Chelsea v Liverpool – The bosses speak.

After the goalless first leg at Stamford Bridge tonight, both managers were claiming they were happy with the result. In truth though it’s probably fair to say that both managers would have preferred to have scored at least one goal to take to Anfield next week.

Liverpool’s boss Rafa Benitez said: "We have played a good game. The team worked hard and controlled the game, they had some chances but at the end a draw is a good result. We had more counter-attacks and they started playing with long balls."

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said he thought Liverpool had got that away goal when a Baros header was turned behind by the Chelsea keeper: "On the bench you see the ball was almost in the goal but the goalkeeper is a good goalkeeper."

He continued: "We knew what to do against Chelsea, we know they have a lot of good players who can create opportunities. The most important thing is we need only to win at Anfield. It is a good situation." He also called on the Reds fans to make next Tuesday another special European night at Anfield: "We have very good supporters, they will be with us at Anfield and we need to win."

Meanwhile Chelsea’s boss tried to put on a brave face. Jose Mourinho said:  "I’m happy with the result. 0-0 is not the result we fought for, we tried to win the game and created enough chances to win it. We had chances – more than I thought we would get before the game.
Before I was thinking it would be more difficult to create chances. But in a Champions League tie 0-0 at home is a good result."

The battle on the field is always matched by the psychological battle off it these days, and maybe Mourinho was trying to hide his true feelings when he said, "The result leaves me very, very, very confident we will get to the final." Use of the word "very" three times in succession could well be a cover for real disappointment. Chelsea were matched tonight over the 90 minutes.

When the two teams play at Anfield of course any goal from Chelsea means that Liverpool have to win. Liverpool have got to score to go through. Another scoreless draw would lead to extra time, then penalties, but the fact that any Chelsea goals count "double" as away goals means Liverpool have to try and get that goal.

Mourinho sees Chelsea getting away goals as a foregone conclusion: "We will score goals in Liverpool and they will have to play a different way."

The Chelsea manager was sent from the dugout at Cardiff for making inflammatory gestures to Liverpool fans after Gerrard’s own goal. He continued to taunt the Reds fans when he said, "99.9% of Liverpool fans will be thinking at the moment they have one
foot in the final – but they aren’t. It is very difficult for them. Rafael Benitez is a great manager but I think we are in a very good position."

"It was not an outstanding game, it was a good game with fair play and the teams fighting for their objectives, trying to win. It’s a game everyone participating in it can be quite proud of – but I go home very confident.  We always have confidence and we need to believe in ourselves. I expect us to win and I’m confident we can score goals if we don’t lose more players because our situation isn’t good with injuries – but I think we will go to the final." Perhaps a look at the guest book at the Melwood treatment room will show how Liverpool’s situation with injuries hasn’t been that good either this season.

Continue reading Chelsea v Liverpool – The bosses speak.

Alonso out for 2nd leg – Hamman could be back

Steven Gerrard said there was a little bit of disappointment that
Liverpool hadn’t scored tonight. He also hinted that Didi Hamman could
be back by Tuesday. Liverpool will need Hamman if he’s available – Xabi Alonso picked up a booking tonight which rules him out of the next game. Liverpool are planning to try and lodge an appeal
against the booking, but it’s not clear if UEFA would consider appeals in these
circumstances.Talking to Sky Sports, Gerrard said: “We defended well tonight. We know the tie’s not over – it’s only half-time. Ideally we would have liked to have nicked a goal but hopefully our fans will lift the roof off in the second leg. 0-0 is a good result because they’ve got world class players.”

He added that Alonso, "is a magnificent passer but Dietmar Hamann is nearly fit and knocking on the door. It’s set up for a great second leg.”

Frank Lampard looked disappointed after the game to have seen his side fail to score against Liverpool for the first time this season. Again talking to Sky Sports he said, "It’s a shame because it would have been a nice lead to take to Anfield. It was a decent result for us because we haven’t conceded – but we’re disappointed we missed a few chances. Away goals are costly so that was our first aim. After that we wanted to score. It wasn’t the prettiest of games but there was a lot of passion out there and the game is finely balanced now."

The Chelsea man added: “Next week we’ll be raring to go – it’s a massive game. We were fortunate to win 1-0 there earlier in the season and we’ll have to be on top of the game to get the right result. Hopefully we’ll go up there, defend well and nick a goal.”

Continue reading Alonso out for 2nd leg – Hamman could be back

CL Semi 1st Leg – Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0

Champions League
Semi Final, 1st Leg. Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0 Result
Chelsea: Cech, Johnson, Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Gallas, Tiago (Robben 58), Makelele, Lampard, Gudjohnsen, Drogba, Cole (booked, Kezman 77). Unused subs: Cudicini, Smertin, Geremi, Forssell, Huth.
Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan, Hyypia, Traore, Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso (booked), Biscan (booked, Kewell 86), Luis Garcia (Smicer 92), Baros (Cisse 65). Unused subs: Carson, Kewell, Le Tallec, Nunez, Warnock.

Continue reading CL Semi 1st Leg – Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0

Chelsea v Liverpool – Teams.

Teams to play in tonight’s Champions League Semi Final First-Leg.

Cech, Johnson, Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Gallas, Tiago, Makelele, Lampard, Gudjohnsen, Drogba, Cole.
Subs: Cudicini, Smertin, Kezman, Geremi, Robben, Forssell, Huth.

Dudek, Finnan, Hyypia, Traore, Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Biscan, Luis Garcia, Baros.
Subs: Carson, Kewell, Cisse, Smicer, Le Tallec, Nunez, Warnock.

Referee: Alain Sars (France) 
Continue reading Chelsea v Liverpool – Teams.

Pako – this season poor for Liverpool

When Gerard Houllier was in charge at Anfield, he was forever talking about his "Five Year Plan". The plan looked to have hit success early when Liverpool won the Treble of UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup in 2001. Liverpool also got themselves into the following season’s Champions League and Reds fans felt they were on their way back to the top. Surely it was only a matter of time before the league title was back in the hands of the club that had won it the most.

Unfortunately Liverpool’s success was short-lived. More and more Liverpool fans lost patience with the Frenchman, who always seemed to have an excuse for defeat, and always talked about the infamous five-year-plan. Talk of the five-year plan certainly helped Houllier keep the pressure off for much longer than perhaps it should have been – how can you fault a manager after four years when he told you it would take five years for success?

Now there’s a new management team in charge. The outspoken, vocal style of Liverpool’s last assistant manager is rather different to the much quieter current assistant. Phil Thompson was taken on as assistant to Houllier by the Liverpool board rather than by the manager himself. Pako Ayesteran was brought over by Rafael Benitez. And they didn’t bring a five-year plan with them.

In fact Ayesteran is desperately unhappy at what he thinks is an extremely disappointing first season. He said: "Someone who works at the club told me how fantastic it is that we’ve reached the semi-final for the first time in 20 years and are fifth in the league. I told him I don’t think it’s fantastic at all, not for Liverpool. You can’t say that, even if you analyse the injuries. " So even the injury excuse isn’t going to be used in the Benitez era.

Liverpool fans want the Championship – that’s a fact that can’t be disguised. That Houllier didn’t bring it was a great disappointment, and of course they want Benitez to do what no Liverpool manager has been able to do since Dalglish. Most fans are going to be happy to give the new team a chance. Paco says he and Rafa expected more from this first season: "I’m not happy, Rafa is not happy. We think the season has been poor. This club is not yet ready to take up the challenge on all fronts – the Premiership, Europe, FA Cup and Carling Cup. The squad doesn’t have enough. In general we know we’re not ready."

Paco continues: "How long it will take depends on important decisions which will affect the future. We may be ready in one year or perhaps six months." One year or six months? No five-year plan? He’s not saying they’ll win the league next season, but he’s saying they’ll at least be competing for it. "We are sure we will be stronger next year. Our work will be better."
Ayesteran feels that the attitude and commtiment of Benitez will stand them in good stead in this tie:  "Rafa is very methodical and has a great knowledge of the game. He’s a very hard worker and likes to plan ahead. I don’t think any of us expected to get this far in the Champions League. When we played AK Graz in the qualifying round, no-one thought we’d be where we are now.  But we believe we can win it. We have played three games against them and we’ve shown Chelsea we can beat them." 

Continue reading Pako – this season poor for Liverpool

“Liverpool can do this” says McAllister

Gary McAllister was signed by Liverpool far too late in the opinions of many. He’d been sought after by Liverpool for many years, and by the time he was signed he was coming to the end of his career. The time he did spend at Anfield though saw him inspire Liverpool to their treble, and made him a real hero. Even now he still has a real fondness for the club, which is returned by Liverpool fans.

Now he’s telling the world that the Reds can overcome the odds and beat the Chelsea team that have lost only one league game all season. Speaking to the official club website, Gary Mac said: "Liverpool can do this. They have the history, winning it four times before. Great European nights are never far away with this club, it’s in the blood and I can smell it again. I have been there with them." Liverpool could do with the Scot in the dressing room tonight – these are the kind of words the players will need to hear.

"Chelsea are expected to win because they have been the outstanding side this season but I just have this feeling for Liverpool," he continued. "Something happens to them in Europe and here they are again."
McAllister went on, "If Liverpool score and take a draw or even a 2-1 defeat back to Anfield I believe they will do it. It is definitely an advantage to play away first and Liverpool are delighted with how it has worked out. You will see a different type of Liverpool than the one that got that superb draw in Turin against Juventus in the quarter-final."
Gary gave his thoughts on the tactics that Liverpool would employ: "They will be more offensive, although still only playing one up front, with either Djibril Cisse or Milan Baros alone. Liverpool will be very confident of scoring that vital goal and what Chelsea know and should fear is the vast experience in the Liverpool side."
He’s also aware of how much Liverpool’s season has been upset by injuries, but sees that things are now starting to get better: "Credit to the Liverpool physio who has somehow got most of the injuries sorted out and getting Cisse fit is a boost."
McAllister also gave us a bit of insight into how the Liverpool players are feeling in the lead-up to this game:."When you can field experienced men like Sami Hyypia, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Djimi Traore, Igor Biscan, Baros and more, you know you have a chance in any kind of game. I still keep in touch with a lot of the players and they are confident."
Liverpool are aiming for their fifth European Cup – Chelsea hoping for their first. As McAllister says, "Liverpool and their fans are used to European success and when you are involved with Liverpool, history tells you these kind of situations are part of their lives. They have grown to expect it, something Chelsea have yet to write into their record books."
Recent history seems to be against Liverpool – three defeats out of three this season, but that’s not the case according to McAllister: "Another omen is Chelsea have beaten Liverpool three times already this season. Records like that are there to be broken. Don’t forget, Liverpool were robbed at Anfield, unlucky at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea only equalised with a few minutes to go of normal time in the Carling Cup Final."

If the Liverpool players go out tonight with anything like the attitude McAllister has shown throughout his career, and also in his words in this interview, Liverpool will win and win convincingly. It’s up to Benitez now to make sure that they have got that attitude tonight.

Continue reading “Liverpool can do this” says McAllister

Bruno wants to come back.

Another of Liverpool’s exiled players could be on his way back to Anfield in the summer. Bruno Cheyrou was signed by Gerard Houllier from Lille in 2002, but failed to make much of an impact. He was sent on loan at the start of this season to French club Olympique Marseille.

Cheyrou, now 26, has found the Marseille coach Phillippe Troussier doesn’t rate him very highly. He’s only made 16 appearances, scoring one goal. He has managed to get four yellow cards though. Cheyrou played for France three times, and he felt that if he went back to France to play football he might get more recognition and more international chances. Obviously it didn’t work out.

Now Bruno wants to come back to the club that still holds his contract. In an interview on the Marseille website he said, "I still belong to Liverpool and I’ll probably go back there.  "I’ll talk to the Liverpool officials and we’ll see if they want me to stay or if I have to look for another club. I want to play in a team where I’ll get to play at least 30 to 40 games a season"

Liverpool play against Chelsea tonight (in case you hadn’t heard) – the team
that have beaten them three times this season already. Last season
Liverpool won the league game 1-0 at Stamford Bridge – and Bruno Cheyrou
was the goalscorer!

Continue reading Bruno wants to come back.

UEFA: Liverpool would qualify next year if they win this year.

In a document held on the UEFA site – available here in PDF format – UEFA set out various regulations relating to the Champions League tournament for 2004-05.  The wording in section 1.03 outlines what happens with respect to the holders of the trophy being entered into the following season’s tournament.

1.03 At the request of the national association concerned, the UEFA Champions League title-holders may be entered for this competition, as an additional representative of that association, if they have not qualified for the UEFA Champions League via the top domestic league championship. If, in such a case, the title-holders come from an association entitled to enter four teams for the UEFA Champions League, the fourth-placed club in the top domestic league championship has to be entered for the UEFA Cup.

This wording differs slightly from that which has been used by UEFA in recent weeks. Our understanding is this. The holders of the trophy are put into the following season’s competition at the request of their association. In Liverpool’s case (if they won) the English FA would need to put their names forward. It would be wrong of the FA not to put that team forward – they’d need a good reason not to do so. In turn UEFA would then invoke the regulation to put the fourth-placed team into the UEFA Cup.

This happened in 2000 when Real Madrid failed to finish in the top four of La Liga when they won the trophy. They were entered into the Champions League and Real Zaragoza were entered into the UEFA Cup.

In a similar fashion this year’s Carling Cup threw up a similar ruling with no controversy. If Liverpool had won the trophy, they’d have been guaranteed a place in next season’s UEFA cup. They lost of course, and so the rules meant that the UEFA place was then passed on to the team that finished seventh in the Premiership.  There is obviously going to be a good chance of one season a team finishing seventh but not getting into Europe because the place went to the winners of the Carling Cup. Or for that matter the FA Cup – because both teams in the final are already qualified for Europe, the FA Cup’s UEFA Cup place is going to the team that finishes in 6th place in the league.

Obviously this is all irrelevent unless Liverpool win the trophy – and to have a chance of doing this they need to play well against Chelsea tonight and next week and get into the final.

Continue reading UEFA: Liverpool would qualify next year if they win this year.