Sunday, 6 March 2011

Kuyt hat-trick sinks United at Anfield

Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 3-1 Man Utd

Dirk Kuyt's first hat-trick for Liverpool helped his side to a 3-1 win against bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield.

The homes side dominated from kick-off with an outstanding Luis Suarez showing off some brilliant skill and trickery and breaking through the United defence again and again which eventually lead to the breakthrough.

The Uruguayan striker squiggled and smuggled his way through the United box to put the ball across goal from the left and provide Kuyt with an easy tap in.

Five minutes later the Dutchman was able to pounce again, this time Nani headed back the ball to the striker who made no mistake of netting it.

Then, just before half time, all hell broke out: First Nani was fouled by Jamie Carragher and was up to make himself heard to referee Phil Dowd before going to the ground again in dramatic fashion bemoaning injury.

He was taken off eventually for Javier Hernandez to replace him, but not before goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar also saw yellow for running down the pitch making trouble.

Minutes later another fight broke out after Rafael da Silva fouled Lucas Leiva, ending up booked plus Marting Skrtel for all the trouble.

The half time whistle came just in time to calm tempers down and for everyone to get their breaths back.

The second half saw no more bookings or bust-ups but that was no sign of lack of intention or intensity.

Dimitar Berbatov had a couple of shouts and chances - Raul Meireles had to clear his header off the line for the Bulgarian striker to appeal for handball, but it clearly came off the Portuguese midfielder's chest. 

United had a couple more chances but it just didn't seem to be their day, both Berbatov and Ryan Giggs putting chances wide without worrying Pepe Reina any further.

It was United's Dutch keeper who ended up eating sour grapes, spilling the ball out parrying a Suarez free kick for Kuyt to follow up on it and net it thankfully for his first hat-trick for the Reds.

Hernandez headed in a consolation goal off Giggs in injury time, too little too late.

After losing defender Fabio Aurelio early on in the match due to hamstring injury, Liverpool had to change and adjust their back line with Carragher moving to the right, Glen Johnson to the left and Skrtel and sub Sotirios Kyrgiakos in central defense. 

Normally that could have shaken Liverpool up and given United something to pounce on and take advantage of, but not today.

King Kenny's men showed their strength, heat, stamina and stubbornness against a less crispy and more crumbling United side - missing an injured Rio Ferdinand.

This win puts Liverpool up to 6th in the Premier League, on 42 points, 5 behind Spurs and 6 behind Chelsea in 5th and 6th place respectively (two games in hand each as things stood at the end of this game), whilst United stay top but only 3 points separating them from Arsenal (who also have one game in hand on United). It just shows, this season is far from over and King Kenny rules!

Bad losers: Meanwhile, United have imposed a media blackout after the defeat meaning no comments or interviews by Fergie and co.

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Carragher (booked 45), Skrtel (booked 46), Aurelio (Kyrgiakos 23); Gerrard, Lucas, Kuyt (scored 33:08, 38:31 & 64:14min), Meireles (Carroll 74); Maxi, Suarez (Cole 74).
Subs not used: Gulacsi, Ngog, Spearing, Poulsen.

Man Utd: Van der Sar (booked 46); Rafael Da Silva (booked 49; O'Shea 76), Smalling, Brown, Evra; Nani (Hernandez 47), Carrick, Scholes (booked 83; Fletcher 84), Giggs; Berbatov, Rooney.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Fletcher, Obertan, Gibson.

1st half stats
Liverpool-Man Utd
Attempts: 8-4
On target: 4-2
Offsides: 0-2
Corners: 6-1
Free kicks: 7-6
47%-53% (after 20 min, Sky Sports)
52%-48% (after 25 min, BBC)

2nd half stats
Liverpool-Man Utd
Attempts: 7-7
On target: 3-3
Offsides: 0-1
Corners: 2-2
Free kicks: 5-6
41%-59% (45.-55. min, Sky Sports)
53%-47% (FT, BBC)

Sky Sports Stats
Liverpool-Man Utd
Passing Success: 73.5%-81.6%
Tackles/Success: 24/41.7%-20/75%
Territorial Advantage: 50.6%-49.4%

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Man of the match: Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Andy who? Fernan-who? Last month's news!

Sports - Football - Premier League - Commentary

Andy who?

Yes. Andy Gray, you are last month's news! One cannot deny you your distinguished career as football player and commentator. I was always one of your biggest fans with your exemplary sketches and analysis and a perfect combination with facts and stats man Martin Tyler.

But it is a sad shame that in your mind you could not and cannot let go of the years where you were in your prime as a player - and got started as a commentator with your funny pencil sketches and original football art attempts. Not just technology has developed and advanced since! Society and the sport and media with it! Shame you missed it and didn't catch on!

Being in front of the camera, representing Sky, the media, the sport in front of millions of people week in and week out, you should have known better than to shoot your mouth off with primitive prejudices and mindsets - but it was not the first time was it? Just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. And I do not think it will be the last.

You will rant on especially after getting the sack, won't you? In every other job, if you have been warned and get caught out again, you are out! And knowing your general lifestyle, I just think it is a case of life having caught up with you! What goes around comes around - and bites back double bad! Life can only be as nice as you can make it out!

I always get asked questions about my sport knowledge and knowhow too - and I just hit back with more technical questions so people get my drift: Football is one of the easiest sports when it comes to rules and regulations. In comparison to cricket and rugby the general IQ required for football is not exactly Einstein level.

That gets more obvious and shown bare when the athletes and representatives of the sport come out with statements like Mr Gray and his pal Richard Keys!

That brings me back to Martin Tyler. He is the perfect gentlemen and my James Bond candidate of all commentators (although his hair has gone a bit to grey with age and scarce on that note) - smart, polite, patient, observative, lovely voice, knowing when to turn it up a notch...

Has he ever felt or had the need to go off on one like Andy Gray? No, he is a happily married man, father and commentator and has been for 30ish years! A true professional. Oh, what was I blogging on about again, Andy who??? Tyler forever!

(Meanwhile, Andy and Richard have started fresh with their show on talkSPORT... Well... Doesn't seem to be all too fresh when you read the Guardian's review...)


Another man who got too much money where his mouth rather than form is: Fernando Torres. After being at everything else but his best over the last season or two and a forgettable World Cup for him as a player, it was a joke when he came out wanting to leave Liverpool for a better team and a team that can win stuff, Chelsea?!

Birmingham have already won more than Chelsea will this season (I bet a fiver on that, not saying that Liverpool will win much more with Europa League being the only competition left we have a shout in)! Yes, players make the team what it is, so, if you're such a great player Fernando, how come we didn't win anything with you in our team?!

And we got £50 million for him! Kaching! I think Liverpool got a brilliant deal for a player past his best, one of Roman Abramovich's panic buys I think. To prove this point, here are the stats of his (nearly) four Premier League seasons with Liverpool:

2007-08: 24 league goals in 33 league appearances
2008-09: 14 in 24
2009-10: 18 in 22
2010-11: 9 in 23

Injuries didn't help his cause, but from his first and best season with 24 goals in 33 games, he's gone nearly ten games and ten goals less the couple of seasons after that and only scored half as many goals in as many games this season.

In my experience, past greats that left on the same note, for "better and bigger" teams, their careers ended up everything else but better or bigger and I believe they would have been better off staying. Ian Rush, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen... I think Torres is heading for the same jinxed run of destiny. So far he hasn't had much to show for his big switch deal anyway...

Great players are made great players by their team. That's why Steven Gerrard has stayed, Ian Rush came back and even Robbie Fowler came back eventually, because they realised that it was Liverpool FC they were great with. Hopefully, Pepe Reina will realise that too and won't do anything stupid (at least he's honest though, see this Guardian interview in case you're wondering what I'm on about).

Those who left all ended up moaning, they wanted to play, feel important again as they did when they first were at LFC. That's why Stevie G. ended up staying, because at Chelsea he would have just fitted and sunk in and under the team, losing his special skipper legend status more than quickly.

I know, we're still a long way away from winning another title - but that will hopefully not come from lack of team spirit, heart or trying!!! Nothing's impossible when you stick with the team and go for it, we've proven that before and will prove it again! YNWA