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Torres & Voronin: A pair of aces

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We’re currently working on upgrading our sister site Kopblog so while we do that, here is Gerry’s latest blog update. You can discuss this and other LFC matters in the forums.

A GOOD win and a very good performance against Sunderland on Saturday, followed by another very good performance in our 4-0 demolition of Toulouse last night, as we cruised into the Champions League, life is good!

If anything, our 2-0 victory over the Black Cats flattered them more then us, because on another day we could very well have hit them for six. The Scum`s favourite son, Roy Keane must have got down on his knee`s to kiss his goalkeeper`s feet for saving them from a far more embarrassing score line, but the important thing is we secured another three precious points and our good start to the league season continues. The Toulouse manager wasn`t quite so lucky, but even he might consider himself fortunate that his side only conceded four goal`s in a game where they were lucky to get nil.

Rafa has assembled a strong and exciting squad for us this season, and a perfect example of this was shown by the fact that Steven Gerrard was missing from the side for both games and yet you hardly noticed his absence. Momo Sissoko did his best StevieG impression in midfield and had two great games. He even went so far as to score his first goal for the club against Sunderland, a sweet long range strike that the skipper himself would have been proud of.

In each season since the boss took over, we have seen the side making steady progress, but the class of 2007/8 promises to be the best we have seen in a very long time. Rafa said at the end of last season that in order for us to catch up at the top, maybe it was time for us to stop taking things just one step at a time and start taking two, and it looks as if we`ve done that.

Our defence continues to be rock solid and our midfield is as strong as ever, but we`ve now added some much needed attacking flair to the side and its had an immediate effect. These past two games gave us an opportunity to see all four of our strikers in action, and each of them have done well. Kuyt and Crouch were our strike force against Toulouse and both put in typical hard working displays as well as chipping in with 3 of our 4 goals between them. And yet despite this, in my opinion Torres and Voronin will be our most effective striking partnership this season.

We may have paid a record price for Fernando Torres but his performances so far, have lived up to the fee. As I`ve said before on this blog, as a football fan it`s my duty to worry, it comes with the job, and when we completed the signing of Torres, I had two major worries about him.

voronin and torres in training

Firstly, I was worried that the pressure of the price tag might weigh heavily on his shoulders. There have been many other players that have come to other clubs for far heftier fees then the one we paid, but the British sports media seems to enjoy putting the boot into Liverpool at every opportunity and I knew they would be certain to put Torres under an intense spotlight. However, I needn`t have worried. Nando seems to be a very cool customer indeed and he seems to have taken it all in his stride.

My second worry was how quickly he would adapt to the Premiership. I never had any doubts about his quality, but when you saw that baby face of his, you wondered how he would cope with the heavy treatment he was sure to encounter at the hands of Premiership defenders, but once again I needn`t have worried. He`s certainly a lot tougher then he looks and he has had no trouble coping with any of the defences he`s encountered so far, in fact he seems to be enjoying it. In our game against CSKA London, when he reached up and patted John Terry on the cheek as the chav captain was moaning to the ref, it was classic stuff, reminiscent of the moment when Ruddock straightened Cantona`s collar all those years ago.

He is a wonderfully talented player and even at this early stage I have no hesitation in saying he is the most exciting forward we have had at this club in many years. When the action is in the first two thirds of the pitch, you would hardly know he`s there, but when the ball enters the final third, he bursts into life and is a constant threat. On Saturday he could have easily had a hat-trick and there was plenty of examples of his quality.

He had many good moments in the game, but my favourite was when he picked up the ball just outside the centre circle and with an electrifying burst of acceleration, cruised through the middle of both Sunderland centre backs as if they weren`t there, and then blasted in a shot that Craig Gordon did well to save. It would be tempting to think that his pace is his biggest asset, but there is so much more to him then that.

We have had plenty of pacy players here over the years, but none of them had the timing and intelligence of Torres. Not once on Saturday did he allow himself to be caught offside and this is often the case with him. He seems quite happy to give a defender a yard start on him, knowing that he can turn on the jets and comfortably outstrip him for pace. During his years at a struggling Atletico Madrid, he had to make the best use of the scraps he was given, but now that he`s surrounded by quality in a Liverpool side that gives him plenty of possession, he seems to be enjoying himself and long may it continue.

However, as good as Torres was on Saturday, it was Voronin who was the man of the match. While we are all delighted with Torres`s early season form, Voronin`s has come as more of a surprise. When news came out that we had signed him on a free transfer back in January, just about every Liverpool fan asked, “Andriy who?” But thankfully Rafa knew all about him and he has turned out to be a revelation.

Already it is clear that Voronin is a high quality player. He has game intelligence, strength, pace, good control, an eye for goal and is the kind of guy that would kick his own granny, a very useful combination of qualities for a striker to have. Like Torres, Voronin harries defenders and is a constant threat in the final third. One of the things I`ve noticed about him in the games he`s played so far, is that he rarely wastes a ball and I thought he was brilliant in Saturday`s game.

One of the papers I read on Sunday, has come up with some new way of calculating players performances in games based on their overall contribution to the side i.e. successful passes, tackles and shots etc. According to their calculations, Voronin was the best player in the Premiership on Saturday with a score of 96%, which is not too surprising when you consider that outside of his excellent contribution in the general play, he had five shots, all of them on target, set up Sissoko for his goal and then scored the second goal himself. A pretty effective day at the office by anyone`s standards.

All four of our strikers have different qualities and all are capable of playing with each other, but in my view Voronin and Torres are the two who complement each other the most. Given the right kind of service, Torres can get behind a defence and cause all kinds of problems. Voronin tends to play a bit deeper then Nando, but not too deep, and in my view he is the one most capable of feeding Torres the right kind of pass and vice versa.

I mean no disrespect to Kuyt or Crouch, who are both great players in their own right and I think they will both play a big part in our season. But for my money, Torres and Voronin will prove to be our dynamic duo this season, not so much a Batman and Robin, more of a Batman and Batman, who will make Jokers out of any defence that stands in their way!

On a final note, I was so proud of the club and our supporters last night for paying such a moving tribute to murdered 11yr old, Rhys Jones. The young lad was an Evertonian and so both the Everton and Liverpool anthems were played in the stadium before the game, and a minute`s applause was brilliantly observed by everyone before the kick-off. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time, and I only hope that last nights tribute might move somebody to come forward with information to the police, so that justice can be done and his family can have some semblance of peace. RIP Rhys Jones.

Gerry Ormonde,

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