Competition: Win a copy of Match 2009

Time for a competition – and one that could be pretty useful with Christmas coming up.

Match Annual 2009The Match Annual 2009, is packed with all ofMatch‘s best-loved features, including Matchman, the magazine’s resident cartoon character, plus all the usual quizzes and games and posters of the top players and teams that readers love.

Match is the annual that all footie fans want and all the football stars want to be in!

Click here to find out more about Match Annual 2009.

We have five copies of the book to give away, courtesy ofPan Macmillan publishers.

Simply answer the question below for your chance to win:

Q. Who did Fernando Torres score against for his first Liverpool Premier League goal?

a. Man Utd.
b. Chelsea.
c. Arsenal .

Entries by email only to:

comp-match2009 at

We’ll draw five winners out at random.

Match Retro AnnualComing soon: Win a copy of Match: Best of the Eighties Retro Annual.

Closing date: Midnight UK time, Wednesday 17th December.

Chelsea 0 Liverpool 1

Barclays Premier League – Sunday October 26- Result

Chelsea 0 Liverpool 1

The only goal of the game at Stamford Bridge saw a midfielder getting the winner courtesy of a deflection. For once it wasn’t Frank Lampard getting the luck of the ricochet, and for once it wasn’t Chelsea winning the game.

Xabi Alonso got the winner, Liverpool got top spot in the league, and Chelsea lost their unbeaten run – a run that stretched back four-and-a-half years, to the days of Gerard Houllier and Bruno Cheyrou – the last Liverpool player to score here in the league.

It’s far too early to celebrate anything of course, but Liverpool do seem to have found some extra strength from somewhere this season. Hull are joint second with Chelsea now, and without wishing to downplay their achievements in getting there, it does perhaps tell us just how early in the season we still are. Chelsea won’t lose many more this season, and their goal difference is almost double Liverpool’s. Manchester United and Arsenal, in 5th and 6th places behind Aston Villa, are still breathing down the necks of those above them; a game in hand for both makes the gap seem wider than it perhaps really is.

Success is now all in Liverpool’s own hands – but they’ve got another 29 games to hold onto it. Football really gets going now the clocks have moved forward.

Xabi Alonso wouldn’t be a Liverpool player now had Rafa’s summer deals gone through to plan, but to the delight of the fans Xabi stayed. And in return for that support Xabi has improved massively on last season, when injuries and the general  gloom at the club played their part in him looking a shadow of the player who won a Champions League winners’ medal in his debut Anfield season. Continue reading Chelsea 0 Liverpool 1

Teams: Chelsea v Liverpool

Barclays Premier League – Sunday October 26th 2008

Chelsea v Liverpool

Rafa Benitez has picked what looks like being a 4-2-3-1 formation for today’s visit to Stamford Bridge. No surprise ahead of the game to see articles from the London press stirring up trouble for Liverpool, but it’s getting to be like water off a duck’s back now.

That doesn’t mean this is going to be an easy game. Liverpool are in much better form than they were in last season’s league fixture here, but so are Chelsea. The winners of today’s game would make top spot their own, a draw would see Chelsea stay top on goal difference.

Arbeloa and Aurelio are the full-backs today, with Agger getting back into the swing of things with his third start in a row, alongside Jamie Carragher. Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano in midfield means captain Steven Gerrard should get the more advanced role he enjoyed for the tail end of last season, with Riera and Kuyt likely to be taking the other two spots either side of Gerrard. With no Fernando Torres the striker is Robbie Keane, looking to add a league goal to the two goals he’s scored in successive Champions League games.

Former Red Nicolas Anelka is in Chelsea’s starting line-up, as is Florent Malouda, who nearly became a Liverpool player prior to last season. The fact he didn’t played a big part in the non-financial troubles at Anfield that are still far from fully resolved. John Terry is said to have been close to becoming a Red when Chelsea had financial problems, just before Roman Abramovich came in to their rescue, and he captains the side today. 

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, A Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Deco, Kalou, Malouda, Anelka
Subs: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Sinclair, Ferreira, Alex, Belletti

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Mascherano, Alonso, Kuyt, Gerrard, Reira, Keane
Subs: Cavalieri, Dossena, Hyypia, Benayoun, Pennant, Babel, Lucas

Referee: Howard Webb

Kick-off: 1.30pm GMT

Injuries, Ownership, and football too

When the international break arrived earlier this month, two things were pretty much expected to happen before Liverpool next played. Key injuries and lots of gossip about the club’s ownership situation.

Torres is about as key an injury as Liverpool can get, and although he got to watch Saturday’s comeback against Wigan from the Main Stand, he’ll be watching on TV when his current team-mates travel to face his former team-mates in Madrid. Liverpool are holding out some hope he’ll be fit to face Chelsea on Sunday, but it looks more likely he’ll miss the Stamford Bridge league clash for the second season in a row.

The absence of Torres for that match, out injured, was perhaps all that kept Liverpool from taking 3 points from what ended a 0-0 draw. It came at a sensitive time at the club – the ownership battle was in full rage, with Rafa’s future still fairly uncertain. And one Chelsea fan decided to use his position as a national newspaper reporter to put out a story that exploited this uncertainty, perhaps in the hope it would unsettle Rafa and his team.

As well as the uncertainties surrounding Rafa because of the overall ownership situation, and what was then still a fairly recent admission of an approach to Jurgen Klinsmann (more on him in a moment), results hadn’t been going too well. Fans were getting restless.

Liverpool’s previous league game had ended in a 3-0 win at home to Sunderland, but the scoreline flattered Liverpool, all the goals coming in the second half of a game that saw Jamie Carragher played at right-back. That win had followed dropped points in five successive league games, stretching back into December, that Liverpool had been expected to win:  draws against Manchester City, Wigan, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa leading into a defeat against West Ham. Eleven points dropped in five games – the same amount of points Liverpool would end the season away from top spot.

These were dark days, and included some FA Cup performances that no Liverpool player will look back on with pride, elimination against Barnsley coming the week after this Chelsea game.


The Chelsea fan who seemed intent on unsettling Rafa and the team was Rob Beasley of the News of the World. He ran a story that it later transpired had come from an interview Rafa had given to a Spanish publication, El Mundo. Beasley introduced the quotes with words that would give most readers a different impression of what the quotes really said, and there seemed to be some extra quotes tacked onto the end. Then the News of the World’s editors and sub-editors added their bit – an “Exclusive” tag and a shockingly misleading headline: “It’s your fault – Benitez in new blast at owners.”

The story jumped out of the page as being fishy straight away, if for no other reason than the suggestion Rafa would give an exclusive to Beasley. Not long before this article Beasley had said on national television that Rafa “behaves at times like a petulant spoilt brat,” amongst other things.

We discussed this here before the game (see Perfect excuse or just a worried Chelsea fan?) but then so did Rafa, in his pre-match interview on Setanta. He stated that Beasley was lying, and compared the News of the World to its sister paper – boycotted since 1989 – saying: “It’s no surprise. Everybody in Liverpool knows that there are two newspapers that you cannot trust, this is one of them. He talks of it being an exclusive; but the journalist is lying. I was talking with the Spanish press – he was manipulating everything. So he’s lying.”

It was a passionate defence from Rafa, and he took it seriously enough that he appointed a solicitor soon after. Continue reading Injuries, Ownership, and football too

Reina gets 3 points – for speeding

Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina was fined and given points on his licence today after admitting speeding in Liverpool.

The goalkeeper was represented by lawyer Nick Freeman, of Keep on Driving, who also goes by the name, “Mr Loophole” (a name he has now trademarked). One of the solicitor’s most memorable cases saw him defend Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson after he’d been caught driving on the hard shoulder of a motorway in a traffic jam, saying a Ferguson stomach upset had left him in desperate need to find a lavatory. The hard shoulder is reserved purely for emergency use, and Freeman helped him to prove that his toilet dash was an emergency. Continue reading Reina gets 3 points – for speeding

Rafa accepts he has to wait for new deal

Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez still hasn’t got the new contract he was promised before the end of the season, but wasn’t willing to complain about the fact when asked about it yesterday.

Tom Hicks promised Rafa would get one just as soon as he’d taken control from George Gillett, but neither of those things has happened yet. Chief Executive Rick Parry’s contract is due up in January, but it seems unlikely either contract will be improved or extended under the current joint ownership structure, where both owners must unanimously agree on such decisions.

Whilst Parry’s only sees him through into the New Year, Rafa still has just under two years left on his, which runs until summer 2010. He’s happy at Anfield, despite the off-field happenings, and any threats on his part to quit should really be taken with a pinch of salt: his family are happy he’s at Anfield too, having taken to life in Liverpool rather well, and so Rafa wouldn’t walk out on a whim.

Rafa’s name will always be linked with vacant manager’s positions at certain clubs, even when the positions aren’t yet vacant. But short of using such interest to hurry along a contract renewal, it’s unlikely Rafa will leave the job he’s started at Anfield. Claudio Ranieri is the latest name linked with the sack, he’s currently boss at Juventus, and although Sam Allardyce is out of work it seems Rafa is one of the first names linked to take his place. Even if Rafa’s agent has been approached, it doesn’t mean Rafa would be interested – but it does help with those contract talks of course.

Rafa shouldn’t really need his agent to mention interest from other clubs to get him a new deal. He’s no automatic right to a new contract, but if the owners believe he’s right for the job then they should be wary of the day Rafa does show some interest. They should be wary that the happiness Montse feels on Merseyside means little if her husband is unhappy. And it wouldn’t just be a lack of a new contract that would make Rafa feel it was time to look elsewhere.
Continue reading Rafa accepts he has to wait for new deal

Skrtel back for Christmas, Riera back with Spain

Fears Martin Skrtel could be out for the rest of the season were allayed by the club after a specialist confirmed he won’t need surgery on a damaged knee. He could be playing again by Christmas.

The joy of Liverpool’s inspirational 3-2 win over Manchester City on Sunday was dampened somewhat at the sight of Skrtel being given pain relief on the pitch at Eastlands before being stretchered off. When an early scan showed he’d damaged a posterior cruciate ligament there were fears it could be the start of a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

He underwent a further scan on Tuesday however, and the specialist was able to confirm that the injury will be best treated without an operation. Ian Cotton, Liverpool’s chief press officer, said: “Martin was examined by a specialist today, who confirmed the player does not require surgery and is expected to be back playing by Christmas.”

Skrtel’s absence means Daniel Agger once again has a chance of regaining his regular place in the starting line-up, a place he lost after spending most of last season out with a metatarsal injury. It also means more possibilities for Sami Hyypia be involved in games, although that doesn’t include European games, after Rafa decided to leave him out of the Champions League squad in the face of restrictions on the number of players not “home grown”. Continue reading Skrtel back for Christmas, Riera back with Spain

Rick Parry on the ownership and the new stadium

Liverpool CEO Rick Parry was interviewed on the radio as planned this morning, on BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme, and anyone hoping for some news on a resolution to the continuing ownership impasse would have been disappointed.

First of all he was asked how he felt about Liverpool’s start to the season, in which they remain unbeaten in all competitions, second only on goal difference to Chelsea at the top of the Premier League: “Yes, very pleased indeed,” he said. “Certainly in the Champions League; to be six points clear after two games is a new experience for us and one we’re delighted with.” Liverpool have never won both of their two opening group games before.

Parry pointed out that the good start shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise: “We’ve done some decent business in the transfer market, we’ve got a very good manager, a very good squad and it’s nice to be focussing on what happens on the pitch.”

Asked if Liverpool could finally make this season the one where they put a real title challenge together, Parry was cautiously optimistic: “I think we’ve been getting stronger every year. You know that we will not make rash or false predictions. It’s been a case of strengthening the squad in depth year on year; I think in the past we’ve been in the position where our best eleven has been very good, but perhaps we haven’t had the depth in the squad. Continue reading Rick Parry on the ownership and the new stadium

Man City v Liverpool

Premier League, 5th October 2008

Manchester City v Liverpool

Next up for Liverpool is a trip to Eastlands and the City of Manchester Stadium today, to face the latest Premier League club to be taken over by overseas investors. In Manchester City’s case they were already owned by an overseas investor, former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but are now in the hands of Abu Dhabi United Group and Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Always the wittier of the city’s two sets of supporters, some City fans now call their home “Middle Eastlands”.

The City takeover added to anxieties amongst Liverpool fans, especially in the first day or two of September. The first words about the Man City takeover, and the likely policies of the new regime at a club once owned by toilet-roll maker Franny Lee, came from Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim. Al-Fahim was in charge of negotiations for the Abu Dhabi group, and their spokesperson at the outset. He made some wild claims about the kind of deals his group would be making. If his claims, and hints, from the beginning of September had been true, Liverpool would have fresh competition for their place in the top four. Continue reading Man City v Liverpool

CL: Liverpool 3 PSV 1

UEFA Champions League – October 1st 2008 – Result

Liverpool 3 PSV Eindhoven 1

Liverpool goals: Kuyt 5, Keane 34, Gerrard 76
PSV goals: Koevermans 78

This Liverpool win over Dutch side PSV Eindhoven saw three important milestones passed. In Robbie Keane’s case it’s more of a starting post than a milestone, but he’s now got the monkey off his back – his words – after opening his account for the team he supported as a boy. Another player who supported the Reds as a child pass another personal milestone – captain Steven Gerrard got his hundredth Liverpool goal. And when Dutchman Dirk Kuyt opened the scoring on four minutes against his compatriots, it was the 100th time Liverpool had scored in this competition under Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool’s start to this season’s Champions League campaign is undoubtedly far better than how last season’s began. Although they would make it all the way through to the semi-finals, it started with one point out of nine in 2007, and Rafa is believed to have been on the verge of the sack right up until the night his side got their third win in three. Defeats to Marseille and Besiktas, alongside a draw against Porto, meant Liverpool looked unlikely to progress from Group A – but then they woke up. Those last three games brought them 16 goals, with only one conceded, and also saw them hit the ten-point mark.

Ten points is considered the target for sides who want to get past the group stages. Teams have gone through with a lower points total, and it’s just about possible to go out despite having those ten points, but ten points is the figure the coaches aim for. Liverpool are now four points away from that, and have four games in which to get them.

Next up for the Reds is the back-to-back games against Atlético Madrid, the first chance for Fernando Torres to play against his former club, the side he was a very young captain of. The money from the sale of Torres has helped them improve their overall squad, and they also got one of Liverpool’s Champions League legends, Luis Garcia as part of the package. Scorer of the goal Jose Mourinho still claims “never was”, Luis now wears number nine for Atletico, and assuming he’s selected he’ll get a warm welcome from the fans back at Anfield. Torres is hopeful of the same treatment when he returns to Madrid. Continue reading CL: Liverpool 3 PSV 1