Posts Tagged ‘Anfield’

Weekly Photoshop – Ryan Babel


Good evening dear readers, and a happy new year. A bit of a Christmas lull meant that there hasn’t been a Photoshop in a few weeks as there was an end of year round-up and then a break. But it’s back and ready to keep entertaining and/or annoying in 2011.

First off this year we have full-time rapper and part-time Liverpool player Ryan Babel. I think it’s fair to say I definitely haven’t got those the wrong way round.



I personally think the resemblance is uncanny. At the end of his pink and yellow jumper you'll find Liverpool's unravelled title challenge.



There are lots of ways of referencing Bambi but let's just say I don't see Babel ever becoming the Great Prince of the Anfield forest...


More here.






Weekly Photoshop – Liverpool’s Woes


Every week sees something ever more ridiculous happen at Anfield; it feels right they should be the theme this week. I can understand Hicks and Gillett desperately trying to hold on to the club given they stand to lose the best part of £140m but sometimes you have just cut your losses and let go. Tomorrow’s high court decision should be interesting to say the least…



The Conservative child benefit cuts certainly affected some clubs more than others...


(Underwater scenes are quite hard, sorry)


More here.





Season Previews 2010/11 – Liverpool



Last Season: 7th

New Signings: Cole, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Wilson

Key Player: Fernando Torres

One To Watch: Dani Pacheco

Needs A Big Year: Alberto Aquilani

Would Quite Like: A fully fit Fernando Torres firing them back into the Champions League. Alberto Aquilani to show he’s worth £20m.

Prediction: 5th

Thoughts: Last season was a dreadful one for Liverpool. Benitez seemed to have lost the dressing room, Torres again played only 20 games and off the field problems were mounting as it was clear that Hicks and Gillett had no money, which in turn meant Rafa had none either.

The summer has seen something of a shake-up take place with Roy Hodgson and his safe pair of hands takeover. He did brilliantly at Fulham and I fully expect him to reinvigorate Liverpool too. People seem to forget that their first XI is actually pretty damn good and were last season hampered by tactical tinkering and injury.

The new boys.

While Mascherano will probably be sold, his main appeal was the job he could do in Europe against the very best and that isn’t an issue this season. I don’t think he’ll be missed in games against Stoke, etc. It looks like Gerrard will drop back and Joe Cole will play behind Torres.

This could be quite successful, Gerrard wasn’t exactly a bad central midfielder while Cole gets to realise his long held ambition of playing as a No.10. Let’s see if he can do it. The wide players aren’t as creative as some but Kuyt and Jovanovic are consistent.

I think Liverpool’s defence is a good shout to be the tightest this season – solid across the back four and one of the world’s best keepers behind them. If Hodgson is known for one thing then it’s organisation where every player knows his role.

Left back is a slight concern but they’ll manage with Aurelio and Insua if he stays. Fulham players moaned about repetitive training but appreciated that it got them results as they were so hard to break down. I predict the same with Liverpool this year given they have better players.

True, they are a Torres injury away from struggling in front of goal but with Hodgson sides, one goal is often enough. It won’t be boring but it won’t be super exciting either, somewhere in the middle instead. This effectiveness should see something of a renaissance and 5th place.


Weekly Photoshop – Football vs the Big Freeze


Greetings, greetings. I hope you’re all on your way to de-thawing. It’s been a bit cold in recent times. Britain’s big freeze was the theme of this week’s Photoshop gallery in the Guardian.

Just three Premier League games survived the weekend, as local councils did their best to ensure they couldn’t get sued for people falling over. In what now has become an almost weekly occurance, it’s another effort taking the piss out of Liverpool. That’s without even mentioning Tom Hicks Jr


Rafa Benitez Liverpool transfer

As Britain's transport system ground to a halt, one man tried desperately to ensure that flights from Liverpool to Naples and Moscow still went ahead...


More can be found here including lots of Drogba diving/tobaganning.





Weekly Photoshop – Liverpool’s Europa League Adventures


What happens when you get knocked out of the Champions League group stages? Come third and you get to spend the spring travelling around far-flung places in the Europa League. Last season even the likes of Spurs and Aston Villa decided this was more hassle than it was worth so goodness knows how Liverpool will react when they have a go. Their future adventures forms this week’s Guardian Photoshop theme.


Liverpool Europa League Anfield Gerrard Torres

In the land of submarines, Captain Benítez and his crew sets sail to places unknown. Full speed ahead!


The rest of this week’s gallery is here.





Season Previews 09/10 – Liverpool



Last Season: 2nd

Say hello to your new teammates: Alberto Aquilani, Glen Johnson, Chris Mavinga.

Close the door on your way out: Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sebastian Leto, Jermaine Pennant, Sami Hyppia, Jack Hobbs.

Predicted star: Fernando Torres. Lethal when fit, Liverpool will hope that he plays more than 24 games this time round. If he manages 30 games he should be top scorer, given his record of 0.67 goals per game in his Premier League career so far.

Needs a big year: Alberto Aquilani. I mean this in the sense that Xabi Alonso’s boots are hard to fill, especially considering how he played last season. He’s out for 4-8 weeks so will need to hit the ground running once he gets fit. Glen Johnson will also need to justify a £17m price tag.

The number of weeks before he plays.

The number of weeks before he plays.

One to watch: Emiliano Insua. I was impressed by him the few times I saw him play in the latter stages of the season and given that Aurelio is out until mid September he has a great chance to establish himself early on. Rafa surely won’t play Dossena ahead of him? Right?

What they want to happen: A first league title in 20 years and with it sole ownership of the overall record.

Nightmare scenario: Man Utd win number 19.

Plan A: Solid organisation in the back four with two deep lying midfielders ahead of them. Kuyt and usually Benayoun working hard down the wings and Stevie G playing just off Torres. More expansive play down the flanks is planned with the signing of an attacking full back like Johnson.

Plan B, just in case: Let Gerrard shoot from distance late in games and make Andy Gray squeal in delight.

Predicted finish: 4th.

Why? But for seven disappointing home draws last season, Liverpool would have won the title at a canter. Rafa Benitez had finally found a formation that worked and with it stopped the tinkering. Gerrard found in his best position and essentially plays as a second striker these days. Most of all Xabi Alonso resisted Liverpool’s attempts to sell him and had his best season in five years at Anfield.

The defence first policy was also somewhat abandoned and Liverpool were the top scorers with 77 (two per game). The thing is though I can’t see Liverpool repeating the heights of last season. Alonso is a big, big loss and I don’t think Aquilani will offer the same kind of skills (though he be a good player for them). Luckily Liverpool’s start is very easy so it will cover his injury and the need to play someone like Lucas to begin with. As ever, a lot will depend of the fitness of Gerrard and Torres. They both seem susceptible to several niggly injuries a season rather than one big one. Three of four periods of missing a few weeks soon adds up though and it was telling that they only played something like 14 games together.

The wait goes on.

The wait goes on.

Though the first team is very strong, the squad is still quite average I would say and many of the replacements are nowhere near the level required. If you look at some of the other players who have left (Hyppia, Pennant, Arbeloa) you can see that they’re not great but whoever stands to replace them are only going to be at the same level, not an improvement.

Up front especially you just have Torres, two potentially good youngsters in Nemeth and N’Gog and nothing else. A new striker (to replace Keane no less) is definitely a priority. Liverpool will be up there and even though I have them 4th, they will be within 10 points of the title. Glen Johnson will help turn some of those home draws into wins but I think once again, the wait for number 19 will continue.



Liverpool 4 – Arshavin 4

Can he play them every week?

Can he play them every week?

Crazy game at Anfield last night with Andrey Arshavin scoring four (see them here: one, two, three, four) goals for Arsenal but they still couldn’t hang on to win despite leading 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3. To be fair Liverpool were dominant throughout (26 shots to Arsenal’s 8) and but for some inspired first half keeping from Fabianksi would have wrapped it up early. As with many high scoring games, it’s often a case of defensive errors rather than spectacular play and you argue two of Arshavin’s goals could/should have been prevented whilst all four Liverpool goals were from Arsenal defensive errors really. That said, it was a very open, attacking game and probably more enjoyable to watch then the Chelsea v Liverpool thriller last week. 

One, two, three, four

One, two, three, four...

It’s not every day a home player scores four at Anfield let alone an away player. But let’s hope that his Arsenal career turns out better than the last Arsenal player to score four at Anfield! – That man was  a certain Beast by the name of Baptista…



Champions League Second Round Second Leg Preview – Liverpool vs Real Madrid


Benayoun scores the winner in front of two players bumming in mid-air

First Leg Summary

In the first leg Liverpool did what they do best in cup competitions- stifled the opposition and stole a late goal. Real Madrid really didn’t show much quality apart from a couple of good one-two combinations and tricky runs from Arjen Robben. The Reds didn’t create too much either but Torres had a couple of decent opportunities, while Xabi Alonso could have scored another audacious halfway line lob. In the end it was an unlikely header from Youssi Benayoun in the 82nd minute that gave Liverpool the crucial away goal and 1-0 lead going into the second leg.

Liverpool and Real Madrid Play League Swapsies

In the build-up to the first leg, Liverpool were still in the Premier League title race while their counterpart’s own La Liga hopes were still hopeful at best. How much can happen in the space of a week  and a half!

Defeat at Middlesbrough over the weekend combined with Manchester United’s unstoppable run leaves Liverpool in third place (on goal difference behind Chelsea) and 7 points off the pace with a United game in hand. Meanwhile, Real Madrid find themselves only 4 points behind Barcelona after their 11th consecutive win and the Catalunyans’ second successive defeat at the hands of the Blaugranas’ city rivals, Atletico.

What bearing does this have on the Champions League Second Leg? Well, Liverpool will certainly focus their silverware-attaining hopes on Europe. Having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Everton, Liverpool have no match this weekend and this an 8 day rest until next Wednesday’s match against Real. On the other hand, Madridstas will be excited both at the prospect of being back in the title race and facing their city rivals, Atletico Madrid, on Saturday night. Perhaps the Champions League will not seem so crucial to the success of their season after all.

Tactical Analysis

Rafa Benitez will feel extremely confident going into the second leg at Anfield and will undoubtedly field a workmanlike team, while pinning his hopes on Torres’ threat on the break. Mascherano and Alonso were superior over Diarra and Gago in the first leg and with captain Stevie G returning, the steel in midfield will be ready.

Juande Ramos will have concerns despite knowing that one goal will completely change the tie. Raul was virtually non-existent in the Bernabeu fixture, certainly not playing the targetman role well against the ugly centre-half of Skrtel and Carragher. Deliveries into the box are unlikely to bring much joy against Liverpool so Ramos will be largely pinning his hopes on intricate ball play between the likes of Robben and Higuain opening up the opposition defence. Alternatively, Liverpool may just make a mistake.


Real Madrid will score the opening goal but the Anfield crowd will blow Fernando Torres on his  way to an equaliser, taking Liverpool through.

Extra Note – Benayoun the unsung hero

I have always been a fan of the Israeli poster boy from his days at West Ham. Despite not getting a consistent run for Liverpool until very recently, he has always played well, offering a bit more intelligence and trickery than most of the oaves at Anfield. I hope he gets to play the second leg, having scored a famous winner for them in Madrid.

One was a Usual Suspect, the other wants to be



Champions League Preview – Real Madrid vs Liverpool


cl draw

Probably the tie of this round, Real Madrid against Liverpool pits two of the most successful teams in Europe against each other for the first time since the boys from Merseyside beat Los Merengues 1-0 in the 1981 European Cup final.

At the end of 2008 Liverpool were flying high at the top of the Premier League, while Real Madrid were miles behind Barcelona in La Liga and suffered two defeats at the hands of their European rivals Juventus  in the Champions League. Fast forward to 25 February 2009 and the stats tell you that the Reds now trail Manchester United by 7 points while Real Madrid have won 9 consecutive matches and have managed to close the gap to 7 points and put doubts in the minds of Barcelona fans that they will win the league so easily. After hitting 6 past Real Betis at the weekend, Real couldn’t feel more confident.

Nevertheless, let’s not forget that Rafa Benitez has got Liverpool to two Champions League finals, winning one with Djimi Traore in the team. He knows Real Madrid inside out from his time there as a youth coach. Rafa knows more about Spanish football than Real could possibly know about the English game. His analytical preparation and tactics make him the most fearsome of cup coaches. I may sound like I am talking up Rafa Benitez like Indiana Jones does for Marcus Brody in the Last Crusade. Therefore, I hope Rafa doesn’t mistakenly walk into the back of a Nazi truck (which metaphorically means tinker his team into a formation/line-up in hope that he can further boost his credentials as a super tactician).

My point is, Liverpool have beaten the best of Europe over the past few years and will feel confident taking on Real Madrid, especially now baby G has been confirmed in the match squad, even if only one of his legs is working.


Respected in Spain

Respected in Spain

Gerard Factor

This is not exactly the most ground-breaking insight into the way Liverpool play but I will repeat it anyway – Gerrard is crucial to Liverpool winning anything. He is their talisman, creator and scorer of important goals and alongside Fernando Torres, the best player in the team.  Having just returned from a short holiday in Spain where I talked with a few futbol fans, I can inform readers that Steven Gerard is a highly respected player over there. Undoubtedly his presence on the pitch for Liverpool will instill some fear into the Real team. If not then there is always Dirk Kuyt’s face.


Are you Raul in disguise?

Are you Raul in disguise?

The Legend of Raul

Raul could be referred to as the Steven Gerrard of Real Madrid but that would be tainting the reputation of the man that has recently become Los Merengues’ highest EVER goalscorer. He also happens to be the Champions League top goalscorer EVER with a phenomenal record of 64 goals in 127 matches, 4 more than his horse-headed team mate.

Raul has been back to his top form this season, his 19 goals in 23 games compensating for the loss of Ruud Van Nistelrooy to a freak show jumping accident. Being the only player to have scored in two different Champions League finals, this man knows what the competition is all about. If Real Madrid play well over the two legs, he will have made a crucial contribution.

My personal favourite of all Raul’s goals this season has to be this peach against Zenit St.Petersburg in the Champions’ League group stage.

Expected to break down every few months

Expected to break down every few months

Robben Reliant

Mentally and physically crushed under Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea regime, Arjen Robben has finally realised the quality at Real Madrid which I never doubted he possessed. He is now Los Merengues’ most potent attacking force, terrorising opposition defences down the left hand side or cutting in from the right, as he did to great effect with a recent winner against Villarreal. Liverpool’s full backs are the weakest area of their team and I fully expect Robben to give them a torrid time at the Bernabeu.

I hate to endorse anything that Alex Ferguson has to say but his criticism of Real Madrid being too slow is probably an accurate one. Van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder are not exactly slow but are not the type of players to inject some direct dribbling into a game. If Real go into the second leg playing on the counter, this could prove problematic. Especially considering my next point…


Lack of striking options

Raul is on form and Real have a plethora of scorers in their midfield, with the impressive Gonzalo Higuain providing a threat either from the right wing or up front. Nevertheless, with Van Nistelrooy being injured, Real Madrid’s coaching staff may rue the decision to not register Jan Klaas Huntelaar for the Champions League knock-out stages. In tight games such as those we will likely see between Real Madrid and Liverpool, a poacher can make the difference. Ramos, like his predecessor, doesn’t seem to fancy Javier Saviola (who has never been a poacher anyway) so I am not sure where the options lie.

On the other hand, Liverpool could be accused of suffering the same lack of strength in depth up front. Kuyt has scored some decisive goals in important matches this season but will Ngog and El Zhar be able to do the business should Torres get injured? I think not.


It didn't work at Spurs but he has solved the mystery at Real

It didn't work at Spurs but he has solved the mystery at Real

Defensive Assessments   – Ramos discipline and the new Makelele

Even the most ardent Real Madrid supporter will tell you that their team hasn’t been that impressive or convincing so far under Juande Ramos. But what he will tell you is that the former Spurs manager has brought discipline, organisation and stubbornness to the side which has allowed them to win nine La Liga games in a row, conceding only two along the way.

The back four of Sergio Ramos, Fabio Cannavaro, Pepe and Gabriel Heinze is finally looking as impressive as the names do on paper. As always, Iker Casillas will provide world class goal keeping and leadership. However, we know good defending depends on the rest of the team doing their part and in Lassana Diarra and Fernando Gago, Real have two midfielders who are able to protect their defence while possessing the highest technical qualities and ability to distribute ably. Comparisons with Liverpool’s Mascherano-Alonso duo are understandable but I think Real have the better two.

The decision to register Diarra for the Champions League over Huntelaar may well be justified should Real progress. I don’t like the dolphin-headed little bastard but he is a world-class player (better than Makelele) that will thrive on the big stage.


Shaky Liverpool

Renowned for their tightness under Rafa Benitez, Liverpool’s defensive record has been some-what surprising this season. They have only managed to keep one clean sheet in the past 7 games. The man named by the Football Guy as the Son of Rafa or old man/young man will be called upon and required to meet the high standards of his counterpart at the other end.

I nevertheless expect Liverpool to get ship shape for the ties against Real. There is certainly more pressure on them to come out in the league and Rafa knows the art of two-legged Champions League ties, especially when away from home first.


The Call

This is an extremely difficult tie to call, as I don’t think recent form will bear too much on how this encounter plays out. Both clubs have respect for each other but will also be quietly confident. Juande Ramos pitting his wits against Rafa Benitez will be an interesting tete-a-tete of tactical nous represented by funny hand signals.

The fact that the second leg is at Anfield could prove decisive and therefore I will predict that Liverpool will edge this one. A Torres away goal at the Bernabeu is so on the cards that I won’t even claim I said so when it happens.

Here is our 12th player

Here is our 12th player




Other previews: Chelsea v Juve, Barca v Lyon, Arsenal v Roma, Inter v Man Utd.

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