Apologies for the radio silence over the weekend. Surprisingly, I wasn’t able to catch either game in the Port of Rotterdam Tournament. I’ve got a plethora of excuses, but I doubt anyone really cares.
I don’t know what bothers me more. That I’ve missed both games this weekend or the fact that I’m upset about missing two preseason games. This isn’t healthy. It’s the preseason.
Friday’s game was one thing. It wasn’t a full-strength line-up, unlike today’s game, although players like Torres, Crouch, and Finnan were involved. And while I would have loved to see Torres’ first goal, Leto’s debut, and the new boys get more time to settle, it sounds like it had all the hallmarks of a preseason game, especially with the weaker opposition (did the chairman really play the first 5 minutes?). I’m pleased to hear Leto and Insua looked handy down the left though, and especially that Leto sounded impressive.
I’m actually glad I missed today’s game. Okay, that’s a lie, I’m never glad to miss a Liverpool game, even in the preseason, but from what I can tell, there’s little to take away other than another good Gerrard goal and some amusing handbags at the end. It was full of yellow cards, a Kuyt goal wrongly ruled out, a dubious penalty (although saved by Reina), and overall petulance. There are the standard ‘Liverpool are unimaginative, and can’t break down negative teams’ rants on the various forums. I’ll just reiterate my belief that preseason is for gaining fitness, varying personnel to see what options you’ve got, avoiding injuries, and building team spirit. All of those things happened today.
In lieu of summarizing what little I saw through highlights and read, I’d rather point you in the direction of the match reports at the Liverpool blog at The Offside, the Liverpool Echo (Bascombe’s match reports are usually the best in the business), and even those at the official site (although they’re always somewhat Orwellian).
I did however catch the Community Shield. As the game did little to capture my full attention, I just want to share a few thoughts that struck me.
- At least the goals were well taken. The match was dreary and disjointed, but both goals were nicely executed. Giggs’ was the culmination of very good team play, while Malouda’s showed the quality the player has. Admittedly, Malouda worries me. From the look of him during preseason, I don’t think he’ll take long to settle. And while that was a pretty goal, what was more impressive was the way he held off Rio Ferdinand, who’s supposedly one of England best defenders.
- Malouda, Mikel, Vidic, Evra and yes, Van der Sar were the only players who impressed at all today. Today’s game was a lot like last season’s FA Cup final, except this time the teams went at an even slower pace as we’re still in preseason mode. United were better over the course of the match, but Chelsea was missing more of their first-team regulars.
- While I’m well aware that the Community Shield is still the preseason and I’m not putting too much stock in it, I still don’t see anything that makes me think that Liverpool will be completely unable to keep pace with United and Chelsea this season. Yes, we’ve yet to see Hargreaves, Tevez or Anderson in a Manchester shirt, but I still don’t think they will perform at the level they consistently did over last season, while Chelsea looks likely to have problems achieving harmony and balance in their squad.
- Chelsea is awful at penalties. This was even worse an effort than against Liverpool in the CL semis last season. Pizarro and Lampard put their penalties in the exact same place, Wright-Phillips shot straight at Van der Sar after telegraphing it the entire run-up, and for being “the best keeper in the Premiership,” Cech sure doesn’t save many spot kicks. Although it was amusing to see him take his helmet off for them.
- Since 2000, the only time the Community Shield winner went on to win the Premiership was 05-06. Just saying.
For the rest of the week, I’ll have a couple preview articles on the coming season going up. It’ll start tomorrow with my guess at a table and an explanation of how I think the Premiership in general will go, on to Friday when we’ll finally be back in the regular groove with a preview of Saturday’s opening match against Aston Villa. Good times.