European nights are always special for Liverpool FC, aren’t they? The fans know it, the manager knows it, and the players know it.
But before I go into discussion about the Anzhi game, I will mainly like to talk about two things: Steven Gerrard and a few things related to our ex-players.
Steven Gerrard recently started in his 600th football game in the kit of Liverpool FC, and I would just like to say that he has been an absolute idol of mine ever since I was of the age of 7 (I would know, considering I am still fairly young at just 16 years of age).
In my list of top players I have seen grace the Liverpool kit (in terms of ability and their total impact to the club), I think that Steven Gerrard is definitely at least top 2 (if not tied for first for me). Note: I’m sorry that I have to say this given circumstances, but Fernando Torres in the Liverpool kit is still my favourite player given his electrifying goal scoring prowess and finishing. I hate him for moving to Chelsea, but I understand why he would have wanted to move – although he put Liverpool in an unideal situation.
But Gerrard is just a fantastic player, and on a more historical level, a by far more important player to this club. So many times he has dug us out of deep holes and trenches to come out on top. So many times we have turned to him for inspiration. So many moments of magic that have embedded his name into the Liverpool FC hall of fame.
Who did we turn to for inspiration at Istanbul? Who did we turn to in desperate need for an equaliser late on in the FA Cup against West Ham United? Who has always carried his team on his back even in times of poor form? Who turned down a bigger money move from Chelsea FC to remain with Liverpool?
The answer to all those questions (although I’m sure you guys know the answer to them already): Steven Gerrard. Ever since he came out on his debut as a thin, new kid on the block, he has been an absolute revelation.
His game is so great all around. Interestingly, I went on WhoScored.com just to confirm those thoughts. According to them, he had one weakness: finishing. And even that seems a bit strange considering he’s great at finishing off moves and blasting shots into the top corner.
He is good with set pieces, he’s physically quick and strong, his passing technique is impeccable, and his ability to perform in clutch situations: absolutely second to none. He is absolutely consistent as well.
This year is still a transitional year for the Reds, and this represents yet another challenge in the life of Steven Gerrard. He’s gotta help those youngsters develop their game and ease them into the first team. Perhaps even share his personal expertise in the football arts.
Speaking of Gerrard, Fernando Torres has also paid tribute to the Liverpool captain for playing his 600th game, claiming he is also indebted to the Liverpool number 8:
I think it’s an amazing achievement for him [to reach 600 games] and it is very well deserved,” said Torres.
I enjoyed playing next to him for three and a half seasons. It was probably the best time I have had on a football pitch. I am who I am now thanks to him because he showed me the way.
Fernando Torres, speaking about Steven Gerrard
…. but Gerrard responds to another Q&A, claiming that it is Alonso that is his favourite previous Liverpool player :
Q. If you could bring any previous LFC player back to LFC, who would it be and why? @susanpscott
A. Xabi Alonso – best midfielder I’ve played with, I miss playing with him
And now, onto the Liverpool – Anzhi encounter later on tonight. I can now understand why Rodgers fielded Suarez and co. for Anzhi’s visit to Anfield just around two weeks ago. It was so that they don’t have to travel to Russia instead with Europa League exit potential hanging over their heads.
Rodgers picked these 19 players for the trip to Russia:
Jones, Gulacsi, Cole, Assaidi, Pacheco, Henderson, Coates, Downing, Wilson, Carragher, Suso, Shelvey, Coady, Yesil, Flanagan, Wisdom, Robinson, Morgan, Sama.
I’m most interested in seeing Pacheco play, considering the fact that he scored twice for the U21s earlier on in the week. Another player I am looking forward to seeing is Jordan Henderson, as I still maintain high hopes for him. His game should, by right, fit right into the Tiki-taka philosophy. I personally believe that the way he plays is very similar to that of Joe Allen – albeit slightly more adventurous.
Yesil might be given another shot after that poor display against Swansea in the Capitol One cup, whilst Stewart Downing and Assaidi will want to showcase their talents and make their cases for playing in the first team. The squad does not comprise of any first teamers from the Newcastle game bar Brad Jones and Andre Wisdom – although I personally believe it is unlikely that Wisdom will start this game.
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