Week 21: Review of the year – Liverpool and Tottenham

Albert Riera of Liverpool jumps with David Bentley of Spurs

On this week’s show Damon and Damian take a look back at the highs and lows from 2008 for their respective clubs: Liverpool and Tottenham.

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Well, the second half of 2008 has been much better than the first half. Liverpool are top of the league and mounting a serious challenge for the title. It’s good to see the Reds in the frame at the beginning of the year. Compare that with losing to Barnsley in the FA Cup, being beaten again by Manchester United – 3-0 at Old Trafford – Ouch!, and never really being in contention for the title.

But let’s return to the good – Another was their Champions League cup run – After finishing second in their group they accounted for Inter in the last 16, then Arsenal in a thriller at Anfield in the last eight, before finally succumbing narrowly to Chelsea in the semis in another classic European tie. Skill, passion, drama, and of course a Liverpool victory  mean the Champion’s League second leg against Arsenal at Anfield which saw the tie swing one way and then the other, is my highlight of the year. Hypia’s powerful header, Torres’ vicious strike seemingly winning it and then Theo Walcott set up one of the goals of the year, but that was to be followed by Babel coming on and earning a penalty, that was dispatched by Gerrad. Babel went on to score one of his own. These moments will always be good to watch again.

It goes without saying that the goals from Fernando Torres in 2008 were also a highlight, but unfortunately injuries have kept him out of the side for much of this season. Signings this year have been good, bad and ugly. Riera has added some real menace on the left with his pace and ball control and a genuine left foot, while Keane’s signing for 20 million has not been so good. But one definite ugly on the signing’s front has been Dossena at left back: his lack of pace and defensive weaknesses have really cost Liverpool a few points.

While Liverpool have struggled against teams like Stoke, Fulham and Hull, they have picked up seven points from nine against their other big rivals, beating Manchester United at last, ending Chelsea’s unbeaten run and drawing away at Arsenal. Another seven from the return fixtures would do me nicely. So, in with a shout of the title, more funds available for January – a left back please – and a great tie against Real Madrid to look forward to. It could be a very good year for Liverpool.

As 2008 started there was optimism in the air for Spurs. After a poor start to the season Spaniard Juande Ramos’ methods seemed to be paying off with impressive performances against Manchester United in the League and then a 5-1 demolition of north London rivals Arsenal in the semi final of the Carling Cup. This was topped however by the final itself in which Spurs beat hot favourites Chelsea 2-1 and this after going a goal down early on. Ramos’ golden touch had worked again and those fans who had questioned his appointment – myself included – began to think that he may indeed be the man to lift Tottenham into the top four, which just goes to show what we know about football. The team only won two of their remaining eleven fixtures in the league, finishing 11th, way off the pace and the two previous 5th positions we’d managed under Martin Jol. A heartbreaking quarter final defeat to Dutch side PSV in the UEFA Cup on penalties summed up this final part of the season.

Despite this, many tipped 2008-09 to be a breakthrough one for Spurs but when we sold our club captain Robbie Keane to Liverpool and his strike partner Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United before the season had begun this was all thrown into doubt. Transfers and Tottenham go hand in hand with almost £150 million passing through the club in a six week spell in the summer. Indeed, only four players that had beaten Arsenal in that Carling Cup semi final a year ago are still at the club, a ridiculous turnover and one that could be blamed on sporting director Damian Comolli who became a real hate figure before being fired in September, along with manager Ramos. A disastrous start to this season saw us bottom and winless after seven matches. In came Harry Rednapp who seems to have steadied the side somewhat though we currently sit in 15th place in the league – still very much involved in a relegation dog fight. One thing that Rednapp needs to do is improve the inconsistency that is Tottenham. Good results against the top four sides have been offset by poor form against probable relegation candidates. So, for every 4-4 draw with Arsenal or Chelsea there has been a home defeat against Hull or Sunderland.

We are still in the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup knock out stages and the Carling Cup semi final so it is not all doom and gloom. We should stay up and with some clever signings we may be able to plan for the following season. Now, when have I heard that before?

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