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Torres to turn the tide?

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Robbo Robson | 13:35 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

No need to ask who had the squeakiest bum this weekend.

There was a lot of Arsene about at St Andrew's, where poor old Wenger's desperate need for something resembling a goalkeeper continues. This time it was Manuel Almunia's time to flap around like fruit bat in a wardrobe, as Kevin Phillips' equaliser robbed his under-performers of all three points.

At Stamford Bridge, Aston Villa went in at half- time and stayed there while Martin O'Neill sent out 11 traffic cones in their stead.

Ancelotti put on his best game-face, as if trying to suggest 7-1 was business as usual, which is a bit like me trying to keep a straight face when that numpty lass at the supermarket check-out gives us too much change.
Jlloyd Samuel and team-mates react to own-goal, as Nani looks on
D'oh! Jlloyd Samuel reacts to his own-goal
Meanwhile, the Wayne in pain is still able to train. But he wasn't needed at the Reebok, where his stand-in for neat finishes turned out to be Jlloyd Samuel. Embarrassing, but then the lad's managed to get to 29 years of age with a name like Jlloyd, so how much worse can it get? I mean, what were his parents thinking? Jlloyd? That's not a name it's an ointment.

But it was Sunday's results that really had us hopping mad and/or shaking our heads.
Blackburn's penalty was a low-point. Burnley may be going down, but not quite as quickly as Martin Olsson. I guess it's part of the modern forward's training ground routines, this automatic leave-your-leg-trailing-behind-you-like-a-string-of-sausages garbage.

And yes, people, the sainted Wazza does it - and Gerrard does his crazy starfish flop - and it's all so, well, cheap. They look less like highly-paid professional sportsmen and more like desperate children's entertainers trying to rescue a laugh from a cynical bunch of six-year-olds.

Big Sam employed the meaningless manager-speak of " we deserved to win" - as if doing so on the back of a massive con somehow makes it OK.

In fact, I reckon someone should do an experiment with a random sample of international forwards - which is more or less what Wigan Athletic put out every week - and see how they react when confronted by an approaching goalkeeper. Actually, let's make it any man wearing big gloves. I reckon every one of 'em 'd salivate, stumble and then look around with pleading eyes.

Of course, a while back, Eduardo da Silva's two-game ban was overturned because, I dunno, they managed to prove that a stray yarn from Artur Boruc's sock may have brushed an outstretched hair on the Brazilian-Croat's knee, so I'm sure they'd be able to get a ban for Olsson overturned on the basis that an onrushing Brian Jensen creates such a violent shifting of air as to make it impossible for any striker to stay on his feet.

Nevertheless, I'd ban Olsson for five games and make him spend his time off joining some real children's entertainers doing parties for kiddies throughout the old Lancashire wool towns (I attended one such do with me grandson last Saturday and it was the closest I've been to watching a man's soul die before my very eyes. Poor old Mandrake the Magnificent).

In another corner of that Premier League monopoly that is the North-West, we had Rafa Benitez doing his usual backs-against-the-wall nonsense of putting out a really adventurous team. And, lo and behold, said 11 took Torn-asunderland to the cleaners (there was a lot of huffing and puffing from the Black Cats, but mostly from the fans with their beach balls).

It was reminiscent of their run-in last season when no one could live with 'em. And it made you wonder why (a) Benitez is so happy to risk a dull stalemate when his better players could offer so much more given a bit of encouragement and (b) why Real Madrid, armed with a bunch of show-ponies, would want to employ the services of someone so prone to taking the dour choice.
Fernando TorresSealed with a kiss - Torres celebrates wonder strike
Good managers recognise when it's time to throw caution to the wind (or in this case, Lucas to the bench) and Rafa's waited a tad too long this season. But there's still hope. Look at their last six fixtures: Burnley - as threatening as a toddler with a cotton bud;

Hull - they'll be one up against them before you can say Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink; Fulham - who look ready for a nice lie-down; West Ham (say no more); and Brum away on Saturday, which might just mean a point. With Chelsea at home to come too, Liverpool are just a ghost goal away from bagging 16 points.

Spurs and Citeh have opportunities galore for dropped points, and Mancini isn't helped by having a team with all the coherence of a John Prescott rallying cry. We know how Villa's season will end (not with a bang but a whimper). And the Toffees have too much to do. I tell you, it's all possible, still.

Benitez knows it's still on. Indeed, there are legions of fans up and down the country who are praying for a late rush to take Rafa back into the Champions league - and most of them don't support Liverpool.

I suspect that were a Hiddink or a Mourinho to stride under the This Is Anfield sign at the start of next season and make his way to the home dug-out, the Reds would be at least 50% more likely to lift the title.

With Torres fit, anything's possible, of course. The opener on Saturday was majestic - I tell you, that lad could pierce an ear from 50 yards with an air rifle. Long may he stay in English footy.

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