-Rob put up a fanshot about this, but the U19's started the European NextGen series yesterday -- a baby version of the Champions League for the academies around the continent, so I can only assume anything sharp in the ground is covered in foam for these. Liverpool went up against Sporting Lisbon at Anfield, and lost 3-0, though every report I see says the score was probably closer than that. Sporting is considered the top academy around, up there and perhaps beyond Barcelona. Some names who participated are Conor Coady, Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Robinson, and Raheem Sterling, which leads you to believe this was a pretty strong side. Kind of a drop for Jonjo, but this is probably an attempt to get him any football, because I just can't see how he's going to crack the first team this season. Plenty of time to get him a loan spell though. Anyway, worth keeping an eye on and how they progress.
And why is it that Portugal always seems so strong at the youth level? Obviously, it's a strong footballing nation to begin with, but they didn't announce themselves recently until that Golden Generation of Figo, Rui Costa, Pauleta, and Joao Pinto among others won an under-20 World Cup. Obviously, we can look for this crop of Sporting players to be part of a future full Portugal side that totally fluffs it at a tournament while more concerned with getting back to the hot tubs full of hookers and their hair care product.
-Lots of buzz about the Reds going after Stoke's Ryan Showcross. I would be all for it. I know some are jittery about bringing in a defender whose method of passing can be executed with sticks of dynamite, but how often do Stoke require their defenders to complete a pass? How often does anyone at Stoke complete a pass? Showcross is 22, a far way from a defender's peak, and can still be molded. And it's clear we may need some cover if nothing else there.
-We'll get more into this in tomorrow's preview, but good god is there nothing left of Arsenal to take the field on Saturday. Nasri is off to City soon (where he can look forward to a nice seat where he can try and figure out what it is that Gareth Barry does for a living just like the rest of us), Fabregas finally went "wee wee wee!" all the way home, Gervinho and Song are suspended, Djourou and Wilshere are hurt. There could be three debutantes on Saturday, with somethings named Emanuel Frimpong and Carl Jenkinson coming in. While Van Persie always provides some kind of danger, will there ever be a better chance to take all the points at The Emirates, which we've never done?
-Also a lot of buzz for David Ngog moving to Bolton as well. That's fine. I know we may be a little short at striker, but with a habit of only playing one at a time it would seem Carroll, Kuyt, and Suarez would be enough for now. As for Ngog, I love the idea of him, but the reality has never matched that. And I'm tired of waiting. If he were good enough, he would have played more regularly by now.