Football Opinions

Archive for the ‘Liverpool’ Category

Champions League draw

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 30, 2007

championsleague.jpgHere you have the Champions League draw. There isn’t really any group that will be classed as the Group of Death as the big teams seem to have been kept apart, for the time being!

Group A:Liverpool, Porto, Marseille, Besiktas

Liverpool and Porto should have absolutely no problem advancing to the next stage. Marseille, with Cisse, lost Frank Ribery in the summer and have had a very average start to the French League this season. Besiktas are bound to finish rock bottom.

Group B:Valencia, Chelsea, Schalke 04, Rosenborg

This group is similar to the previous one with the top two too powerful for the lower seeded teams. Chelsea knocked Valencia out of last season’s Champions League so the latter could be seeking revenge. Schalke 04 do not possess enough resources to trouble the big two. Rosenborg, no chance!

Group C:Real Madrid, Werder Bremen, Lazio, Olympiakos

Depending on the Real Madrid that turn up, this group could be quite open. Real Madrid had a very poor pre-season but have since started well in La Liga. However, Werder Bremen, Lazio and Olympiakos will be difficult to separate.

Group D:AC Milan, Benfica, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk

This group is probably the most competitive, taking away AC Milan. The holders shouldn’t have any problems progressing, although it will be very tight between Benfica (who have a new manager, Jose Camacho), Celtic (very hard to beat at Celtic Park) and Shakhtar (who have invested heavily on improving their squad).

Group E:Barcelona, Lyon, Stuttgart, Rangers

Last season I would have said this would be quite a difficult group for Barca but Lyon have started this season very slowly in contrast to previous years. Second place is up for grabs but I can’t see Rangers competing.

Group F:Manchester United, Roma, Sporting Lisbon, Dynamo Kiev

The major talking point of this group is Roma visiting Old Trafford for the second season in succession and after being humiliated 7-1 at the Theatre of Dreams (or nightmares in their case). United will take Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani back to their previous team, Sporting Lisbon, so it will be interesting to see the reception they get. I can see any of the top 3 qualifying.

Group G:Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce

Inter Milan have had an irregular start to their campaign but they should be qualifying along with PSV. It will be interesting to see how Roberto Carlos’ Fenerbahce get along. Moscow can also be a daunting place to go in winter.

Group H:Arsenal, Sevilla/AEK Athens, Steau Bucharest, Slavia Prague

Assuming Sevilla go through (they do lead AEK Athens 2-0 after the first leg) this seems to be the weakest group of the lot. I will be amazed if Arsenal and Sevilla do not qualify from this group.  

Advertisements

Posted in Arsenal, Barcelona, Champions League, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia | Leave a Comment »

Controversial penalty, goalkeeping howlers and a shock!!

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 20, 2007

chelseapenalty.jpgThis past weekend was dubbed as the biggest of the season so far and my god it didn’t disappoint. These are the major talking points of the third week into the 2007/2008 Premiership season:

  • Everybody seems to be hounding Rob Styles (the referee that took charge of Liverpool – Chelsea yesterday) but I for one, as a neutral, thought penalty as soon as I saw the incident live on TV. Having seen the replay I now know it definitely wasn’t a penalty. As we know the referee doesn’t have the option of looking at the replay (YET) but considering his position on the pitch when the incident happened he should have made the right decision. However, being a referee in the top flight these days must be the hardest job on earth!! He has since been dropped for next weekend due to his frailties. The game finished 1 all and Chelsea will be the happier of the two with the outcome. Liverpool will be delighted Fernando Torres got on the score sheet on his home debut. Liverpool 1 – 1 Chelsea

  • Manchester City provided the shock of the weekend, somehow beating rivals Manchester United with a long range effort from Brazilian Geovanni. I say somehow due to the pressure Manchester City were under at times. In the end they managed to keep their third clean sheet in a row as well as pick up 9 points from 3 games, shooting to the top of the Premiership. Manchester United have a major game this weekend hosting Tottenham, another defeat could mean the end of their defence of their title. Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United 

  • Arsenal felt aggrieved with the final result against Blackburn considering they were leading for long spells of the match and the manner in which Blackburn equalised, a howler by Jens Lehmann. Blackburn could also point to the fact that Arsenal took the lead through Robin Van Persie via a mistake by Brad Friedel the Blackburn stopper. Arsene Wenger stated after the match that Blackburn were violent (it always is for Arsenal against the northern clubs) but as Mark Hughes rightly says it is just sour grapes from Wenger as Arsenal thought they would come away with the three points. Blackburn 1-1 Arsenal

  • At the other end of the table newcomers Birmingham and Derby find themselves in a spot of bother having only acquired 1 point from their first 3 games and most notably Bolton are in big trouble, having lost each of their first 3 games. With El Hadj Diouf and Nicolas Anelka wanting out before the transfer window closes, Bolton might well be faced with a relegation battle.

 Take note of this past weekend as not many will finish like this one, none of the supposed ‘big four’ picking up 3 points.

Posted in Arsenal, Birmingham City, Blackburn, Bolton, Chelsea, Derby County, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Premiership, Tottenham | Leave a Comment »

Premiership Champions – Chelsea??

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 16, 2007

premiershiptrophy.jpgThe long awaited Part 4 is here! Here you can see Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.

1st Position – Chelsea                          

If the rumors are to be believed, Arjen Robben will be playing for Real Madrid this season whereas Daniel Alves will become a Blue. I think this is a great move for Chelsea, not only is Robben very injury prone, Alves will give great balance to the side (being a right sided player). Florent Malouda will be Robben’s replacement, a very good one indeed. Against Birmingham City and Reading, Chelsea showed their power and quality. They were not as solid as usual but these games are an example of how Chelsea are made of champions, others wouldn’t have grinded out those 3 points. Michael Ballack and Andrei Shevchenko have had a season to adapt to the Premiership so expect better performances this year.

Key Man: Didier Drogba 

2nd Position – Manchester United 

After an amazing season last year, United have made reinforcements spending big amounts. This season I think they will just fall short though as the signings (Nani and Anderson) seem to be more for the future rather than the present. I also think Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney are too similar as a strike force, both small and very technical. There may be times when United will need to hit a long ball to ease some pressure and so a target man will be needed. I think Owen Hargreaves is a great signing as a holding midfield player and if Cristiano Ronaldo can equal last season, we are in for a real treat. They will not be far off Chelsea.

Key Man: Cristiano Ronaldo 

3rd Position – Arsenal 

Arsenal, undoubtedly play the most attractive football in the Premiership. However, this alone does not win you trophies. Arsenal are begging for a prolific striker who can bury their numerous chances. Is Eduardo Da Silva the answer? Time will tell but I think this season will be too early for him. It will be interesting to see how Arsenal will cope without their ex captain Thierry Henry. If they can pick up points at places like Blackburn and Bolton (teams who have bullied them in previous seasons) they may have a chance of challenging for the title. If they keep this young team together they will be a real force in the forthcoming seasons.

Key Man: Robin Van Persie 

4th Position – Liverpool 

There is a lot of pressure on Rafa Benitez to bring the Premiership to Anfield, if at all possible, more so than previous seasons. Liverpool have spent big this season due to the new investors and so there is a real belief within the camp this is their year. However, with there being so many players at the club it is going to be difficult to keep them all happy. Reports suggest Crouch was already unsettled after the first game of the season. They also rely too much on Steven Gerrard. I think Fernando Torres will be a great signing but he will need a season to find his feet in the Premiership. Vronin and Ryan Babel are also good signings, the latter one for the future. 

Key Man: Steven Gerrard 

5th Position – Tottenham 

Another team that have spent big and are under great pressure to at the very least equal last seasons place and close the gap with the big four. Jose Mourinho has said they are in contention to battle for the title but I think that is out of the question. The signing of Darren Bent is very peculiar, considering they already have (and kept) a very similar player in Jermaine Defoe. I still cannot see them breaking into the Champions League. They still lack quality and desperately need a left winger.

Key Man: Dimitri Berbatov

Posted in Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Premiership, Tottenham | 2 Comments »

Mind games begin…

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 25, 2007

mourinho.jpgJose Mourinho has already started his strategic mind games two and a half weeks before a ball has been kicked! This could mean two things, either Mourinho wants to take pressure off his own team or he is actually worried about what he has been seeing this summer in the transfer market. This is what he had to say,

“The pressure is a bit higher on Liverpool this time. Other years they could say ‘these guys have spent a lot so they have to win’ but now they have to talk differently. They have high expectations. In the last three years it has been Chelsea and Manchester United in the league and it has been a long time since Liverpool won the title – so they really want it. Tottenham have more players in the England squad than anybody else. They’re a very good group of players. They’ve spent money and kept all the important players, even Dimitar Berbatov, who everyone thought would leave. And they will be without pressure, so they should be there, creating a difficult situation for us. It is the same with Arsenal. There is no Thierry Henry but they were almost without him last season, too, and they have very, very good young players who they can mix with their important experienced players. Not many people expect them to do it, and that could be in their favour. They will see what happens but I think, in the back of their minds, they will believe. Manchester United have kept the same first team, basically, and have more options now with Nani, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves. If Carlos Tevez goes there, he’s another good player for them. They’ve done their work well this summer. They had money to spend, and they spent it. I know when Chelsea were spending lots of money everybody was jumping. I don’t jump because other people spend. They can do what they want with their money. They are contenders for the title, of course, but I still believe Chelsea have the best players in the world.”

Seems to be a lot of praise there for his main rivals, very unusual of Jose, maybe turning a new leaf? AND then comes that final sentence! Considering Chelsea’s quiet summer, in comparison to previous seasons, Mourinho definitely wants some pressure to be taken off his team. I am afraid this is impossible Jose. Chelsea have set a standard whereby a season without at least the Premiership or the Champions League will be classed as a failure. This is down to the amount of money that has been invested in their squad over the years hence them having the best players in the world!

Last season, Chelsea “only” won the FA Cup and the League Cup which was classed as an average season. In my opinion, everything Mourinho has said about the pressure on Liverpool winning the Premiership, well ditto about Chelsea winning the Champions League. This is the trophy Mourinho still hasn’t won with Chelsea and he is under considerable pressure to deliver it this year, even if he hasn’t spent mega bucks this summer. The pressure is not just on Liverpool to deliver the Premiership Jose, but it is also on you to deliver the Champions League.  

Posted in Chelsea, Liverpool, Premiership | 2 Comments »

Heinze to Liverpool?

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 25, 2007

heinze1.jpgNow this is not a common situation in football but here it is:

Apparently Manchester United sent Gabriel Heinze’s agent a letter stating that if a club came in with an offer of £6.8 million for him they would agree to sell him. This alerted Liverpool, with Rafa Benitez being a firm admirer of the Argentinean international. BUT Liverpool’s interest has got Sir Alex Ferguson fuming,

“I can assure you Liverpool will not be getting Gabriel Heinze. We have had a couple of offers for him and we have turned them down.”

Benitez has since hit back,

“We made an offer which they rejected. The lawyers are working on it now so we have to wait.” 

Heinze is unsettled having lost his left back spot to Patrick Evra last season and with Manchester United reinforced in that position with Mikael Silvestre as cover for Evra, Heinze is surplus to requirements. This poses the question, why will Manchester United not sell him to Liverpool?

The rivalry between these two clubs is immense. There hasn’t been a player that has transferred between them in approximately 43 years. This fierce rivalry came about back in the day when they both possessed the best teams in the country and found themselves battling to be number 1. That and them being separated by about 35 miles also has something to do with it!

Is Sir Alex Ferguson acting appropriately not allowing Heinze’s deal to go through? Should Heinze even be contemplating moving to his current clubs main rivals having become a fan favourite at Old Trafford? Do you think the transfer will go through?

Posted in Liverpool, Manchester United, Premiership | 6 Comments »