lead as a ‘second string’ Liverpool side proved more than match for Arsenal’s seasoned youngsters. In tribute to Liverpool, it was really strange and odd to hear the traveling kop singing the Torres song when Crouch scored. This is especially so when Torres wasn’t even in the pitch!!
A tribute to Peter Crouch to being as the same class level as Fernando Torres, maybe?
In the 2nd half, Arsenal came back into the match via some neat set pieces and Toure almost equalized when the ball flew millimeters away from the post. Suddenly, the Liverpool defence looked vulnerable and a subsequent free-kick conceded by Pennant, Cesc Fabregas curled a brilliant ball right into the heart of the Liverpool defence and whilst Reina did not come out to meet the ball, Bendtner jumped highest to meet the ball and headed home to lift the home crowd at Emirates Stadium.
1-1 and game on and the momentum had swung to the home side of the Emirates though the crowd was not totally behind their team.
Not even a teeny bit.
Wenger sensed blood and duly sent in Adebayour into the fray to win the match and retain their rights to challenge Manchester United and Chelsea at the top. This was to the death for the EPL Crown this season as the Gunners were leading earlier in the season.
The introduction of Adebayour changed the complexion of the game and the home side had regained the momentum. The Liverpool defence were now working overtime alongside with the midfielders equally working hard to close down the Arsenal onslaught. There were some shouts for penalty from the Arsenal fans when Fabregas went down in the penalty box seemingly a repeat of the earlier game ala Episode I when Lucas Leiva was the culprit this time for shirt-pulling. At this point, furor would be an understatement, as Arsene Wenger was the more animated of the two managers. Whether it was agitation or annoyance, Wenger was disappointed that his team had not created more to put Liverpool to the sword.
Rafale Benitez made changes too to counter Arsenal’s rising dominance in the 2nd half by bringing in Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Andriy Voronin whilst Wenger brought it Alexander Hleb and Gael Clichy to add more penetration from the wings.
With Arsenal pushing up in pursuit of the winning goal to sustain their EPL chance, Liverpool counter-attacked. Liverpool found several gaps and created some half chances which was not taken, most notably, when Voronin, playing between the lines and managed to round Manuel Almunia only to drag it a little too wide. Pity, that he did not have a left shooting foot as the ball spun harmlessly and slowly out for a goal kick!
What a waste!
In the closing minutes of the game in injury time, a beautifully cross from the right found Hleb with acres of space with Finnan drifting centre. Unfortunately, for Arsenal faithful, Hleb miscontrolled the ball slightly and Finnan was able to recover and the danger was curtailed and with that final chance, the match ended and with that the end of Arsenal’s challenge in the EPL this season
Mathematically, it is still possible, but it would require the capitulation of both Chelsea and Manchester United. It is a remote possibility for this is football.
All in all, an assured debut outing for a 20 year old Damien Plessis whose dandy long legs and playing style looked similar to our adopted German Scouser Dietmar Hammann, Nothing fancy, just calm and basic passing and closing down opposition play. A potential gem in the rough waiting to be cut.
It is of no wonder why, Momo Sissoko was permitted to leave in the January 2008 transfer window!
Now, with both series ending in draws, we move on to the crucial final of the trilogy at Anfield – The Return of the Champions League King?
All Liverpool FC fans and football romantics must be praying and hoping it to come true. For a night playing in Europe, Liverpool FC endears itself to the legends of European club football.
Man of the match: Damien Plessis
Far from all of Rafa Benítez's numerous Liverpool recruits have succeeded, but the French midfielder's debut bodes well. Tall and mobile, if occasionally wild in the tackle, Plessis positioned both ball and body accurately. 'To play as well as he did in this stadium means we're going in the right direction,' said Benítez.
Crouch (42') , Bendtner (54')
Manuel Almunia, Emmanuel Eboue, William Gallas, Justin Hoyte (Emmanuel Adebayor), Kolo Toure, Armand Traore (Gael Clichy), Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini (Alex Hleb), Gilberto Silva, Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott
Jose Manuel Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa, Jamie Carragher, Steve Finnan, Martin Skrtel, Yossi Benayoun (Andriy Voronin), Lucas Leiva, Jermaine Pennant (Steven Gerrard), Plessis, John Arne Riise, Peter Crouch (Fernando Torres)
Man of the match:
Damien Plessis ( Liverpool )
Arsenal - 5
Liverpool - 3
Arsenal - 8
Liverpool - 11
Arsenal - 6
Liverpool - 4
Arsenal: - Eboue ( '67 )
Liverpool: - Riise ( '30 ) , Pennant ( '54 )
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Dirk Kuyt puts Liverpool in sight of semis
By Henry Winter from the Telegraph.co.uk with editions from Albertus Lim
Advantage to Liverpool. This is a side that shows a real European experience, Rafa Benitez's side absorbed everything that Arsenal threw at them here last night, and will believe they can reach the semi-finals at an impassioned Anfield next week Tuesday. Myself was stuck in a mamak called the Al-Meerasa at the old Paramount Theater now converted to a Giant Supermarket. And of all peoples, I watched it with a gooner (Yes! Callen, if your'e reading this! HA! HA!)
The game was billed as a very English affair, this first leg was shaped by goals from a Togo international, Emmanuel Adebayor, and a Dutchman, Dirk Kuyt, who equalised. Arguably the most impressive performer was the Argentinian, Javier Mascherano, who delivered a determined 90-minute shift of ball-winning and simple distribution.
At half time, I managed to meet some Liverpool fans sitting nearby. Sean, Anand and Lowell, good to have met your acquaintance and I hope to see you in our MyRAWK events. I hope I got your names right though. By the way, with all the trash talking we got from the gooners, this is sweet tasting revenge.
Next stop, same stop. They reconvene here in the Premier League on Saturday, when surely changes will be made by Wenger and Benitez to keep their stars fresh for Tuesday's resumption of Champions League combat. Liverpool have the belief, and the away goal, although they had to come from behind last night.
It was little surprise that it had required a set-piece to break the deadlock. As crowded as a Tube carriage in rush hour, midfield provided no room to breathe, let alone move. Ken Livingstone could have extended his Congestion Charge to this green swathe off the Holloway Road and made a fortune. With both sides deploying lone strikers, space was at a premium in the centre.
Steven Gerrard was hounded into surrendering possession by Emmanuel Eboue, who promptly lost it to another tackle from Mascherano. With Cesc Fabregas increasingly prominent, Arsenal hinted at being the first to impose their undoubted skill, to find a path out of the midfield maze.It took Adebayor's 23rd-minute goal from a corner to open the game up, to throw down the gauntlet that Liverpool immediately seized with an almost instant equaliser. Fabregas and Robin van Persie looked to orchestrate a corner on Arsenal's right, the presence of such deft feet, left and right, instilling doubt in Liverpool's defence, allowing Adebayor his split-second of fruitful freedom.
It was the left foot of Van Persie that connected first with the ball, tapping it to Fabregas, who immediately laid it back. Van Persie, whose intelligent use of possession has been much missed this season, curled it into the box with just enough trajectory to keep it away from Pepe Reina.
Liverpool's keeper watched in frustration as Adebayor eluded Sami Hyypia and headed firmly in. Jamie Carragher threw his hands up in anger at conceding such a soft goal to Adebayor. He ran behind Reina's goal, beating his right hand against the club crest on his shirt as supporters celebrated his 24th goal of the season. The relief at scoring appeared to relax Arsenal momentarily, and Liverpool took advantage within three minutes.
The move began slowly, Liverpool parading the Continental trick of knowing when to race through the gears. Ryan Babel dragged the ball down the left and suddenly flicked it inside to Gerrard, who in turn found Fernando Torres. They now have such an understanding that Gerrard was already off and running, knowing that Torres would work the ball back to him.
When it came, Gerrard's response was superb, the midfielder embarking on the kind of left-footed dribble that John Barnes was admired for. Eboue raced across to close Gerrard down, but Liverpool's captain simply guided the ball expertly around him.
As Gerrard's burning ambition threatened to harm Arsenal, Kolo Toure rushed across like a panicky fire-man. He, too, was beaten by Gerrard, who again neatly manoeuvred the ball around a red shirt. Mathieu Flamini dived in to block Gerrard's cross, but he was too late. The ball was speeding inexorably into the middle where Kuyt, making light of Gael Clichy's presence, turned the ball in.
And as Mark Lee's text message said it, "Back At You!", we were in for a joyride. I call it a big relief as this is what Liverpool playing in Europe is all about.
The game swung back Arsenal's way, Wenger's men enjoying 61 per cent of first-half possession. Liverpool had to show their defensive zeal. Fabio Aurelio slid in with a magnificent challenge on Adebayor. Hyypia showed all his experience in timing his tackle to thwart the onrushing Toure.
Wenger unleashed Walcott, who immediately sprinted down the left after winning the ball off Martin Skrtel and then firing in a fierce shot that Reina just tipped away. The incident happened so quickly that the otherwise excellent referee, Pieter Vink, missed Reina's touch and awarded a goalkick.Liverpool were increasingly penned back, troubled by Walcott's electric pace. He made another purposeful run into the box, soon cutting the ball across to Eboue. He struck it well enough, but Skrtel was on the line to clear.
Having impressed for an hour, allowing two Premier League sides to play their game, the Dutch referee then made a bad mistake. Alexander Hleb, hitherto quiet, darted into the back, getting goalside of Kuyt, who panicked. Vink bizarrely overlooked Kuyt's clear tug back on Hleb, his left-arm movement more suitable to an amateur tango class. Hleb, dragged down, could not believe Vink's reaction, pointing to a corner.
Wenger then introduced Nicklas Bendtner, removing Eboue, switching Walcott to the right and realigning in 4-4-2 fashion. Exposed to such high-speed movement, Liverpool's legs began to tire. No one had run more than Xabi Alonso, who had clocked up six miles when taken off with 18 minutes remaining. On came Lucas to charge around midfield.
Mascherano continued to impress, putting in tackle after tackle. Liverpool were fighting for their lives, desperate to protect a scoreline that gives them every chance of progressing.
There was almost a sting in the tail. When Adebayor crossed from the right, Fabregas reached the ball first but his header failed to trouble Almunia. Liverpool stood firm. The mood of Arsenal lifted only with news of Chelsea's first-leg demise at Fenerbahce.
As Mark easily puts it. "Phew!" We live to fight another day, and that day is at Anfield next week on Wednesday morning.
Adebayor (23') , Kuyt (26')
Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue (Nicklas Bendtner , 67 ), William Gallas, Philippe Senderos, Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, Alex Hleb, Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie (Theo Walcott , 45 )
Jose Manuel Reina, Fabio Aurelio, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia, Martin Skrtel, Xabi Alonso (Lucas Leiva , 77 ), Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Ryan Babel (Yossi Benayoun , 58 ), Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres (Andriy Voronin , 86 )
Man of the match:
Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool)
Arsenal - 6
Liverpool - 3
Arsenal - 11
Liverpool - 4
Arsenal - 5
Liverpool - 4
Arsenal v Liverpool
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BIG GAME SERIES OF 3 : LIVERPOOL VS ARSENAL - SAT APRIL 5TH @ 7:30PM AT THE M BAR. FIRST 100 PEOPLE TO ARRIVE WILL GET A FREE GIFT COURTESY OF CARLSBERG. ALSO REMEMBER YOUR LFC HISTORY AS THERE WILL BE PRIZES TO GIVE AWAY!