Johnson joins Gerrard on sidelines, Aquilani unwell with virus

Liverpool’s injury problems lingered on as the Reds prepared to head south for the Fulham game tomorrow. Steven Gerrard was already expected to miss tomorrow’s game with the groin injury he first sustained when on England duty, he’s also been joined by Glen Johnson. And after making his debut in midweek Alberto Aquilani might now be sidelined thanks to a virus.

Boss Rafa Benitez gave the news to the official Liverpool FC website: “Gerrard still has a problem with his groin so he won’t be available this weekend. At this moment he’s working with the physios. He has to keep working and we’ll decide next week how he progresses.

“Johnson has a small tear in his calf, so we will lose him for maybe one week.” Also missing are Martin Kelly, with an ankle injury, and Albert Riera, with a hamstring injury.
Continue reading Johnson joins Gerrard on sidelines, Aquilani unwell with virus

Carling Cup: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1

Wednesday 28 October 2009 Carling Cup – Result

Arsenal 2 – 1 Liverpool

Match reports:

BBC: “Arsenal proved too strong for Liverpool as they beat the Reds in an absorbing Carling Cup fourth round tie. Fran Merida thundered in an 18-yard shot to put Arsenal ahead. Emiliano Insua equalised with a superb 25-yard dipping strike but Nicklas Bendtner shot into the roof of the net for what proved to be the winner…”

The Times: “A distinguished Liverpool old boy once said that teams “win nothing with kids”, but, if the Merseyside club’s fifth defeat in six matches told us anything, it was that their resources at youth level cannot match those at Arsenal, whose youngsters swaggered into the Carling Cup quarter-finals for the seventh successive season thanks to goals from Fran Mérida and Nicklas Bendtner. It would be an exaggeration to liken this to an FA Youth Cup game, since there were 14 full internationals on the pitch at the start of play, but the most memorable contributions came from those with long futures ahead of them. Mérida’s opening goal was spectacular, albeit matched seven minutes later by an equally spectacular effort from Emiliano Insúa, Liverpool’s young left back, while the performances in the Arsenal midfield of Aaron Ramsey and Craig Eastmond, an 18-year-old from Wandsworth, were highly encouraging…” Continue reading Carling Cup: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1

CC Teams: Arsenal v Liverpool

Carling Cup

Arsenal v Liverpool

Alberto Aquilani is on the bench for tonight’s Carling Cup tie against Arsenal at the Emirates and could make his first-team debut at some point in the proceedings.

Although the match is officially a first-team fixture, the starting line-up has nine changes to the one that beat Manchester United on Sunday and more closely resembles a reserve side.

Diego Cavalieri gets a rare start in place of Pepe Reina who drops to the bench. The back four only features Emiliano Insua from Sunday’s game, with Philip Degen hoping to last the full 90 minutes as the other full-back. Martin Skrtel partners Sotirios Kyrgiakos at centre-back.

In midfield are Plessis and Spearing; we’ll see after kick-off how Rafa intends to use Babel, Kuyt (captain for the night), Voronin and scorer on Sunday David Ngog.

Arsenal: 21 Fabianski, 6 Senderos, 18 Silvestre, 28 Gibbs, 37 Eastmond, 42 Gilbert, 8 Nasri, 16 Ramsey, 32 Merida, 9 Eduardo, 52 Bendtner
Subs: 53 Szczesny, 34 Bartley, 35 Coquelin, 41 Frimpong, 48 Randall, 51 Sunu, 54 Watt

Liverpool: 1 Cavalieri, 16 Kyrgiakos, 22 Insua, 27 Degen, 37 Skrtel, 26 Spearing, 28 Plessis, 10 Voronin, 18 Kuyt, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog
Subs: 25 Reina, 32 Darby, 38 Dossena, 40 Ayala, 04 Aquilani, 15 Benayoun, 39 Eccleston

Referee: Mike Riley

Kick-off: 7.45pm

Liverpool 2 Man Utd 0

Barclays Premier League – Sunday October 25 2009 – Result

Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0

Comments and quotes:

Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez on what this result said about his squad: “The players have answered a lot of questions and that’s the most important thing. The team is better than people think.”

Rafa’s view of the newspaper speculation that had him on the brink of being sacked: “I have not read the papers too much. I was focused on the things we could control – the training sessions and mentality of the players of players. I am really pleased but not just for me – for the players and the fans.”

Rafa gets criticised for just about everything, including the way he rarely shows any emotion during a game. This was no different after Fernando Torres had opened the scoring: “I was enjoying it but on the inside – we were against a good team and I was thinking about how to create chances and control the opposition.” Continue reading Liverpool 2 Man Utd 0

Liverpool v Man Utd: Torres back.

Rafa Benitez picks just about the strongest team he can for today’s visit of Manchester United.

Fernando Torres is back, as is Glen Johnson, but it’s not clear exactly how fit the pair are and whether their appearance today is a risk. Steven Gerrard isn’t available today, he’s not recovered from the injury he’d tried to come back from in midweek, sustained on international duty.

Joining Johnson in the back-four are captain for the day Jamie Carragher, along with Danier Agger and Emiliano Insua. In the centre of the midfield are Lucas and Mascherano, but it’s not clear yet what the formation will be. Fabio Aurelio starts the game, along with Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt. Continue reading Liverpool v Man Utd: Torres back.

What a difference 22 years makes

Liverpool Football Club lost their fourth game in a row on Tuesday night, for the first time in 22 years.

The snipers who’d gone into hiding when Liverpool thumped Manchester United 4-1 last season, staying there throughout the run that saw Liverpool finish second, seemed somehow glad to be able to show their faces again. More and more have come out of hiding as the season has gone from bad to worse.

As well as the snipers who only seem to appear during the bad times, seemingly unable to enjoy the good times, a lot of those fans who are there regardless of the results are starting to get restless. Somebody needs to be blamed for the problems, and for many of those now shouting about the situation the answer is as simple as swapping Rafael Benítez for another manager.

Ironically a lot of those who are recommending this ‘simple’ change justify it by comparing Rafa to his predecessor Gerard Houllier. But if swapping Houllier for Rafa hasn’t worked, why would swapping Rafa for the latest flavour of the month work? Especially if that flavour of the month finds he’s had to take a drop in his own wages to manage a club with expectations like Liverpool’s fans have – on a budget of a little less than nothing.

It’s understandable that people are looking at Rafa when they’re trying to find blame. Why is the Liverpool machine still not working like it used to? Is it as simple as swapping out that big component marked “manager” and installing a new one? Or should we first of all be looking at what is stopping that component from working as well as it did before it was installed here? Do we want to go the expense of changing it only to find the new version faces all the same problems and our machine still fails to work as well as we expect it to? Continue reading What a difference 22 years makes

CL Result: Liverpool 1 Lyon 2

Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Champions League Result

Liverpool 1 Lyon 2

Jamie Carragher: “It’s massively disappointing for us and it gives us a lot to do. They caught us on the counter attack for the second goal. We would have been disappointed not to win but to lose that late in the game is even more so.

(Asked if Liverpool need to win all three remaining games) “You never know how results are going to go, so you’ve just got to look after yourself and try to win every game – and that’s something we’re looking to do now. It leaves us with a lot to do. We’re going through a tough patch but we’ve been through them before. We’ll bounce back, there’s no doubt about that. We always bounce back because we’ve got a lot of fight and character.

“It’s always a great game (the visit of Manchester United to Anfield on Sunday). That could be the game we need – if we win it will give everyone a massive lift.”

Liverpool: Reina, Agger, Insua, Carragher, Kelly (Skrtel 74), Gerrard (Aurelio 25), Benayoun (Voronin 84), Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt, Ngog
Unused subs: Cavalieri, Spearing, Plessis, Babel
Booked: Ngog 45
Goal: Benayoun 41

Lyon: Lloris, Cris (Gonalons 42), Reveillere, Cissokho, Kallstrom, Pjanic, Ederson (Gomis 61), Makoun, Toulalan, Lopez (Delgado 86), Govou
Unused subs: Vercoutre, Clerc, Michel Bastos, Gonalons, Gomis, Delgado, Belfodil
Booked: Cris 34, Govou 55, Reveillere 90
Goals: Gonalons 72, Delgado 90+1

Referee: Undiano Mallenco
Attendance: 41,562

Stats: (Liverpool – Lyon)
Possession: 50% – 50%
Shots on target: 6 – 6
Shots off target: 6 – 6
Corners: 6 – 6
Fouls: 11 – 7

CL: Liverpool v Lyon – Johnson injured, Kelly starts

A vital game for Liverpool tonight against Lyon in the Champions League, and injuries mean Rafa Benitez has picked a couple of players that might normally only expect a start in Carling Cup games.

With Fernando Torres injured David Ngog gets a rare start up front, with fit-again Steven Gerrard set to provide support, Benayoun and Kuyt also starting in advance roles.

Liverpool kept an injury to Glen Johnson quiet until late today, in his place comes Martin Kelly for his second first-team appearance. His first appearance was as a sub against PSV Eindhoven in last season’s group stages. Although Kelly is more often used as a centre-back in the reserves, he’s not a stranger to playing in the full back role and is highly-rated. The less-popular right-back Philip Degen, even if fit, is unavailable for tonight’s game after being omitted from the Champions League squad due to the restrictions on non-home-grown players.

Kelly joins Emiliano Insua, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger in the back four. Mascherano returns to the starting line-up, alongside Lucas in midfield and of course Pepe Reina is in goal.

Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Insua, Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt, Benayoun, Gerrard, Ngog
Subs: Cavalieri, Aurelio, Skrtel, Spearing, Plessis, Voronin, Babel

Lyon: Lloris, Cris, Reveillere, Cissokho, Kallstrom, Pjanic, Ederson, Makoun, Toulalan, Lopez, Govou
Subs: Vercoutre, Clerc, Michel Bastos, Gonalons, Gomis, Delgado, Belfodil

Referee: Undiano Mallenco

Sunderland v Reds: Spearing starts, Agger back

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres returned injured from international duty, and other Reds players – including Javier Mascherano – have come back late and tired, meaning Rafa Benitez has picked a side he would never refer to as first choice.

But that means there’s a chance to shine for those who do start, although we’ll have to wait until kick-off to see exactly how they line up.

Pepe Reina in goal is practically the only position we can be sure of, although it’s unlikely that Lucas will be anywhere other than in the centre of midfield. Jay Spearing gets a start in the league, a chance to show what he can do, a few days after he revealed that Rafa has been concentrating on moulding him to play in a similar role to Javier Mascherano.

Rafa starts with three centre-backs, which would usually mean one of them moving over to full-back. Skrtel isn’t likely to be asked to do that again, and it might be a bit much to ask Agger to do so on his return to the starting line-up for the Reds, but Jamie Carragher would prefer not to take that role on either. Perhaps Rafa is going to use three at the back, because he’s chosen two full-backs to start too – Glen Johnson and Fabio Aurelio.

Aurelio could play in a more-advanced role, but with Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun starting it seems less likely. If it is three at the back it’s possible we’ll see Babel up front with Dirk Kuyt, Benayoun starting just behind the two.

Ex-Red Bolo Zenden is on the bench for Sunderland after just signing for what is now the North East’s biggest club earlier this week.

Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, McCartney, Turner, Ferdinand, Reid, Malbranque, Cana (C), Cattermole, Bent, Jones.
Subs: Fulop, Nosworthy, Da Silva, Henderson, Zenden, Campbell, Healy.

Liverpool: Reina, Skrtel, Carragher (C), Agger, Johnson, Lucas, Spearing, Aurelio, Benayoun, Babel, Kuyt.
Subs: Cavalieri, Voronin, Riera, Mascherano, Insua, N’Gog, Kelly.

Referee: Mike Jones
Assistant referees: Andy Newbold, Robert Madley
Fourth official: Neil Swarbrick

Result: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

Result: Premier League

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

It was a case of ‘what might have been’ today for Liverpool as they went down 2-0 to Chelsea in a game that neither side particularly deserved to win. That said, Chelsea took their chances, Liverpool missed what few chances they made.

Nicolas Anelka got the opener for Chelsea – a player who spent six months on loan at Anfield before inexplicably being let go by Gerard Houllier in place of El Hadji-Diouf.

The second came from Florent Malouda, nearly signed by Rafa Benitez before Chelsea made the most of the snail’s pace in the Anfield boardroom at the time, a pace that played such a part in Rafa’s anger at the hierarchy at the beginning of the storm that still goes on between the owners and the fans. Whether it still goes on between the owners and the manager is a point that might be under scrutiny again tonight.

Blame will be thrown around now, and plenty of those on the pitch should be able to find fault with their own performances, but this isn’t the time to fight with each other, it’s the time to make sure everyone is working together, working for the same side. Unfortunately it’s also time for another international break, meaning few of the squad will be together at all in next couple of weeks.

Chelsea: 40 Hilario, 2 Ivanovic, 3 A Cole, 6 Carvalho, 26 Terry, 5 Essien, 8 Lampard, 13 Ballack, 20 Deco (15 Malouda, 76), 11 Drogba, 39 Anelka
Subs: 22 Turnbull, 35 Belletti, 10 J Cole, 15 Malouda, 18 Zhirkov, 21 Kalou, 23 Sturridge
Booked: Essien
Goals: Anelka 60, Malouda 90+1

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 2 Johnson, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 22 Insua (12 Aurelio, 83), 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas (19 Babel, 76), 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 11 Riera (15 Benayoun, 67), 9 Torres
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 5 Agger, 12 Aurelio, 16 Kyrgiakos, 15 Benayoun, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog
Booked: Gerrard

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: David Richardson, Phil Sharp
Fourth official: Steve Bennett

Attendance: 41732

Match Stats: (Chelsea – Liverpool)
Possession: 48% – 52%
Shots on target: 8 – 3
Shots off target: 4 – 9
Corners: 5 – 8
Fouls: 14 – 17