There's nothing like FA cup weekend. Footy on proper telly for once. The delights of a home banker against a lower league side such as Bournemouth etc. Doh! Ah well, the good thing about our over crowded British schedule is that there's always another game swiftly approaching. After successive league defeats we have to be looking at three points from the next fixture, which means overcoming one of the form sides of the Premiership, Charlton Athletic.
Last season's clash at the Valley was notable for an improbable collapse from a Liverpool side that had looked comfortably in control. Three goals from hitherto shot shy Kevin Lisbie saw Houllier's team return empty handed to Anfield. Such is the race for the champions league places Rafa Benitez can ill afford a similar result this year. He will also hope for a performance which combines the solidity of the Watford Carling Cup tie with a better performance from a Liverpool team that appeared bereft of ideas at St Mary's.
With Florent Sinama-Pongolle out for the season our hopes rest on Baros and Morientes building on the glimmers of understanding they've shown so far. In midfiel, our depleted squad come up against a rejuvenated Danny Murphy, sure to be eager to prove a point to the coach who saw him as surplus to requirements.
For a Charlton viewpoint this week we have entered the murky world of Blogging to book an interview with Inspector Sands from 'All Quiet on the East Stand' http://charlton.blogspot.com/
Rawk would like to express its appreciation to the Inspector for kindly giving us his thoughts and furthermore we wish to repeat that we were never in the pub at the time of the incident and whats more we have an alibi. Like most of Anfield we will be exercising our right to remain silent.
On with the questions:RAWK: How is the season shaping up for the Addicks?Inspector Sands:
Pretty well, considering we had such a lousy start with plenty of thumpings. It's nice to see Curbs' plan clicking into place - and Danny Murphy's at the
centre of it.RAWK: What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?Inspector Sands:
In October, mid-table respectability would have been an achievement. Now a top ten place is a must -and I'd like to see us beat or equal our 7th place from last season.RAWK: Who do you think is your most important player(s)?Inspector Sands:
Danny Murphy's been at the heart of our midfield over the past few months -he's turning out to be one of our best signings for years after a shaky start.
Luke Young's having a fantastic season in defence, while Talal El Karkouri's our top scorer - despite being a defender. Dean Kiely commands respect as ever in goal.RAWK: Your worst player(s)?Inspector Sands:
Our strikers have always been a problem - Shaun Bartlett has his talents, but he's shy in front of goal.RAWK: What should we expect from our trip to the Valley? How does it compare to rival grounds?Inspector Sands:
It's a tidy place now - not as noisy as it used to be, alas. The away end, the last bit remaining from the pre-1985 Valley, remains a tip, I'm sorry to
say. We did give it a lick of paint for the summer, though.RAWK: Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?Inspector Sands:
Our reserve keeper Stephan Andersen is fantastic, while we've a 16-year-old striker in our reserves, James Walker, who's worth watching for the future.RAWK: Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between us?Inspector Sands:
I'm not sure who was more stunned by Kevin Lisbie's hat-trick last season, you or us. The 4-0 last-day-of-the-season defeat at home a few seasons back still hurts, though. My favourite Liverpool result has nothing to do with us, though
- a certain 9-0 thumping you delivered to another south London side a few years back, still celebrated in song in Charlton hostelries to this day. "One goal went past Perry...."RAWK: We know of Alan Curbishley's acheivements, what is his biggest weakness?Inspector Sands:
He can be a stubborn old so-and-so at times, and he can fall out with players from time to time - he had a damaging spat with Jason Euell a couple of years back. He's got a media image of being very dry, but meet him in the flesh and
he's a warm and engaging chap - just one who tends to keep himself to himself.
When he does move on from here, I wonder how he'll cope with the spotlight.RAWK: What sort of line-up will Curbs put out against us?Inspector Sands: [/bThe same one that beat Everton, I should imagine.
RAWK: Do you have a favourite/best chant or any that require an explanation?
Inspector Sands: "Den-nis, in the last minute..." Mr Rommedahl's best moment in a Charlton shirt, at Selhurst Park in December. The moment our season truly turned around.
RAWK: Where do you expect Charlton and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?
Inspector Sands: Too soon to say. Liverpool are more than capable of mounting a last-minute surge, we're more than capable of thinking the season ends in March.
RAWK: Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?
Inspector Sands: Gerrard. Although I thought Riise and Baros were terrifying at Anfield, along with poor old Cisse. Who's this Morientes chappy, then?
RAWK: And your feelings on the new 'Spanish flavour' Liverpool. Rafa Benitez himself
and our new recruits?
Inspector Sands: Hard to say, really, haven't followed them as closely as I should. Although Benitez should get some tailoring tips from Jose Mourinho. I hope the fans and
board give him time to prove himself, though.
RAWK: Care to predict the score? Go on!
Inspector Sands: 2-1 - either way. Depends which Liverpool side Benitez brings - although you'll have had a rest this weekend...
RAWK: Excuse us Inspector, we're just off to put a tenner on Morientes...
Thanks once again to Inspector Sands for some interesting answers. Hopefully our 'rest' day will be reflected in a stellar performance on Tuesday night. It's going to be strange watching Super Dan line up against us, let's hope we don't catch him on on a good day.
(C) RAWK 2005