Essien charged by UEFA

Michael Essien’s widely-condemned tackle on Dietmar Hamann at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday is now the subject of disciplinary proceedings by UEFA. Didi said after the game that it was the worst tackle he’d ever been on the receiving end of, Rafa Benitez was disgusted. Jose Mourinho’s eyesight let him down and he failed to see the incident take place yards in front of him.

The following statement was published tonight on UEFA’s official website:

“UEFA has today instigated disciplinary proceedings against Michael Essien, charging the Chelsea FC midfielder with gross unsporting conduct following the English club’s UEFA Champions League game against Liverpool FC on Tuesday.

The charge relates to Essien’s tackle on Liverpool’s Dietmar Hamann, which occurred out of the sight of both the referee and his assistants during the 0-0 Group G draw at Stamford Bridge. Any statement about the above, as well as any evidence, can be submitted to UEFA by 14 December 2005. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body will decide on the matter at its next meeting on 15 December.”

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Rafa: Carra is better than Terry

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was full of praise today for Jamie Carragher, who he said is the best defender in the country. Rafa said: “For me, Carra last season was the best defender in England and this season he has started at the same level. Mourinho can talk about John Terry but for me Carra was fantastic last season. Terry is very good but Carra is better. He gives you aggression, security, discipline, and he works so hard for the team. When you see a player working as hard as he does, he sets an example to the rest of the team.”

Rafa Benitez arrived at Anfield 18 months ago and instantly moved Jamie to the centre of defence, a position he’d played before the arrival of Rafa’s predecessor. From being a player that former manager Gerard Houllier seemed intent on trying to move out, Carra became an important member of the early Benitez teams. Rafa had clearly seen Carra in action from afar and knew he could work to bring the best out of him.

Rafa feels he can rely on Jamie because of his consistency: “With Carra you know that he will always do a good job with not many mistakes. If you want to win trophies, you can have excellent players who get 10 now and again but you need ones that are going to give you 8, 9, 8, 9 out of 10 all around the season.”
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Reina: Reds could catch Chelsea

Liverpool’s goalkeeper Jose “Pepe” Reina says that the Reds will push Chelsea for top spot until it’s no longer possible to catch them. The European Champions are currently 12 points from the top, but with a game in hand there’s still a chance that the gap could close. Liverpool’s recent run of clean sheets and victories has helped them move closer to last season’s Premiership winners, and Pepe says they want to keep going: “It is difficult to catch Chelsea but we will try as there is a long way to go.”

Speaking to BBC Sport, the Spanish number 2 said: “It is possible to catch them. If we play like we have been doing for the rest of the season we will catch them. At this moment Chelsea are a very good team and the strongest in the Premiership but we will see.”

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Reds avoid English for next CL game

Liverpool now know who the possibilities are for their last-16 opponents in the Champions League.

Manchester United were beaten tonight by Benfica, leaving them bottom of Group D and not even with the consolation of a UEFA Cup place. Benfica finished second in the group meaning they are one of the possible opponents for Liverpool.

Arsenal finished top of their group and so Liverpool, who are in the competition without country protection, don’t have to face any other English side – for now at least. Ajax are the team from Arsenal’s group that Liverpool have a possibility of facing.

There’s still a potential "Battle of Britain" on the cards – Arsenal or Liverpool could yet be drawn against Glasgow Rangers.

The seven second-placed teams that Liverpool could face are: Bayern Munich, Ajax, Werder Bremen, Benfica, PSV, Real Madrid and Rangers.

The draw takes place at lunchtime on Friday 16th December in Nyon. Liverpool will be in Japan for the FIFA Club World Championships at the time the draw is made. The actual games will be played on 21/22nd February for the first legs, with the return legs – in Liverpool’s case at home – taking place on 7/8th March.

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BBC to show Reds Japan game on net

As we revealed yesterday, UK TV coverage of Liverpool’s action in the FIFA Club World Championships is to be handled by the BBC. Today the BBC have also announced that the game will be streamed live on the internet.

The first match, against Sydney FC or Deportivo Saprissa takes place on Thursday 15 December with the TV coverage starting at 10am GMT.

There’s also live commentary on Radio Five Live.

The BBC often restrict their live streams of sporting events to UK visitors only, and this may well be the case for this tournament, which concludes the following Sunday.

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UEFA may take action over Essien

UEFA have confirmed that Chelsea’s Michael Essien may yet be punished for his widely-condemned tackle on Liverpool’s Dietmar Hamann.

UEFA procedure is to await the referee’s report, and also the official observer’s report, before deciding how to deal with the incident. Referee Herbert Frandel and his assistants had told Didi Hamann they hadn’t seen the tackle, but UEFA will wait for confirmation of this.

It is possible that the referee himself will be penalised by UEFA too, it all depends on what is in these reports. Hamman said it was “the worst tackle I have experienced in my career.”

UEFA’s spokesperson said: “The fact that he did not show any card does not mean that UEFA later can say it was an incident for a red card or yellow, but there will be an evaluation of the referee as always by the match observer.”

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Mourinho not happy with defeat

Jose Mourinho continued to claim that finishing top of Group G or not was of no importance to him after last night’s match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but he still seemed a little upset. He evaded questions on Michael Essien’s horror tackle on Didi Hamann – although there’s still a chance of a UEFA investigation into that – and instead complained about Liverpool’s way of playing. He said: “First or second doesn’t matter. I don’t see another team in the Champions League who can come and play like they did. I don’t think many teams in Europe play like Liverpool did tonight. I am not happy because we didn’t win the game. It shows the way teams play – they defend very well and defended with everyone behind the ball, they pressed the ball and they don’t give many chances to create or score. When you only have two or three chances in the game and don’t score one of them, then it ends zero-zero.”

Liverpool have now played Chelsea four times in the Champions League this year and Chelsea have been unable to score in any of those European matches. The 4-1 win that Chelsea had over Liverpool at Anfield was a slightly misleading score line, but maybe Mourinho had read too much into it. Still, Chelsea did still go through to the next stage, after Liverpool’s win over Real Betis in the last round of games, so Mourinho still has something to look forward to. Perhaps it’s a relief to him that he’s seen the last of any English sides in the competition, for the time-being at least. When the draw for the next round takes place there’s only a limited number of possibilities as to who Chelsea will play: “It’s an open draw. The only thing we know is that we won’t play against Liverpool and the other English teams. We have five or six possibilities and we have to be ready for them.”

As far as Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is concerned, Liverpool are where they should be in the competition: “We deserve to finish top. We have more points than the others. We have done another good job, another clean sheet. We created some chances on counter attack. In our last game against Chelsea we made some mistakes but we have progressed now.”

Benitez felt his planning for the game had worked: “When you play against Chelsea you need to control midfield and second balls because they throw long balls forward all the time, so you need to keep the ball up front and you need to use players like Crouch and Morientes for them.”

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Jose can’t see fuss over horror tackle

Michael Essien’s horror tackle on Dietmar Hamman has become the main talking point from Liverpool’s successful mission against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It’s been described as a career-ending tackle by some, and for Liverpool’s tough German midfielder he can’t remember being on the receiving end of anything as bad in his whole career. Didi said: “It was the worst tackle I’ve ever been on the receiving end of, and he didn’t even apologise afterwards. I really feared I had broken my leg, thankfully it is only bad bruising.”

The pressures of management at Chelsea seem to have hit Jose Mourinho badly. His eyesight has deteriorated at an alarming rate from what he has been saying. In the Champions League semi-final at Anfield last season, Mourinho was confident enough in his own eyesight to be able to say that Luis Garcia’s goal hadn’t crossed the goal line at the Kop end, before seeing any replays. Now, just months later, the Chelsea boss was unable to see an incident that happened right in front of him just yards from the technical area at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho was asked after the match for his views on the tackle, but claimed his eyes had let him down: “I did not see the incident so I cannot give an opinion.” It’s not like Mourinho to decline the opportunity to give his opinion, so he decided to have a go at Rafael Benitez instead: “I was telling him he was crying all game, I told him it was enough and to give it a rest. They needed to sit down a little bit and relax.”

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CL Result: Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0

Tuesday December 6th 2005.

UEFA Champions League result.

Chelsea 0 – 0 Liverpool (Half-time 0-0)

Chelsea: P Cech, R Paulo Ferreira (A Del Horno, 45) , A Ricardo Carvalho, J Terry, W Gallas, M Essien, A Robben (C Cole, 73) , F Lampard, D Duff (S Wright-Phillips 73) , E Gudjohnsen, D Drogba. Subs: C Cudicini, A Del Horno, C Cole, N Geremi, L Diarra, S Wright-Phillips, R Huth.
Bookings: Lampard 76, Ricardo Carvalho 80

Liverpool: J Reina, S Finnan, J Carragher, S Hyypia, D Traore, S Gerrard, D Hamann, M Sissoko, J Riise (H Kewell 60) , P Crouch (F Morientes 68) , S Luis Garcia (F Sinama Pongolle 80).
Subs: S Carson, H Kewell, D Cisse, G Josemi, F Morientes, F Sinama Pongolle, S Warnock
Bookings: D Traore 74

Referee: Herbert Fandel
Attendance: 41,598

Liverpool finish top of Group G, Chelsea second.

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Reds squad for Japan plus UK TV details

The official Liverpool FC squad for the FIFA Club World Championship has been announced.

Each team is allowed to name a squad of 23 players, and this means some Liverpool players have been given different squad numbers for the duration of the tournament, for example Stephen Warnock is going to be wearing number 2, Sinama Pongolle gets number 11.  Thankfully for Jamie Carragher, he just about gets to keep his favourite number 23 shirt so the "23 Carra Gold" banners will still be appropriate.

Goalkeepers:

1 DUDEK Jerzy
12 REINA Jose Manuel
13 CARSON Scott

Defenders:

2 WARNOCK Stephen
3 FINNAN Steve
4 HYYPIA Sami
5 O’DONNELL Danny
6 RIISE John Arne
17 JOSEMI
20 RAVEN David
21 TRAORE Djimi
23 CARRAGHER Jamie

Midfielders:

7 KEWELL Harry
8 GERRARD Steven
10 GARCIA Luis
14 XABI ALONSO
16 HAMANN Didi
18 POTTER Darren
22 SISSOKO Momo

Forwards:

9 CISSE Djibril
11 SINAMA PONGOLLE Florent
15 CROUCH Peter
19 MORIENTES Fernando

Liverpool will be playing their first game on December 15th against the winners of the Sydney FC – Deportivo Saprissa match. The second game for the Reds will be on December 18th, either a 3rd-4th place play-off, or the final, depending on how the first game goes.

For UK viewers, the first game on Thursday December 15th is to be shown by the BBC. You may need to book a morning off work – the programme starts at 10am for a 10.30am (GMT) kick-off on BBC2.  It’s the same time and same channel for the final on the following Sunday, with no word yet on whether the 3rd-4th place play-off match will be televised in the UK.

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