Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Maccabi Haifa 1-1 Liverpool

Just the other day, I was proudly proclaiming how strong our squad was. Unfortunately it seems they're dropping like flies, as Warnock and Sissoko are added to the injured list of Riise and Carragher. This is leaving us seriously short in defence, and down the left side (with Kewell also out thanks to the World Cup). It looks like Aurelio and Gonzalez will be getting plenty of opportunity to establish themselves in the side - though Agger, Garcia and Zenden can deputise if necessary.

Particularly worrying is the thought that Sissoko's knee injury could be serious - if it's anything like Owen's he could miss the whole season. His absence last year with an eye injury resulted in a significant downturn in our fortunes, and exit from the CL. Now, we don't even have Hamann as back up, so despite the fact we've already spent the money on Kuyt we may be forced to go shopping again if it's serious (a Gary McAllister figure would be ideal, if anyone knows one available...)

As for the game itself, Haifa gave us a few scares - a disallowed goal, their equaliser and forcing a great save from Reina with ten minutes to go - but generally we created more and better chances, mostly falling to Garcia. A satisfactory performance to secure qualification. For the third season running, it hasn't been smooth, but it's the result that matters.

Despite a few detractors recently, Hyypia marshalled the backline well. His lack of pace is sometimes exposed, but he's so important in dictating our defensive line, winning everything in the air and posing a goal threat from corners. While this may be his last season as first choice, I don't think he's about to lose his place in the immediate future.


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