Chelsea @ Anfield, 21st April 2013 1600 UK time

Sunday 21st April 2013

Apologies for the late sending of this email but I am travelling to the game!

Thanks to www.tomkinstimes.com – Grown-up views & intelligent discussions on Liverpool FC

LOCAL NEWS

BAHRAIN – LFC Bahrain will be meeting at Tracks in the Crown Plaza, although the Chairman will not be there…as he will be at the game!
OMAN – Per and Sean will have to be content with each other as Tore will also be at the game.

EMOTIONAL

It is the first home game since the 24th anniversary of Hillsborough. My first game standing in the Kop was 24 years ago, not long after 95 fans had died. (The last one died later in hospital) and the number of grown men crying was surprising to a 19 year old with no idea of the full effect of the tragedy at Hillsborough.

Anne Williams, the mother whose 15 year old son died in Hillsborough, and was one of the leading lights behind the campaign for Justice, died of cancer this week. Her 24 year fight for justice is over, without ever seeing success, but thankfully she was able to see the overturning of the rulings and a start towards redemption.

Liverpool welcome Rafa Benitez back to Anfield for the first time since he was sacked in June 2010. It is likely that there will be more home fans cheering for him than away fans. Torres will also be back and will likely receive a cold welcome from the Kop.

PREVIEW

The corresponding fixture last season saw the Reds secure a 4-1 victory courtesy of goals from Henderson, Agger and Shelvey that followed a Michael Essien own goal that gave us the lead, while Ramires struck a consolation for the Blues with the Reds 3-0 up. The two sides shared a 1-1 draw back in November at Stamford Bridge, with Luis Suarez’s second half equaliser cancelling out John Terry’s opener in the first half. Liverpool have won four of the last five league encounters with Chelsea, with two victories coming at Anfield and two at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea currently sit 3rd in the league with 61 points – 11 points ahead of  us in 7th – and 20 points behind league leaders Manchester United. Their tally of eight victories away from home is bettered only by Tottenham who’ve won nine and Man Utd with 12. Rafa Benitez’s side are the second highest scorers in the division with 64 goals scored and have conceded the second fewest with 33.

Liverpool have the third best defensive record at home this season with 14 goals conceded in 16 matches, only Chelsea with 13 goals against them and Man City with 11 goals conceded boast better records. Manchester City are also the only side to have kept more clean sheets than the Reds with 14 compared to our tally of 13, while Chelsea have kept 12 clean sheets.

TEAM NEWS

Goalkeeper: Reina
Defenders: Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique
Midfielders: Lucas, , Gerrard (c), Henderson
Strikers: Suarez, Sturridge, Coutinho

This is without doubt our strongest line up at the moment, and apart from Downing, there shouldn’t be too much doubt about who will start this game.

STATISTICS

Liverpool’s overall league record against Chelsea:

Total – P: 139 W: 64 D: 29 L: 46 F: 216 A: 190 GD: +26
Home – P: 69 W: 46 D: 14 L: 9 F: 146 A: 70 GD: +76
Away – P: 70 W: 18 D: 15 L: 37 F: 670 A: 120 GD: -50

Liverpool’s biggest victories and defeats v Chelsea at Anfield:

Biggest home win (overall): 6-0 (20/4/1935)
Biggest home defeat (overall): 1-4 (twice)

TRIVIA

Three of Liverpool’s current squad are in the top five for most appearances against Chelsea, with Jamie Carragher out in front with 44 appearances. Steven Gerrard is next with 34 and just one goal, while Pepe Reina is fourth with 26. Ian Rush has found the back of the net the most for the Reds with ten goals from 19 appearances but it’s Fernando Torres who has the most prolific record with seven goals in eight appearances against the Blues.

Daniel Sturridge became the third player to sign directly for Liverpool from Chelsea when he completed a £12m move back in January. The other two players to make the switch from Chelsea were Tony Hateley, who made the move to Anfield in 1967 for a then club record fee of £96,000 and went on to score 28 goals in 56 appearances before moving to Coventry City in 1968, and almost 20 years after Hateley, Nigel Spackman, who was signed for £400,000 in February 1987. Spackman made 63 appearances before moving to Queen’s Park Rangers in 1989.

Of the four players to have left Liverpool for Chelsea, three of them have joined the Blues in the past two years. Yossi Benayoun was the first to leave, sold for a fee of £6m in July 2010 after scoring 29 goals in 134 appearances during the three seasons he spent at Anfield. Fernando Torres was then sold for a British record £50m in January 2011 after scoring 81 times in 142 appearances. Raul Meireles followed Torres just seven months later, sold for a fee of £12m in August 2011.

ODDS
LFC win 40%
draw 25%
CFC win 35%


My next adventure?

Monday 15th April 2013

Many of you have asked, what am I going to do next…well, this could be my next adventure…but I need your help!

Please CLICK on this link and VOTE for me and I could be the first OMANI into space!

https://www.axeapollo.com/en_KSA/352025/nabs-al-busaidi

NB The website is very temperamental, so if it doesn’t work, just try again later, or change your browser, laptop or internet connection.


Saturday 13th April 2013

Thanks to http://www.tomkinstimes.com – Grown-up views & intelligent discussions on Liverpool FC

LOCAL NEWS
BAHRAIN – will be having their second match gathering for LFC Bahrain Supporters at Tracks “Crown Plaza Hotel”. Note that LFC Members will receive a 20% discount on the total bill amount. Snacks will be available free of charge.
OMAN – Mohd Shaikh is safely in the Far East, and will not be ringing the bell, so it is up to one of you to pick up the baton!
QATAR – we will be back in the Shehrezade sports bar in the Radisson this week. To boost attendance, lets make this a bring a friend match!

MATCH PREVIEW
Liverpool travel to the Madejski Stadium where they face bottom side Reading in what will be just the tenth official meeting between the two sides. The Reds secured a 1-0 victory at Anfield back in December with Raheem Sterling
scoring his first senior goal for the club, which gave Brendan Rodgers his first league win at Anfield as Liverpool manager. Our last league encounter at the Madejski Stadium ended in a 1-3 defeat back in December 2007. Steven
Gerrard equalised Hunt’s opener before two second half goals from Doyle and Harper sealed Reading’s victory, which is their only league triumph over Liverpool to date.

Premier League record since the two clubs met back in October:

Liverpool – P: 24 W: 11 D: 7 L: 6 F: 49 A: 28 GD: +21 Pts: 40
Reading – P: 25 W: 5 D: 5 L: 15 F: 28 A: 49 GD: -21 Pts: 20

Reading are currently on a seven game losing streak in the Premier League – they also lost seven consecutive games earlier in the season – and can lay claim to having lost the most games (19), conceded the most goals (63), kept
the fewest clean sheets (three) and have won just five times in the league all season (Q.P.R. have won fewer games with four). Only Wigan Athletic with 32 have conceded more goals at home than Reading’s total of 31 prior to this
fixture.

Liverpool have the third best defensive record at home this season with 14 goals conceded in 16 matches, Chelsea with 13 goals against them and Man City with 11 goals conceded boast better records. Manchester City are also the only side to have kept more clean sheets than the Reds with 14 compared to our tally of 12.

The match-day official for this fixture is Mark Clattenburg

TEAM NEWS

Fabio Borini (shoulder), Martin Kelly (knee), Raheem Sterling (thigh) and Joe Allen (shoulder) are ruled out through injury, while Stewart Downing (illness) is doubtful.

Goalkeepers: Reina
Defenders: Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique
Midfielders: Lucas, Gerrard (c), Henderson,
Strikers: Downing, Suarez, Coutinho,

It is hard to see beyond the usual back 5 players. Skrtel could get a recall to redeem himself, but it is unlikely he will displace Cara or Agger. Equally Wisdom might get a rare start but unlikely as this game looks perfect for 2 attacking wing backs. Having said that Johnson has been nursing a toe injury…

There was a lot of false hype last week, generated by twitter, pushing the rumour that LFC had never lost when starting with Lucas, Gerrard, and Henderson. (They had lost 2-0 to WBA) However, the reason it was such a good lie, is that it is so believable. Those 3 in midfield compliment each other very well, with Lucas providing defensive solidity and screening for the back 4 (he has made more tackles in the league than anyone else) Gerrard pulling the strings from the middle of the park, and Henderson the energetic box to box attacking midfielder, pressing the opposition when out of position.

It was great to see Coutinho start and do so well against West Ham (notwithstanding the result) and I expect him to start again. He just won the player of the month award for March and I can’t think of anyone else who deserved it more. Suarez has gone through a slightly barren patch by this seasons standards, but he has had a week to rest and must be champing at the bit. Assaidi had a rare and brief sub appearance last week, and whilst his attributes were on display, with direct and exciting running, the negatives were also there with crosses never going to a red shirt.

I would like to see Sturridge start in this game, but it seems BR has lost faith in the striker, or prefers a different tactic. Either way, I expect BR to start Downing, Suarez, and Coutinho.

STATISTICS

Liverpool’s overall league record against Reading:

Home – P: 3 W: 3 D: 0 L: 0 F: 5 A: 1 GD: +4
Away – P: 2 W: 1 D: 0 L: 1 F: 3 A: 4 GD: -1

Biggest away win (overall): 2-1 (7/4/2007)
Biggest away defeat (overall): 1-3 (8/12/2007)

TRIVIA

Steven Gerrard has made the most appearances against Reading with eight, with two goals to his name while Fernando Torres is our top scorer with four goals from five appearances.

Just one player has left Reading to join Liverpool and even he was originally a Liverpool player before making the move to Merseyside. Alf West left Anfield for Reading in June 1909 for an unknown fee then made the move back in the opposite direction the following year, again for an unknown fee. West made 141 appearances scoring six times during his two spells with the club, and was a member of the 1905/06 title winning team. West was fortunate to even be alive as is noted on LFChistory.net:

“West had been training for a 120 yards handicap and finished his preparation with a week at Lytham. Everything was complete, and he, accompanied by his trainer, went to take the final spin before leaving for Keswick where he was due to run the following day. Not having had much practice at starting with the pistol it was decided to adopt this method. Whilst the trainer was handling the weapon, it accidentally went off and West received a bullet under his right shoulder. He walked away some 200 yards, and then, staggering, fell into his trainer’s arms. Fortunately the
bullet did not penetrate the lungs, but spent itself by travelling along the outside of the ribs to the front part of the chest.” West was in critical condition as he had been actually been shot with two bullets just above the
heart by trainer William Norman “who was naturally much upset.”

James Bradley (1911; unknown fee) and Robert Done (1935; £150) both later followed Alf West in making the move from Liverpool to Reading although neither player were involved in bizarre shooting accidents of note.

ODDS
Home win 25%
draw 25%
away win 50%


West Ham @ home, Sunday 7th April, 1330 BST

Sunday 7th April 2013

Thanks to http://www.tomkinstimes.com – Grown-up views & intelligent discussions on Liverpool FC

LOCAL NEWS
BAHRAIN – will be having their first match gathering for LFC Bahrain Supporters at Tracks “Crown Plaza Hotel”. Note that LFC Members will receive a 20% discount on the total bill amount. Snacks will be available free of charge
OMAN – Mohd Shaikh is safely in the Far East, and will not be ringing the bell, so it is up to one of you to pick up the baton!
QATAR – due to the early kick off, and the alcohol laws, the game will be watched in Picasso’s where food and alcohol can be served.

MATCH PREVIEW
Liverpool host West Ham United with Brendan Rodgers’ side sitting four places and 12 points above Sam Allardyce’s Hammers who occupy 11th having picked up 36 points.

The corresponding fixture in 2010/11 saw the Reds record a 3-0 victory thanks to goals from Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi, while we also claimed a 3-2 victory at Upton Park back in December in the reverse fixture. In that match, Glen Johnson gave Liverpool the lead before a Mark Noble pen and a Steven Gerrard own goal put the Hammers 2-1 up at half-time. Two goals in thee second-half minutes from Joe Cole (76’) and Jonjo Shelvey (79”) secured all three points for the Reds.

West Ham have lost 10 of their 15 away matches in the Premier League this season – only bottom side Reading have lost more with 13. The Hammers’ tally of nine goals scored away from home is the joint worst in the division shared with Stoke.

TEAM NEWS
For West Ham, Joe Cole (hamstring) is rated as doubtful. Andy Carroll is ineligible.
Goalkeeper: Reina
Defenders: Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique,
Midfielders: Lucas, Gerrard (c), Henderson,
Strikers: Downing, Sturridge, Suarez

The back 5 should be as expected, with Skrtel and Coates looking closer to leaving Anfield in the summer.

In midfield, an interesting stat has been going around twitter that says LFC have not lost when Gerrard, Lucas and Henderson have started. This is not entirely true, as they started against WBA and lost, but in that game, Henderson started on the wing, and Shelvey was midfield. However, the point is that this 3 seems to be our strongest midfield, and will hopefully start against West Ham. Lucas will be screening the back four as usual, but whether Gerrard plays the double pivot with Lucas in a deep lying role or up front as the playmaker in the 1-2 midfield triangle along with Henderson remains to be seen. With LFC at home, and the onus on LFC to win, I would expect the 1-2 set up.

The British press termed BR’s team selection for the Saints game as “arrogant” for including only 2 midfielders, and 4 attackers. Since then, BR has reverted to 3 in midfield, and the results have paid off. Against Aston Villa, it was surprising to see Sturridge on the bench, but understandable, as LFC had been overrun in midfield against Spurs and Saints, (and other games) and these games only began to turn in our favour when a more attack minded player was sacrificed for a player ready to win the midfield battle. (This is an area of real concern, and has been our downfall in our worst performances this season, as this video will show… http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rTwzQCA-RzY )

Big Sam tends to set up his teams to bully their way to the points, so it would not be a surprise to see Coutinho on the bench for this game, as he is still adapting and very light weight. (although BR has played Suso against Stoke…and look at how that turned out.) Hopefully BR has learnt that lesson, or Coutinho has adapted to the more physical aspects of the EPL faster than we expected. Coutinho has the potential to be a superstar, but no LFC fan or neutral wants to see him kicked off the park by the “agricultural” style of Big Sam’s teams.
I expect a front three of Donwing, Sturridge and Suarez to start, although, as with all my predictions, I expect to be proven wrong in at least one selection if not 3!

STATISTICS
Liverpool’s overall league record against West Ham United:
Total – P: 109 W: 58 D: 29 L: 22 F: 182 A: 100 GD: +82
Home – P: 54 W: 37 D: 14 L: 3 F: 104 A: 29 GD: +75
Away – P: 55 W: 21 D: 15 L: 19 F: 78 A: 71 GD: +7

Liverpool’s biggest victories and defeats v West Ham United at Anfield:
Biggest home win (overall): 6-0 (7/4/1984)
Biggest home defeat (overall): 1-3 (4/2/1928)

TRIVIA
Ian Callaghan has made the most appearances for Liverpool in this fixture with 33 (two goals scored), while from our current squad, Jamie Carragher has made 23 appearances against the Hammers.

John Toshack has scored the most goals and has the best goals to games ratio for Liverpool with ten goals in ten appearances. From our current squad, Steven Gerrard has seven goals in 18 appearances against West Ham, with four of those goals scored at Upton Park.

Liverpool have signed four players directly from West Ham with the most expensive being Yossi Benayoun, joining for £5m in July 2007. 11 Reds have made the move to Upton Park, with nine of those transfers occurring between 1993 and 2007. Craig Bellamy has brought in the largest fee when he joined the Hammers in July 2007 for £7.5m.

WHUFC STRENGTHS
Aerial duels
Set pieces

WHUFC WEAKNESSES
Keeping possession
finishing chances
defending against counter attacks

ODDS
LFC win 65%
draw 20%
WHUFC win 15%


Last Year Stats

Sunday 7th April 2013

I was reading that Muscat Mutterings has had over 1 million viewers of his blog since he started, and I wondered what the stats for my blog were.

When I first started, and was posting regularly, and was involved in expeditions, I was averaging a low but respectable figure of 50,000 a year.

In total, I have had 150,000 views, but what shocked me was the country break down.

In the last year, people from over 135 countries have viewed my blog! On top of that, the top countries are surprising in that I expected Oman and Bahrain to figure slightly higher, and there were some surprise entrants like Denmark (thanks to DD perhaps?) Sweden, Belgium…countries with small populations, and where I seem to have no connection.

Country Views
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 7,392
United States FlagUnited States 3,064
Canada FlagCanada 588
France FlagFrance 556
Germany FlagGermany 541
Italy FlagItaly 539
Australia FlagAustralia 450
Qatar FlagQatar 371
Denmark FlagDenmark 355
Spain FlagSpain 339
Poland FlagPoland 335
Sweden FlagSweden 332
Ireland FlagIreland 316
Belgium FlagBelgium 254
Brazil FlagBrazil 250
Oman FlagOman 247
Norway FlagNorway 247
Netherlands FlagNetherlands 231
Japan FlagJapan 226
India FlagIndia 220

Villa away, Sunday 31st March, 1330 UK

Sunday 31st March 2013
LOCAL NEWS
BAHRAIN – congratulations to Bahrain LFC who had their first meeting with apparently 70 people attending! If they continue like this, they could end up bigger than the Dubai Reds…
MUSCAT – Mohd Shaikh, aka Raziq, will be leaving Oman for Malaysia, so this will be his last game in the Habana. Raziq found us on Facebook when Standard Chartered launched the Anfield lounge in the Hyatt. Since then he has been one of the most active Reds in Oman. Even though I have not lived in Oman since we met, I will miss his contributions! (Especially if he doesn’t give us his new contact details!)
QATAR – 8 LFC fans (1 from Qatar, 4 from Oman, 3 from Bahrain) have been selected for the 5 a side team to play against 30 other international fan clubs at LFC, on the Anfield pitch! There is also a reserve list in case anyone pulls out, so you can put your name down for that…but be warned! You need to look at your emails regularly and answer emails accurately and promptly.
MATCH PREVIEW
Liverpool travel to Villa Park hoping to prevent Paul Lambert’s relegation strugglers from completing a first league ‘double’ over us since the 1992/93 campaign, when they recorded a 4-2 win at Villa Park and a 2-1 victory at Anfield over Graeme Souness’ Reds. The corresponding fixture last season saw Craig Bellamy and Martin Skrtel secure a 2-0 victory for Liverpool at Villa Park, but Villa won the reverse fixture this season at Anfield 3-1 back in December thanks to goals from Christian Benteke (2) and Andreas Weimann.
Since that surprise victory for Paul Lambert’s side, Aston Villa have won just three of the 12 Premier League games played – with all three victories coming in their last four league games – and they currently sit in 17th place, three points above the relegation zone. Aston Villa’s record at Villa Park this season goes some way to explaining why they face the very real threat of relegation for the first time since 1986/87. Their tally of four wins from 15 home games is the joint third lowest in the divisions, while only Wigan Athletic with eight defeats have lost more games at home than Villa’s total of seven. Only bottom side Queens Park Rangers have scored fewer goals at home (11) than Aston Villa (14) and their goal difference of -25 is the poorest in the league prior to this weekend’s matches taking place.
Premier League record since the two clubs met at the middle of December:
Liverpool – P: 13 W: 7 D: 2 L: 4 F: 34 A: 16 GD: +18 Pts: 23
Aston Villa – P: 13 W: 3 D: 3 L: 7 F: 16 A: 32 GD: -16 Pts: 12
The match-day official for this fixture is referee Lee Mason
TEAM NEWS
Goalkeepers: Reina
Defenders: Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique
Midfielders: Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard (c), Downing,
Strikers: Suarez, Sturridge
Reina is finally back from his calf strain as is Carra, so the back 5 should be as expected, considering Skrtel’s fall from grace. The faster and younger Villa wingers will probably keep Johnson and Enrique pinned back, but the alternatives on the bench are no faster than these two, so hopefully we will see an altered strategy from LFC, as we did against Spurs, where the back 4 sit a lot deeper to negate the speed and counter attacking threat.
In midfield, Allen is no longer available, so Lucas should take up his slot shielding the back 4. This is an area of real concern, and has been our downfall in our worst performances this season, as this video will show… http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rTwzQCA-RzY Because of this I believe Henderson will get the nod ahead of Coutinho in the number 10 role/attacking midfielder. Coutinho is by far the most creative option, but Henderson is the more capable in tackling and pressing high up the line, and tracking back to prevent rapid counter attacks. But either choice will be full of positives as both are great in different ways. I expect Downing to face Villa’s biggest weakness, which is at left back. Which could put Suarez as left wing, and Sturridge up front.
STATISTICS
Liverpool’s overall league record against Aston Villa:
Total – P: 175 W: 82 D: 39 L: 54 F: 307 A: 252 GD: +55
Away – P: 87 W: 28 D: 21 L: 38 F: 111 A: 156 GD: -45
Liverpool’s biggest victories and defeats v Aston Villa at Villa Park:
Biggest away win (overall): 4-1 (21/1/1925)
Biggest away defeat (overall): 1-6 (16/1/1932)
TRIVIA
During the 1914/1915 campaign, Aston Villa smashed 12 goals past Liverpool, claiming a 6-3 victory over the Reds at Anfield before firing another six goals at Villa Park in the reverse fixture, winning that match 6-2.
Jamie Carragher has made the most appearances against Villa with 30 and the first goal he ever scored for the Reds came against Villa during the 1996/97 season. Robbie Fowler is our top scorer against Villa with 14 goals in just 16 appearances, although Roger Hunt has a slightly more prolific record, scoring ten times in 11 appearances.
Only three players have made the move from Villa to Liverpool. Steve McMahon was the first, signing for £350,000 in September 1985. Steve Staunton then made his return to Anfield as a free transfer in 1998, seven years after Graeme Souness sold him to Aston Villa. Finally, Stewart Downing joined the Reds in 2011 for a fee of £18.5m.
12 Reds have gone in the other direction with Steve Staunton making the move to Villa Park on two occasions, re-joining Villa in 2000 on a free transfer to add to his earlier sale as mentioned above. Other well known Reds to have made the move include Gordon Hodgson (sold for £3000 in 1936), Alun Evans (sold for £72,000 in 1972), Ray Houghton (£825,000; 1992), Dean Saunders (£2.3m; 1992), Stan Collymore (£7m; 1997), David James (£1.8m; 1999) and Milan Baros (£6.5m 2005).
AVFC STRENGTHS
counter attacks
aerial duels
stealing the ball
WEAKNESSES
finishing
avoiding offside
keeping possession
stopping chances being created
defending set pieces
defending counter attacks
avoiding fouls in dangerous areas
ODDS
AVFC home win 30%
draw 30%
LFC away win 40%
Thanks to Tomkins Times – Grown-up views & intelligent discussions on Liverpool FC

Gerard Houllier at ICSS

Tuesday 19th March 2013

Gerard Houllier is an internationally renowned football manager who is currently the Head of Global Soccer for Red Bull.

Gerard began his career as a teacher, playing football for amateur teams while he worked. At the age of 26 he went from being a deputy headmaster to fully turn his attention to the world of football as a player-manager for Le Touquet. From there Gerard rose through the ranks as a trainer, became National Technical Director of France from 1988-98, then became manager of Liverpool FC from 1998-2004, manager of Aston Villa FC from 2010-2011, before taking on his role as Head of Global Soccer for Red Bull in 2012.

Gerard has been awarded the Légion d’honneur and an honorary OBE for services to British Football.

With Liverpool FC, he won the treble of FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001, and also shook up the under performing spice boy era by instilling an era of professionalism at a club far too complacent. He helped introduce Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard to the first team and achieved an up to that point, premier league high finish of 82 points, second only to a rampant Arsenal.

He brought back hope to the Kop and LFC started to became a real threat to Man Utd and Arsenal…until 2001/02. After that high, things progressively got worse until he was fired. Many attribute the fall to the heart attack he suffered during a game in October 2001. Prior to that, many of his decisions were commendable, after that, most of his decisions came under increasing criticism.

Liverpool were so bad at one stage in 2002/3 that I almost gave up on watching the games…but I prefer to remember Gerard for the treble in 2001, and so I was very pleased to have my photo taken with him today.