Spurs 0 Reds 2 – Torres gets record

Barclays Premier League – Sunday May 11th 2008 – Result

Tottenham 0 Liverpool 2

A game that was pretty meaningless ended with another three points for Liverpool, and for one player at least it certainly wasn’t meaningless.

Fernando Torres got his 24th League goal from 33 appearances, 33 goals in 46 appearances overall. The league total makes him a record holder, beating the total Ruud van Nistelrooy previously held for the most goals in a first season by a foreign player in the Premier League.

Free-signing Andriy Voronin got Liverpool’s other goal, his 5th league goal from 19 appearances, 6 goals in 28 appearances overall.

Pepe Reina made it 18 clean sheets in the league, the best in the league this season, meaning he’s won the golden gloves award every season he’s been at Anfield, this being the third season in a row.

Liverpool end the season in fourth place, 11 points from top, and 11 points above 5th place. They scored 67 league goals, 119 in all.

Peter Crouch, Jermaine Pennant and John Arne Riise, all strongly linked with a departure from the club before the new season, were left out. So too was Xabi Alonso, although in his case it was due to injury.

George Gillett sat in the stands to see what might be his last game as a co-owner of Liverpool. Continue reading Spurs 0 Reds 2 – Torres gets record

Teams: Spurs v Liverpool

The last game of the season for Liverpool is about as meaningless as it gets, with neither team in need of the points, their places in Europe next season already finalised. Tottenham could move up a place with a win if West Ham also lose, but that’s the only positional change possible from this game.

Rafa has decided to give Insua another run-out at left-back, although it’s difficult to work out what his formation will be today until the players are actually running around after kick-off. Gerrard and Mascherano seem to be the two central midfielders in a 4-4-2, with Babel and Kuyt playing wide. Torres is of course up front for the Reds, but looks likely to be partnered by Andriy Voronin. The other option is for Voronin to play in the role Gerrard has recently been playing in the 4-2-3-1.

No place in the sixteen for John Arne Riise, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Pennant or Xabi Alonso, all the subject of speculation as to their futures for the club.

George Gillett is expected to attend the game, fresh from recent talks with representatives of the Dubai group trying to buy his half of the club from him.

Tottenham: 12 Cerny, 28 Hutton, 20 Dawson, 39 Woodgate, 11 Gilberto, 15 Malbranque, 8 Jenas, 4 Zokora, 24 O’Hara, 9 Berbatov, 10 Keane
Subs: 1 Robinson, 2 Chimbonda, 6 Tainio, 22 Huddlestone, 23 Bent

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 48 Insua, 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 20 Mascherano, 19 Babel, 9 Torres, 10 Voronin
Subs: 30 Itandje, 3 Finnan, 4 Hyypia, 11 Benayoun, 21 Lucas

Referee: Uriah Rennie

Teams: Liverpool v Man City – Insua starts

It’s Liverpool’s final home game of a season that has been full of incident on and off the field. It’s unfair to class it as a meaningless fixture, and that applies especially to Emiliano Insua who is given a chance in the first team. Rafa has high hopes for the youngster, and he may find himself used in more meaningful fixtures next season.

The game still makes no difference to Liverpool’s final league position, which is fourth, but three points in front of a full house would help Liverpool end the season with a gap from the top more respectable than last season.

It’s a day of farewells of course, as the last home game of the season always is. Some of the names won’t be back at Anfield – unless like Manchester City’s Didi Hamman (sub today) it’s in the shirt of an opposing team. And it’s not just those on the field who might be making their last appearance at the ground as a representative of LFC.

Insua’s fellow full-back for today is Steve Finnan, with no sign of Wednesday’s pair John Arne Riise or Alvaro Arbeloa. Carragher and Hyypia play centrally today, both players knowing that they will be in danger of playing far less games next season than this with Daniel Agger set to come back from injury and Martin Skrtel – on the bench today – putting in a strong claim to be his partner.

Xabi Alonso is strongly rumoured to be on his way, the rumour strengthened by Liverpool’s bid for Gareth Barry, and he’s on the bench today. His place is taken by Lucas, playing alongside Mascherano.

The front four that have become pretty-much first choice is on show today, Babel, Kuyt and Gerrard all starting, with Torres recovered from the tight hamstring that had been given as a reason for his withdrawal on Wednesday night.

Yossi Benayoun, Andriy Voronin and Charles Itandje make up the rest of the bench, Rafa deciding not to give any chances to any of Insua’s fellow youngsters, most of whom will be involved in the North v South reserves play-off final at Anfield on Wednesday night against Villa.

Continue reading Teams: Liverpool v Man City – Insua starts

Result: Birmingham 2 Liverpool 2

A far-from first-choice Liverpool side came back from two goals down to earn a point against Birmingham today, a comeback inspired by Jermaine Pennant against his old club.

Liverpool are now nine points above Everton in fourth place, with the Reds’ neighbours 15 goals worse off, meaning Liverpool have all-but secured a place in next season’s Champions League Qualifiers. Everton have to win all three of their remaining fixtures and Liverpool have to lose both theirs, and all those matches would have to won and lost by a gap averaging more than three goals each game.

The team Rafa put out was picked with Wednesday night’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea in mind. Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Dirk Kuyt were unused subs, Ryan Babel and Fernando Torres not even in the 16.

Liverpool’s side had nine changes in all, but Chelsea weren’t afforded the same chance to rest players in their fixture today, where they claimed a late victory over Manchester United in the league.

After the game Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez said: “The team was controlling the game in the first half but we conceded a goal that changed things a bit. The second goal gave them more hope and we needed to score and did so. Continue reading Result: Birmingham 2 Liverpool 2

Rafa answers Warnock as Reds get ready for Chelsea

Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez says he’s going to get some legal advice in response to claims made by Neil Warnock about his team selection against Fulham last season.

Warnock’s side Sheffield United were relegated last season when, despite having lost far too many games over the course of the season, Rafael Benítez ensured they went down by not picking his strongest team.

It was of course all Rafa’s fault, Warnock having planned the season down to the finest tiniest detail and having expected Fulham to lose against the Reds. Instead his plans were in tatters. After not expecting to have to win their last to avoid the drop he found that his team had to win it after all. In fact they only had to avoid defeat – a draw would do. It was in their hands, but that wasn’t the point – Warnock expected Rafa to make his side safe, and he let him down.

So on the last day of the season it was pretty much down to Sheffield United to guarantee their own safety. Stop Wigan, and they were safe with Wigan down in their place. Warnock also knew that West Ham United could go down instead if they lost against Manchester United, but he’d began to start thinking that other teams weren’t willing to help him. They weren’t – United beat United as expected, just not the actual United everyone had expected.

And the other United in this story, the Sheffield one, lost 2-1. Relegated on goal difference. Equal points with Wigan, but one goal worse off. Continue reading Rafa answers Warnock as Reds get ready for Chelsea

Result: Fulham 0 Liverpool 2

FA Barclays Premier League – April 19th 2008 – Result

Fulham 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool’s win sees them move pretty much to within a point of assuring fourth place and a spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers.

With three games to go the maximum points fifth-placed Everton can get is 70, and the Reds are now on 69. Goal difference is in Liverpool’s favour, they’re now 15 goals ahead of Everton. That said, if Liverpool did only manage one point from the last three games, and Everton got all nine, maybe Everton could close that goals gap. The Reds travel to Birmingham next weekend, then the following week play host to City in the last home game of the season.


With one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final with Chelsea, Reds boss Rafa Benitez had rested key players. But Sami Hyypia had to leave the field at half-time after a clash of heads. Rafa said: “We have a problem with Sami. He has a knock in the head. He was dizzy so I asked him if he’d seen the third goal! He just looked at me!”

Midfielder Javier Mascherano, back from suspension was also a slight worry: “Mascherano has one or two knocks as well but I think they will both be okay for Tuesday.”

Steven Gerrard didn’t travel at all, due to a neck injury, but Rafa is hopeful his captain is fit for Tuesday night: “I was talking with the physios today and he is improving but it is still too soon. You always have to be careful with the neck. He’s been scoring a lot of goals with his head!”

The win means nobody can complain about Rafa resting the bigger guns against a team looking to avoid the drop. Rafa accepted that fourth place was looking pretty safe, but wasn’t counting on it: “I picked a team I believed could win the match. It’s clear we are nearly there, we now need just one point and Everton need to win every game. But this is football, we still must be careful.”

“Today it was important to do a good job. We scored two goals without Torres and Gerrard, so we have confidence. But Chelsea is a difficult team.”

As ever, reporters want to know Rafa’s thoughts on the ownership situation, but he deflects the questions better than a Frank Lampard shot: “We can completely focus on the game against Chelsea now. We’ve talked a lot about boardroom matters for a long time but for now I just want to speak about football, if that’s possible.”

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has relegation worries rather than Champions League hopes, and his worries increased with Fulham now five points from safety with three games to play: “We matched them quite well but once they got their first goal we were chasing the game and when they got the second goal it put us out of contention.

“We can retain hope of staying up. The task gets harder because we have not recovered any points on the teams above us and we have lost another game and another opportunity. We have given a good account of ourselves but we do not have anything to show for it.”

Fulham: Keller, Stalteri, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard, Murphy (Andreasen 78), Dempsey, Healy (Nevland 76), McBride (Kamara 81)
Unused subs Warner, Bocanegra
Booking: Healy

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Skrtel, Hyypia (Carragher 46), Riise, Pennant, Lucas, Mascherano (Alonso 72), Benayoun, Voronin (Aurelio 82), Crouch
Unused subs: Itandje, Torres
Goals: Pennant 17, Crouch 70

Attendance: 25,311

Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)

Teams: Fulham v Reds

Rafa Benitez promised he’d put out a “strong” side against Fulham down in London, and although it includes many changes from what has turned into his first-choice side it’s one that should be able to win this game. But does it include any clues for the Champions League semi-final line-up?

Jamie Carragher gets a rest rather than Sami Hyypia, which might mean Carra’s starting at right-back again next week and needs to conserve some energy! Of course it could also mean that Sami Hyypia will be on the bench at Anfield. Hyypia’s partner at centre-back is Martin Skrtel, with Finnan and Riise taking the full-back roles.

It does seem like Rafa’s going for a more conventional 4-4-2 today, but with Rafa it’s usually best to wait until the game’s underway before making any assumptions. Lucas and Mascherano are the two central midfielders on the field, with Pennant and Benayoun the two normally wide players, Crouch and Voronin the front men. If Rafa’s going for the 4-2-3-1 formation then Crouch would probably get the Torres role, or as near to it as he can get, with Yossi, Voronin, and Pennant making up the three behind.

Gerrard has a neck complaint and so hasn’t travelled. It’s a strong bench, Rafa choosing to use experience on the there rather than youngsters. Carra is joined by top-scorer Torres, Xabi Alonso and Fabio Aurelio, all quite likely to be starters against Chelsea. John Arne Riise will be hoping to show Rafa today that he should be picked ahead of Aurelio.

Fulham are battling against relegation, so it’s not going to be an easy game. If Liverpool win then they will be likely to need just one point from their remaining three games to ensure fourth place, thanks to a big advantage in goal difference over Everton.

Fulham: 1 Keller, 17 Stalteri, 18 Hughes, 32 Hangeland, 4 Konchesky, 25 Davies, 21 Bullard, 27 Murphy, 23 Dempsey, 9 Healy, 20 McBride
Subs: 12 Warner, 3 Bocanegra, 11 Kamara, 15 Nevland, 26 Andreasen

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 37 Skrtel, 4 Hyypia, 6 Riise, 16 Pennant, 21 Lucas, 20 Mascherano, 11 Benayoun, 10 Voronin, 15 Crouch
Subs: 30 Itandje, 9 Torres, 12 Aurelio, 14 Alonso, 23 Carragher

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Teams: Reds v Blackburn

Hyypia drops back to the bench and Carragher moves back to his preferred position in the centre of defence as Liverpool’s players try to get smiles back on fans’ faces after the heightened turmoil of the past few days’ off-field events.

There’s also a return to action for Lucas, back on in place of the suspended Mascherano and alongside Xabi Alonso. That front four of Crouch, Gerrard, Kuyt and Babel is back in place, with Peter Crouch injured.

Ex-Reds Friedel and Warnock are amongst Blackburn’s starting line-up today.
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 12 Aurelio, 21 Lucas, 14 Alonso, 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 19 Babel, 9 Torres
Subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia, 6 Riise, 10 Voronin, 11 Benayoun

Blackburn: 1 Friedel, 7 Emerton, 4 Samba, 6 Nelsen, 3 Warnock, 11 Bentley, 8 Vogel, 14 Reid, 12 Pedersen, 9 Santa Cruz, 30 Roberts
Subs: 32 Brown, 2 Ooijer, 10 McCarthy, 15 Mokoena, 19 Dunn

Referee: Alan Wiley

Carra: Nothing we can do about off-pitch battles

Reading through various reports of the past few days to find quotes from those involved in the battle for control of Liverpool Football Club has been quite saddening to say the least. Everybody is accused of something they shouldn’t have done, everyone stands by the public version of what they’ve done, and everybody comes out of it low on credit.

Speculation over what could happen next or what couldn’t possibly happen next is mixed with demands over what should happen next or what shouldn’t possibly happen next.

“Going to the papers to discuss these problems is so un-Liverpool-like,” says one name or other, to the papers, discussing these problems.

It’s incredibly depressing.

Jamie Carragher has the right attitude. Liverpool are playing Blackburn today, in that thing we call football, on that thing we call a pitch, inside that place we call Anfield. Remember that? Carragher says the players just try and keep out of it. Maybe we all should. Leave the children to fight, we’ll come and pick up the pieces later.

Carra said: “There’s nothing we can do about what happens off the pitch.” How true that is. Many of those involved desperately want us to think the players have taken sides, fallen into their camp over the others, but players are keeping tight-lipped. In Carra’s case certainly you couldn’t imagine him demanding a transfer based on a change of ownership, but some of the other players might. That might be because they don’t like the new owner. It might be because the owner’s decision with regards the manager didn’t fit in with their hopes. Continue reading Carra: Nothing we can do about off-pitch battles

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 – Result

Barclays Premier League – 5th April 2008 – Result

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1
Bendtner 54 Crouch 42
(HT: 0-1)

The second of Liverpool’s three meetings in a week with Arsenal ended 1-1, Peter Crouch making the most of a rare start to give Liverpool the lead before a Bendtner equaliser brought Arsenal a point. All three meetings so far this season have ended 1-1.

Rafa Benítez had rested the likes of Torres and Gerrard to ensure their freshness for the bigger tie on Tuesday in the Champions League, although both came on from the bench before the end.

Reaction: Continue reading Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 – Result