Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

Carling Cup Quarter Final – December 19th 2007 – Result

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

A strong Chelsea side managed to overcome Liverpool in the Carling Cup tonight in a game that probably drew more headlines for the officials than the players.

It started with a linesman having to limp off, replaced by the fourth official who had almost not even made it to the game. The referee himself seemed unable to bring himself to blow for fouls from Chelsea, whose players didn’t receive a single card. That was a contrast to the referee’s treatment of Liverpool’s players, with him booking three for innocuous challenges.

There was also a red card, for Peter Crouch, who seemed to lose his head in an incident following on from where he received a massive amount of persistent kicking.

Rafa had chosen what was pretty-much a second-choice team, in what was generally a 4-5-1 formation. Andriy Voronin seemed once again to be out of position on the right-hand side.

Chelsea’s team meanwhile was strong – even first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech was a starter, and he did manage to stop the Reds from scoring when they actually managed a shot on goal.

Chelsea had managed couple of shots on goal but reserve keeper Charles Itandje was equal to them – until Lampard pulled one of his goals out from his repertoire. Yes, Lampard scored with a deflection. Crouch was sent off a minute later and so Liverpool’s chance to get anything back was gone, and it was no surprise that a stretched Liverpool side let Shevchenko score a goal in the last minute.

Before the game there was more tirmoil at Anfield, with Liverpool’s pre-match press conference not taking place. The club were said to be concerned that their shackles on Rafa would be questioned at the conference, and that would not fit in with their policy of covering up the truth at every opportunity. The only pre-match quotes from the manager were through the official site, where we’ve already seen examples this week of quotes being changed to suit the owners’ and Parry’s agendas.

How much this turmoil is playing a part in the problems for the boss is hard to say – but it’s certainly not helping. It’s the least important of all the competitions Liverpool play in, hence the experimental side, but it still hurts supporters to see the side go out.

With the owner’s intent – still – on sacking Rafa before the start of next season, regardless of performance, it’s only the start of what looks like being a lot of hurt for Liverpool supporters in the coming months and years.

Continue reading Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

Liverpool 2 Cardiff 1 – Result, Reaction, Stats

Carling Cup – October 31st 2007

Liverpool 2 Cardiff 1


Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez: “I didn’t want to play him (Steven Gerrard), because normally in this type of game you try to keep players safe. It would have been better for us if we didn’t play him, but we had injuries and no other option. Alonso is injured and Momo Sissoko was sick again. We have so many players with injuries we want players to be ready for the next game – but sometimes you don’t have enough. We needed experience because we wanted to win the game but Momo was vomiting on Monday and was still sick yesterday. Steven is a player who wants to play every game. I need to change him sometimes, but I decided to play him to show that we wanted to win the game. In the end he was the one who scored the vital goal.

“Cardiff worked very hard and were always dangerous from set-pieces, and that is where their equaliser came from, but then Gerrard got through to score a typical goal. His form is coming back, as are his goals. That is three now in successive games.

“We had some good chances to score a third and finish the game off but if you can’t do that you’re always under pressure. From a free-kick you always know you can concede but it was good for us that Gerrard scored so soon after that. And it was really, really positive for me that El Zhar scored such a great goal in front of the Kop.”

(On what he said to returning legend Robbie Fowler on the pitch after the game): “I just wished him well – he was great for us when he came back to the club. He set a good example, as players with experience should, and he gave us everything. He has left us all with great memories of a great player. So I wished him all the best for this season, which is the only thing you can say – especially with my English! I hope he goes on to score lots of goals for Cardiff this season.”

(On Harry Kewell’s return to senior action as 71st minute sub): “It was important for Harry and for us that he went on. He could be like a new signing for us. I’m really pleased for him and hopefully now he can kick on.”

Cardiff manager Dave Jones: “We’ve come to Anfield and given them a bit of a fright. You’re at your most vulnerable when you’re in possession and unfortunately we lost the ball on the halfway line. But of all the players for the ball to break to, who can do that damage, it had to fall to the player I consider the best in that position – Gerrard.

“We were up against probably the best midfielder in Britain, Europe and halfway round the world and that’s what’s killed us. I was surprised Stevie was playing against us, because they’ve got some really big games coming up. The last player in the world you want to see driving at you like that is Steven Gerrard.

“He’s the one who has killed us, and there’s no disgrace in that, especially because we gave Liverpool such a fright. My son is in the academy here, so I’ll have to get him to duff Stevie up tomorrow!”

Liverpool: 30 Itandje, 17 Arbeloa, 46 Hobbs, 23 Carragher, 12 Aurelio, 42 El Zhar (7 Kewell, 71), 21 Lucas (20 Mascherano, 87), 8 Gerrard, 33 Leto (11 Benayoun, 63), 15 Crouch, 19 Babel
Unused subs: 40 Martin, 6 Riise
Bookings: Lucas 84, Babel 90
Goals: El Zhar 48, Gerrard 66

Cardiff: 13 Oakes, 2 McNaughton (44 Gunter, 84), 5 Purse, 12 Johnson, 3 Capaldi, 16 Ledley, 4 Rae, 10 McPhail (7 Whittingham, 89), 11 Parry, 8 Fowler, 36 Hasselbaink (20 Thompson, 75)
Subs: 31 Magennis, 6 Loovens
Bookings: McNaughton 44
Goals: Purse 65

Stats: (Liverpool – Cardiff)
Possession: 55% – 45%
Shots on target: 10 – 6
Shots off target: 11 – 2
Corners: 5 – 6
Fouls: 12 – 5

Referee: Peter Walton
Attendance: 41,780

Robbie wants to score again at Anfield

Robbie Fowler is looking forward to his Anfield return with Cardiff City tonight – but is intent on sending the Welsh side through to the next round of the Carling Cup.

Fowler left Anfield this summer and with a surprising lack of interest from Premiership clubs he chose to move to South Wales. It won’t be the first time he’s played against Liverpool at Anfield though, the place he’s always felt was home: “I have been back before with Leeds and Manchester City so it will not be too weird for me. I am expecting a great reception from the Liverpool supporters, they have always been fantastic to me and I don’t see any reason why that should change. It is like going home when I get there. I will have a lot of friends and family to watch me there so I am hoping it will be a good night for everybody.” Continue reading Robbie wants to score again at Anfield

Crouch and Rafa looking forward to Robbie’s return

Liverpool forward Peter Crouch was given 45 minutes of action on Sunday against Arsenal in a season where he’s rarely been used by club or country. For many games this season Crouch hasn’t even been on the bench, but with Rafa Benitez using three forwards to start the game he was there to replace Fernando Torres at half-time. Torres had damaged another muscle on his return from injury, and with him out for three weeks Crouch is hoping to get more chances to remind the boss what he can do.

This should start tomorrow night in the Carling Cup when Liverpool play host to Cardiff, who now have Reds legend Robbie Fowler in their squad. Crouch is raring to go: “I’m looking forward to the Cardiff game and hoping to get 90 minutes under my belt. I was pleased to get on against Arsenal, even though it wasn’t in the circumstances I would have liked with Fernando getting injured. You always want your best players on the pitch and hopefully he won’t be out for too long.” Continue reading Crouch and Rafa looking forward to Robbie’s return

Carling Cup draw – Fowler to come home

Robbie Fowler is set to be given a chance to play again at Anfield after Liverpool were drawn at home to Cardiff City in the fourth round of the Carling Cup.

Fowler joined the South Wales side in the summer after his final two years at Anfield had come to an end, and will of course relish the chance to play at the ground where he made his name and earned his legendary status.

League Cup: Reading 2 Liverpool 4

Carling Cup, September 25th 2007

Reading 2 Liverpool 4

Half-time: 1-1

Reading: 32 Federici, 14 Halls (12 Kitson, 80), 29 Duberry, 22 Bikey, 3 Shorey, 23 De la Cruz, 15 Harper, 17 Convey (10 Hunt, 80), 20 Fae, 24 Long (34 Henry, 79), 8 Lita
Unused subs: 1 Hahnemann, 4 Cisse
Goals: Convey 28, Halls 64
Bookings: Bikey 51, Duberry 59, Fae 68

Liverpool: 30 Itandje, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 21 Lucas (46 Hobbs, 89), 12 Aurelio (6 Riise, 69), 17 Arbeloa, 11 Benayoun, 22 Sissoko, 33 Leto, 15 Crouch (8 Gerrard, 77), 9 Torres
Unused subs: 40 Martin, 35 Putterill
Goals: Benayoun 23, Torres 50, 72, 86
Bookings: Lucas 70

Stats: (Reading – Liverpool)
Possession: 52% – 48%
Shots on target: 6 – 5
Shots off target: 2 – 4
Corners: 7 – 3
Fouls: 14 – 15

Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
Attendance: 23,563


Rafa Benitez was delighted with and for hat-trick hero Fernando Torres: “It was a great night for Fernando. He had a lot of space and he killed their defenders with his pace and movement. The understanding between him and Crouch was very good and I thought it was a fantastic team performance. It was a difficult game because Reading tried to play football and they play with a great passion.”

Rafa was asked why Torres was chosen to play this game when he has been left on the bench for the more important league fixtures of late: “This was a very different game to last Saturday, it is about space.” Would he start the next game, this weekend’s clash with Wigan? “We will see. I cannot guarantee anything because I like to see my strikers during the week. We have four strikers and if I say now that he will play, it will be easy for Wigan. I am only thinking about my team. Our supporters are very clever, they know that I am trying to do the best for the team.”

So was Torres unhappy at not being in the team for those recent league games? Not according to Rafa: “Fernando knows why he was left out. It was because of space. I didn’t need to explain it too much. All the players want to play in every game. If you say to me that Dirk Kuyt is a worse striker or Peter Crouch is a worse striker or Andriy Voronin is a worse striker then I would play Torres every game, but because we have very good strikers, I like to choose the strikers for every game and if it is necessary to change I will change.”

He continued: “I am thinking about the best for my team. I think it was a terrific game for Fernando. But the team worked really hard and it was a very difficult game. We knew it could be like that but with the space, Fernando is really dangerous, but the rest of the team showed real character as well as Fernando. That is the key for me because you can play with one or two strikers working hard but other players not doing their jobs, but every player did a fantastic job.”

Reading’s manager Steve Coppell said £18m Torres was the difference between the two sides: “I thought we had some good opportunities but the difference was obviously £20million. We are disappointed. You want to play against the best players and that’s where you make your reputation by stopping these people playing. For us to come off and he’s scored three, then we are disappointed. With each goal he grew in confidence and became more expressive. For the first 45 minutes he was fairly anonymous. He didn’t contribute much in the first half but that is the quality of £20-odd million. He gives them what they don’t have with other players and that is just raw pace.”

He went on: “A couple of times it wasn’t a question of intricate play, it was just a question of kick it and run and he can run quicker than most. Realistically he is yet to set the world on fire in this division but as he got his goals he grew in stature. We had to take more gambles and that only opened up more avenues for him.”

Carling Cup teams: Reading v Liverpool

Liverpool’s manager Rafael Benitez has recognised the strength of opposition side Reading and picked a relatively strong side for tonight’s Carling Cup tie at the Madjeski Stadium.

In defence the manager has given Sami Hyypia a rest, with ever-present Alvaro Arbeloa switching to centre-back from full-back, and Fabio Aurelio has been named for his first start since returning from injury. Carragher and Finnan take the other two places in the back four, with Charles Itandje making his debut in goal in place of the rested Pepe Reina.

Midfield sees a chance handed to new youngsters Lucas and Leto, with Sissoko and Benayoun also lining up. The surprise is up front, with £18m Fernando Torres linining up alongside Peter Crouch.

The tie will be decided tonight, on penalties if needed, as there are no replays in the Carling Cup these days.

Reading: 32 Federici, 14 Halls, 29 Duberry, 22 Bikey, 3 Shorey, 23 De la Cruz, 15 Harper, 17 Convey, 20 Fae, 24 Long, 8 Lita
Subs: 1 Hahnemann, 4 Cisse, 10 Hunt, 12 Kitson, 34 Henry

Liverpool: 30 Itandje, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 17 Arbeloa, 12 Aurelio, 33 Leto, 22 Sissoko, 21 Lucas, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch, 9 Torres
Subs: 40 Martin, 6 Riise, 8 Gerrard, 46 Hobbs, 35 Putterill

Referee: Martin Atkinson