Saturday, 28 August 2010

Reds scrape through against Trabzonspor

Sports - Football - Europa League - Trabzonspor 1:2 Liverpool

It was clear beforehand that it was never going to be easy travelling to Turkey with only one goal advantage - and it only took a couple of minutes into the game for it to substantiate. With only three minutes on the clock, Liverpool were cut open, to see Gustavo Colman's shot slotted in by Teofilo Gutierrez and their first leg lead quashed.

The first half continued as frustrating, Liverpool not able to coordinate an attack - showing a clumsy and lacklustre display similar to their absent performance against Manchester City in the Premier League match last Monday.

In the second half Liverpool came back looking much better, the Reds picking up on steel and determination. David Ngog missed a couple of sitters in the mean time though, putting one wide from only six yards out, seemingly taking the "You're alone here!" banner of the typically hostile Turkish crowd to heart.

The Reds left it late, for Giray Kacar to put a Glen Johnson cross from the right into his own net on 84 and Dirk Kuyt to slot in the rebound of Daniel Pacheco's shot on 88 and take the game to 3-1 on aggregate and beyond the Turks.

Liverpool seemed asleep for the most of the match - first half especially, losing the ball and all sence of the game. They got a grip in the second half and got it all together in the last 5-10 minutes, cruel on Trabzonspor who did their best and well to disable and frustrate their opponents which the results of both legs don't reflect.

I know they always say results count most, but if Liverpool continue in this fashion against stronger opposition, they won't last long, that's for sure!

1st half Stats
Attempts: 4-3
On target: 2-2
Offsides: 1-1
Corners 2-3
Free kicks: 3-2

2nd halfs stats
Attempts: 1-5
On target: 0-2
Offsides: 1-0
Corners: 0-1
Free kicks: 4-4

Trabzonspor: Kivrak; Cale (Jaja 86.), Gulselam (booked 39., Atas 65.), Korkmaz (booked 72.), Kacar, Inan, Yilmaz (booked 41.), Balci, Teofilo Gutierrez, Colman, Ibrahima Yattara (Alaozinho 46.)Subs not used: Zengin, Baytar, Badur, Oztorun.

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Aurelio (Pacheco 77.), Kyrgiakos, Carragher, Kelly, Cole, Lucas, Poulsen (Skrtel 91.), Kuyt, Ngog (Babel 86.).Subs not used: Gulacsi, Spearing, Shelvey, Eccleston.

Referee: Ivan Bebek (CRO)
Man of the match: Daniel Pacheco

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Shocking Reds hand City three goals & points

Sports - Football - Premier League - Man City 3:0 Liverpool

Liverpool disappointed and were a disgrace to watch - even school boys can play better and create more pressure than what they showed at Eastlands!

From the offset, Liverpool were on their back foot, Martin Skrtel conceding a clumsy free kick against Adam Johnson on the right side outside the box and getting booked early on in the fourth minute.

Things went from bad to worse when James Milner broke on the right side and cutting it back to Gareth Barry in the the centre with all the space in the world to slash it into the left corner.
The first half ended with Liverpool finally pressing on a bit more, but not creating a real threat.
Not long into the second half and it was apparent that the trend hadn't changed. Liverpool were cut open again, this time Carlos Tevez claimed his 50th PL goal, but as the replays showed, Micah Richards' header from near the penalty spot didn't look like it touched the Argentinian before it went through Pepe Reina's legs and over the line.
Then, when it just looked like Liverpool were going to make a comeback after Steven Gerrard hit the bar and Joe Hart had to make a slick double save, stopping rebound shots of David Ngog and sub Fernando Torres, clumsy Skrtel again, gave away a penalty with an unnecessary tackle on Johnson again, making it too obvious that he wasn't able to deal with the City winger.
Tevez comfortably converted the spot kick putting it into the bottom left corner whilst sending Reina the wrong way to make it 3 - an impossible hill to climb for the scrambling, clumsy looking Reds, who showed no determination, coordination or awareness. City had an easy ride to three goals and points, shocking to watch!
Roy Hodgson refused to panic despite the embarrassing defeat at Eastlands insisting it was too early to be concerned.
Hodgson said: "We are only two matches into the season. We had Arsenal in the first game which we had to playe with 10 and then a strong Man City side.
"It's a bit premature to start discussing just how big the match is. Hopefully the next 36 games we can take some points. We were a bit unlucky to get beaten so heavily.
"We stuck at it and were unlucky not to get back when Hart made an incredible double save. We lacked the cutting edge and the organisation I would like" - just a bit!!!

Unlucky?! More like undeserved! Underachieving!

Quotes taken from Sky Text page 251 on Monday, 23rd August 2010, 11.00pm

1st half Stats
Man City-Liverpool

Attempts: 5-4
On target: 1-2
Offsides: 1-1
Corners: 2-0
Free kicks: 5-5

Possession: 60%-40% (24.)
2nd half Stats:
Man City-Liverpool

On target: 2-3
Offsides: 0-1

Corners: 3-4
Free kicks: 6-7
Possession: 46%-54% (64.)

Sky Stats:
Man City-Liverpool
Passing Success:

Tackles/Success: 29/89.7%-18/77.8%
Territorial Advantage: 51.6%-48.4%

Man City: Hart; Richards (booked 58.), Toure, Kompany, Lescott; De Jong, Toure (Zabaletta 85.) Yaya, Barry, Milner, Adam Johnson; Tevez (Jo 85.). 4-5-1
Subs not used: Given, W-P, Adebayor, Silva, Viera.

Lpool: Reina; Glen Johnson, Skrtel (booked 4.), Carragher, Agger; Jovanovic (Pacheco 86.), Gerrard, Lucas, Kuyt; Torres (Babel 78.), Ngog. 4-4-2
Subs not used: Jones, Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Maxi, Poulsen.

Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the match:
Garreth Barry

Friday, 20 August 2010

Cole fails whilst Babel spares Reds' blushes

Sports - Football - Europa League - Liverpool 1:0 Trabzonspor

Liverpool should have left Anfield with a comfortable 3-goal cushion as least to take away to the second leg against the Turkish "Bordo-Mavillier" (Maroon Blues) at the Huseyin Ami Aker Stadium next week. But the Reds were denied one goal but the referee and Joe Cole missed a penalty to make things from bad to worse for the former Blue.

The first half didn't see much action worth mentioning apart from Pepe Reina's save of a Bulut Umut free kick in the opening minutes. With only seconds remaining of the first half, Cole on the break, put a fine cross through to David Ngog in the box who made it look easy to net it into the right hand-corner of the goal, a fine and skillful goal.

The second half had much more to show for it, Liverpool much more on the attack with Fernando Torres on for Ngog and making a direct impact, pulling a save out of Turkish keeper Onur Kivrak with his first touch of the match from far out on the left sideline.

Lucas Leiva then missed a sitter for Liverpool, heading the ball wide from a couple of yards out with all the space in the world. When Serkan Balci's clumsily felled Lucas down in the box, it gave Cole a chance to open his account for the Reds. He was keen to get off the mark but gave it a soft shit and Kivrak an easy save.

Then Dane Christian Poulsen thought he had opened his Liverpool account when he had bundled the ball over the line, just to be denied by the referee Thomas Einwaller who awarded the Turkish keeper a controversial free kick.

Roy Hodgson, who rested both Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard from midweek action, has admitted that Joe Cole has made a nightmare start to his Liverpool career, but remains confident he will pull through it and prove his worth. After being sent off in the Premier League season opener against Arsenal and missing a penalty in this match, Cole will be everything else but a happy red bunny.

Hodgson accepts the midfielder has made headlines for all the wrong reasons (including a speeding fine, points and a threat on losing his license), but believes Cole needs time to discover his best form for the club.

"He was so desperate to start his career here well and he hasn't done so," Hodgson said on Sky Sports News. "In the first game he managed to get sent off - albeit harshly. In the second he missed an penalty. It couldn't be a worse start for Joe Cole in his Liverpool career but starts are starts and finishes are finishes.

"We will judge Joe Cole on what he has done for Liverpool some time in the middle of May when the final ball this season has been kicked." - well, Roy, let's see if he will last that long...

Quotes taken from Sky Text page 251 on Saturday, 21st August 2010, 3.30pm.

Liverpool: Reina; Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Carragher, Kelly; Cole, Maxi (Ngog ,73.), Lucas, Poulsen; Jovanovic, Babale (Torres, HT).
Subs not used: Cavalieri, Wilson, Skrtel, Spearing, Pacheco.

Trabzonspor: Kivrak; Cale (booked 86.), Glowacki, Gulselam (booked 54.), Korkmaz (booked 79.); Inan, Yilmaz (Alanzinho, 56.), Balci (booked 51.), Teofilo Gutierrez; Bulut (Ibrahima Yattara, 86.), Colman (Kacar, 77.).
Subs not used: Zengin, Atas, Badur, Jaja.

BBC Stats
Attempts: 14-9
On target: 8-4
Corners: 6-5
Free kicks: 24-15
Possession: 53%-47%

Sky Stats
Attempts: 12-6
On target: 7-2
Offsides: 2-1
Corners: 6-5
Free kicks: 24-16
Possession: 51%-49%
Passing Success: 77.78%-79.37%
Tackles/Success: 21/76.19%-20/65%
Territorial Advantage: 50.67%-49.33%

Referee: Thomas Einwaller
Man of the match: Ryan Babel

Thursday, 19 August 2010

New Season, New Tops and Flops...

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Weekend


Game: The White Hart Lane crowd saw no goals between Tottenham and Manchester City, but that gives no indication of the level of action, entertainment, thrills and spills they enjoyed to watch. Spurs could have and should have had six or seven goals! City pressed on a bit late on in the match, but all in all, no real contest though, Spurs were on top from start to finish, proving their true quality.

Team: Blackpool are on my dad's and my relegation-prediction list, see below, but looked everything else but that at the opening weekend. They stole the show against Wigan, without a doubt. It was not a good start for Wigan though, they will struggle if they continue in this kind of fashion, dire, broken and hollow; Blackpool certainly won't! If...

Man: Caretaker manager
Kevin MacDonald has done a great job so far after Martin O'Neill's sudden departure from Villa Park. To take over so confidently and make the team look and win so confidently and comfortably, beating West Ham 3-0 at homee, I give him ten out of ten for that! That's what I call team spirit!

David Jones' free kick from just outside the box to make it 1-0 for Wolves against Stoke was a perfect example how to do it. Like every boy tries it in the park, flick up and shoot, mostly making a mess of it, wasting and missing it, he got it spot on, volleyed it in giving his team the deserved lead, a delight to watch again and again.


Game: Chelsea v West Brom was just a mismatch. Despite all the goals, the game looked like a strawl in the park for the Blues, they will certainly not have it this easy again! West Brom be warned! Play like this and they won't get a single point or goal in the Premier League this season!

Team: The bottom three, West Ham, Wigan and West Brom, make a miserable trio at the top of the relegation likelies list. For all their big spending and oooos and aaaas, City looked out of Tottenham's league. It's only thanks to their keeper
Joe Hart and his countless number of top notch saves that they knicked a point and did not have to join the Misery Club of the opening week.

Stephen Carr and Joe Cole will both want to forget their starts to the season, that's for sure! The Birmingham skipper was unlucky conceding an own goal and a penalty against Sunderland whilst the Liverpool debutant just had one of those idiotic moments with an act of unnecessary stupidity, a dangerous tackle, seeing red for it just before half time, letting his team down and making their job everything else but easier.

Goal: Poor
Pepe Reina! 90th minute, just at the end of a strong, hard-fought contest, looking like it was going to be a close win for his side... He is the only Liverpool player to play in every match, with solid display after solid display, one of the best goalies in Europe... He nearly completed a clean opener to the season, and his first clean sheat against the Gunners, when he shot himself in the face with a cruel own goal! OUCH! It happens, always when and to whom you least expect it!

My dad's and my predictions...

My dad: Blackpool, West Brom, West Ham
Moi: Blackpool, West Brom, Wolves

Champions (dark horses):
My dad: Arsenal (Chelsea)
Moi: Chelsea (Spurs)

First week of predictions:
My Dad 9:3 Me (:-/)

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Reina hands Arsenal a point

Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 1:1 Arsenal

I think both sides will be glad and disappointed with the result, feeling they could have/should have got more out of the match, but it could have been worse, too.

For Liverpool, debutant Joe Cole and star keeper Pepe Reina both had moments of horror: The prior saw red for a reckless and dangerous tackle on new Arsenal full-back Laurent Koscielny just before the end of a quite uneventful and all-evens first half. The latter saw Arsenal new-boy Marouane Chamakh's shot deflect off the post, onto him, into the back of the net, to give the Gunners a lucky late goal and point.

Moments after that late equaliser, Arsenal were down to the men themselves after Koscielny turned from victim into offender, conceding two quick consecutive bookings, first for a fowl, second and off for a handball. Both looked harsh in hindsight, compared to similar offenses of David Ngog earlier in the match.

The young Frenchman had a mixed match, off(side) most of the time but on (target) at the start of the second half, after Arsenal lost possession clumsily just outside the box for Inter-bound Javier Mascherano to connect and cross to Ngog, who put it into the top right-hand corner, over and past a very insecure and fragile looking Manuel Almunia.

The early lead in the second half made Liverpool look stronger, safer and more confident even though they were down to ten men. Arsenal enjoyed more possession and kept Liverpool back. But the Reds defended well, their man-to-man marking system paying off with Arsenal more and more frustrated and Jamie Carragher not earning the MOTM award for nothing.

The late twists and turns made the match much juicier than the first half led to believe. In the end, both teams got away with a point down to ten men, so, should not have anything to complain about really.

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger; Kuyt, Gerrard (booked 72.), Cole (s.o. 46.), Mascherano (Lucas, 79.), Jovanovic (Rodriguez 66.); Ngog (Torres, 74.). 4-5-1
Subs not used: Cavalier, Aurelio, Babel, Kelly.

Arsenal: Almunia; Sagna, Koscielny (booked 92., s.o. 95.), Vermaelen, Clichy; Eboue (Walcott, 59.), Diaby (van Persie, 76.), Nasri, Wilshere (booked 41.; Rosicky 59. booked 85.), Arshavin; Chamakh. 4-5-1
Subs not used: Fabianski, Vela, Song, Gibbs.

1st half Stats
Attempts: 3-3
On target: 1-1
Offsides: 4-1
Corners: 2-4
Free kicks: 6-9
Possession: 43%-57%

2nd half Stats:
Attempts: 4-7
On target: 2-2
Offsides: 0-0
Corners: 5-8
Free kicks: 9-5
Possession: 36%-64%

Sky Stats:
Passing Success: 73.8%-85.8%
Tackles/Success: 33/69.7%-20/70%
Territorial Advantage: 37.2%-62.8%

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Jamie Carragher

Thursday, 12 August 2010

England, England, England... Sad but true!

Sports - Football - International Friendly

England 2-1 Hungary

And Steven Gerrard was there to save the day. Sad the effort came over a month too late.

Apart from the two goals, England looked woeful as always. No pace, no coordination, no communication. The whole game was just a charade, no one looking like they wanted to be there, just like in South Africa, no change there.

No wonder, with the new season just a couple of days away, where the players can continue their high lives, getting cheered, hailed and paid tens of thousands of pounds (per week) for only a fraction of the trouble.

Hungary took the lead just past the hour mark when Vladimir Koman's shot was deemed a goal although Phil Jagielka looked to have cleared it off line line.

Stevie G. scored two outstanding goals that turned the match around just minutes later. He celebrated and tried to lift the team and crowd, like a captain should... Sorry, but what's the point? The team's hopeless, the manager miserable all the way through, the whole match was just pointless!

Okay, let me just draw out a little scenario... What if...

...Gerrard would not have scored, Hungary would have won, the fans would have been outraged as always, booing and calling for Fabio Capello's head, once again...

...Capello would no longer be England manager (which I am surprised he still is to be honest after the miserable World Cup) and the hunt would be on for a better replacement; an Englishman if possible as many have been pointing out that that would make the difference because of national pride, a man leading his own country, and...

Bla bla bla bla bla! I'm honest, I was over-optimistic predicting England as finalists in the first place as were many others and I knew it!

For over 40 years now the so-called experts have been waffling on about who and what would be better and best for England to finally get back on top of their game. Since THE world cup win - the odd one out, that's for sure - 13 managers have tried their best. Of those 13, only TWO were not English (Sven Goran Eriksson from Sweden and Italian giovane Fabio).

So, how can you lay the blame on the nationality or the language of the manager as all the "experts" are now trying to do?! EVERY TIME the new manager goes from hero to zero within a couple of years - until the next tournament, Euro or World Cup. It's an impossible job!

In the end it is the 11 men on the pitch it comes down to. Of course, the manager represents the team and has to take responsibility, but looking at the above record, and at the International football record in general, Euro and World Cup, there are some things that are just facts and will never change:

I don't know and cannot imagine international football without the Brasilian temperament, French w(h)ine, Portuguese drama (queens), Spanish flair, Italian scandal, Dutch boom, Argentinean glare, German efficiency... And English tears! And I don't think that will change, not in my lifetime anyway!