Thursday was one of those games. I can’ get too inspired by the performance however, to be going back to Anfield having to make up a one goal deficit is not the end of the world. Said Rafa
“It wasn’t the best performance but we were playing against a good team that were well-organised. One-nil is not the best but it could be worse, if we’d conceded a second goal, and it could have been better had we scored an away goal. The hope now is that we will play well enough in the second leg.”
In the earlier rounds we found ourselves in the same “catch up” situation against Lille and Benfica and came through at home without any problems so it’s not as if we will unused to such a challenge.
Perhaps the reason behind the luke warm response is the fact that we didn’t really do ourselves justice? We conceded a stupid goal that was entirely avoidable. After that it was fairly even if uninspiring stuff but had Benayoun’s “goal” been allowed, it should have, then 1-1 would have terrific and perhaps a more accurate reflection on the balance of play. We certainly became stronger as the game went on and, as a result, Atletico became more cautious.
Rafa lamented the lack of an away goal and my sneaking worry about the second leg is that we will feel Torres’ absence. One of many good things about the man is that he does have a knack of coming up with vital goals at vital times. Both, player and manager have been the subject of more speculation in the papers. With Rafa the Juventus link won’t go away and die whilst with Torres, more predictably, it is Manchester City.
The Rafa situation his been discussed by this blog before (click here) and to my mind nothing has changed to suggest that things have moved on. Said his agent.
“The intention of Benitez is to fulfil the contract he has until 2014”
The Torres story is simple “slot A slots into slot B” journalism. Liverpool are in a state of change and uncertainty, Manchester City have lots of money so let’s make the obvious connection. It also assumes, in my mind wrongly, that Torres will put money before football and go there. If he does leave it’s a safe bet it won’t be to City. He’ll want to win major trophies and City, for all their improvement, aren’t at that stage yet, will we want to sell to potential rival aswell?
Which brings us to Burnley today. I suppose with Manchester City and Spurs slipping up there is a small chink of light at the end of the fourth place tunnel? All we can do is to keep going and hope that this gets bigger. Two of our three remaining games are against the bottom three, today and then Hull on the last day. In-between there is Chelsea, a match with won’t be looked at too much in respect of our fourth place prospects. Hell, how will it feel to beat Chelsea do the Mancs a massive favour but still fail to get fourth?
Although Burnley’s form has been wretched of late it is just the sort of game we are likely to slip up at. Injuries, now Ngog is looking dubious with a dodgy back, and the fall out from a tiring week could make things difficult? Added to that is the fact that if Burnley lose they will be relegated. No doubt we will remember Yossi’s hat trick in the 4-0 earlier this season (click here for report) but perhaps those who are longer in the tooth might care to remember Djimi Traore’s own goal that knocked us out of the FA Cup in 2005! Why do I smile when that is mentioned, I didn’t at the time?
Prediction? The say stats don’t lie Burnley haven’t kept a clean sheet since October and Brian Laws’ record with them isn’t impressive losing 13 out of 16. However, there should be no room for complacency but I take us, after a bit of a struggle, to win by 2-1.