Tag Archives: Pepe Reina

Liverpool dominates Aston Villa

6 Dec

Liverpool showed that it can put on a strong performance without stars Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres on Monday, defeating Aston Villa, 3-0.  Torres was not scheduled to miss the game,but his wife went into labor, which clearly takes priority.  It was a comprehensive victory for the Reds, who dominated much of the game.  LFC wasted no time in scoring as David N’Gog and Ryan freakin’ Babel netted goals two minutes apart in the 14th and 16th minute, respectively.  In all fairness, Aston Villa did not exactly put up much of a fight.  The visitors were disorganized, especially on set pieces.  N’Gog was unmarked in the box off a corner kick when he scored.  Martin Skrtel and Sotirios Krygiakos both had chances off set pieces as well.

The French teen also added an assist in the second half, setting up a goal from Maxi Rodriguez in the 55th minute.  It was a solid performance for Liverpool, who moves up to eighth with the win, topping West Brom on goal difference.  Pepe Reina did not have much to do, but his touch on a cross in the second half kept a sure goal from Villa out of the net.  With the shutout, Reina earned his 100th clean sheet in 198 league games.  That’s a pretty impressive stat.

The Reds play at Newcastle next week.  Yes, the same Newcastle that sacked Chris Hughton earlier today.  I think Dan Snyder has taken over ownership at St. James Park as this is exactly the type of stunt he would pull.  Why did they do this?  The man only led Newcastle back to the Premier League and has the team sitting in 12th place and has notched wins over both Chelsea and Arsenal.  Yeah, the team lost to West Brom over the weekend, but guess what, every team has bad games.  It’s not yet clear who the new manager will be, but hopefully if there’s someone in place by Saturday, Liverpool will start his tenure off with a loss.

Advertisements

Liverpool’s performance leaves much to be desired

18 Oct

I was in Chicago for the weekend to see the Chicago Fire-D.C. United game Saturday, so I made my way to The Globe Pub* for Sunday’s derby against Everton.  It was so fantastic getting to share in the misery of another crappy performance with other Reds fans. (That would be sarcasm, people.)  Now Liverpool might have played terribly, but Everton deserves credit for a solid performance. They fully deserved the win.

Liverpool, on the other hand, fully deserved to lose. It was another passion-less performance. If you can’t get up for a derby match, then there’s little hope for any other game.  The first half was particularly bad and the second was only marginally better. They couldn’t string passes together, the service was terrible and the field was too crowded in the middle.  Joe Cole and Maxi Rodriguez kept gravitating towards the center, which in turn gave Steven Gerrard and Raul Meireles less room to operate. Liverpool hasn’t been able to get much going down the flanks  at all this season and that’s one of several things that needs to change if they are going to turn things around.

Fernando Torres clearly has zero confidence and it shows. Opportunities he would have buried last year are taken a half-second too late. His touch has failed him too and the man can’t beat a defender to save his life right now.  Although it must be said that he’s not exactly getting phenomenal service or support right now, even his chemistry with Gerrard has been thrown off-kilter.

Tim Cahill’s opening goal came after he was left unmarked six yards out from goal. Generally it’s not a good idea to leave the other team’s top goal scorer wide open.  You could sense the goal coming and Liverpool would have been very lucky to go into half at 0-0.  Mikel Arteta’s goal in the second half was really quite spectacular and Pepe Reina had no chance at making that save.

The Reds did get some half-decent chances in the second half, but overall, the play around the penalty box was extremely poor. They would be able to string some passes together to build up an attacking chance, but once they hit the top of the 18, it all broke down, whether it was an errant pass or a bad touch.

The bubble of elation of finally getting rid of Hicks and Gillett was popped pretty quickly Sunday.  New owner John Henry was in attendance at Goodison Park and had to be thinking, ‘Really? This is the team I just bought?’  The Reds are currently 19th and based on their current form, fully deserve to be in the bottom three.

After the game, Roy Hodgson said that the players were “under pressure”, as if that’s a legitimate reason for being terrible. Every player at the top level of the game is under pressure.  That was a really lame excuse for another sorry performance, Roy.  You have a lot of work ahead of you to get this team back on track.

*As a soccer fan, The Globe is amazing. It’s a good thing I don’t live close by, otherwise I’d be broke. It’s open 24/7 and shows games live from all over the world. It’s also home to the Chicago branch of the LFC Supporter’s Club, who raffled off a signed Jamie Carragher jersey after Sunday’s game. (And I was only four numbers off winning, damn.) Of course, the Globe is not only about the soccer, but also shows rugby, Aussie Rules, and many other sports.

Liverpool manages draw in season opener

15 Aug

Well that was a dramatic way to start the season: two reds, a late equalizer and some questionable refereeing decisions.

Thoughts on the game:

  • I have no problem with Joe Cole’s red card.  Yeah, it’s a crappy way to start his Anfield career, but it was a pretty reckless challenge.  This was one of those tackles that could have gone yellow or red.
  • David N’Gog’s goal was superb.  What a great strike.  It’s nice to see him coming out of the shadow of Fernando Torres.  The young Frenchman has tallied four goals in three games.
  • Pepe Reina kept Liverpool in the game with some really nice saves.  It’s too bad his day was totally ruined by an own goal in the dying moments.  He got lucky when the ball bounced off the post, but couldn’t control the rebound and spilled it into the goal.  It was an out of character error for him, so I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
  • Fernando Torres didn’t start, but it was good to see him get some playing time (and not get hurt in the process).  He didn’t have any spectacular chances, but it’s only a matter of time before he gets back in form.
  • Javier Mascherano played a very solid game in the midfield.  Even though he might want to leave Liverpool, he still played with passion.  You have to like that.  
  • Even though the team gave up a late equalizer, there was an intensity about this Liverpool squad that was lacking last year.  I feel very positive about what this team is capable of this year; there should be definite improvement over last season’s debacle.

Spain announces final roster

20 May

Current world No. 2 and World Cup favorite Spain has announced its final 23-man roster for South Africa.  Spain will be hoping that Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas will be healthy in time for the competition.  As of right now, both are on track with rehab and should be fit for Spain’s opening game against Switzerland on June 16.  It’s interesting to note that Torres and Fabregas, along with Pepe Reina, are the only players to ply their trade outside of Spain.  It probably doesn’t mean anything, but I find it interesting.

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona).

Defenders: Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), David Silva (Valencia), Xavi (Barcelona).

Forwards: Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Juan Mata (Valencia), Pedro (Barcelona), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), David Villa (Valencia/Barcelona)

Disappointing season for Liverpool

10 May

How fitting, a disappointing season came to a disappointing end for Liverpool with a 0-0 draw with relegated Hull City. The Reds finished seventh, which was bitter to swallow after a runner-up finish in 2008-09. Random fact: Chelsea won the league this year with 86 points. Last year, Liverpool was second with, you guessed it, 86 points.

There has been so much off the field drama at Liverpool this season that it’s overshadowed what needed to be done on the pitch. Hopefully, the club will get sold to someone who actually wants to improve it and will work towards getting Liverpool back to the top four. Of course, there’s the issues with Rafa and whether or not he’ll be leaving the club. There’s still many, many issues to be resolved, but now that the season is over, the focus can turn towards the future.

There were a few bright spots for Liverpool this season, mainly on the defensive side. The Reds only allowed 35 goals, third fewest in the league behind United (28) and Chelsea (32). Pepe Reina ended up with 22 clean sheets (18 in Premier League play), including shutouts of top four sides Manchester United and Tottenham. On the offensive side, despite only playing 22 league games, Fernando Torres notched 18 goals to finish tied for sixth overall.

Of course, there were some struggles as well. Steven Gerrard was not nearly the dominant force he was the previous season and only notched nine goals (I attribute this to missing Torres, his partner in crime/lover.) Offensively, the team struggled to put the ball in the back of the net when Torres was injured (which was more often than not). As a whole, the squad was not nearly as disciplined. After a red card free 2008-09, Liverpool picked up five this year, including two by Javier Mascherano. And as much as I hate to come back to it, the team never adequately replaced Xabi Alonso in the midfield. Because of that, the Reds were not able to control the middle of the field on a consistent basis.

Who knows what the coming months will bring, but hopefully it will be some modicum of sanity to Anfield.

Reina inks new deal with Liverpool

9 Apr

Goalie Pepe Reina has signed a new contract that will keep him at Anfield for the next six years.  He joins Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger as players that have signed long-term deals with Liverpool.

It’s a good move by Liverpool as Reina is only 27 and has many quality years ahead of him.  With that core of players, Liverpool has the potential to do some great things.  The main question will be whether they can bring in top tier players to compliment those guys.  The team is going to have to spend some money on quality players this summer if they want to make any noise about a title next season.

United finally beats Liverpool

22 Mar

Apparently, the fourth time was the charm for Manchester United. The Red Devils defeated Liverpool, 2-1, in Premier League play for the first time since the 2007-08 season. It is also the first time in the teams’ last four meetings that United defender Nemanja Vidic hasn’t been sent off (although he did pick up a yellow card).

Liverpool took an early lead on a Fernando Torres header, but United tied the game on a Wayne Rooney penalty rebound later in the half. Of course, the penalty call was somewhat controversial as it’s hard to tell whether Javier Mascherano’s foul on Antonio Valencia was inside the box or just outside. (Personally, I think it was outside, but I’m slightly biased.) Pepe Reina made a nice save on the initial shot, but the rebound fell right to Rooney, who doesn’t miss many like that. Ji-sung Park scored the game-winner for United early in the second half.

It was a big loss for Liverpool as they desperately need wins to stay in the hunt for the final Champions League spot. Currently, they are four points adrift of Tottenham, who sits fourth, and fifth place Manchester City. The Reds have played 31 games, while Tottenham is at 30 and Manchester City is at 29. It will be a tall order for Liverpool to climb back up in the table with only seven league contests remaining.