Sami spurns Stoke. Mas’s medal and Middlesbrough mutterings.

The second Saturday of the new season and it’s not often that footy is shunted off the back pages, or front if you’re posh and your paper has a sports supplement. However, as the country continues to accumulate medals in Beijing this is so.

Javier Mascherano will be going for his second successive gold as Argentina play Nigeria in the footy final. Rafa had reservations about him making the trip but obviously gave Mas his support. Mas is appreciative of this.

“If I win, I’ll especially dedicate my success to Rafa. He’s a very important person in my life. I hope to God I can take another gold to Liverpool.”

The first Liverpool player to strike Olympic gold? Not so says The Liverpool Echo. Apparently someone called Arthur Berry won gold in 1908 and 1912. However, it turns out he only played for us four times in three years. Poor, but a better appearance record than Harry Kewell!

Meanwhile it seems that Sami Hyypia has attracted the interest of Stoke City. However “interest” is all it will be as, their bid of £2.5m has been turned down. Sami is still turning out for us fairly regularly and I see no reason why we should sell him. As he was signed in 1999 he is also due a testimonial which of course he thoroughly deserves.

Apparently Sami picked up an injury whilst playing for Finland midweek so won’t be available for the Middlesbrough match today. However, it didn’t stop him showing a refreshing, candid approach last week by acknowledging that our performance today needs to be better than last Saturday’s against Sunderland, even though we got the result. He also makes a valid point about how things might have been different had we playing at home

“The first half in particular was not good enough, we know that. It was tough for us at the start of the game. They came out of the blocks really quickly and set a really high tempo, which you’d expect because it was their first home game of the season. They put us under a lot of pressure and maybe we were a little bit slow to get going.”

Dirk Kuyt also echoes these thoughts.

“The first league game of the season was always going to be tough… the most important thing for us was to work really hard and to take the three points. When you start a new season you can’t be at your best so that means you have to show the character and the togetherness to win games until you hit your real form. There is a lot of quality in this team…we know we will get better.”

Team wise Martin Skrtel is now fit and although we have Ryan Babel back from the Olympics one wonders if Rafa will throw him into the starting line up immediately? Perhaps he will have half an eye on Standard Liege this Wednesday though not to the detriment of picking of three points today one hopes. In fairness Rafa, in his pre match interview, showed no signs of this.

“When you play at home you must play well because your fans are behind you and we know that last season we drew some games we could have won and it is important to start by winning and keep the confidence high.”

Middlesbrough have proved tricky opponents for us at their place recently but we have plenty to be positive about. Although it’s a bit pointless to extend form from last season into this, we are going for or ninth consecutive home win. In contrast ‘bro are trying to avoid a ninth away game without a win. So that’s it, 3-1 to Middlesbrough! No, I’ll say 2-1 to us.

Enjoy the game and your weekend.

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