So here we go by the end of tonight we will know if we going into one of the most scariest but eagerly anticipated finals in the history of Liverpool Football Club.
It is a scenario that many of us have mulled over in our minds from time to time evoking a mixture of dread, if we lose and if we win… well footy wise would anything else better it? Until now this has been just talk but now it is in touching distance. The thought of it takes my stomach churn but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, that would be extreme folly.
So, let’s consider the facts. The precious, but lucky, away goal. The home advantage in the second leg. The momentum gained from Saturday’s win which might be even more relevant psychologically should they prevail tonight? The bad record at Stamford Bridge no wins and no goals under Rafa. Who looks like winning a semi final like this? Chelsea? Even Steven Gerrard admits that everything tonight seemingly points in their favour.
“I’ll be realistic and say the advantage lies with Chelsea. They’re a very good team and have been very strong at home for a long time.”
However, all this can be wiped out with one strike from us. Then the tables are turned. Nerves and the weight of expectation and anticipation sparked by the two semi final defeats against us could crush Chelsea. And what about the dilemma between attacking to make amends and the need to keep things tight at the back in case we break way and snaffle another? Said Rafa…
“If they conceded a goal the situation will still be the same – we will still need to score at least one goal. But if we score it will give them problems because they will be thinking, ‘if they score another one we will need three’ – it is a massive difference.”
Other factors that might be in our favour? John Terry is one yellow card away from missing the final. Will this be in the back of his mind as he attempts to deal with Torres? The Spaniard missed two decent chances last Tuesday. However, 30 goals suggests that this won’t go on for too long and the chances we created and domination we showed at Anfield suggest that more opportunities will come his way?
On the flip side Jamie Carragher is one yellow card away from missing the final. Will this be in the back of his mind as he attempts to deal with Drogba? The Ivorian, back from injury, will be fitter with another game under his belt and will Rafa’s “diving” comments inspire him? And Frank Lampard? I know it’s really, really crass to look at what’s happened to him and view it in terms of the game but I guess it could either way. Condolences to him and his family. Also beware Joe Cole, he was unusually quiet at Anfield
On our side Gerrard is one yellow card away from missing the final . Last week he hadn’t fully recovered from a bad neck, but is now injury free and rested. After the Arsenal game he described his performance as one of his worst in a Liverpool shirt so are we are due something big from him tonight? Although he admitted the advantage is with Chelsea, this shouldn’t be regarded as a lack of confidence on his part.
“But we have shown over the last few years that we are a very good team away from home in Europe. We really feel that we are as good as Chelsea, if not better than them. We have certainly been the better team when we’ve played them this season.”
Prediction? I’m writing this in London and it’s been raining for the last twelve hours. However, I don’t really expect it to be raining goals tonight. Does it ever when we play Chelsea? It will be usual tight stuff however, we are injury free, playing well and have confidence. Chelsea’s record has to go sometime and why shouldn’t we be the side to do it? I don’t know if it’s because the pressure’s off but I do feel pretty confident about us, more than I ever did for the previous two semis, and can see us scoring more than once to win say 2-1.
Above all we have to play without fear and believe we can do it. The outcome of last night’s semi and what lies ahead should be motivation enough?
Bring it on!