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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Liverpool firmly in hunt for £20million Spanish star

There has obviously been loads of speculation with regard to who Liverpool will or won’t be signing this summer. Most of this is hogwash, designed to sell newspapers to speculation-hungry punters, although the prospect of Valencia midfielder David Silva arriving at the club seems very real.

None other than The Guardian report that Pool fans might actually get to witness a class act in a wide position next season, with Rafael Benitez firmly in the hunt for the player, who is thought to be available at the princely sum of £20million.

Not exactly small change for a club who need to watch the pennies this summer. Does this mean that players such as Xabi Alonso, Peter Crouch and Scott Carson need to be sold for some decent cash if Benitez is to land his man? John Arne Riise has already pocketed the club a few million but they need more!

Liverpool midfielder wants to stay - will Rafa stick or twist?

It’s possibly a good thing that Xabi Alonso seems in a determined mood to stick around at Anfield. After all, it appears that we might be waiting until June 2009 for Liverpool and Aston Villa to finally agree a suitable price for Gareth Barry.

The Daily Mirror reports that the Spaniard is expecting to be at Anfield, thus pouring hot water on the speculation linking him with a move to Juventus. It’s clear that the Italian club are interested in adding the midfielder to their ranks, although Alonso has never given any indication that he wants to leave Anfield, despite it being clear that the acquisition of Barry would make it doubly difficult for him to play regularly for the Reds.

“My plans are to start next season with Liverpool.

“I signed a contract last summer and I have four more years to go, unless there is a change. We’ll see what happens.”

Sadly for Alonso, manager Rafael Benitez might need to balance the books if Barry does arrive, especially as it’s going to cost nearly £20 million for the Villa captain. Liverpool haven’t got an abundance of cash and, if they are to strengthen in other departments, their manager will have to make some difficult decisions with regard to who he lets go.

Friday, June 20, 2008


John Arne Riise's final season with Liverpool may well be remembered for THAT own goal against Chelsea but it was a rare blemish on an Anfield career that was otherwise blessed by a series of sensational highs.

As he bids farewell to Merseyside following a seven year spell with the Reds Liverpoolfc.tv takes a look back at 10 of his finest moments with the club.

Riise scores the third in the 3-0 win over Spurs on his return from injury

1. 'Super' first goal for Liverpool

Three matches into his Reds career and the former Monaco full-back went some way to showing the goal threat he would pose when he marked his return to the Stade Louis II Stadium with an effort against European Champions Bayern Munich. The Norwegian opened the scoring on 22 minutes when he applied a fine finish to Michael Owen's right-wing cross to set Liverpool on their way to a 3-2 win and ensure Gerard Houllier's men not only claimed the Super Cup for the second time in the club's history but also gave us our fifth trophy of the calendar year.

2. Derby delight

To watch this goal click here>>

An indifferent start to the Premiership campaign saw the Reds travel to Goodison Park determined to put an end to a run that had seen them lose two consecutive league matches. It was hardly the kind of fixture you would want for restoring flagging confidence and when Kevin Campbell gave the home side the lead after just five minutes it looked like Liverpool were on the verge of yet more away day misery - much to the amusement of the Everton fans. However, the Blues reckoned without the inspiration of Steven Gerrard, who drew the Reds level on 11 minutes with a sensational effort before Michael Owen converted a spot-kick on the half hour mark to give Houllier's men a half-time lead. As Everton pushed forward in search of a second-half equaliser they left gaps at the back and on 52 minutes Riise etched his name into Merseyside derby folklore when he ran half the length of the pitch before turning Steve Watson and steering a third, match-clinching goal, past Paul Gerrard.

3. "Jooohn Arnnne Riiiise! I wanna knoooooow, how you scored that goal!"

To watch this goal click here

If scoring a superb individual goal to see off neighbours Everton wasn't enough to earn Riise a place in the hearts of all Kopites, then his strike in a 3-1 mauling of Manchester United certainly was.
The Reds had already beaten their old foes in their previous three encounters and after Michael Owen had taken advantage of a defensive lapse from Wes Brown to give Liverpool a deserved lead, Riise was presented with an opportunity to double the advantage. The hosts were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box on 39 minutes allowing JAR to line up what would become known as one of his trademark rockets. As Didi Hamann touched the ball into his path the Norwegian surged forward to unleash an unstoppable 25-yard drive that seared into the top left hand corner via the crossbar to leave Fabien Barthez with no chance and Manchester United where they belong, on their knees.

4. Free-kick finesse

To watch this goal click here>>

Liverpool put one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League courtesy of a resounding 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen at Anfield.
Goals from Luis Garcia, John Arne Riise and Didi Hamann did the damage in a first knockout round win that was all the more impressive given that Rafael Benitez's side were without the suspended Steven Gerrard. With the Reds leading courtesy of Garcia's clinical 15th minute finish they were presented with a chance to double their lead 10 minutes before the interval when they won a free-kick to the right-hand side of the Anfield Road end goal. As JAR stood over the ball, fans conjured up images of that wonderful strike against Manchester United and urged him to go on and repeat it. He did not disappoint. With unerring accuracy he curled a delightful 25-yard effort inside the near post of Hans Jorg Butt's goal to send Anfield into raptures and set Liverpool on their way to a win that would avenge the quarter-final defeat of 2002.

5. Carling Cup cracker

To watch this goal click here>>

Liverpool travelled to Anfield South as many people's underdogs as Rafael Benitez and his side looked to secure their first victory over Jose Mourinho's Premiership leaders. The Reds had outplayed the Londoners in an unfortunate 1-0 defeat at Anfield on New Year's Day but few outside Merseyside expected them to emerge as League Cup winners for the eighth time in their history in Cardiff. They were right too, as we slumped to a frustrating 3-2 extra-time defeat, but not before JAR sent the travelling Kop into ecstasy with a sensational first minute opener. Fernando Morientes found space down the right flank before sending a searching ball to the far post where Riise, who had been given a left midfield berth for the contest, arrived to smash home a blockbuster of a volley from just inside the penalty area. It was the perfect start and although the Reds would go on to lose the match it was a goal that would have been worthy of winning any final.

6. The cross that inspired the comeback of all comebacks

To watch this clip click here

Hamann and RiiseWhen it comes to Istanbul everyone has a story tell. Fans delight in recalling their efforts in reaching the promised land while the players who donned the famous red shirt that day all played their role...
John Arne Riise was no different. Having been deployed on the left hand side of midfield during a disastrous first 45 minutes, JAR was moved into a left wing back role for the start of the second-half as Rafael Benitez shuffled his pack with a switch to a 3-5-2 formation. It was a change that paid almost immediate dividends and one that saw Riise provide the cross for Steven Gerrard to head the Reds back into it on 54 minutes. The Norwegian collected a pass from Xabi Alonso deep in Milan territory and after seeing his first cross blocked by a defender, he showed great composure to steady himself before flighting over a ball for the skipper to give his nod of approval to. We all know what happened after that and although JAR would go on to miss a penalty in the shoot-out he could still console himself with the fact that he had played an important role in our fifth European Cup triumph.


7. Riise rocket gives Jose the Blues

We've been here before haven't we? A semi-final of a prestigious cup competition and Jose Mourinho's Chelsea were again the side that stood between Liverpool and a major final. Twelve months earlier Luis Garcia had booked our place in the 2005 Champions League final to break Chelsea hearts and now he was it again, as the Reds ran out 2-1 winners at Old Trafford. The little Spaniard struck an audacious volley that proved to be the winning goal on 53 minutes but it was Riise's exquisite first-half free-kick that set the Reds on the road to victory. The full-back had already scored two famous free-kicks during his Anfield career and he made it a hat-trick of set-piece specials when he curled a low 20-yard effort inside the left-hand corner of the net to ensure Liverpool's semi-final hoodoo over Chelsea would continue.

Riise during the FA Cup win over Chelsea

8. Exorcising the demons of Istanbul

It's fair to say that Liverpool have given their fans their money's worth since the turn of the new Millennium. In Cup finals alone they have produced performances that have taken our breath away. Michael Owen's last-gasp winner in 2001, the nine goal Golden goal thriller in Dortmund, Istanbul, and of course, who could forget the Steven Gerrard final of 2006? In a clash with Alan Pardew's Hammers that bore an eerie resemblance to the events that transpired in the Ataturk just 12 months earlier, the Reds fought back from the dead to secure a 3-3 draw and take the match to a penalty shoot-out. For one player it was a chance to exorcise his demons. In Istanbul, Riise had opted for placement in the shoot-out, allowing Dida to make a fine save down to his right. It was miss that he admitted had haunted him ever since, and so the chance to put it right against West Ham was one he was not about to let slip away. This time he stepped up and made no mistake, hammering the ball down the middle to give the Reds a crucial 3-1 lead with Hammers keeper Shaka Hislop diving to his left. As JAR wielded away in celebration he could not hide his emotion, pumping his fists with delight before rubbing his face in relief.

9. JAR shows Chelsea no charity

To watch this goal click here>>

Liverpool kicked off the 2006/07 season hoping to add the Premier League title to the Champions League and FA Cup already won under Rafael Benitez. First up they faced reigning champions Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium and after a stern test of their credentials they emerged triumphant courtesy of goals from Riise and Peter Crouch.
JAR had made something of a habit of scoring against the Blues and he continued his rich vein of form against them when he drilled home a 25-yard blockbuster to open the scoring on nine minutes. The Reds' number six led the breakaway following a Chelsea corner and as space opened up in front of him he continued to surge forward before unleashing a fierce drive that flew into the back of the net to surprise keeper Carlo Cudicini.

Riise scores during the 2006 FA Charity Shield versus Chelsea

10. Barcelona Belter

To watch this goal click here>>

In 1976 it was John Toshack who broke Catalan hearts with a goal that set the Reds on the road to the UEFA Cup final. Fast forward 31 years and it was another John making the headlines in the Nou Camp in yet another heroic European night in Liverpool's history. It was Jar's penultimate goal in a red shirt and when you consider the context of the strike it was probably his most famous. The Reds had travelled to Catalonia as many people's underdogs for a Champions League first knockout round clash that pitted the 2005 Champions League winners against the 2006 winners. Ronaldinho and co were tipped to go on and retain their crown and it all appeared to be going to plan when they took the lead on 14 minutes courtesy of Deco's fine header. It set the tone for the majority of the first period in which the visitors endured a sustained period of Barcelona pressure before breaking clear to stun the hosts with an equaliser on 43 minutes. Craig Bellamy was the hero turned villain, arriving late at the far post to head Steve Finnan's cross into the net via a blunder from keeper Victor Valdes. It was a huge boost for Rafael Benitez and his side and after the break they played with a renewed vigour that saw them go on and claim a famous 2-1 victory. Steven Gerrard's clipped ball from the right found Dirk Kuyt in the penalty area and although the Dutchman was thwarted by Valdes, Bellamy showed great composure to lay the ball to Riise, who crashed the ball into the roof of the net from 10 yards out to claim not only a massive victory but also score his first ever goal for the Reds with his right foot.

Riise scores at the Nou Camp

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


In the second part of a revealing end of season review, Rafa Benitez reflects on what might have been and looks ahead to a summer of hard work.
Rafa Review Of The Season

There was a poor run after Christmas. What do you put that down to?

If you analyse the City game, we had three or four really good chances. Torres had two at the start of the second half. The team was really good. People talked about how well we played, so the result was a surprise. After that, Wigan at home we conceded late because of a mistake. We were not strong enough in defence during these games – we were using players too many games in a row. It was a bad run and in this time we lost the opportunity to be closer to the top.

Was the low point that 1-0 defeat at Upton Park?

Again, it's difficult to explain because in the last 20 minutes, with Lucas Leiva on the left side, we were on top. We had a corner, they cleared the ball and we couldn't stop the counter attack even with three or four players around. They got the penalty and it was so disappointing. Again, we deserved to win but we lost.

Is it in these bad times that you learn most about your players?

Yes. You can always learn when you win, but you always learn more when you lose. In a difficult year you can see the character of the players. You can also see the character of all the staff and people around. You can see if they have the winning mentality that we want.

After the FA Cup exit came Inter Milan. You've had some memorable European nights, particularly at Anfield. How does that one compare?

Maybe people don't realise how difficult it was for us to beat Inter Milan. They have won the league three years in a row. They have a lot of good players but we were better than them in both games. In the home game we attacked and attacked, yet they only had one chance. We controlled everything.

The fact you beat the Italian champions, is that evidence that the Premier League is certainly better than Serie A, and indeed all the other leagues in the world?

You have the top two teams in Europe in England. Arsenal are also a fantastic team and we are there too. I watch Spanish football and I think the Premier League is better than that and the Italian league.

You then went on a great run and were arguably the most consistent you'd been all season…

We started well and when we had Agger we were playing well. But, after all the draws, it was important to regain the confidence. We were playing really well, winning games in a row and producing good football. You could see the understanding between Gerrard and Torres, but other players were also scoring goals. As I've said, we have the spine for next season and now we need to add players in certain positions.

A lot of teams are spending a lot of money these days. Is the Premier League harder to win now than when you first arrived in England?

I think so. It's more difficult because after two years of Chelsea winning the league and spending big money, United needed to do the same. They started spending big money, and Arsenal were also spending big money on young players. We are trying to do the same but because they (Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal) are continuing to spend big money, it makes it more difficult to catch up. You also see Aston Villa, Newcastle, West Ham and Everton spending money and having strong teams. It's not easy to be in the top four and be contenders but because we have a young squad we can try again.


Dirk Kuyt hopes his headed strike in Holland's 3-0 victory over Ukraine on Saturday will be enough to earn him a place at Euro 2008.

The former Feyenoord man was dropped from the national side earlier this year but is now back in the reckoning ahead of the summer's championships in Austria and Switzerland.

Now Kuyt hopes his goalscoring exploits will be enough to keep his place when Marco van Basten cuts his 26-man squad to 23.

The striker said: "I am glad that I am part of the Holland team again.

"I think we made a good impression as a team. Only at the end of the match we got tired. That is logical looking at the efforts of the last weeks."

Kuyt believes his recent resurgence is down to a change of position which saw him shifted from centre forward to a new right-sided role by Reds boss Rafa Benitez.

"It's gone well for me," the 27-year-old said. "Sometimes things just fall into place. I had the feeling when it started that it was temporary, but it went so well we carried on.

"The way we play now for the Netherlands is very similar to the Liverpool system, and I think I have shown I can play there.

"You have players who can turn a match with one touch and players who perform in service to the team. I have no problem playing for the team.

"I feel really strong. That is the advantage of playing in the Premier League. It is the physically toughest league in the world and you only get better and stronger from playing there."

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Peter Reid has called upon Fabio Capello to hand Steven Gerrard the England captaincy on a full-time basis.

The former Everton midfielder believes the Reds skipper has the same type of talismanic quality as his old Three Lions teammate Bryan Robson and admits that if he was in the England dugout, there is no doubt who he would hand the armband to.

Reid said: "There's different types of captains but I think the inspirational ones in the middle of the park, like Robson, like Gerrard, galvanize the team when they need galvanizing.

"I think Steve Gerrard, when he has responsibility, is a better player. I'd give it [the England captaincy] to him, I think he's one of those that likes to lead from example. He's all action, he can get a goal, he can play from attack. If it was up to me it would Gerrard."

Liverpool Fc Crest

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