Sunday, August 13, 2006

Liverpool 2-1 Chel$ki

Granted, this was just a glorified pre-season friendly, as Rafa underlined by resting Gerrard, Alonso and Hyypia to the bench. And in fairness Mourinho was right in pointing out his players were behind in their pre-season and obviously lacking the sharpness Liverpool's had. (Though But the suggestion that this was the difference between Sissoko and Fat Frank is ludicrous...) But it's always nice to beat Chelsea. Especially when the first trophy of the season is at stake.

Reports this morning had linked Chelsea with a £15m bid for Riise, that actually sounded pretty tempting - we have Aurelio and Warnock for the left-back position, and could probably ask for Bridge or Gallas as part of the deal - but he showed just what he gives us with a great goal. It took a bit longer than the 43-second opener from the 2005 League Cup Final, but this time he picked up the ball on the edge of the Liverpool area (from a Chelsea corner), ran almost the length of the pitch down the RIGHT, and then cut inside and launched a screamer from 25 yards. Cudicini probably should have done better, but early contender for goal of the season imho...

Liverpool, for my money, had the better of the first half, with Sissoko immense in midfield. Unfortunately, Shevchenko levelled just before the stroke of half-time. He showed some good touches, and will be a good signing for the short term, though at his age I think £30.8M was over the odds (even if Chel$ki can afford it). The young striker Kalou I thought might be a better signing for them, but I didn't really see much of him.

The second half was less exciting, but as Liverpool were able to bring on the big guns - Gerrard, Alonso and Bellamy - it was the latter who set up the winning goal for Crouch to evade Terry and head past Cudicini. Nice for the much maligned Crouch to score against the rivals who've knocked him (as against Man Ure last season). The fact that Terry allowed such an obvious target (and probably the only red in the box) a free header is pretty ominous for England too - and he let Aurelio in too, soon after. With the main personality rivalry having switched, for now at least, from Gerrard vs. Lampard to Gerrard vs. Terry it was nice to see our man come out on top again.

At the end of the day, however, the up-coming matches against Sheffield United and Haifa will be more important, and possibly more taxing. But the Shield's a good way to start a season that will hopefully end with silverware too. (My minimum for a satisfactory season: Prem top 4, CL quarter final, good domestic cup run)

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