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

11 thoughts on “CL: Liverpool v Lyon – Johnson injured, Kelly starts”

  1. God help us on Sunday.

    Degen (Who?)
    Keane (What? ,When?.Why? – Bye!?)
    There just the recent ones the list continues
    He may not have money to spend now.
    But you cant say he hasnt had the money over the 5 yrs he’s been the manager.
    Bad buy after bad buy. players playing out position etc
    Its Houlier al over again !

  2. @ Darren

    At last somebody who agrees with me. What a bloody mess.

    67 players bought over his time in charge and look at our bleeding team tonight. We only have 3 first team players injured for gods sake.

    Its not on.

    What a bloody mess this man has made of our club.

    Its not the fact we lost tonight its the quality of the side we put out. And thats the best we got at the moment. After 6 years in charge.

    Disgusting Benitez. Ngog and Voronin wouldn’t get in any other Premiership side.

    Enough is enough.

    And on top of the two lousy centre forwards, he plays a decent centre forward and a defender in the middle of the park. And thats all he can do because weve got no squad. He has destroyed the squad.

    Kelly be proud you played well tonight mate. Once Gerrard went you had no chance with that midfield in front of you.

    I emphasise, its not the result. Its the quality of the team we struggle to put out. We have no squad. Only one man to blame. 67 players bought and look at our side.

  3. i’m sorry but i seem to recall us having quite a few chances to win this game out right, in fact we played better when gerrard went off until the goal. lucas has actually been playing well, you want to compare n’gog to torres, nobody will compare them, they play in a totally different way. 2 games out of these 4 we didn’t deserve to lose. chelsea and lyon. but go ahead, bag on the manager and players, because thats the kind of supporters we have i guess

  4. Well, after buying all these players and 6 years at the helm the fans need to be more demanding of the manager and his team.

    does the argument that we “didn’t deserve to lose” have any importance when we have lost 4 straight games for the first time in my liviing memory? You lose the odd game thanks to bad luck, but 4 straight?

    If Rafa can’t turn things around against ManUtd then, I’m very sorry, but he has to go before the January transfer window.

  5. @simba

    Never mind comparing ngog to Torres, he doesnt compare to the likes of Beatie or Bent or Crouch or Heskey.

    He and Voronin are not good enough for the Premiership. Dont have a go at the fans who have given 6 years of support to Rafa and who still support him even though he himself is failing and is not good enough.

    His buys and his spending have been very poor. The squad is thin. He is to blame im afraid.

  6. @simba

    Never mind comparing ngog to Torres, he doesnt compare to the likes of Beatie or Bent or Crouch or Heskey.

    He and Voronin are not good enough for the Premiership. Dont have a go at the fans who have given 6 years of support to Rafa and who still support him even though he himself is failing and is not good enough.

    His buys and his spending have been very poor. The squad is thin. He is to blame im afraid.

  7. @Neel – Simba said “2 games out of 4”, not all 4. Small point but important perhaps? That’s if it was bad luck of course, and I’m not saying it was, just pointing out what Simba had actually said.

    Also it’s not six years at the helm. He joined in 2004, it’s now 2009, which is five years. Or five and a bit seasons.

    The one big problem we have at the moment is that few people are willing to consider that our ills are not all down to one big problem. Some blame it all on the manager, some blame it all on the owners, some blame it all on bad luck, or Lucas, or whatever – but we’ve got a long list of issues that need to be addressed.

    The one you mention, bring someone in before the January transfer window, exactly why does that matter? Do you think a new manager will be given loads of money in January? Because if that’s the case, there’s an argument there for keeping Rafa in place for that one reason alone. Maybe then he can buy that fourth player he had planned to buy. The one he thought he’d be able to buy with the leftovers of Xabi’s massive transfer fee.

    But if he goes, who do we bring in instead? Who will the owners pick? They can’t even agree on what to say in public about whether or not they are selling any or all of the club, privately I can’t even begin to think what they’d do about getting a new manager. Gillett still seems to think highly of Klinsmann – would that sort us out? Promote Sammy Lee? I’m pretty sure that Kenny doesn’t want the job, even if he’d do what he could to help out should we find ourselves in crisis.

    This isn’t aimed at you personally Neel, yours just happened to be the comment I saw just now waiting for approval, but it contains the kind of opinions I’ve seen every time we lose a game, often from people (not referring to you) who aren’t anywhere to be found when we’ve just won a game.

    And what I think as Liverpool supporters we really need to try and do is to stop using spin to get our own points of view across.

    For example, “Net spend” is a phrase that makes people cringe – but if you want to talk about the money spent by a manager you need to include what he got back in from sales, and also if he improved (or decreased) the club’s income in other ways. I don’t find it surprising to hear Sky quote just the money going out, if Sky are on a mission to discredit the manager as part of their little agenda for that month. I don’t find it surprising if I see the official site giving loads of credit to Rafa by using some stats that sound good but don’t tell the full story.

    But as fans of the club who want what’s best for the club, we’ve got to be honest with each other. If we try to deceive each other then we’re no better than the certain papers that drag our name through the mud when they get chance, in fact in many ways we’re worse.

    We last lost four games in a row in 1987, so it’s happened in the lifetime of anyone aged 22 or more.

    It was also the season we went out to Luton in the FA Cup, in the third round, in the second replay on their plastic pitch with no away supporters allowed due to their ban on all away fans. They’d failed to turn up for the first replay at Anfield, even though their fans got to the ground okay, because of snow. That meant we played a league game on the 24th, the first replay on the 26th, then the 2nd replay on the 28th. I don’t remember mass calls of “Kenny out” at the time.

    Maybe that’s because we got to the league cup final. I vividly remember that game, unfortunately it was one of the four in a row we lost.

    We finished second in the league that season, and of course Kenny stayed on, winning the league the following season. Of course that was then the season we lost the FA Cup final to Wimbledon. Again Kenny wasn’t subject to venomous attacks and calls for his head – well not from Liverpool fans anyway.

    The instant response is that Kenny earned the right for some leeway from fans, but if he’d not been given the leeway in 1987, if he’d got what fans of today want Rafa to get for finishing 2nd last season, losing four in a row this season, what would have happened to Liverpool? Our ‘downfall’ started when the board of the time allowed him to resign instead of suggesting he take a long break. Before long Souness was in and even now we’ve not recovered from the mess he made.

    We’ve a list of problems that need to be addressed, many of them would still be there if Rafa left, so let’s stop trying to pin the blame all on one big reason and let’s see if we can’t push for some changes to the little problems that are causing us such trouble.

  8. @ Jim

    Its good to see someone bring a sense of perspective to the Benitez argument.

    I find it extremely hypocritical and quiet fickle to be honest when four months after cheering the team on to 2nd in the league fans come out calling for Rafas head at the first sign of trouble.

    This point is not directed at Cantos or Neel but to the fans that gloryhunt, support benitez and the team when times are good but are the first to say sack Rafa when results start to go astray.

    I dont know many managers that have had to put up with the level of off the field sniping and boardroom politics that hes had to endure, being undermined by the owners and even to have other managers touted for your job behind your back. Yet hes always stayed loyal to the team and the fans when it was probably easier to walk away. He couldve walked for Real on more than one occasion but he turned his back on his boyhood club to stay and attempt to bring the title back to Liverpool.

    Its not a reason in itself to keep the manager in his job, results must still improve but I believe Benitez has done enough in his time here to be allowed the courtesy of attempting to get us out of this mess and back to where we belong.

    And even if Rafa were to go I would be very concerned about who the owners would replace him with. Had they their way Jurgen Klinsmann would probably have already tried and failed by now. What top manager would want to come to a club that is up against it financially, that has two warring owners and whos fans demand success despite the above constraints whilst competing with the like of Abramovichs and the City owners billions.

    As Jim has said there is a collective list of problems that have to be resolved at the club. I would just hate to see Rafa being forced only then for fans to realise he wasnt the problem at the club in the first place.

  9. @ Juan.

    I agree totaly with what you are saying. But do you not admit that Benitez, and Benitez alone, is responsible for the poor squad of players?

    This may be only one of the many problems the club faces, but its one that only Benitez has had control of. He and he alone has built this squad. He has chosen to rely on Ngog and Voronin in place of Bellamy, Crouch and Keane.

    The lack of depth is down to poor squad management. I agree there are many more issues that he is having to face, some unfairly, but he and he alone is responsible for the 11 players that take to that field. This is my issue.

  10. I dont like being negative and i dont just blame Benitez at the first sign of trouble. I just simply think he has made too many mistakes on and off the pitch for far too long. Of course luck (good or bad) plays a big part in a long season and its the players who are the ones on the pitch playing the game.
    The champions league team 2004/5 was 90% Houllier’s team and was considered a very poor squad particularly in the premiership. Amazingly Benitez managed the impossible that year and rightly deserved a huge amount of credit for it.
    But this present squad is his squad and has been for 3 or 4 seasons now and is simply not good enough.
    It pains me to see the squad down the M62 in Mancland – the strength in depth that they have. I know they have at times spent big , way more than any other club at times but not all their players have been big buys down the years.
    Sorry if i seem harsh but this club and fans should not have to accept secondrate performances from secondrate players who dont desreve to wear the red shirt.
    Most clubs would be very happy with Benitez’s record. But this LIVERPOOL FC where 1st is 1st and second is nowhere.

  11. @ Cantos

    I do agree that at times Rafas judgment in the transfer market has been poor. I dont know why that is, whether it be a fault in his own making, a glitch in the scouting network or whether at times he has to make a 20 million transfer budget go that extra mile and as a result makes him pay 7 million for players like Dosenna who clearly arent up to scratch. I do think a lack of serious funds does mean Benitez has to take more risks on cheaper players. That said 11 million on Babel isnt nothing either.

    I do think our squad looks alot weaker this year. The squad that finished last season wasnt that far off the other top teams but losing Arbeloa, Hypia even with his age and Alonso is proving a bigger loss than i expected. And even losing pennant who i felt was under utilized further weakens the squad.

    But on top of players going there is something lacking that was there last season. Im not sure what but at times last season we managed without Alonso, Gerarrd or Torres and still got results. This season the belief doesnt seem to be there and there is an alarming lack of form amongst many players.

    Maybe last season was this teams peak, maybe it was then or never for this group of players. Whatever happens for me the most important factor is Benitez. The fact that he has had blips before and come back stronger can only be a positive. I would genuinely worry that if he were to be sacked that this team and club would go into freefall. And with the amount of money now available at other clubs disposal any potential top 4 revival is going to be made that much harder from here on in

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