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Craig Bellamy Only Has One Speed, and Other Friday Notes

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Usually the weekend is really fun, with lots of upper-crust social events to attend during which people wearing shiny white clothes talk to one another at the country club and share the excitement of their latest human hunting excursions and dish on which bathroom stall is the cleanest to snort cocaine in. But there's no time for that now, as Arsenal are coming to Anfield on Saturday, and they beat Spurs last Sunday and now they're really back, and the joke's on you because all that self-harm they've been doing over the past few weeks was just for attention.


* Someone who's fairly decent at drawing attention to himself on the Liverpool end is Craig Bellamy, although if you've been hanging around at all this season you'll have noticed that the attention's been roundly positive and the player himself has actually taken a more even-tempered approach to the game. This earned plenty of sloppily-constructed headlines in the build-up to the League Cup final, but for those interested in actually knowing things that exist in reality, it was just another piece of evidence in the growing case that Bellamy's grown up quite a bit in the past few years, and he's viewing the game as a game. The horror.

Which makes it even nicer to see that he's still able to light up the Premier League regardless of whether or not he's playing with a chip on his shoulder, even as it seems that referees and opponents are more keen to cash in on Bellamy's reputation than he is. Most recently it's the revelation that he managed to sprint over half a mile in the League Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City, tops among Premier League players on the year. It's better than Welsh teammate and probably savior of humanity Gareth Bale, Arsenal disaster/just kidding we booed him because we knew it'd make him better Theo Walcott, and lots of other people who are really popular because their necks are longer.

At the age of 32---and with knees that are reported to be only slightly less wobbly than the neural pathways trying to navigate their way through Stuart Pearce's skull Jello---that's certainly an accomplishment, and for a club that's lacked any sort of burning pace over the last few years, it's more than welcome. Pessimists will point to his age and the fact that he's one of the only players in the side with the ability to beat a man one-on-one, but with a scarcity of players with pace that can also read the game, I'll take Craig Bellamy's combination of newfound maturity, fitness, and speed over most.

* The fallout from England's midweek friendly with Holland has continued, even as Kenny Dalglish downplayed any potential controversy between the club and Stuart Pearce's mega-awesome decision making. The decision to head in the direction of the stylishly-coiffed yet captainishly suspect Scott Parker has riled more than a few bones, with Tommy Smith and David Johnson expressing their dismay at the decision to appoint Parker as captain for the night, and Dirk Kuyt adding his voice to the chorus of those that would like to see Gerrard lead England into this summer's European Championship.

As Noel pointed out in typically articulate fashion yesterday, the Gerrard-England relationship has been a tumultuous one, and the controversy over the midweek appointment of Parker as captain hasn't done much to alleviate the drama surrounding the English national team. The injury concerns for Gerrard have only compounded matters, and while it'd be great to see Gerrard as captain---and almost certainly a major point of pride for a player who's unfortunately had his loyalty go unrewarded by a band of incompetent nincompoops who are happy to have a reputation that's strengthened only by an overpaid media collective that, against all odds, is able to keep blowing smoke up the ass of an FA that's proven time and again that their only enduring success is consistent incompetence---I'm not going to lose any sleep over the hopes that he'll lead England to glory. Not because he's incapable, but because they'll barely escape the group stage and then get overpowered by a tactically superior and grittier side from somewhere else in Europe that doesn't stand a chance on a rainy night in the West Midlands but is decent enough everywhere else.

* And finally, with a left-footed Jesus leaving last summer, it'd only make sense for another deity to swoop into town to carry the load, so the news that Robbie Fowler is training with Blackpool and potentially has the option to sign a short-term deal isn't necessarily the most surprising news from a theological standpoint. For a player that's hopped around for the past few seasons from leagues of questionable quality it would be slightly shocking to see some sort of regular role, but as Ian Holloway mentions in the link above, there's probably something special left in a player that brought so many brilliant memories to the red half of Merseyside.

That just about does it for the Friday notes, and I'll be back a bit later with the preview for tomorrow's match with Arsenal. And while you probably won't make the cut for the next expedition for the most dangerous game, you can at least enjoy a montage that's almost as sweet as that country club powder.