Well what a weekend. Very eventful in everyone’s eyes? Not if you are a Liverpool fan where it was ultimately fruitless as The Mancs also produced a last minute comeback.
My impression is that we have good momentum and, despite the nature of Saturday’s win, it continues. In fact the nature of the result may have increased it. The crowd reaction at the end of the game was amazing and you could see what the goal also meant to the players. We march on? Had the Mancs lost or drawn against Villa perhaps they would have caved in? I doubt it, they are not Champions for nothing and they must have taken heart from their result, which was also achieved with a severely weakened team, even though again they have shown themselves to be more fallible than many people first thought? Last nights result against Porto, albeit over legs, must have added grist to the mill? One suspects that there are more thrills and slip ups to come and all we can hope for at this stage is that we make less than the Mancs!
Yesterday Rafa suggested The Mancs were “scared” of us which is really setting himself for a fall however, who can blame him for giving Fergie a taste of his own medicine? Rafa said
“It is not mind games, I think it maybe is that he is a little bit scared (of us).”
Mind games? I think that’s exactly what it is. Although half of me would prefer Rafa to kept quiet for fear of the pratfall the other says why shouldn’t he bite back? What is source for the goose…? One thing is certain and that is Rafa’s assertion that Fergie
“talks too much about other teams”
If only more managers would bite back then Fergie might stop being a busybody and reconsider poking his nose into other teams business and adopt a, more needed after recent results, inward approach? Success does not give him the right to judge others in the way he has (arrogantly) done this season.
But before the next chapter, on and off the field, there is the small matter of tonight’s Champions League quarter final against Chelsea. It seems strange that because of the title talk, this has almost crept up on us. It would be nice to avoid Chelsea not just because they are a good side but also because I’m blo*dy fed up with us playing them! This is our ninth meeting in Europe and our twenty third since Rafa took over five years ago. However, on the positive side if we don’t know them by know we never will. Jamie Carragher also puts on a positive spin.
“We’ve got a great record against Chelsea this season and if we play the way we have done against them in the two league matches then we know we can go through the fact we did the double against them might give us that extra confidence.”
True but we need to be mindful that, since our victories this season, the circumstances have changed. For a start they’ve new manager, Chelsea’s form has picked up and this is a two legged tie. Rafa faces a number of dilemmas. Today we will be weakened in midfield due to suspension of Mascherano, whilst Chelsea have been recently strengthened by the return of Michael Essien from injury, Drogba is also back. Will Rafa, mindful of this, be tempted to drop Steven Gerrard back from his more forward role? Many will say he can’t afford to do this as we need a lead to take to Stamford Bridge but in this instance I’m not so sure. Rafa and the team will believe they can win, away, or at home?
On the other hand in both league games we had plenty of success by attacking down the flanks and forcing their full backs to defend. Perhaps Rafa will deploy these tactics at home and keep Gerrard in a more advanced role with Torres but then again there is always the risk of getting hit on the break. Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has gone on record in saying his team will attack. Many will say Rafa can’t afford to be too cautious as we need a lead to take to Stamford Bridge however, in this instance I’m not so sure. Rafa and the team will believe they can win, away, or at home? Hang on, I’ve said this before (see previous paragraph) so I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it’s difficult to call. Said Rafa himself…
“It is not a good time for either of us to be playing each other, It is a big challenge for both teams. They have a good team with experience and a manager with experience. This game is 50-50. I have great respect for a massive club and a very good team. We are both playing in big competitions. We are both big teams and it will be down to just one or two mistakes. Keeping a clean sheet is important in the first game for both teams, I would prefer to play at Anfield second, but that is not the case so we must get on with it.”
All one can hope for is that the team plays as well as they have been playing recently and that they do themselves justice?
Prediction? Hell, there are easier things. I have no idea but I feel, no hope, Rafa will instruct his players to go for it just as he did against Real. It’s the first time since God knows when that we have gone into April with genuine chance of more than one piece of silverware. Now is the time to take a few risks and have faith in our talent instead of suppressing its potential in favour of percentages. At the moment we are as good as any side so let’s prove it? 2-0 to us with Torres getting at least one!