Friday, July 20, 2007

Pre-season Friendly : Auxerre 0 - 2 LiverpooL

Goals from Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger were enough to give Liverpool a deserved 2-0 win over Auxerre in their latest pre-season friendly.

Gerrard broke the deadlock in the 45th minute with a well-struck low shot from just inside the box following a clever dummy by Ryan Babel.

Agger then doubled the advantage midway through the second half when he headed home from a Nabil El Zhar corner.

In what was a fairly uneventful encounter in Fribourg, Switzerland, Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel were handed their first starts in a red shirt, while young Bulgarian goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov made his debut.

Record signing Fernando Torres appeared as a half-time substitute and the boss again made several changes during another useful run-out.

Rafa's Reds now head off to Hong Kong for the Barclays Asia Trophy and, with a fourth successive summer win under their belts, they'll do so in high spirits.


Mihaylov, Arbeloa, Carragher, Paletta, Finnan, Babel, Gerrard MBE (captain), Hobbs, Benayoun, Voronin, Kuyt. Subs - Hyypia, Carson, Torres, El Zhar, Pennant, Darby, Reina, Alonso, Crouch, Agger, Riise

Sorin, Jaures, Marcos (captain), Mignot, Martin, Legage, Pedretti, Thomas, Kahlenberg, Maoulida, Jelen. Subs - Lejeune, Traore, Riou, Jasse, Genest, Niculae, Tamas

Gabriel Heinze: See You In Court, Fergie

Gabriel Heinze will take his battle to join Liverpool from Manchester United to court.

Sir Alex Ferguson stated yesterday there was no way he would sell the 29-year-old to Liverpool.

However, United will have no choice if Heinze has a get-out clause, and now the defender is preparing to begin legal proceedings demanding his sale.

It’s been widely publicised in recent days Heinze has a letter signed by United chief executive David Gill allowing him to join any club which bids £6m – a valuation Liverpool are prepared to meet.

Despite their protests, it’s understood United did not have the foresight to add the phrase ‘except for Liverpool’ in this document.

Heinze’s representatives are confident of a swift court hearing forcing United to accept a £6m offer made by all interested clubs, including Liverpool.

The Anfield club made a formal bid for the defender which was rejected, but will now take a back seat and watch developments closely over the next few weeks.

Manager Rafa Benitez will want a new left back in his squad before the start of the season.

The capture of Heinze would represent a major coup for Benitez and, given Ferguson’s opposition to the move, would also inflict psychological torment on the United boss.

What’s clear is no matter how much Ferguson claims it won’t happen, the final decision is out of his hands.

My comment: Although I don't really fancy the move of Heinze, somehow I'm impressed with his desire to join the Liverpool squad. To bring this matter to court might cost him time and money but if he's willing to go through that hardship, I guess his intention will be good for Liverpool.

Riise Attempts To Raise His Game

Aware that Liverpool are in the marker for a new left-back, John Arne Riise has vowed to impress Rafael Benitez by raising his game.

The Norwegian, who has been a fixture in Benitez's plans, is facing a threat to his place on the left-hand side of Liverpool's team following reports that the Reds have launched a raid on Manchester United's Gabriel Heinze.

However, Manchester United's boss Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed any chance of a deal being struck, but nonetheless Riise is determined to stay focused and make it impossible for him to be dropped.

"There have been a lot of rumours lately about new people coming to the club so you know you need to step up a level," Riise told the Liverpool Echo.

"I've been working out during the summer because I wanted to show the manager (Rafael Benitez) I was fit and raring to go.

"The only response I can make is to stay focused on my game and hope the manager has enough faith in me to keep me playing. It's up to me, really.

"But I've always worked hard to show the manager I deserve to play.

"I've enjoyed a good six years here so I hope I've done more right than wrong during that time."

Personal comment: Riise undoubtedly has been one of the Liverpool faithful.....there are times when Liverpool does need his long shot tries. Defensively, he has got the pace but sometimes you can see him drifting off in the middle of the game. At least he's better than people like Silvestre or Wayne Bridge. He should remain in the squad.

Gerrard Eyes Premiership Title

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is delighted with the signings the club has made over the summer and feels there is now enough quality in the side to mount a serious challenge for the Premiership next season.

'I've watched what the other teams are doing in the market and they're all strengthening, but all those teams will be looking at us and thinking we are going to be all over them this season,' Gerrard told the LFC Magazine.

'I'm not going to start making any unnecessary predictions about what's going to happen this season and the last thing any of us need to do is build hopes up too much.

'But without doubt, if we all perform to our level each week, we have the players to push United and Chelsea all the way.

'We are looking in great shape, not only going into this season but for the next few years.

'I thought going away for the summer that we were three or four players away from where we need to be.

'Now I think we are in a great place to challenge United and Chelsea and I hope if we get things right from the beginning we can beat them to the big prizes this year.

'I've liked the way we've done business this summer. Previous years have shown how important it is to sort everything early in the pre-season, as it's not easy for players if they arrive just before the deadline.

'Hopefully with everyone having had the right amount of rest this summer we'll be able to hit the ground running when the Premiership begins. People say you can't win the league in August but I believe you can certainly lose it in the first month.

'It's fine saying it's a nine-month season and there is plenty of time to recover from a shaky start but it's hard playing catch-up week-in, week-out.

'The last thing you want to do is give teams like Manchester United and Chelsea a head start, making things even more difficult for you than they are already.'