Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Winners Write History

So, now for an unbiased account of last night's Liverpool Arsenal match (I hate them both equally).
If you read the traditional media outlets this morning, they would have you believe that Liverpool are some sort of super team of men (RTE), driven on by history (5 times) and the '12th man' ("so terrified at the prospect of lasting just six minutes at this remarkable arena" - The Times), whereas in reality they could have been knocked out had Arsenal held their nerve for the final 10 minutes.
The penalty decision was a bit harsh but Toure's clumsiness gave the referee a chance to blow his whistle. Gerrard took his penalty with conviction and Arsenal were out.

The Guardian says: 'Another chapter in Anfield's rich European history owed much to another hand expertly played in the Champions League by Rafael Benítez.' Was it really? Why did Gerrard play 3/4 of the match on the left wing? Was Babel not good enough from the start?

And how crucial was Flamini's loss? He may not be a great footballer but his industry and range of passing are now much superior to his replacement, Gilberto.

Arsenal ultimately failed because Senderos does not have the ability at this level, with 2 goals coming as a direct result of his ineptitude. After been given a chasing in the second half, against the odds they pulled themselves back into the game with Walcott's blistering run and Adebayor's goal. That they failed to hold on tells as much about Arsenal's weaknesses as it does about Liverpool's strengths.

All in all, it was an absorbing game, a classic European tie that will live long in the memory. Hyppia, Torres and Babel scored excellent goals while Diaby (putting in a strange shift as a decent footballer) and Adebayor were clinical.

Liverpool go on to face Chelsea now, with, one assumes, an amazing confidence that they can reach the final again. Grant seems to be on the ropes at Chelsea, and I wouldn't bet on him making the correct decisions over the 2 legs. The individual brilliance of one of their players, such as Drogba or Cole could make the difference but Liverpool's defensive strength, combined with the excellence of Torres and Mascherano, and Benitez luckiness should see them through.

There is not much point in analysing tonight's games too much. Roma need a massive performance against United, which I feel is beyond them. And in the other game, Barca may be poor but it would be a major shock if Schalke were to qualify.



Mal said...

I think that you're being slightly harsh there Mark but I do agree with you that Gerrard on the left didn't work. Babel was a doubt for the game at the weekend and wasn't fit enough for 90 mins apparently.

Anonymous said...

Gerrard was anonymous until he stepped up to take the fucking penalty!!Jammy fucking bastards! Should we be surprised? Looks like another mediocre Liverpool team will somehow win the European cup. I'm not Arsenal's biggest fan by any means but for fucks sake how did they lose 5 goals to that shower over two legs?? Sendoros is a fucking wally,fair enough,but surely Wenger has someone he can put on the right hand side of midfield,allowing Eboue in at right back and Kolo Toure in beside Gallas. Can't wait for the snoozefest that is the by now the traditional Chelsea-Liverpool semi! Knowing the scousers luck they'll probably either get through on a dodgy penalty or not come out of their own half for 120 minutes and go through on a shoot out.Re:Torres. A fucking brilliant striker,who scored a great goal last night and I think can now be rightly lauded as Liverpools only world-class player.But let's be honest,if I was was playing against that Swiss tit I'd expect to score at least once myself and I officially retired when I was 13!! Come on "Lamps" and "JT" earn my respect at last and knock these fuckers out.LUHG.XXXXXXX.

Mark said...

I'll bow to your knowledge of Babel Mal.

Anon, you're right, it would have made a lot more sense to switch Eboue to RB, even in 2nd half and bring on Walcott, twas a poor decision by Wenger

some suggestions for Petr Cech's new mask

Mark said...

oh, and Brady vs Dunphy

JJ said...

You're kinda contradicting yourself on this bit chief - "the '12th man' ("so terrified at the prospect of lasting just six minutes at this remarkable arena" - The Times), whereas in reality they could have been knocked out had Arsenal held their nerve for the final 10 minutes."

While terrified is a strong word the point stands up. Arsenal didn't hold up their nerve in that atmosphere; they were affected by it. Toure got over excited and went over the back of babel - always gonna be a penalty. They caved in for the fourth (even sending up bloody senerdos who was admittedly awful) when they got over exicted about throwing men up as well.

I agree the RTE 'man' argument was bollocks though - had flamini been on, it would have been a very different second half with crouch most likely coming off earlier for one thing due to the ineffectiveness of the pool's midfield.

All in all, I think pool are worthy of a lot of compliments today and benitez is key in that. Deploying crouch was key to upset an arsenal side who thought they'd be playing the same team as last week. Okay, it took a while to work, but it did work (Pool were 2-1 up when Peader left the pitch) and babel's pace was key at the end as well for the last two goals.

Not often a pool fan can say job well done, but job fuckin well done. colombo would say - one last thing'. Gerrard usually goes missing on big european nights whether on the left or in the middle. Last night was exceptionally poor though and at the very least he had the good grace to admit he was crap. Humility... Steven Gerrard... strange bedfellowes altogether.

Mark said...

nerve, stupidity.

poor play by Toure

Anonymous said...

Benitez stumbled upon a system after making a complete balls of picking a team in the first place.The two biggest moments in the match and the reason for Liverpool ultimately going through were,1.Hyypias goal.Liverpool could'nt get the ball in midfield let alone threaten Arsenals goal, once this goal went in the game changed because Arsenals confidence,inexplicably,went through the floor.
2.Flamini's injury. Gilberto silva was a fine player in his day,but he no longer has the passing ability or the athleticism to play at this level,unlike Flamini who was having a really good game.In my opinion if Flamini had stayed on Arsenal would have regained their control of the midfield area and ultimately scored a couple more goals,S'pose we'll never know.
To attempt to give Benitez any credit whatsoever for this win is ridicolous.I'll ask you this question: What did Benitez do to change his tactics in the first 25-30 mins of the game when they being completely outplayed? Answer:FUCK ALL!!

JJ said...

Eh... chief, think you're goin a tad overboard there. Crouch came into the game on a high after his goal at the weekend and while the first half hour wasn't great, it wasn't the utter siege that has been painted in some quarters. Pool dominated after their first goal plus the vast majority of the second half.

Benitez brought babel on at the right time - when arse were tired and had to chase. As for changing in the first half hour - outside of mourinho how many managers bring on subs and make wholesale changes after half an hour? It sends out a signal that you're panicking and have no confidence in the players.

And not to labour over it but that system had them 2-1 up and then when it was changed around, the changes left them with a 4-2 win.

Anonymous said...

"You just jumped the fence baby" wtf?

Anonymous said...

Do you think that Liverpool had played well in the previous 15 mins before Torres scored?? Have a word with yourself, for fuck sake! It was the worst period in the game. Yeah,that system somehow had then 2-1 up,thanks to Torres,not fucking Benitez.And you're right they ended up with a 4-2 win,thanks to what? A dodgy penalty and a breakaway goal when Arsenal had to throw 9 men up for a free kick? Sorry,I know Benitez is a great manager in Europe,but you'll never convince me that anything he done last night had much bearing on the final result.LUHG.

JJ said...

You're running around in circles chief trying to distance benitez from anything that went right last night which is ridiculous. He's by no means a genius or anything but casting him adrift from anything positive from last night is just wrong.

He picks the side, they won. They won well. It always seems to be his fault when they lose so I've giving him some credit here, though obviously I won't change your opinion on it. Benitez did sign torres by the way.

Anonymous said...

Yeah,You're right.Torres scoring last night was Benitez's doing-cos he signed him!!? He's Liverpools manager and they won,end of argument.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark and JJ, a quick question: Can any other station realistically compete with RTE's genius coverage of the Champions League? With Billo at the helm and pundit in chief Eamon Dunphy it's actually worth watching even if the game is shit,just so you can listen to the "analysis".Last nights spat beetween Dunphy and Brady was laugh out loud funny.Try comparing it to the Premiership on a Saturday night,with that drip Darragh Moloney(who by the way is the worst commentator I've ever,ever heard) and a combination of either Houghton,Whelan and the seemingly omnipresent Kenny fucking Cunningham!
I suppose it begs the question,How can RTE get it so right on a Tuesday and Wednesday night and so tragically wrong on a Saturday?
Some people don't like Eamon Dunphy since Italia 90 or his heroic defence of Keano during all that bollocks in 2002,but you can't take it away from him he is almost worth the licence fee on his own.And when trying to compare Wenger to John Cleese last night and pissing off Liam Brady into the bargain??? The man is a fucking genius! God bless you Eamon.LUHG.

Mark said...

well LUHG, you're dead right about RTE. I think the age of lads is something to take into account as well, Dunphy is old and cranky and has loads of money so he can say whatever he wants, he knows RTE will always want him on.

The younger crop of pundits prob want to keep their jobs are a big boring, prob cos of nervousness & job security but maybe in 20 years they'll be ok!

and rte, fire Maloney, or send him to TV3. He seems like a nice lad but I don't think the TV is for him

Anonymous said...

You're probably right Mark.And it's nice to know someone else feels the same way about Darragh Maloney,but if I have to listen to Kenny Cunningham for 20 years in the hope that one day he will say something of interest,I think I'd rather just shoot myself!!
p.s.Are you recording the podcast tonight? If not,why not? With love,your biggest fan,LUHG.

JJ said...

Thanks for the love LUHG! Anyone noticed how maloney's hair looks completely out of place with the rest of his head? I think he has hair plugs or something.

Just watched Billo trying to pronounce "bojan k...rk...ic", then pissing himself laughing at his feeble attempt at pronouncing it. That takes the confidence of a true professional. Frankly the man is a national treasure.

Podding on thursday night with cheap polish beer or possibly cheaper 6% cider in tow.

Darren said...

How is this happening again??!! The storm clouds are gathering. Liverpool will win the European Cup again. They are the jammiest, luckiest shower of cunts who've ever played the game. Football is dying. Why are good teams not lucky anymore? I agree with LUHG 100%. Liverpool play a shite brand of ball with little or no invention. It bores everyone who is not a fan to tears. If there is any justice in this world, Pool will get their uppance. Benitez cannot be lucky in every single european game can he? Napoleon once asked when told of a certain talented general "Ah, but is he lucky?". The same could be said of Rafa. If he fell into a bucket of mickeys he'd climb out with a pair of tits. He's the luckiest, scabbiest fucker of a manager ever.
Thankfully though, the Neviller is back. He won't let the scousers win it again

Mark said...

Darren, I share your sense of dread, I'd have to 'take a break' from football if they win the CL again.

I just hope Chelsea can beat them, make it third time lucky. Grant is unlucky, as in if he fell into a barrel of tits he'd come out sucking his thumb, but perhaps JT and Lamps could improve him, given their superior knowledge of... ahem, girls

Anonymous said...

Didn't take long for all the mancs to wheel out the old "lucky lucky Liverpool" line. That one is so old by now it has whiskers on it lads.

Anonymous said...

Good man Darren,as for Anon with his assertion that the lucky Liverpool line is old.It's so old because Liverpool have been fucking steeped for fucking years.
Fear not Daz,it's our fuckin year.I can feel it in me bones....."keep the red flag flying high....." LUHG.

Darren said...

Anon, Honestly. Do you not think that Liverpool seem to get all the major decisions going their way in Europe? Honestly. I can see where you're coming from sayin that " ah yeah, that old mantra, lucky liverpool". However, I beg to disagree. I hate Chelsea as much as the next man, but generally when they win in Europe it's because they deserve it. And I put my hand up and say, fair enough, that yis are cunts and all there is no denying. That your brand of ball is responsible for losing young lads to more interesting sports like tennis and pitch n putt after watching yis play, there can be no denying. But ye are good at what ye do.
But when it comes to Liverpool. Not only are excruitiatingly turgid and workmanlike, ye are jammy as fuck. But the worst thing is that ye lot cannot see this and confuse it with SPIRIT, GRIT and DETERMINATION. It's sickening to lovers of the beautiful game. If Utd played the same anti-football as Pool/Chelscum then I would lament, perhaps shed a tear.

Mark, I think I will withdraw my support of the Champions League if either Pool or Chelsea win it. The competition is in need of a team like Utd, Ajax, Barca, Arsenal to triumph. Sadly, the teams that seem to do well these days value strength, ugliness (Kuyt), and lads who have a good engine over skill, inventiveness and guile.
I couldn't take another Pool win. A little piece of me died that day in 2005. So who's with me??!! A victory for football is needed!!! COME ON UTD!!!! And if not COME ON BARCELONA!!!!

Anonymous said...

In case you were'nt aware,I'M WITH YOU!!!!!
Chelsea would be some improvment if they were to win it,at least they've won the fuckin Premiership.They can will all the European cups they like,but the one thing that really,really hurts the filth is that they look no closer to winning the league than they did under Souness.18 years and counting........!

Anonymous said...

alrit lads i just couldnt resist-22comments fuck me!!

rte=pure quality,one night we had eamo and brady goin at it while soueness tried to act as peacekeeper but somehow made it worse. Then the following night we had billo at his best trying to pernounce bjon krkic,and did he hear dunphy call the roma right back "panini" instead of Panucci-haha quality stuff

fellow united fans do not fear!!
as long as we are still in the competition lightning wont be striking twice!

lads theo walcott??showed a bit of henry in him last tuesday night or am i dreaming??


JJ said...

Walcott was pure class jd, another element of a superb week of football, controversy, pundity and kr...ikic..y.

The young englander surely can't grow into as big a knob as henry though?

Buckley said...

Pathetic attempt to put us down, AGAIN.

Just go back and have a look at the teams we've dumped out of this tournament the last 4 years. Have a fucking look and see, then tell me how a team, with poorer players can beat these top European sides.

We get it, you're jealous of this aura we have. It's understandable, but trying to put it down just makes you look bitter. Why?

Buckley said...

" colombo would say - one last thing'. Gerrard usually goes missing on big european nights whether on the left or in the middle. Last night was exceptionally poor though and at the very least he had the good grace to admit he was crap. Humility... Steven Gerrard... strange bedfellowes altogether."

Do you get the feeling that the only reason Gerrard admitted that was to yet again send out his message to Rafa that he just HAS to play in the middle.

And i loved how cringeworthingly bad it was when whatever mong it was that said "are you joking" when Gerrard said it. Sickly.

JJ said...

That was the awfully breathy Gabriel Clarke, how the man has kep a job all these years is amazing. Horrendous.