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Chelsea v Liverpool: Benitez Feeling The Pressure?

It’s funny how Benitez’s tongue seems to have loosened a lot lately. Maybe it’s because he thinks Grant’s more likely to crumble under the pressure than his old adversary? Then again, maybe it’s because he himself is starting to feel the strain this year? But whatever the reason, Rafa just doesn’t seem to be able to shut it at the minute.

 

We’ve already had his scandalous accusations – in the press of course – that Drogba dives, so at least we know Didier will be in good company with Gerrard on the pitch then. And we’ve had the requests for a certain type of referee – that’ll be the type who sees goals that don’t exist eh Rafa? But now that the ref has actually been named, we’ve got the hints of him wearing blue-tinted glasses. Now, I know the words pot, kettle and black will immediately spring to mind, but wait, because the Spaniard clearly has cause for concern. After all, Italian ref Roberto Rosetti has taken charge of 6 games in Europe this season, 5 of these were won by the home side and the 6th saw our away win at the Mestalla. So there you have it, overwhelming evidence the ref was selected because he’s a blue. I tell you, Poirot’s job is seriously under threat with Rafa about.

 

Anyway, having exerted just the right amount of media pressure on the Italian, suggesting he needs to be “strong” at Stamford Bridge, Rafa remembered to kiss the ref’s arse as well (just in case, you understand?), declaring him “not a bad referee”. Oh, and just in case it’s slipped anyone’s mind, Rafa’s reminded us again that Didier “falls down easily”. Now, he does acknowledge “everybody can see it every game, it is very clear” but obviously just feels some strange compulsion to repeat himself – daily.

 

Ok, so we’ve got a diver and a biased ref, what else could there possibly be for Tubby to chat up the press about before the game? The ruck between Utd players and our ground staff at the weekend of course. Can’t see the connection? Well, according to the goatee’d one, since Mascherano received not only a red card against Utd but also an additional 2 game ban, the FA should adopt the same approach in this instance. Here, here Rafa, if I were the FA I wouldn’t let our ground staff play again either to be perfectly honest. 

 

Fear not though, just in case anyone thinks his sudden inability to button it is a sign of pre-match nerves, Rafa reliably informs us “We will score. We will win and we will get to the final”.  So that’s that then, no point us even turning up really seeing as the Psychic One already knows the outcome. Even Saint Gerrard, in his own bit of media manipulation, confirms us as favourites whilst at the same time declaring Liverpool a better team. So, apart from an away goal, a decent home record and the fact the dippers haven’t scored at Stamford Bridge in 8 games, we haven’t got much going for us really.

 

Indeed, instead of imagining we have some divine right to be Moscow-bound after tonight’s game, our own players are a little more modest. Whilst Ballack warns that our job is far from done, suggesting “if we display an ounce of arrogance or become complacent in any way we will get beaten” – a hint at a certain Ivorian team mate maybe? – Terry, won’t even risk saying that much, stating “I’m keeping quiet this year because for four or five seasons I’ve been thinking it can happen and we’ve got close”. Grant’s confidence meanwhile remains as unfussy as his dress sense, with him suggesting “If you come to this stage and are not optimistic, you do not need to be in sport”.

 

So, we know who’s done all the talking in the press but who’s going to do the talking on the pitch?

 

What we know is that we have an away goal and Liverpool need to score eventually, so a defensive game from us is too big a risk to take. In 3 of our 4 meetings this seasons, they’ve been the better side and we’ve had more than our fair share of luck, so we can’t rely on luck (or Riise’s head) for this one. We might not have done it much this season, but against Utd we showed we can still play a bit. So, we need to get out there, look like we’re up for it and show them we’re not prepared to go out to them in the semi’s for a third time!

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