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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Liverpool v Chelsea - the Hand of God II

Mexico City, Mexico, the Estadio Azteca stadium, 22nd June 1986. The venue held the quarter-final of the World Cup competition between Argentina v England. Jorge Valdano played a return pass to the advancing Diego Maradona, Steve Hodge aimed to clear but the ball spun into the air, 6ft plus Peter Shilton came out to punch it and was clear favourite to do so over a 5ft 6in Maradona, yet when Maradona jumped up his left hand was clearly in the air level with his head, formed a fist and made contact with the ball, the ball dropped and rolled into the net, a goal was given. Astonishment was an understatement in describing the reaction of those who watched the game, much less the England players. Maradona went on to label the contact, 'The Hand of God' and revealed some years later in his autobiography that it was a deliberate handball, and this year stated it was in retaliation to the British triumph in the 1982 Falklands War.

Last night's venue was Anfield, Liverpool, between Liverpool and Chelsea, and something of a different kind of war hyped as expected by the media. Chelsea, unofficially or otherwise, aimed to exact revenge for being hard done-by last season in the same venue, same competition. Mourinho then claimed the best team lost. Last night, the best team didn't win, it drew instead, and their players were not dressed in blue and white. Mourinho stated the home side would normally be unhappy with a point but Liverpool would be after last night, and once again he was severely wrong. We were not happy with a point, why we came at Chelsea last night. We had the first 30 mins, waned after then until the half time whistle and then came at them again in the second half.

Chelsea had two chances in the first half, Frank Lampard's free-kick saved by Pepe Reina, and Arjen Robben cutting in off the right onto his left to follow with an effort which Reina tipped over. We had a penalty shout when Peter Crouch headed down into the box, Didier Drogba appeared to make contact on Sami Hyypia, he certainly made none on the ball. Ref Massimo De Santis made the dubious decision of a corner, adding more irony to the moment that had an attacker defending against a defender attacking.

In the second half, Luis Garcia emerged onto a bouncing ball quicker than Paulo Ferreira and the Portuguese defender held onto the Spaniard slightly to deter his run, a run which otherwise could have allowed Garcia to reach the ball before Petr Cech. But the main focus point was 5mins after, Steven Gerrard swung in a corner and Jamie Carragher rushed ahead of Richardo Carvalho to head towards goal, William Gallas clearly shown to move his arm towards the flight of the ball and blocked it away. Not even horses have hooves cast in such iron as that penalty claim, with the ref in an excellent position to see it, even at the speed of play. The Hand of God emerged with a sequel, 'The Hand of God II: The Arm of Bill'.

After that there was a coming together between Carragher and Hyypia 15mins from time which saw a loose ball roll for Damien Duff, but Reina came out to palm it away well in case the Irishman wanted to state he was fouled in the box. Then some five minutes after, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, on for Djibril Cisse, beat Lampard to the by-line and cut back, but it evaded any Liverpool player and was cleared, only to Xabi Alonso, who chest controlled and then aimed a volley, comfortably dealt with by Cech. Gerrard ended the bout with a free-kick over the goal.

Mourinho has been quoted in the media, a summary of which is that he wasn't ecstatic but hadn't lost so was content with the point, found the midfield was powerfully packed on both sides, aimed to win the game with the changes of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Hernan Crespo, and then aimed to level the "basketball" system we apparently have, with Robert Huth in injury time. Rafael Benitez stated before the game that Liverpool have two strong factors, their confidence and the fans, going into the game and neither disappointed Liverpool last night. Considering the reaction expected from Chelsea, it is they who are happy with the point while Liverpool were left to look back on three penalty claims, one of them crystal clear, denied. Statistics show that which Mourinho evidently failed to comprehend:


Liverpool ----- Chelsea
1 Shots on target 1
8 Shots off target 5
2 Blocked 1
6 Corners 3
18 Fouls 23
0 Offsides 2
1 Yellow Cards 4
72.2 Passing Success 64.9
30 Tackles 29
90 Tackles Success 79.3
54.2 Possession 45.8
56.5 Territorial Advantage 43.5



The game clearly was in our favour, though there was little between the two, especially with reference to the statistics. Unlike Mourinho, we will not dwell on what could have or should not have been, we move on. To Sunday.


RedsMan.

9 Comments:

Blogger T said...

Excellent article Redsman. I wonder why Mourinho always seems able to speak on behalf of Liverpool fans/players/manager?!

The Gallas handball was a clear penalty. Chelsea sure have had the luck of the draw in the opening weeks of this season. If there is any truth in the old cliche that 'decisions/luck even themselves out during the course of the season', then Chelsea are going to have some nasty surprises to come.

The talk before the game was that both teams would rather take a win in the game coming up on Sunday. Given Chelsea's lacklustre performance I can't help but think they were saving themselves for the Premiership encounter. It was definitely a case of 'boring, boring Chelsea' last night.

I have a question to Redsman and other Pool fans: do you think your team can score against Chelsea on Sunday? Aside from set-pieces- I can't see who and how you will do it playing 4-5-1.

9/29/2005 6:44 pm

 
Blogger SKG said...

Great article Redsman. Liverpool once again outplayed Chelsea without getting their just rewards. There's no doubt that the blues hate playing Liverpool, especially at Anfield, whereas the reds love playing Chelsea. I think on Sunday everyone will see an even better Liverpool performance. I just hope, for the sake of keeping the Premiership interesting and putting one over on Mourinho, that Liverpool thump Chelsea on Sunday. We're due a few goals! As far as 4-5-1 goes, trust Benitez - he knows what he's doing.

9/29/2005 8:57 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

T, I feel we are capable of scoring from any formation, merely it is down to the players to get into the position and strike. So we can score from the 4-5-1 but I strongly feel and urge RB to use the 4-4-2, which is something I feel he is staying away from until Morientes is fuly fit, therefore he can risk two strikers from the start. Otherwise I leave all to Mr Benitez.

At the moment he is concentrating on strengthening the players' play, defending and holding possession around the oppoentn's area. We were not fortuitous against Birmingham as that ball was going in but for Kilkenny's hand, which emphasises that we can get back into the game if behind. Crouch and FSP, Cisse, Garcia, Alonso, Gerrard are ones I'd expect, if at all, to score.

Overall, I'm waiting for Sunday, that should speak for itself more than my words right now. The main thing is Liverpool are confident and know now what it takes to stifle Chelsea.


RedsMan.

9/29/2005 9:31 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Thanks Redsman and SKG.

I liked Carrager's post match interview about how his club has dignity and will not go on about controversial decisions- nice dig at Mourinho!

9/30/2005 12:43 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Precisely, which emphasises what I said about moving on. RB focuses the players to the next match, not comments that mean nothing if ignored. Even Petr Cech said on Sky Sports that if Chelsea were to home in with vengence, they will not be focused for the win.


RedsMan.

9/30/2005 3:15 pm

 
Blogger Skippy said...

I was also delighted with Carragher's post match interview. I like that about Liverpool a lot, always humble in victory and defeat.

Mr Mourhino on the other hand constantly moans

9/30/2005 6:00 pm

 
Anonymous Abdul said...

Nice article Redsman. This match had 0-0 written all over it - but things obvioulsy could have been different if decisions had gone Liverpool's way.

The match on Sunday though will be a lot more important in shaping the season.

10/01/2005 12:13 am

 
Anonymous Ton said...

Moaninho just doesn't know when to shut up. No filter between brain and piehole. Or was it planned, similar to Fergie's tactics, to hide the fact that he was outmanaged and team outplayed? Overall, he's gotten the better of Arsenal and ManU, but Liverpool have been his bugaboo side. In any case, no dignity. My old geography teacher used to call it diarrhea of the mouth. You're right, redsman, I think Benitez and Carragher have made it clear they won't be drawn into any mindless slagging match.

10/01/2005 2:45 am

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

And, as RB suggested, Mourinho's comments show signs of concern, for he certainly aims to retort. One win and two draws in six encounters, he says, quickly, but doesn't hasten to state that all wins came at a goal difference of one, the one needed to win any game.

From the first match, therefore, Liverpool have shown to be near to matching Chelsea, and that Chelsea, particularly with reference to the Anfield league game, were fortunate, and were held out in the League Cup Final until 10mins from time. Mourinho was asked of his opinion regarding the Gallas handball and he said he needed to see it on replay. So he has not yet, up to now, seen the replay, or it is so clear he wishes not to comment knowing how fortunate, yet again, Chelsea were.

Mourinho has yet to perceive that his 'shhh' moment has come to continually haunt him. His excuse at the time was clearly damage limitation but it was too late. His chink of armour is penetrable and he felt that it could not be, with the squad of players he has. With a side like Liverpool he felt he could trounce us, believing in the media hype, underestimating the hard resolve RB has aimed to install into the team.

We are bigger than the glitz of wealth and high glamour. We are Liverpool Football Club. When I am convinced Mourinho is here for the club, not for himself, then I'll consider he has the club at heart. I'd rather we play with heart than for little else.


RedsMan.

10/01/2005 10:52 am

 

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