Reds v Man City – Torres starts

Liverpool play host to Manchester City at Anfield this afternoon, needing a win to keep their title challenge going. Leaders Manchester United are eight points in front, but have played one game more.

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes may be feeling some pressure as boss of the so-called richest club, but his history as a player for both Everton and Manchester United suggest he’ll be putting even more effort into planning this one. 

Rafa Benitez has picked Fernando Torres to start up front. With Steven Gerrard injured and Xabi Alonso suspended, he had limited choice in midfield – Javier Mascherano and Lucas start. Dirk Kuyt, Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun will be looking to get amongst the goals

Fabio Aurelio is on the bench, with Benitez perhaps considering introducing him as a midfielder as the match goes on. His normal left-back role is filled by Andrea Dossena. Captain for the day Carragher will partner Skrtel in defence.

City keeper Shay Given will be hoping for a better day than the last time he faced Liverpool. He was in goal for Newcastle when they were on the wrong end of a 5-1 demolition by the Reds in December. Last time City met Liverpool was in October, with two goals from Torres and a third from Kuyt giving Liverpool three points after being 2-0 down.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 2 Dossena, 15 Benayoun, 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas, 11 Riera, 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 4 Hyypia, 12 Aurelio, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog, 26 Spearing, 31 El Zhar

Manchester City: 37 Given, 2 Richards, 22 Dunne, 4 Onuoha, 25 Bridge, 5 Zabaleta, 34 De Jong, 33 Kompany, 7 Ireland, 39 Bellamy, 10 Robinho
Subs: 1 Hart, 15 Garrido, 12 Vassell, 24 Evans, 11 Elano, 40 Weiss, 20 Caicedo

Referee: Phil Dowd

Kick-off: 3pm

Competition: Win Match Best of the Eighties

As promised, a rather belated chance to win the companion to the Match Annual we offered as a prize in a competition last month – Match Best of the Eighties.

Match Retro AnnualWe offered five copies of the Match 2009 annual in last month’s competition, now we’re also offering a chance to win a copy of a book that might appeal more to our older readers – Match: Best of the Eighties Retro Annual.

"Match: Best of the ’80s is a funny, fond look back through the Match archives at a decade of big football stories, and even bigger mullets… From the great British triumphs in Europe (Liverpool and Aston Villa), to the classic world cups in Spain and Mexico, to regular columns from Kevin Keegan and Glenn Hoddle, this the perfect nostalgic gift for Dads everywhere, from Britain’s bestselling football magazine." You can click here to find out more about Match: Best of the Eighties Retro Annual.

We have five copies of the book to give away, courtesy of Pan Macmillan publishers.
Continue reading Competition: Win Match Best of the Eighties

Last-gasp Liverpool rescue a point

UEFA Champions League

Liverpool 1 Atlético Madrid 1

Liverpool and Atlético went into this match in the knowledge that victory would see them into the knock-out phase of the competition. Their meeting in Madrid had ended 1-1 and the two sides were separated only by goal difference at the top of the table. A draw would mean more work was needed, and resting players for at least one of the last two games wouldn’t be an option. A win for Rafa would allow him to try out some of the younger players who made the squad through their “home-grown” status – in theory at least.

From the start it was obvious Liverpool were hungry and desperate to banish that last-gasp defeat at White Hart Lane to the past. Within a couple of minutes of the start we saw a real chance for Liverpool, Agger screaming for a penalty as his marker took the ball off his foot as he was ready to strike from inside the box. Keane, who has been playing with niggles for a few weeks, hopped away from the incident looking to be in some pain.

With Torres still in the stands, still not recovered from the hamstring injury sustained on duty for Spain, Rafa Benítez waited to see if the Irishman could carry on despite the knock. He did, although his withdrawal twenty minutes from the end may have been because of the knock rather than just for tactical reasons.

Looking at Atlético’s formation before the game it suggested a defensive approach would be in force from the Spanish side, but after ten minutes of the game it was clear they were looking to score a goal of their own. They didn’t get a shot at goal, but were looking dangerous nonetheless.

In the twelfth minute Agger did get a decision from the referee, a free-kick outside the box. The Atlético goalkeeper looked worried as he batted the ball away from his goal. Liverpool needed to keep the pressure on and avoid giving Atlético – particularly former target Simao – any time on the ball.

Celebrations from the home fans began, for a split second, on 14 minutes when Keane chested down a brilliant Alonso pass, turned and shot powerfully at goal. It was wide, but only just, and with the net rippling some parts of the ground celebrated the “goal” momentarily. Keane turned away disappointed at his narrow miss, and again looked to be in pain.

Atlético continued to threaten, winning a corner on 18 minutes, but Liverpool turned defence into attack, a counter attack only breaking down with an unpunished Atlético handball. Liverpool appealed strongly, but the referee waved play on. Atlético did play on, catching Liverpool off guard, and Simao wasted a golden chance to put his side in front and blacken Rick Parry’s name a little more. Liverpool had tried to sign the player early on in the Rafa Benítez era, Rick Parry coming back empty handed from his talks – Simao scored Atlético’s equaliser in Madrid last month.

A hopeful ball into the box from Fabio Aurelio resulted in a Liverpool corner, which in turn resulted in Mascherano trying to curl one into the net from some distance. Atlético were restricting Liverpool to long shots, Liverpool seemed to be getting frustrated.

Just after the half-hour mark Robbie Keane was through on goal, but good goalkeeping and perhaps some of the effects of his confidence being hit by a lack of goals saw the number seven take one touch too many and the chance was lost. Continue reading Last-gasp Liverpool rescue a point

Result: Liverpool 2 Man U 1

Barclays Premier League – Result – Saturday September 13th

Liverpool 2 Manchester United 1

Reaction to follow…

Teams:

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 37 Skrtel, 23 Carragher, 12 Aurelio, 15 Benayoun (8 Gerrard, 68), 14 Alonso, 20 Mascherano (4 Hyypia, 87), 11 Riera (19 Babel, 71), 18 Kuyt, 7 Keane
Unused subs: 1 Cavalieri, 2 Dossena, 9 Torres, 24 Ngog
Goals: Brown 27 (og), Babel 77

Man Utd: 1 Van der Sar, 6 Brown, 5 Ferdinand, 15 Vidic, 3 Evra, 10 Rooney, 18 Scholes (4 Hargreaves, 66), 16 Carrick (11 Giggs, 46), 8 Anderson (17 Nani, 78), 32 Tevez, 9 Berbatov
Subs: 29 Kuszczak, 23 Evans, 22 O’Shea, 24 Fletcher
Booked: Tevez 21, Nani 81, Vidic 78
Sent off: Vidic 90
Goal: Tevez 3 

Referee: Howard Webb

Attendance: 44,192

Stats (BBC): Liverpool – Manchester United
Possession: 62% – 38%
Shots on target: 10 – 3
Shots off target: 4 – 4
Corners: 5 – 4
Fouls: 10 – 18

League table at end of game:

    P GD Pts
1 Liverpool 4 3 10
2 Chelsea 3 5 7
3 Man City 3 4 6
4 Arsenal 3 3 6
5 West Ham 3 1 6
6 Middlesbrough 3 1 6
7 Aston Villa 3 1 4
8 Bolton 3 1 4
9 Man Utd 3 0 4
10 Blackburn 3 -2 4
11 Newcastle 3 -2 4
12 Hull 3 -4 4
13 Wigan 3 3 3
14 Fulham 2 0 3
15 Stoke 3 -2 3
16 Portsmouth 3 -2 3
17 Everton 3 -3 3
18 Sunderland 3 -3 3
19 Tottenham 3 -2 1
20 West Brom 3 -2 1

Teams: Liverpool v Man Utd – Torres and Gerrard on bench

As a large contingent of Liverpool fans marched on Anfield in protest at how the club is being run, the next thing on their minds was the game against major rivals Manchester United.

Rafa Benítez had arguably his two most important players looking doubtful for the fixture, with Steven Gerrard just starting his recovery from a groin operation, and Fernando Torres having been out due to a hamstring injury. Although the club said both players would be available for today’s game, the manager didn’t feel confident that they were fit enough to start. Both are on the bench; Rafa will be hoping they can stay there all game, rather than having to risk bringing them back too early.

Robbie Keane gets the chance to open his Anfield account against a team he will want to beat as much as any other Liverpool fan. If Rafa decides to play 4-4-2 then Kuyt will be Keane’s partner. Babel is also on the bench, with new signing Riera making his debut today.

Manchester United also have a new-signing making a debut, Keane’s former team-mate Dimitar Berbatov following on from his controversial transfer from White Hart Lane.

One of Liverpool’s co-owners, George Gillett Junior, is expected at the game after flying into the country. He’s believed to have changed hotel from the Malmaison to another city hotel on police advice.  At least one member of the Tom Hicks family is expected to attend the game too.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Benayoun, Alonso, Mascherano, Riera, Kuyt, Keane
Subs: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Dossena, Gerrard, Babel, Ngog, Torres

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Anderson, Carrick, Scholes, Tevez, Berbatov, Rooney
Subs: Kuszczak, Evans, O’Shea, Hargreaves, Fletcher, Giggs, Nani

Referee: Howard Webb

Kick-off: 12.45pm BST

Reaction: Liverpool 2 Middlesborough 1

Barclays Premier League, Result

Anfield, Saturday August 23rd 2008

Liverpool 2 (Carragher, Gerrard) – Middlesborough 1 (Mido)

Liverpool’s boss Rafael Benitez: “We did it the hard way. I was very pleased with the first 10 or 15 minutes because we were creating chances, but after that it was a little bit ugly; we did not play well and they were controlling our attacks. In the second half, they scored a good goal and were on top of us and we had to throw people forward. I thought it would be difficult but we changed – we played with three defenders and that was the key.

“Last season we drew far too many games at Anfield. But this time we have sent out a message that in such situations we can win the game. We have winners here.

“The team showed an intensity and mentality we want to see. Last year we were losing or drawing these types of games and we have to win them. Our fans were quiet before we scored and they were thinking about last season, but in the end we showed a winning mentality and so maybe this will send a positive message to the fans. This is the kind of determination we want to see for the rest of the season.” Continue reading Reaction: Liverpool 2 Middlesborough 1

Cavalieri signs, Guthrie speaking to Newcastle

Liverpool’s signing of Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri has now been completed, with the £3m signing from Palmeiras officially unveiled today. The third player unveiled this week, after full-backs Andrea Dossena and Philipp Degen, 25-year-old Cavalieri has signed for four years.

Able to play without a work permit due to his Italian passport, the Brazilian knows he won’t be first choice ahead of Pepe Reina. He is prepared to work hard and take any opportunity that comes his way, as he told Liverpool’s official website: “I know it won’t be easy to get into the team. I watched some Liverpool games in both the Premier League and Champions League last year and I know Pepe is a very good goalkeeper. But everyone has to fight for their place and I’m sure we will have a healthy rivalry. I know I will have to be patient and work very hard to achieve my aims – but it is always like that when you come from another country.”

Cavalieri with Rafa, and Rafa with Degen and DossenaHe was pictured wearing the number 13, with Liverpool’s number 1 jersey likely to remain vacant as long as Pepe is first choice. The Spaniard prefers number 25, and has turned down the chance to move to number 1 previously. Cavalieri says he may get the chance to wear that number at Anfield eventually: “My confidence has got me where I am today and maybe people are aware of what I did at Palmeiras in Brazil. I am sure that one day I can get the number one position but that will only come with hard work. I feel very privileged and happy to have signed for Liverpool because everyone knows they are one of the top clubs in the world, the name ‘Liverpool’ is known all around the world. It’s an honour to wear this shirt.”

He also revealed that the move had happened at a rapid pace: “It was a dream for me to come to Europe, though I was taken aback by how quickly everything happened. It’s all been sorted out in one week, but I have been given a very good welcome from my teammates and the manager, so I’m very happy to be here. I just hope I can respond to all this.” Continue reading Cavalieri signs, Guthrie speaking to Newcastle

Stadium enabling begins, Rafa denies £50m demand

For the first time this year, a joint statement has been issued by Liverpool co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, as they announced the commencement of work on the site of the proposed new stadium for the club.

Enabling work begins on New Anfield stadiumWhen planning consent was granted by the council in May there was a waiting period before work of any kind could commence, and it seems that has now passed. The statement on the official club website says the council, “granted full planning permission on June 19 to Liverpool Football Club to build a 60,000 seater stadium and outline planning permission for a mixed use development on the existing Anfield stadium site.”

The 60,000 capacity was a throwback to the plans inherited by the current owners when they took the club over last year. Their decision to scrap those plans was made partly because of a desire for a unique look to the new ground, as opposed the generic-looking bowl appearance of the originals, but mainly because of the need for a larger capacity. The intention is to have the capacity as high as 73,000 by the time the stadium opens – it has room for that capacity – but to do this certain improvements must be made to the infrastructure to enable what is an otherwise residential area to handle an increase of 28,000 visitors to the area on match day. One element of the current plans is an underground car park holding around 1,000 cars, but those cars will have to arrive early and leave late as part of the planning conditions. Proposals to build a new railway station on an existing freight line have been looked at. Continue reading Stadium enabling begins, Rafa denies £50m demand

CL Semi: Teams: Reds v Chelsea

For the third time in four years the Reds play host to Chelsea in a Champions League semi-final, but for the first time in those meetings it’s the first leg at Anfield.

Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio are the full backs either side of Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel, with Sami Hyypia on the bench.

And that, really, was the only part of Rafa’s line-up anyone was likely to guess over, injuries permitting.

Pepe Reina is in goal, on the day he said he couldn’t imagine life at Anfield without Rafa. Mascherano and Alonso are the two-man midfield, behind that row of three featuring Marcus Babel, Dirk Kuyt and the fit-again captain Steven Gerrard. In front is Fernando Torres, Liverpool’s number nine.

Chelsea start with Malouda, a name that might be looked back on in years to come as integral to the ownership situation, given that he was a target allegedly lost due to the slowness of CEO Rick Parry, the frustration felt by Rafa ultimately leading to bigger problems for the board than they might have imagined. He also won a penalty in bizarre fashion after throwing himself at the nearest Red shirt, enough to convince Rob Style in the game that saw Fernando Torres open his Reds account.

It’s a big match, but it’s only part one.

And off the field Tom Hicks, Tom Hicks Jnr and Mrs Hicks are there already, with Foster Gillett expected, alongside his guests Ms Staveley and Mr al-Ansari of DIC.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 12 Aurelio, 18 Kuyt, 14 Alonso, 20 Mascherano, 19 Babel, 8 Gerrard, 9 Torres
Subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia, 6 Riise, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch, 16 Pennant, 21 Lucas

Chelsea: 1 Cech, 20 Ferreira, 6 Carvalho, 26 Terry, 3 A Cole, 8 Lampard, 4 Makelele, 13 Ballack, 10 J Cole, 11 Drogba, 15 Malouda
Subs: 40 Hilario, 7 Shevchenko, 12 Obi, 21 Kalou, 33 Alex, 35 Belletti, 39 Anelka

Referee: Konrad Plautz

Nineteenth Hillsborough Memorial

Tuesday 15th April 2008 will be the nineteenth anniversary of the disaster at Hillsborough in Sheffield that cost of our 96 fellow fans their lives.

A memorial service has been arranged to mark the occasion and to remember those who died.

Please meet outside the Hillsborough Justice Campaign shop [opposite The Albert] between 13:45 and 14:00 and join us in our walk to the memorial.

The service will be inter-denominational and will take place on the Spion Kop at Anfield. It will commence at 2.45pm, include a minute’s silence at 3.06pm and conclude at about 3.30pm with the singing of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

Tickets are not required and we extend an open invitation to you to join the families, survivors, the Directors, officials and players of LFC plus thousands of fellow football fans in our annual act of remembrance.

This year is expected to be very well attended and we would ask that you allow adequate time and plan to be in your seats as soon as possible.

The Hillsborough Justice Campaign remains solidly committed to supporting the fight for justice in whatever form that may take. Justice for the 96 will always remain as the fundamental aim of the campaign. However, we at the HJC also acknowledge the need for justice for the survivors of Hillsborough. We acknowledge the depth of suffering that so many have experienced for nineteen long years. We also acknowledge those who could no longer take that suffering and ended their lives tragically. We would ask you to add them and their families to your thoughts and prayers everyday.

In their name and in their memory 96 candles still burn bright.

The Hillsborough Justice Campaign