Thursday, 26 March 2009
Just in case anyone has forgotten what I am on about in my previous blog, here is just one little reminder of one of those matches mentioned: :-D
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Match: Liverpool's five-goal haul against Aston Villa made a clear and promising statement about the Scousers' intentions and potential for the remainder of the title race.
Result: Manchester United's defeat against Fulham just revealed more lacks and weaknesses of the defending champions. Nobody is perfect but the last couple of weeks have been shocking - especially for Man Utd fans.
Team: Liverpool have shone lately - not just the usual suspects Torres and Gerrard, but the whole team have backed them up and improved a lot.
Goal: Fulham's Zoltan Gera's bicycle kick which settled the score and match.
Hero: Mark Schwarzer made brilliant saves and frustrated the Man Utd forwards - especially Rooney. Pepe Reina needs a mentioning as well for his top saves when the game was still relatively evenly ballanced at 1:0.
Villain: Cristiano Ronaldo should have seen red as well for his dangerous lunge-tackle on Danny Murphy. He is walking on thin ice if he he thinks he can continue like this, just like his team in general.
Manager: Roy Hodgson could not have done a better job after his side were thrashed and battered in the FA Cup by the same team they upset and beat deservedly, fair and square.
Referee: This week the assistants at Anfield and Ewood Park need mentioning, on a bad note. In the build-up to Weat Ham's goal, Mark Noble was left unchallenged for nearly 40 yards and free to cross the ball to Luis Boa Morte, who clearly looked offside. He flicked it on to Tristan, who put it back to Noble in the box for him to curl it into goal off the left post with his left boot. Good goal in the end, but just frustrating for Blackburn in their relegation battle, decision errors like this can cost clearly and dearly at the end of the season. Brad Friedel's sending off was harsh, especially after watching the referee and the linesman discussing and looking everything else but confident and sure of their decisions.
Monday, 16 March 2009
Match: Has to be Man Utd 1:4 Liverpool - too many reasons to list, just check out the match report below.
Goal: Andrea Dossena's last minute goal which made the result clear and the best his club got against their bitter rivals for over 70 years, 1:4 - just one touch was enough and turned the Old Trafford ground mute and half-empty, a rare occasion!
Hero: Fernando Torres - he tormented Nemanja Vidic and made him look like a frustrated school boy. Andrey Arshavin impressed for Arsenal, too, looks very promising.
Manager: Hopefully Alex Ferguson was just joking, too, when he said his side were better than Liverpool. Rafael Benitez definitely is the overall winner this past weekend - giving Dossena a start amongst many other rotation decisions made everyone question the Spaniard - but the last two matches and goals for the Italian, should have settled the discussion for the time being.
Referee: For a change, there is a referee who deserves to be mentioned and much-lauded not cursed: Alan Wiley never lost control and focus on the highly-paced and competitive match at Old Trafford, avoiding to spoil it like it happens often enough and making it an even bigger pleasure to watch - Man Utd fans overlooked of course.
My Predictions - Actual Results
Arsenal 1:1 Blackburn - 4:0
Bolton 2:0 Fulham - 1:3
Everton 3:0 Stoke City - 3:1
Hull City 1:2 Newcastle - 1:1
Man United 1:1 Liverpool - 1:4
Middlesbrough 3:1 Portsmouth - 1:1
Sunderland 1:0 Wigan - 1:2
Aston Villa 2:0 Tottenham - 1:2
Chelsea 2:0 Man City - 1:0
West Ham 3:0 West Brom - 0:0
Sunday, 15 March 2009
My prediction: Liverpool 1:1 Man Utd
My take one the match:
Wow! I still feel like I am going to wake up any second now and then it turns out it was all a dream - too good to be true!
It was the first time Liverpool scored four or more goals versus Manchester United at Old Trafford since they beat them 5:2 in November 1936. The last time the Red Devils had conceded four goals at home was versus QPR on New Year's Day 1992. And since Sir Alex Ferguson took over a Man Utd manager, Liverpool had only done the double on his side twice before, in 2000/'01 and 2001/'02.
With all those stats in mind and looking at the table - Man Utd at the top with a seven-points lead and a game in-hand, Liverpool were precluded before a ball was kicked.
The more confident Man Utd started, the first five minutes taken over by them in possession, control and pressure, Liverpool having to find their feet first it seemed. Then Liverpool took over, Mascherano making fine runs through but losing the ball when it was crucial on a couple of occasions.
Nearly halfway through the half, goalkeeper Pepe Reina brought down Park Ji-Sung in the box after he broke clear of the Liverpool defence, conceding a penalty Ronaldo hit past Reina in a flash. That got another stat against Liverpool: In every match Ronaldo had scored, Man Utd hadn't lost and went on to win. It was the 50th goal Man Utd have scored again Liverpool in the Premier League.
If that was supposed to put weight on Liverpool's shoulders it did not look like it did. Only five minutes after United had taken the lead, Liverpool equalised, Nemanja Vidic giving the ball away to Fernando Torres - a constant threat he did not have a clue how to deal with, making him look like a school boy- who had an easy job slotting it into the bottom left past Edwin Van der Sar.
Cristiano Ronaldo always had at least three Liverpool players around him when he got the ball, being held up and frustrated brilliantly. There was just one short flap when Reina dropped an easy hold from a Ronaldo free kick just past the half-hour mark. Carlos Tevez was there to catch him out, but he was just able to get hold of it.
The match stayed crunchingly close until just before half time Gerrard was brought down in United's box by Patrice Evra - blatant penalty, converted by the Scouser captain just leading it past Van der Sar's left. After defending off any counter-pressure very well, Liverpool could definitely be the happier side of the two, taking a 2:1 lead into half time.
The second half started just like the first, Man Utd putting on all the pressure but kept blocked out well by the Reds' defence, making Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney look more and more absent, uncomfortable and frustrated that even Tevez could not make up for no matter how hard he tried. The couple of hits Reina made a mess of the defence - especially Skrtel - could scrap up, thank god!
All the possession Man Utd enjoyed was to no prevail. Dirk Kuyt worked his socks off as always to assure Torres and Gerrard had room to break through and steal the show. With just under half an hour to go, Tevez should have equalised, expecting the ball to fall his way on the line which was helped in by Rooney from the left, but it somehow went out.
After that it was Liverpool who created more and more pressure, which all lead to Ferguson to make all three changes at once. I do not remember him having to do that ever before! But it did not help much as only five minutes later Vidic's day turned from bad to worse when he brought down Gerrarde stupidly just outside the bix, nearly ripping his shorts off in the process in a blatant scoring opportunity = blatant red.
Gerrard and Fabio Aurelio lined up for the resulting free kick, the latter bringing Old Trafford to a second-of-silence-stand-still in desibelief as he curled it in past an on-looking Man Utd defence and Van der Sar from about 20 yards out with his left foot into the righ corner.
The few chances Man Utd created from then on, they either just blurred themselves or were blocked out. Gerrard could have and should have made it four when he received Ryan Babel's cross in the box but miscued it. Well, shame, but Gerrard is allowed to do that once in a while, I mean, he is only human as well, so, I let him off the hook that time. :-P
Into stoppage time, Liverpool having made all substitutions and looking like they were going to be victorious in a glorious fashion, it got even sweeter for the Reds, when Andrea Dossena chipped the ball over Van der Sar with one touch from Reina's goal kick. It just made the dream come true complete!
All the Liverpool fans sung and laughed their hearts out loud to all the pessimists, doubters and empty Man Utd seats. It was one of the best matches I have ever seen! Not just because I am a Liverpool fan and we won against all odds, stats and facts; but also because it was a juicy, highly-competitive and fast-paced match - you could not breath or blink for being too afraid to miss something.
The ref was flawless, which makes a change as they normally like to spoil matches like this with dubious or ludicrous decision. I do not know which match Ferguson was watching, saying Man Utd were the better team! Liverpool were brilliant, outplaying their whining divers. I hope this will start a dream roll - up for Liverpool and down for Man who?!?!?!
Nothing's impossible... YNWA
Liverpool Goals: 1: 27:38min Fernando Torres (9); 2: 43.min Steven Gerrard (8) penalty; 3: 76:17min Fabio Aurelio (12); 4: 90:13 Andrea Dossena (2)
Man Utd Goals: 1: 22.min Cristiano Ronaldo (7) penalty
Liverpool Bookings: 36.min Jamie Carragher (23), 60.min Javier Mascherano (20), 64.min Martin Skrtel (37)
Man Utd Bookings: 37.min Rio Ferdinand (5), 44.min Edwin Van der Sar (1); Red: 76.min Nemanja Vidic (15)
Liverpool Changes: 1. 67.min On: Albert Riera (11) Off: Andrea Dossena (2)
2. 81.min On: Ryan Babel (19) Off: Fernando Torres (9)
3. 90.min On: Nabil El Zhar (31) Off: Steven Gerrard (8)
Man Utd Changes: 1.-3. 73./74.min On: Paul Scholes (18), Dimitar Berbatov (9) & Ryan Giggs (11) Off: Anderson (8), Park Ji-Sung (13) & Michael Carrick (16)
1st half: Man Utd : Liverpool
- Attempts: 5:3
- On target: 2:2
- Corners: 7:1
- Free kicks: 5:5
2nd half: Man Utd : Liverpool
- Attempts: 4:3
- On target: 1:3
- Offsides: 2:1
- Corners: 2:2
- Free kicks: 9:4
Man Utd : Liverpool
- Possession*: 55% : 45%
- Passing Success*: 80.3% : 74.2%
- Tackles/Success*: 18/83.3% - 32/71.9%
- Territorial Advantage*: 55.6% : 44.4%
Monday, 9 March 2009
Five minutes into the second half, Song clipped a cross towards Eduardo at the back post who volleyed the ball back into the top corner across Jensen with the outside of his left foot (right picture).
With only six minutes to go, Song was involved again this time back heeling to the onrushing Eboue who fired past Jensen.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Boro get their sweet revenge in relegation battle
After being presented with the Team Performance of the Month award for the second time in February, David Howell's men did everything else but sit back and underestimate their rivals Hendon. They had not forgotten the nightmare 7:0 thrashing their opponents gave them at Claremont Road in October. That night, two Harrow players saw red including goalkeeper Andray Baptist. Howell feels with the fans and their expectations: “We were rubbish [that night]. Fans look at results not at the cause. It was a horrible night.”
That in mind and sharing the unwanted record of most draws with Ramsgate this season, the Boro made their intentions clear, starting strong holding off their opponents' early attempts of attack and then taking the lead through a close range shot by Gary Noel after their first break into the Dons' box (6.).
But the lead did not last long, Hendon's Marc Leach headed the ball from the first corner to his captain James Parker who cut open the Harrow defence and headed into the centre of the goal. But instead of boosting the team's confidence the equaliser seemed to dim and slow down Hendon's display, giving Harrow's back men hardly anything to do.
The Boro took a confident lead into half time, after Noel scored his second of the match and fourth league goal of the season with a confident right-foot shot into the bottom-left of an open goal, just past the half-hour mark. Noel and Dewayne Clarke formed a productive partnership up front, creating a lot of breaks and chances, keeping the Hendon defence challenged and worried.
They kept the pressure up at the start of the second half, having a penalty appeal not given just before they saw Hendon's number 11 Sam Collins' cross from the left headed in by Jamie Busby right in front of goalkeeper Andray Baptist. Frustrated, Harrow stepped up a gear with Noel and Clarke again pushing and creating chance after chance.
Just past the hour mark, Clarke squandered a chance in front of goal, not connecting to Miles Jones fine cross from the right. But only seconds later, Noel got his well-deserved hat-trick, hitting the bottom-right of the net after a fine run from his own half. It could have been four soon after but Clarke was given offside wrongly after breaking through past Glenn Garner and Parker.
Harrow's goalkeeper and defence had not much to do, brushing off the couple of attacks Hendon were able to create comfortably. With only seconds to go, Noel made it four for him and Harrow, after Ryan Watts' break from the left and fine cross, he made it look like he had all the time in the world to finish off the score 4:2. He is now joint-top scorer in the league with Jonathan Constant on six goals, and top scorer in all competitions with twelve goals, overtaking Dewayne Clarke on eight goals.
Manager Howell was proud of his team after the match, lauding: “We are the only team to have beaten the top team... They are a good bunch of players, it is just the lack of consistency that has cost us.... Danny Leach was good, but the different defence gave us the advantage with Tobi [Jinadu] left out in the last match, he came back [for injured captain] with the attitude I wanted.”
Asked if he was worried about losing another top scorer in Noel after their former top scorer Robin Shroot had left them for Birmingham, he said sensibly: “I am pleased for him. They learn the game here. I would be happy if Noel left, too. Players are not here for the money but for the experience.... It is about playing and enjoying the game not worrying about fighting relegation [and losing players]”
Harrow Borough (4-4-2): 1 Baptist; 2 Hall, 4 Leech (c), 5 Jinadu, 3 Watts; 11 Fenton (14 Jones 55.), 8 McGonigle (12 Frenpong HT), 7 Fraser, 6 Smith; 9 Clarke, 10 Noel. Subs (not used): 15 Dahl, 16 Whitely, 17 Hunke. Goals: 10 Noel 6., 32., 64. & 94.. Booked: 11 Fenton 20., 9 Clarke 59..
Hendon (3-4-1-2): 1 Viner; 3 Kirby, 4 Leach (14 Garner HT), 5 Parker (c); 8 O'Leary, 2 Burgess (12 Byfield 79), 6 Busby, 11 Collins; 7 Dyer; 9 Haule, 10 Dean. Subs (not used): 15 Hunt, 17 Guentchev. Goals: 5 Parker 11., 6 Busby 50.. Booked: 5 Parker 30..
1st half ----------------------------------------- 2nd half
Harrow:Hendon ---------------------- Harrow:Hendon
3:2 Attempts 5:2
2:1 On target 2:2
1:0 Offsides 3:3
2:3 Corners 3:4
2:7 Free Kicks 4:4
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Match: Newcastle 1:2 Manchester United, not the best match of all time, but I was just surprised about Newcastle. They actually made a contest of it. I thought it was going to be a Man Utd thrash, especially with Newcastle having half their team out due to injury. But the Magpies had many chances and didn't make it easy at all for Man Utd. It was also a surprise to see Van der Sar give the first goal to Lovenkrands with that blunder, but it had to happen sometime. Berbatov was also served with a goal on a silver plate, which eventually proved to be the match-winner. Everything else but convincing but three points nonetheless. Nothing else counts in the title race.
Result: Tottenham 4:0 Middlesbrough, why couldn't Liverpool do this at the weekend?!?!?!?!
Goal: Carlton Cole's finish to a fine passing interaction was a joy to watch.
Player: Robbie Keane just showed not only through scoring but providing crucially, too, how essential he is to the team. I still don't have a clue - or maybe don't want to know - why he couldn't make it at Liverpool. Shame.
Manager: Gianfranco Zola was an exception to the norm, not cursing and lambasting the referee, his inconsistent decisions and the red cards; but in contrast, showing understanding and even compassion. Respect. Some managers should take note of that - although they would most probably just burn it...
My Predictions - Actual Results
My prediction: 2:0
My take on the match:
Wow! I got a prediction right for a change! *shock*
The first half was frustrating, Liverpool battering the Sunderland defence - who kept seven to ten men in the box most of the time - but to no prevail, not even close.
The Reds started chaotic and all over the place. Within the first five to ten minutes, Kenwyne Jones had broken through a non-existent Liverpool defence. Reina made a good one-to-one save and crucial! After the embarrassing shambles against Middlesbrough at the weekend, I could imagine and was nearly expecting Sunderland to make a similar breakthrough - thank god that didn't happen.
Liverpool dominated possession and chances seven to one and in the second half they finally got a breakthrough thanks to Ngog, who easily passed the ball into the net with loads of room between the two Sunderland defenders and after a great, unselfish cross by Gerrard.
From then on Liverpool looked much more confident and comfortable, enjoying the match much more. Benayoun made the score more comfortable, too, by doubling the score with a present spilled out by Sunderland goalkeeper Marton Fulop from an Ngog cross-shot.
Benayoun and Ngog impressed - Ngog showing off with a Ronaldo-like back-foot cross; Skrtel looked much better back in his usual position in centre-back; Mascherano, Riera and Alonso missed good chances and Kuyt had a good match everywhere else but in the opposition's box, where he gave away a lot of balls and chances - BLUR.
Liverpool looked much better, at their good-old and much-missed confidence and quality. Hopefully they can build on it. I bet you though, Benítez will chop and change again which will cause more hick-ups and failures. Or better said, I fear and dread it and hope he won't do it again. Let's hope Benítez will let the players that deserve it KEEP their place for a change, PLEASE! We need a consistent side if we want consistent results - NOT chops and changes. *fingers crossed*
Liverpool Goals: 1: 51:04min David Ngog (24); 2: 64:43min Yossi Benayoun (15);
Sunderland Goals: ---
Liverpool Bookings: 16.min David Ngog (24)
Sunderland Bookings: 91.min Dean Whitehead (6)
Liverpool Changes: 1: 70.min On: Lucas Leiva (21) Off: David Ngog (24)
2: 82.min On: Ryan Babel (19) Off: Steven Gerrard (8)
3: 90.min On: Nabil El Zhar (31) Off: Yossie Benayoun (15)
Sunderland Changes: 1: 62.min On: Djibril Cissé (9) Off: Grant Leadbitter (18)
2: 76.min On: Daryl Murphy (14) Off: Kenwyne Jones (17)
3: 81.min On: Carlos Edwards (7) Off: Steed Malbranque (8)
1st half ----------------------------------------- 2nd half
* provided by
Referee: Mark Halsey
Monday, 2 March 2009
Why did Benayoun start on the bench after his exemplary display againt Real Madrid?!
Questions, question, questions, that come up too often with Benitez! Just when you think the players have found their place and form, they get rotated around the pitch, to the bench or not even considered for that. What effect was Keane supposed to have on the team and display if he hardly ever featured in it? The couple of occasions when he found scoring form, he was put back onto the bench or left out completely. It's a joke!
And he's just one example. This tactic may be effective and good for cup competitions where you only play every few weeks, but not in the Premier League where you have to find your strengths and build on them week-in, week-out to establish consistency. Liverpool can't even spell the word!
Just when you think nothing and nobody can beat them, they slump in the most disappointing way. That makes it the more frustrating! It was a switch of roles over the weekend. Liverpool looked like a team fighting relegation, whilst Middlesborough looked strong and dominant.
Obviously, injuries to Torres and Gerrard haven't helped, but that can't be taken as an excuse, especially if you want to call yourselves worthy champions. You can't rely on individual players alone all the time. A good, champion team has to be able to make up for any kind of deficit. For that, depth, quality and desire is needed.
Manchester United have showed this season as they have often over the last couple of decades, they have a strength, depth and quality that is not easy to come by. Even if their display isn't impressive or they have a dip in run, they still get the results they need when it's the most crucial and decisive. Tottenham surprised everyone who expected a thrash in the Carling Cup final on Sunday, how they kept the Red Devils at bay and made it a juicy contest of it, but in the end to no prevail.
My Predictions - Actual Results