So back into Europe tonight as we take on Napoli, their first visit to Anfield.
No doubt HRH will feel relieved to get back to business after the all the coverage regarding Rafa? At least, ahead of today’s game, he was dignified enough and man enough to apologise for his part in the incident.
“If I have upset him by saying something which I certainly didn’t mean to be in any way critical or negative about his work at the club, then I would happily apologise because there was never any intention to do that”
Time to move on and The Europa league has proved a something of a safe haven for HRH and the team this season with only the dour, goalless draw in Utrecht attracting major criticism. We sit at the top of our group thanks to two away draws, against Utrecht and Napoli and convincing home win against Steaua Bucharest. However, we also have the other group results to thank for going our away. Looking at the fixture list I guess we could say that the hard work has been done? A risky statement but with two more home games and one away you would have to fancy our chances of going through? Said HRH
“I think if we can get four more points we’ll be pretty much secure for a place in the next round as I can see the other games being tight. We got one of the tougher groups with Napoli, Steaua and Utrecht and on paper it looked even, but we’ve done what we’ve needed to do.”
Prior to tonight HRH has taken the opportunity to rest key players and give youth it’s chance however, it now looks like we will send out a strong side in an effort to all but secure qualification. This is understandable even though Chelsea are waiting for us on Sunday.
Team wise the news is mixed. No Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger. In addition Kyrgiakos may miss out because a groin injury however Ryan Babel and Glen Johnson may return. Also missing will be Joe Cole who limped off on Sunday against Bolton. I don’t know what has gone wrong with Cole. He played really well in the first few games but since coming back from suspension appears to have hit the buffers form wise. Cole has been man enough to admit it.
“I’m not playing well. I’m not going to say otherwise. Whenever you have periods like we’ve had you have to deal with it. You have got to stand up and be counted, be a man. I haven’t started as well as I would have liked but I will turn it around. With every breath I take, I’m thinking of how I can change it.”
I don’t know if this is because he has been shunted out wide again. One the first favourable noises he made about coming to Anfield was that he would get the opportunity to play in a more central role? However, at present his doesn’t appear to be an option in HRH’s immediate thoughts as Miereles and Gerrard have been accommodated in that position. I believe Joe has undoubted, proven talents and like Gerrard and Torres he should be given the maximum opportunity to show them. This means building the side around him rather than shoehorning him into a “nearest fit”, “compromise” role?
Prediction for tonight? I think we will want to get this group stage qualification thing out of the way as soon as possible rather than say having to go into the last game and get something, because of this I see us going for it. Napoli didn’t really offer much in the way of trouble two weeks ago and I take us to put up a more positive home performance than they did. 2-0 to us.