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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Arsene Wenger - sign up Saha for our strikerless team!

Watching Arsenal play Man Utd was a lot like watching Murray play Federer in the Australian Open final. Playing the strongest in your sport are the times when your weaknesses are highlighted, and cannot be covered up. Deficiencies will be exploited. Flaws will be capitalised upon. There is less opportunity for a second chance.

Murray found today that although he is very good, against the best he needs to have the best shots to take crucial break and set points; and he isn't quite there yet. Similarly, Arsenal playing against Man Utd today without a recognised striker, found a fatal limitation in their game that can't be covered up like when playng against the likes of Bolton or Portsmouth.

With the lack of a lethal finisher, the chances that were created early on were not taken. Meanwhile, Rooney - playing the best football of his young career - scored the killer second goal for a Man Utd side that thoroughly deserved their comprehensive win. How Arsenal would have loved a striker of the quality of Rooney in their team today!

It will be a real shame if Arsenal's determined challenge this season in the league and champs league was to falter because of the lack of a top quality striker to convert chances against the best teams: the teams you need to beat to win trophies. But, with Wenger saying he is unlikely to get a striker by the close of the transfer window tomorrow, that may well be the case this season.

If I was part of Arsene's back room staff I would demand that we buy a striker to aid the team. In particular, I would say that we go all out for Louis Saha (who is out of contract in the summer). Eligible for the champs league, a natural striker, a good goal-scorer, has big team and big match experience, is relatively cheap: we should give Moyes an offer he can't refuse.

A strikerless team is just not good enough when it comes to competing against the best of the best. Its quite an obvious statement - and hopefully it won't become the headline of our season.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rafael Benitez: What ARE you feeling for Liverpool FC?

Frustration doesn't do justice enough to my feelings right now. I'm not acting on a knee-jerk after the game, this has been the poorest season for many decades, much less since Rafael Benitez' reign. He started well, very well, continued with another cup win, even took us into another Champions' League final which we should have won. Since then we have declined and not even the purchase of one of the best strikers in Europe, alongside having anchored the presence of one of the best central midfielders in Europe, has excelled Liverpool Football Club enough at home nor in Europe.

I have campaigned for Benitez to have longer time; for fans to have more patience. I have sieved through the countless wind-up merchants who speak rather through hope than intellect. I have sat through a number of poor performances this season, last season, seasons before, which have cost us. We should have won the title last season, we was that close. Benitez instead chose, at the wrong time, in the wrong way, to respond to 'words' from another manager. When in fact Benitez should have damn well responded by urging his players to do the responding on the pitch. Not in public.

He gets himself involved with words from the club owners; from Martin O'Neill. Does he relish doing so? Liverpool Football Club always, always maintained its discussions, either with another party or in-house, behind closed doors. We don't want the press to highlight and pound on and kneed and squeeze on any little rumour to do with LFC, that allows the public to read and the players to find out. We have a manager who is that tactically good to win trophies, get players playing well, that Real Madrid wanted him. But it seems his bullish approach to anything or anyone who he perceives is perching against him has him coming over rather flushed than composed.

How many good players does Chelsea have? Is Carlo Ancelotti having a problem managing and encouraging them to play well? Not since the season began but maybe at the moment. Arsene Wenger, does he have an issue in conveying his thoughts to them? We held them until half-time at Anfield in the league and then just capitulated whereas the Arsenal players didn't stop. Now we have a Reading side, coming to Anfield, little fear, bottom of the Championship, no manager, and yet they churn out a display that clearly warranted victory and we didn't. And we're the ones at home, at a fortress of a ground, with the manager, especially one who was sought after by one of the best teams in Europe.

Look at the players we have. Right now, they aren't worthy of playing in the red shirt, not one bit. Players moan and groan they are not getting picked, not starting, but what have they done when they have started? What is it with Benitez that he doesn't see the players who are playing rubbish, who we see? Is it he cant do anything with them because he has no funds to grab hold of to bring better players in? It isn't my job to assess the players, as a fan my job is to cheer and support the team to victory. But when you look at Philip Degen, Lucas Leiva, Andriy Voronin, you can see they are not performing well enough to inspire the team.

Ryan Babel is tenacious and eager to fire and fight for the team, and we've seen him just miss very good chances to score, as well as seen him fire good chances into the goal. We should employ him far more often than we do. My goodness, Leiva should be getting some real grit and fight in him on loan to the Championship (certainly tonight, the Reading players have shown how you fight whilst in Championship mode). Our defence has been affected to tatters, there is little to no cohesiveness, the stability we had has been rattled, for some bizarre reason. And it is there we have to strengthen first before we look anywhere else. We're not scoring, we sure as hell shouldn't be conceding. And i have no confidence whatsoever in Mauricio Pellegrino as First Team Coach. None.

I earmarked this game for a good 3-1 or 3-0 win, thought that Liverpool would conjure up the spirit we have and play a thorough game to Reading. Forget about Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard coming off, we should be having the type of players who can still do a job, if not THE job. What does it now take for Benitez to either change something in the side that has been bugging them since pre-season or change something within himself? This is the opportunity to be very glorious with a side that has been asleep far too long and should be waking up fresh and vibrant for a campaign of continuous great playability and even greater achievements.

An Aston Villa side or an Everton side would have given more guts out there tonight, on balance of how we played. Anything that can go wrong is doing that very well this season, without an iota of why. It's ridiculous. Out of Europe so early, out of the title race, out of the FA Cup and the league cup, it's happening too often and too readily. Why does he persist in playing Dirk Kuyt on the right so often? Yes, he has come in with a few goals and assists, but what would he have achieved playing so often upfront? Why persist in playing Leiva so often? He is not strong enough for the EPL.

He has Gerrard, Torres, Reina, die-hard Carragher (though I think this should be his last season as he looks quite flustered and is hanging on until the last drop of energy is sapped out of him before he retires), good wingers in Babel and Yossi Benayoun, Javier Mascherano, a good defender in Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson, why waste time in deploying players who are not living up to this level of players?

Well, right now, we are a laughing stock of the EPL. Commentators and pundits can't wait to nudge up the notch on our expectations, debt talking, Torres and Gerrard leaving stupid little tidbits and the rest of it. We can only put that to bed and improve our playability at the same time by winning games, all of them. I don't think Emiliano Insua is a good enough left-back, Fabio Aurelio acts in the interim between there and left wing and I think he should feature much more at left-back. I think someone else should play between Torres like Kuyt, and not Gerrard, who should go into central midfield. Players fitness pending, we should field a side like this:







I just had a feeling that with extra-time we would shoot ourselves in the foot, it's not the only home defeat where we've led only to surrender. The goal was even a deflection, and we made no in-roads towards their goal to warrant scoring another, that's another thing. We would work towards the goal and score and repeat. Now we're scoring one goal and seem to be stuck in doing it again. We're not attacking well enough, the sharpness, the keenness, eye for the pass, eye for goal, has dwindled, and if Rafael Benitez isn't going to pick up on it and face whatever it is that is causing these woeful, pathetic performances, then he has to go.

These players need to know about themselves and that they are expected to perform 10x what they have so far. To be honest, I am looking at Man City as strengthening themselves for that top 4 finish, they don't look a side easy to draw, much less, win, against and they have a good manager with financial backing behind him to maintain that course. Liverpool FC right now look to be finishing 5th or 6th if we don't buck up and get a rocket up ourselves to wake up out of this dull cloud and get back to playing how we should, and have done. With Benitez.



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