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Champions League: Liverpool to Face PSV

March 9, 2007
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The draw for the quarter finals of the Champions League was made earlier this morning and we were paired with Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven. We faced them in the group stages earlier in the competition and drew 0-0 in Eindhoven and beat them 2-0 at Anfield (Gerrard and Crouch on target), so more of the same would do very nicely.

If we get past PSV we could face either Chelsea or Rafa’s old team, Valencia, in the Semi Finals. I’m obviously hoping Valencia knock Chelsea out but former is going to be hit with suspensions after their involvement in the mass brawl with Inter Milan in the previous round. Chelsea, on the other hand, will more than likely be back to full strength and the return of John Terry could prove decisive.

Now, this pains me to say it but I don’t think we will lift the European Cup for a 6th time in Athens. I fancy us to beat PSV but if we face Chelsea in the Semis, I think it will be fate for them to knock us out. However, if we face Valencia, I think we will make it to the final and lose to either Bayern Munich or Man Utd. 😥

I just don’t have the same vibes or feelings I had back in 2005 when we defied everybody and won the European Cup. I obviously hope I’m wrong but I just don’t think it’s our year.

Memorable Liverpool Goals No.1: Fowler v Brann Bergen March 1997

March 8, 2007
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Each week I will post a video of one of my favourite Liverpool goals, in no particular order, so to get the ball rolling, I present to you Robbie Fowler v Brann Bergen:

World class skill and finishing, despite the average team he was facing.

I remember watching that game live, and vividly recall how little the media praised Fowler’s skill and touch, the following day. If Henry or Ronaldinho scored that it would’ve been goal of the decade. Fowler might not get the plaudits his goal scoring talents deserve but he is rightly hailed as a Liverpool legend by Liverpool fans across the globe. God indeed. 8)

What the last two games have really shown, despite the results

March 7, 2007
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In the last two games at Anfield Liverpool have shown they can live with the best in the world. Despite losing both games it’s clear Liverpool should have won both comfortably with the amount of chances created. It was a very frustrating night for me, because I simply couldn’t believe we weren’t scoring with the chances we had!

If we keep being this wasteful in front of goal it’s going to cost us, thankfully with the money from Gillett and Hicks we can now go and spend some money to get those top attacking players, rather than only being able to stretch to £6million for the limited Pennant. We might be able to get someone like Alves, who was so close to a move last year but we lacked the extra funds. Hopefully next season we’ll be able to really push for the title, but it feels like we’ve said that plenty recently….

Champions League: Liverpool v Barcelona (H) 6/3/07

March 6, 2007
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Talk about nail biting! Yet again we did things the hard way, hanging on to knock out Barcelona 2-2 on the away goals rule.

We had more than enough chances to finish the game in the first half, with Riise shooting just wide before hitting the crossbar and having his headed attempt cleared off the line in a move that brought a double save from Valdes courtesy of Bellamy then Kuyt. Sissoko then almost capitalised on another Valdes error by connecting with the ‘keeper’s woeful clearance, only to be denied by the crossbar.

Barcelona were awful for most of the game, with just one piece of brilliant play from Ronaldinho who was thwarted by the post. Barca finally came alive after Eidur Gudjohnsen was played onside by Arbeloa before calmly going past Reina and slotting the ball home. Barcelona then dominated possession but created very little and Crouch, who replaced the hardworking Kuyt near the end, should’ve made it 1-1 after getting onto a dangerous cross by Pennant only to blaze it into The Kop.

Another fantastic result in Europe but we need to start taking our chances if we are to repeat what we did 2 years ago and lift the Champions League trophy for the 6th time, in Athens.

More of the Same Please!

March 6, 2007
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Below is a little reminder of what happened in the Champions League, last 16 first leg match v Barcelona at the Nou Camp:

One of our most famous away European victories but it will mean nothing if we don’t finish the job in the 2nd leg at Anfield tonight. The atmosphere is going to be fantastic at Anfield.

COME ON LIVERPOOL!!!!

Rafa’s Mind Games

March 5, 2007
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It was interesting to hear Rafa speak about Barcelona’s likely line up earlier today. He said that he expected Barca would need goals and would start with 3 up front, Ronaldhino, Messi and Eto’o. This isn’t too surprising as Barca play this front 3 most often when all fit, but it still managed to irritate Barca coach Frank Rijkaard, who said “I think it is great to play against a team whose manager knows everything. But you know what they say, people who say they know everything are often the ones who know the least.”

Don’t quite know what brought that on, but it’s nice to see that he’s feeling the pressure a bit!

Comings and goings at Anfield

March 5, 2007
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The summer of 2007 could turn out to be a crucial time in Liverpool’s long illustrious history. Rafa Benitez has some important decisions to make, with regards to who should leave Anfield and who should be brought in to take us up to the next level of Premiership contenders. Rafa should be given a hefty amount of money to spend by LFC’s new joint owners, Gillett and Hicks, so it will be very interesting to see who Rafa will target to bring in.

With the inevitable influx of players, some current squad members will be deemed surplus to requirements. Below is a number of players I think will leave and who I would like to see added to the squad this summer.

Thanks and Goodbye

Fowler: One of our greatest ever strikers and my personal own favourite Liverpool player. A true Liverpool legend who scored some of the greatest goals I have ever witnessed and produced some incredible performances. Who will ever forget his 4mins 33secs hat-trick v Arsenal at Anfield or his 5 goal blast against Fulham in the League Cup on his debut. God, as he is know to the Liverpool faithful. was given a second chance to say goodbye to his adoring fans by Rafa in the January transfer window of 2006, and he played his part in firing Liverpool to finish with 82pts. A points tally that would’ve won us the title in a number of previous seasons. With his contract set to expire in the summer, Robbie is hotly tipped for a final farewell v Charlton on the last day of the season. If he does go I will never forget the great goals and the fantastic memories of one or the great goal scorers of all time.

Hyypia: When Houllier signed the unknown lanky blonde centreback back in 1999, nobody could imagine he would turn out to be one of the shrewdest signings in the club’s history and be ranked alongside defensive legends such as Yeats, Smith and Hansen. Armed with incredible composure and a sweet left foot, Sami has an eye for 60 yard passes worthy of great passers such as Gerrard and Alonso, and has been known to score some vital goals, such as his strike v Juventus during our Champions League winning campaign. Hyypia was never blessed with pace, I’ve seen faster one legged turtles, however Big Sami is a great reader of the game but his time is coming to an end and his place in the side has been taken by promising young Dane, Daniel Agger. If Sami does go in the summer he will rightly be remembered as one of our greatest Centre Backs.

Kewell: There’s no doubting Harry Kewell has great talent but his time at Anfield has been recked with injuries, with him limping out of no less than 3 major Cup Finals. It’s a case of what could’ve been if Harry had one full season without any injuries and I will be surprised if Rafa keeps faith with a player that is clearly injury prone and one that hasn’t played 1sec for Liverpool this season.

Dudek:
The goalkeeper that was our hero in Istanbul with an incredible double save from Shevchenko in the closing stages of the 2nd half of extra time. He also produced the now famous Spaghetti Legs routine that surely affected the Milan player’s nerves, and went on to save two spot kicks. His heroics are almost overshadowed by his blunders and has now been usurped by Spanish ‘keeper Pepe Reina. Out of contract in the summer, Dudek will be a free agent and is guaranteed to leave with Scot Carson taking his slot as no.2.

Other fringe players I expect to leave permanently are Sinama Pongolle and Le Tallec. There may even be a couple of surprise exits with rumoured departures of Riise, Bellamy and Crouch. Although I believe those 3 still have a part to play in Rafa’s new look squad.

Welcome to Anfield

There are a number of players I would like Rafa to sign this summer. Top of the list is Barca’s Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o. We badly need a genuine world class striker that can score 20 league goals a season and Eto’o fits the bill. His price tag would be massive but there are signs of unrest in the Barcelona camp and his exit would not be surprising.

Daniel Alves
is a long term target of Rafa’s and he would be a major improvement to our right flank, playing as either a RW or RB. He is also great from dead balls, as his recent strike v Barca shows. His price tag would also be in the region of £20m but there’s no doubt he would be a great addition to the team.

If we fail to sign Alves than Benfica’s Portugese winger Simao would surely complete a move that should’ve happened last season before Benfica upped his price tag. Rafa now has the financial clout to sign the player if he needs him and don’t be surprised if we sign both Alves and Simao.

Young Man City defender Micah Richards would prove to be a good signing, both for the present and future. A physically imposing player with pace to burn and capable of playing in a number of positions, Richards would have a job on his hands replacing the consistent, if unspectacular, Finnan. Big things are expected of the young recent England international and his days at City could be numbered.

Rafa hasn’t made many signings from his old team Valencia, but one player I would like to see at Anfield is left winger Vicente. A pacey and athletic winger, Vicente could be the player to add genuine quality to our left flank, where many big names have failed to make an impact since Barnes ate too many pies and moved to a holding role in midfield, back in the mid 90’s.

If Hyypia does leave in the summer, Rafa will need to sign a quality centre back as cover for Carrager and Agger, and we could do a lot worse than Man City’s free agent Sylvain Distin. Palletta doesn’t seem to be the answer after recent performances so it will be interesting to see who Rafa has in mind as Hyypia’s replacement.

A busy summer lies ahead and Rafa, armed with some major money to spend for the first time in his managerial career, will need to produce the goods next season and turn Liverpool into genuine title contenders. Regardless, interesting times are ahead with the new season proposed to be finished in time for the start of 2009/10. Can Liverpool lift the title for the 19th time before we depart Anfield for good?

I believe we will. 8)