Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Footy Matt's Premier League Preview – Part I: Liverpool

‘ello, Chaps from London where it is a balmy 51 degrees and rain. No wonder 98% of Brits go to Ibizia to binge-drink and fight all August long. In case you were all too busy perving over the beach volleyball players or drooling over Bret Favre’s punishment lap – the English Premier League season starts this weekend. 40 games of the best footy on the planet. Yeah, it is kind of a big deal.

Over the next four days I will preview the season's “big 4” (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United) and I might talk about some of the other teams as well – but what is the point, really. None of them will win anything, come see in May and tell me otherwise.

Today’s preview: LIVERPOOL

Ah, the Mighty Reds. The famous Liverpool anthem sung from the terraces is, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Opposition fans are fond of mocking this tune and replying, “You’ll Never Win the League”. Liverpool is the only club of the big 4 to have not won the Premier League (which began 1992-1993 season). In fact, the last time they lifted the league trophy was 1990 (way back win it was called ‘Division 1’). That is an extremely long drought for a club of Liverpool’s stature. It is only exasperated by the fact they won the league in ’73, ’76, ’77, ’79, ’80, ’82, ’83, ’84, ’86, ’88, ’90. And probably a gazillion times before then too, but I am too lazy to look it all up.

Again this year Liverpool will contest for the Premier League title – but will fail. They certainly have the talent, but always seem to find a way to be in third or fourth place at the end of the season come May. Recently, past Liverpool seasons have been plagued by off-field antics as American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks appear not give a shiz about any fans or the 125+ years of Liverpool history and want to run the club like, say, Dallas Stars. Hicks and Gillett even approached a few coaches behind the back of Benitez during the campaign last season – infuriating the Liverpool faithful. Rightly so, WTF do Gillett and Hicks no about coaching footy?

However, the good news is that they perhaps have the deadliest attack in all of English Football this year. They boast the fantastic Fernando Torres who will now be buoyed by recent signing, and new strike partner, Robbie Keane. If the two gel, and gel quickly, Liverpool can expect to score a lot of goals. Behind the attack Stevie Gerrard and Javier Mascherano provide a solid central midfield partnership seeing Stevie G. often moving forward on the attack and Mascherano in the holding midfielder role.

The Liverpool defense will be strong, or something, ah - who cares about defense? No defender ever gets you points on the Fantasy Footy. Their Goalkeeper, Pepe Reina now has a few years under his belt in the Premier League and will produce more than a few clean sheets this season.

My prediction? 4th again. Rafa has too much of a good thing. Too many brilliant attacking players. He will continue his very under-10 soccer policy of player rotation (yay, everyone plays!) and not let any one line-up get fully comfortable.

More than you needed to know:

Name: Liverpool Football Club

Nickname: The Reds

Founded: 1882

Owners: Tom Hicks and George Gillett

Manager: Rafa Benitez

American-esque equivalent: LA Lakers (minus any Kobe-era championships). Though LA and Liverpool are verydifferent places, both teams were dynasties looking to recapture their form. The red and white of Liverpool is instantly recognizable as the Lakers’ purple and good. As a kid, every Englishman has fantasized about playing for Liverpool (unless they support Everton).

Look-a-Like winners:

Dirk Kuyt & Ken Doll (if you microwaved it for a few seconds)

Or

Fernando Torres & Hiedi from The Hills


Tomorrow’s preview: Chelsea.

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