Torres nets at the death

December 31, 2009

Andrea Mantegna, The Adoration of the Shepherds
“Fernando Torres scored an injury-time 50th Premier League goal for Liverpool to give his side a Champions League lifeline against Aston Villa. The Spaniard drilled a low shot across Villa keeper Brad Friedel in the 93rd minute to become the fastest player in Reds history to score a half century of league goals. It means Rafael Benitez’s side are only two points behind Villa and three adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham in the race for European places.” (ESPN)

Football transfer rumours: Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to Man City?
“It’s that time of year again, when the Mill dresses up in its windproof cagoule and sturdiest front-zip chunky fleece boots and and heads off Up West with its fishing stool and its salvaged Ben10 play tent, plus a sense of new term excitement stuffed into its polyester bumbag alongside the Pork Farms savoury breakfast slice. Taking up its spot on the pavement outside Big Transfer Talk Stores the Mill will spend the night twitching and shivering and occasionally awaking from fevered dreams of snatching the last Jason Roberts from the shelves after a wheezing 30-yard sprint and a series of eye-gouging hand-offs, or snatching a knockdown Honduran under-21 international left-winger from the claws of Steve Bruce in a sweaty, rabbit-punching clinch in the Central-American-reduced-to-clear aisle.” (Guardian –
Barney Ronay

Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano catch the eye as Italian giants line up raid on Liverpool
“Italian vultures are ready to swoop on Merseyside as Liverpool struggle to maintain their Big Four status. The Reds face a fight to hold on to star players Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano if they fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League. AC Milan are keen to make Torres their next star signing after failing to replace Kaka, Jose Mourinho dreams of having Steven Gerrard at Inter Milan and Juventus are ready to renew their interest in Javier Mascherano next summer.” (Daily Mail)

Liverpool Ends 2009 on a Positive
“Tuesday, Liverpool met Aston Villa at Villa Park, where the Reds won 1-0. The match winning goal came in the third minute of stoppage time of the second half, when a defensive error gave the ball away to Fernando Torres. The game was as messy as the snowy weather, with both sides giving away the ball easily. Liverpool dominated possession except for a short spell in the second half.” (Bleacher Report)

World Cup Moments: Zaire’s Ilunga Mwepu Deals With a Brazilian Free Kick in 1974

December 31, 2009

“You might not know the name Ilunga Mwepu. But you’ve probably seen him in action. Mwepu is the famous Zaire right back who cleared a Brazilian free kick in a 1974 World Cup group game by lashing it up the field. Before the Brazilians had chance to take it. Obviously you can’t do that. So obviously Mwepu was booked (much to his surprise, apparently). In some ways you have to credit Mwepu for his quick thinking. In other ways you have to despair at his lack of football knowledge.” (World Cup Blog)

Eastern clubs are still the poor relations in Germany

December 31, 2009

Dynamo Berlin – Vorwärts Berlin 1-1
“Twenty years after the Berlin Wall crumbled and heralded German reunification, most football clubs from the former DDR have the look of flowers in the desert. Energie Cottbus’ play-off defeat by Nurnberg in May removed the last trace of eastern representation in the Bundesliga and all the ex-Oberliga giants – Dynamo Dresden, Carl Zeiss Jena, 1.FC Magdeburg, Lokomotiv Leipzig, et al – now live a hand-to-mouth existence in the third, fourth and fifth tiers of the domestic system.” (World Soccer – Nick Bidwell)

Time for a winter break in the Bundesliga

December 31, 2009

“Fears that the Bundesliga would struggle this year to match last season’s nail-biting conclusion already seem misplaced. At the winter break only five points separate the top five clubs – and the top two are old hands at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The unofficial ‘autumn champions’ are Bayer Leverkusen, who were cruelly rechristened ‘Never-kusen’ after four second-place finishes between 1997 and 2002.” (WSC)

Decade In Review: The Top 15 Liverpool Matches of the Noughties

December 31, 2009

“Just seven days remain of this decade, and it has been another historic one for Liverpool. It feels just like yesterday that we were heralding the new millenium. This was to be the decade that Gerard Houllier led Liverpool to the Premier League title, and made them challenge on all fronts. He came close, guiding the club to second place and six trophies before he left in May 2004. Rafael Benitez took over the Frenchman’s mantle and has since made the club a force to be reckoned with once again. These two Liverpool managers of the noughties have treated us to some legends of the club (the likes of Fowler, Gerrard, Owen, and Carragher), some unforgettable moments, and some thrilling matches.” (Bleacher Report)

Abramovich’s Pitch: Frugality

December 31, 2009

“Michel Platini has found an unlikely ally in his plan for financial reform of European club football: free-spending Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Mr. Platini, president of UEFA, European football’s governing body, has introduced a new set of rules aimed at curbing the expenditure of Europe’s top clubs by barring teams from spending more than their revenues. The rules, called ‘financial fair play,’ will come into force in 2012 and would ban teams from the Champions League unless they break even on football-related business. This is to prevent clubs running up huge debts in the pursuit of success.” (WSJ)

Quotes of the decade

December 30, 2009

A Constellation Chart of Ingenious Design
“The last decade saw the final years of Brian Clough and George Best, the emergence of Jose Mourinho and the return of Diego Maradona. That quartet, along with the likes of Jens Lehmann, Sepp Blatter and, of course, Roy Keane, ensured the noughties enjoyed an array of memorable quotes throughout the years. Here is a selection of some of the most memorable, most shocking and most amusing.” (ESPN)