by Steven S

Welcome back to yet another Saturday Review, the only place you can guarantee we will give you all the news and insight into the news and insight you have been soaking up all week. It’s a hard sell.

Can anyone understand why everyone is so happy to stick the boot into Liverpool right now? I know we all love riches to rags story in the UK and whilst Liverpool are hardly the Premier paupers, they are on course for a second season finishing mid-table which is unprecedented by their high standards in the modern game. Yet we apparently know very little about what is happening. We all need intelligence tests according to the withering Anfield legend Dalglish. That would be the same bright spark that bought in Henderson, Downing and Carroll to challenge for a top four spot. Something there just doesn’t quite add up. I guess we’re just not bright enough to figure it out. Maybe Kenny can…

The enigma that is Peter Crouch stole the headlines last weekend with that goal, which is now surely the prime contender for goal of the season. It had to be something extra special to knock RVP’s volley against Everton off its perch but Crouching Tiger seems to have done just that. So far this season he has picked up a steady 12 in 33 for Stoke, which considering he has never scored more than 19 (in his first spell with Portsmouth) in one season the Potters seems to be getting what they expected.

Mention Crouch’s impressive international scoring record and the first objection is always the calibre of the teams he has scored against which is unfair to say the least. If you examine the stats a little further you will see that he has scored some very important goals in qualification (as well as a great hair pulling strike against Trinidad in the 2006 World Cup) for tournaments, quite usually scoring the all important first goal to get things underway. The quality of opposition can be called into question yet you have to ask what the supposed better players were waiting for, if the other side was so poor. Crouch deserves respect for not wanting to be the usual target man lump – he comes across as a man wanting to defy perceptions. Except for his wife of course. That is one cliché we would all like to fall victim to.

Six points separate the bottom five teams with eight games left and Wolves go into their home match with Bolton boasting the worst form of them all. One win in ten has seen them plummet to rock bottom and a loss this week could potentially leave them seven points away from safety. Bolton meanwhile will hope to follow on from their inspirational victory over Blackburn last weekend, as their teammate Muamba continues to recover.

He was said to have travelled to the Hill of Apparitions and given the recent reappearance of Tevez it would’ve taken something special to top that.

In 1996 and 1997 there were two teams that went hell for leather against each other, in two classic Premiership games that produced 14 goals. Once again Liverpool travel up to the Toon – which always reminds of Roger Rabbit – for yet another must win game for them. The pressure is really on for those Anfield lot it seems and a third defeat in a row will guarantee yet another chippy interview from the increasingly prickly Dalglish.

As we descend into the end of season run-in quite inevitably the whole mind games bravado is thrown out through the papers as they spin various quotes to increase the tension between the two clubs chasing the title. The media have fed off this for years although it seems Joe Public is finally waking up to how much nonsense it is and how little an impact it has on the opposition. Fergie has been crowned the undisputed king of mind games since the start of the Premiership, with Keegan tarnished for years as the ultimate victim of these supposed jibes.

Yet still it continues with the back and forth between Fergie and Vieira being hyped as a sign of the mental battle between the two rival clubs. Ironically they now share a common enemy as big Paddy is seriously narked at the BBC apparently twisting his words into something they never intended to be. The accusation that big clubs get more decisions at home is hardly a shocking statement and there is not a single football fan that would disagree – strangely enough by excluding Man City from that bracket of clubs receiving favourable treatment reveals insecurity on the size of their project?

The Bosnian town of Medjugorje is used to appearances by the special one and this week it was Roberto Mancini who went to take advice and listen to the sagely advice. “I have come as a pilgrim. I feel peace here” which is in stark contrast to the bruising contest they faced at the Britannia Stadium last week. He was said to have travelled to the Hill of Apparitions and given the recent reappearance of Tevez it would’ve taken something special to top that.

Chelsea and Tottenham slugged out a relatively dull 0-0 last weekend as Arsenal increased their lead in third place to 3 points, putting a sorry Aston Villa to bed quite easily. The draw did not really help either team although the first shoots of recovery were shown by Tottenham in an improved second half. Followed up with a 3-1 FA Cup win over Bolton midweek Spurs will hope to gather some momentum to challenge Arsenal for an automatic CL spot and keep Chelsea at bay.

Chelsea put themselves into pole position for a CL semi final spot with another impressive European performance away to Benfica. The eagle was flown before kickoff and even landed on its perch, apparently a bad omen for visiting teams. Not content with smashing local superstitions the unruly English rabble take a one goal advantage back home for next week’s second leg. If they come through it all, in April they face a hellish week of Spurs, Barca/AC, Arsenal, Barca/AC in the space of ten days. Good thing they have two managers to cope.

As this is written on a Friday; I can only presume the sun is shining and the beer garden is calling my name. So with a hypothetical pint in hand I bid you farewell for another seven days of salacious gossiping online.