Result: Liverpool 1 Wigan 1

Barclays Premier League – January 2nd 2008 – Result

Liverpool 1 Wigan 1

Two more dropped points for Liverpool against another team looking for a draw against the Reds. Wigan are now managed by Steve Bruce, who used the same tactics when manager of Birmingham earlier in the season, but this time Liverpool actually managed to make a breakthrough when Torres scored in the 49th minute. However despite a lot of possession the Reds didn’t threaten the Wigan goal anywhere near enough, and it was inevitible that Wigan would hit the Reds with a sucker punch. That came with ten minutes left, and from then it was obvious the home side were not going to get back in front.

Five points from the nine on offer over Christmas isn’t enough, and Liverpool really will struggle now to make a challenge for the title. Despite dropping back into fifth place tonight, if Liverpool won their game in hand they would still only be nine points behind leaders Arsenal. However Arsenal and second-placed Manchester United are more often than not able to break down opponents who arrive intent on getting a single point, Liverpool just don’t quite have the personnel to pull that off. With the new owners no longer waving any cash around it’s unlikely the attacking side of the squad will be improved in this transfer window, and so there will be more matches like today before the season is out. Continue reading Result: Liverpool 1 Wigan 1

Teams: Liverpool v Wigan

Two ex-Reds face Liverpool at Anfield tonight – Chris Kirkland in goal and Emile Heskey up front for Steve Bruce’s Birmingham.

Rafa has been able to make the long-awaited recall of Jermaine Pennant, one of a number of Reds who’d been missed through injury in 2007, but Daniel Agger still wasn’t ready. The Dane isn’t the only centre-back unavailable – Sami Hyypia is also missing so Alvaro Arbeloa is once again used as a makeshift centre half.

Rafa has selected Mascherano, Alonso and Gerrard, so it will be interesting to see how they actually line up at kick-off time. Only Torres has been selected from Rafa’s strikers – Kuyt and Crouch are on the bench.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 12 Aurelio, 16 Pennant, 14 Alonso, 20 Mascherano, 7 Kewell, 8 Gerrard, 9 Torres
Subs: 30 Itandje, 6 Riise, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch, 18 Kuyt

Wigan: 1 Kirkland, 25 Melchiot, 18 Scharner, 19 Bramble, 8 Kilbane, 16 Valencia, 14 Landzaat, 11 Brown, 2 Taylor, 9 Heskey, 23 Bent
Subs: 12 Pollitt, 6 Sibierski, 10 Koumas, 17 Boyce, 20 Olembe

Referee: Steve Bennett

Javier: Owners must decide soon or I will have to go

The farcical running of Liverpool FC by the current owners shows no signs of improving, and one example of that comes in the shape of midfielder Javier Mascherano who is looking increasingly likely to be lost from the squad at the end of this season.

The Argentinean international star is currently on an 18-month loan deal with the club. This was first negotiated a year ago, when Liverpool were still looking likely to be taken over by DIC. Mascherano had been a part of the West Ham squad at the time, but their deal to make use of his services had fallen foul of the Premier League’s third-party ownership rules. He had rarely been played. Liverpool’s deal was designed to allow him to play for the club within the league’s rules.

It took time for FIFA then the Premier League to confirm the loan deal was acceptable and within the rules, but eventually he was given clearance to play. There was also an issue of him already having played for two clubs in a year. After a little time taken to regain some match fitness he was soon wowing Liverpool fans with some excellent performances. He’s a top-class player, and at just 23 years old has plenty of time to become world-class. He’s at his best against the top sides, and when he plays with Gerrard his presence allows the captain to play his own game to his strengths.

Rafa Benitez obviously does not want to lose the player, a player coveted by top sides throughout Europe, and so he made efforts to negotiate a permanent move for the player. This was a deal in the region of £17m, and that fee was to be paid over the lifetime of what was a five-year deal, to include the player’s wages. In today’s market that represents a very reasonable fee for a player who will be starring in World Cups, with a realistic chance of picking up a winner’s medal, for years to come. However the owners blocked it during their November clampdown on the manager, and they now stand to lose him.

Owned by a company headed by his agent Kia Joorabchian, a situation not uncommon with overseas players, Mascherano knows that he has little choice in where he goes in the future. Joorabchian will be keeping other clubs informed as to whether a deal has been agreed with Liverpool, and will of course be putting pressure on his client to consider the offers from other clubs. Continue reading Javier: Owners must decide soon or I will have to go