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Monday, 23 May 2011
The final game of a rollercoaster of a season for Liverpool away to Aston Villa and still in with a chance of qualifying for Europe. But after last weeks defeat against Spurs it meant that Liverpool would have to better Tottenham's result against Birmingham. So Liverpool would be looking to end the season on a high with a victory. Aston Villa have been on a decent run of form lately taking them clear of the drop zone which threatened them not so long ago. Unfortunately Liverpool's old manager Gerrard Houllier would not be leading out Villa as he is still recovering from his health scare, but former Liverpool player Gary McAllister would deputise for him.
Dalglish had to make three changes for this match with Maxi, Carroll and Johnson all struggling with injuries, so Kenny brought Cole, Aurelio and fit again Meireles back into the side and hope for a good away win to finish the season.
Liverpool were supported with a very vocal support and they showed great respect to their former favourites Gerrard Houllier and Gary McAllister by chanting their names. They also were bouyed with the fact that Liverpool captain Gerrard was amongst them in the away end.
Liverpool started well but were dealt a blow when Spearing failed to recover from a bad challenge by Reo-Coker, Shelvey replaced the midfielder. Liverpool went close on the 15 minute mark when Lucas had a volley cleared off the line by Ashley Young.
Then Lucas played a ball through to Suarez but Friedal was alert to the danger. The game became littered with fouls and the game lacked cohesion. Then Carragher suffered a nasty gash on his forehead and had to leave the field to get stitched up leaving Liverpool with 10 men on the park.
Carragher was back on the park when Villa took the lead on 33 minutes when an Albrighton cross found Downing at the back post who smashed a volley past Reina from close range via the underside of the crossbar.
Villa were bouyed by this goal and had a good spell but Liverpool almost equalised when Aurelio whipped in a free-kick which Skrtel narrowly missed. So Liverpool went in at the half a goal down and with plenty to think about.
Liverpool tried get back into the game and started the second half well with Joe Cole miscuing a volley. Meireles should have scored after great work from Suarez but his side foot effort was saved on the line by a combination of Friedal and Dunne.
Liverpool were the dominant side now and most of the chances were theirs. Meireles looked to pass across the face of goal but Reo-Coker saved the day with a last ditch block. Then Aurelio fired a free-kick just wide of the post.
With time running out Meireles' low cross found Suarez in the box but he shot over and Liverpool's season ended in defeat and the prospect of no European football next season.
I thought Liverpool were quite unlucky to lose the game as they did have chances to score. Unlucky to lose Spearing so early in the game and the early part of the game was very stop start with a lot of fouls. The Villa goal should not have been allowed as Carragher was clearly fouled when going up for a header, the ball ending up with Downing who finished brilliantly. Reina didn't have a lot to do in the game either as Liverpool had most of the play. Liverpool should have had a penalty as well when Dunne handled Meireles' effort in the second half. Disappointing to lose the game and to miss out on Europe but it might work out well for us so we can concentrate on the League next season. So bring on the new season.
Man of the Match - Suarez- never stopped running and trying to create, brilliant play to tee up Meireles in the second half. A constant threat.
Monday, 16 May 2011
Liverpool's great run of form has edged them into 5th place in the League and into pole position for a place in next season's Europa League competition. So this match was built up like a play off for the Europa League spot as Liverpool just overtook Tottenham last week after their impressive win over Fulham. Spurs have had a poor run of form recently since their exit in the Champions League and have only won one of their last 13 matches. Liverpool have been in impressive form and with the match at Anfield Liverpool were favourites. Liverpool's last home game of the season and they would hope to sign off with a win.
Dalglish was forced into one change for this match with the fit again Carroll coming in for Meireles who picked up an injury against Fulham last Monday. So a little bit of a re-shuffle in the team but good to see the partnership of Suarez and Carroll starting as they have not had too many games together.
A great atmosphere for Liverpool's last home game of the season bouyed by the recent news of Kenny Dalglish being made permanent manager with a 3 year contract. The Anfield faithful expected.
But it was Spurs who started better dominating possession in the early stages and looking dangerous as Liverpool struggled to cope with Tottenham's good start.
Then in the 9th minute Spurs got their reward when Van der Vaart gave them the lead with a superb volley from the edge of the Liverpool penalty box after a Tottenham corner was half cleared.
Liverpool struggled to respond to this set back as they couldn't get out of first gear and it wasn't until the 23rd minute until they registered their first meaningful attack when Carroll miss-kicked a Maxi lay off. Then Dawson made an excellent clearance from a dangerous Kuyt centre as Liverpool tried to get back into the match.
In the 30th minute Liverpool had appeals for a penalty waved away from referee Howard Webb when Kuyt looked to have been hauled to the ground from behind in the penalty area. 5 minutes later Liverpool's best move of the match resulted in Maxi squaring to Spearing but his stabbed effort rolled well wide.
Carroll missed the best chance of the half when he headed over at the back post from a perfect cross from Martin Skrtel. At the other end Crouch headed wide.
In first half stoppage time Suarez went very close from a free-kick just missing the target. So Spurs went in at the half with a 1-0 lead and with Liverpool having plenty to do in the second half.
Spurs started the second half the way they started the first half and Van der Vaart tried a chipped effort to double Tottenham's lead but Reina was untroubled.
Then on 55 minutes Liverpool were dealt a hammer blow when Spurs were rewarded with a penalty after a coming together between Flanagan and Pienaar, TV replays prove the incident was outside the box but Webb pointed to the spot and Modric doubled Tottenham's lead.
Liverpool responded and pushed Spurs back with Flanagan sending in a low cross which Suarez steered over the crossbar. Shelvey replaced Spearing as Dalglish opted for change in midfield and Shelvey went very close with his first touch being a long range drive going inches wide.
With 15 minutes remaining Dawson almost diverted a Liverpool corner into his own net but it ended up on the roof of the net. Liverpool pressed for the remainder of the game but Tottenham's defence stood firm and Liverpool finished their last home game of the season with a disappointing defeat.
A disappointing result after the great run of form we have been on. Also a blow to lose 5th spot to Tottenham with only one game to play. Although it might work out in our favour next season to miss out on the Europa League and give us fewer games to play. Liverpool didn't start the game very well and losing an early goal didn't help. Credit to Spurs though they did play very well and also defended very well when we put them under pressure. Carroll showed glimpses of potential but he doesn't look 100% yet and missed a glorious chance in the first half when he headed over. Suarez looked a frustrated figure as he constantly showed displeasure with referee Howard Webb's decisions. Webb never gave us much and waved away any appeals for penalties from the home side. Then Webb confirmed his reputation with the Anfield faithful when he gave Spurs that penalty which looked like Pienaar had cut across Flanagan fouling the youngster and replays prove it was also outside the penalty box. Liverpool didn't play well enough to deserve anything from the game but I reckon it was just a bad day at the office as Liverpool's revival will continue.
Man Of The Match - John Flanagan - Superb match from the youngster with some crunching tackles and responded brilliantly after the penalty decision going against him. Very unlucky to get booked and got forward when he could puting in some dangerous crosses.
Posted by james walker at 08:50
Friday, 13 May 2011
At last the news that every Liverpool supporter had been waiting for, Kenny Dalglish today signed a three year contract to manage Liverpool Football Club. To be honest it had to happen, there would have been a lynching of the new owners if they chose somebody else for the job.
Kenny as we all know has legendary status at Liverpool but not even his greatest fan could have anticipated the impact and improvement in such a short space of time with him in charge. It was a tremendous decision at the time by the new owners to bring him back as the club was floundering under the leadership of Hodgson, they gave Hodgson time but things were not working and he had to go and Kenny was the only man that could have steadied the ship.
Dalglish has lifted the whole club, supporters and most importantly the players since his arrival. So many supporters myself included thought our squad of players was not good enough and needed a major overhaul in the summer, but a few months down the line and I'm not so sure that we need to bring in as many players as I thought.
The style of play Dalglish has installed into the team with the famous pass and move style which every player seems so confident to play is like a breath of fresh air. The work rate Dalglish demands of his players to press high up the park is respected by the Anfield faithful as we the supporters want to see our team give 100%.
Kenny is intergrating the youngsters into the first team which we have not seen for a few years now. There are so many positives in Dalglish's short time back in charge that for the first time in a while we believe we could actually challenge once again for honours.
I like the way the new owners work they were always going to give Kenny the job on a permanent basis but they were not going to be rushed into any announcement or decision until they were ready. Even with the constant demands from the supporters and the media to give Dalglish the job they waited until the time was right and that was today.
Its so good to finally hear the confirmation today and I don't think we could have a better man to lead us back to the glory days and knock Manchester United off their perch. Kenny has proved that although he has been out of the game for a while that he hasn't lost it. We can all look forward to next season with a renewed optimism.
Posted by james walker at 10:11
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Liverpool going into this Monday night match on a tremendous run of form hoping to keep it going at Fulham as they chase a European place. Never an easy place to go to especially this season as they are unbeaten at home in the League this season. Fulham gave Liverpool a very tough match at Anfield earlier in the season as Dalglish recorded his first victory since his return to Anfield with an own goal being the winning goal that night. Fulham also went into the game with a good victory last weekend so confidence with both sides was high.
With Liverpool having no new injury worries and no players on the injured list back to fitness left Dalglish with an unchanged side from last weeks win over Newcastle. So Flanagan extended his run in the side this time at left-back with Johnson switched to the right-back position. The ever improving engine room of Lucas and Spearing also started and the free-scoring Maxi kept his place in the team. Andy Carroll still unfit to start as Suarez and Kuyt provide the firepower.
There are good starts to a match and for Liverpool they couldn't have dreamt of a better start when they took the lead inside the first minute, Lucas played a great pass down the left freeing Suarez whose deflected cross was kicked clear by Schwarzer only to find Maxi who smashed the ball home continuing his goalscoring streak.
After taking the lead on 32 seconds Liverpool went for the jugular as Fulham were reeling and they doubled their lead on 7 minutes when once again Lucas sent a defence splitting pass through to Johnson who crossed perfectly to the back post for Maxi to volley into the bottom corner of Schwarzer's net.
Liverpool were rampant now as they dominated proceedings and hemmed Fulham into their own half. Next came a claim for a penalty when Suarez raced behind the Fulham defence only to be impeded by Hangeland as the big defender was caught out, but appeals were waved away.
Then on 16 minutes Liverpool made it three when Kuyt shot low from just outside the box, it should have been a comfortable save for Schwarzer but he uncharacteristically let the ball squirm through him and into the net.
Spearing and Lucas were dominant in midfield and Suarez was virtually unplayable tying the Fulham defenders in knots at times and he almost made it four when he turned Hangeland down the left before firing wildly from close range.
The next chance was created by a good throw from Reina sending Suarez on his way before teeing up Maxi who volleyed into the stands as he looked for his second hat-trick in three matches.
Fulham were unlucky not to pull a goal back as they witnessed Johnson making a great clearance off the goaline from Dempsey.
So Liverpool went in at half-time three goals up and hoped to keep their good form going in the second half.
But early in the second half Liverpool were dealt another injury blow when Meireles had to be replaced by Shelvey. Fulham came out more like the team that has remained unbeaten at home this season as they pressed Liverpool into their own half.
Dempsey had a shot from 20 yards but it flew over Reina's bar. But in the 57th minute Fulham got a goal back when substitute Zamora set-up Demele who curled a shot beyond Reina from just inside the box, it was only what Fulham deserved.
Zamora then had a header cleared off the line as Fulham felt the game was far from over after getting a goal back.
But the fightback was short lived when in the 70th minute Maxi got his hat-trick with a great strike into the top corner from 25 yards. It took the wind out of Fulham and Liverpool made it five in the 75th minute when Shelvey split the defence with a perfect pass to Suarez and he danced round Schwarzer before passing the ball into the net. It was just reward for his outstanding performance.
With the game now finished as a contest Fulham snatched a late consolation when Sidwell hit a 25 yard strike into Reina's top right hand corner giving the Spaniard no chance. But it could not take the gloss off a magnificent performance from Liverpool.
I thought we would only come away with a draw from Fulham as their home form has been superb and I certainly was not expecting us to grab such a convincing win as this. I heard you could have got odds of 250-1 on predicting this scoreline. But obviously the early couple of goals were paramount in the performance and really set the team up for another great performance. The pressure and work rate we put Fulham under in the first half was impressive as Dalglish continues to have us pressing higher up the park and puting teams under pressure. Spearing and Lucas were dominant in midfield and some of their passing was a joy to watch, Lucas set up the first two Liverpool goals with passes from midfield. Like most people I can't believe the form of Maxi who has now scored 7 goals in his last 3 matches. Suarez was a constant threat as the Fulham defence struggled to deal with his movement and he deserved his goal. It really was one of the best performances of the season if not the best and I'm just disappointed that we are at the end of the season.
Man Of The Match - Luis Suarez - I thought he was outstanding, his movement his constant threat and the Fulham defence couldn't live with him. Great finish too.
Posted by james walker at 06:03
Thursday, 5 May 2011
I have to admit I was in the minority group of supporters who were happy at the appointment of Roy Hodgson as Liverpool manager. There was so much speculation about who we were going to bring in to replace Rafa and high on the list was Dalglish. I like some fans wondered if he had been away from management for too long and I questioned wether he would still have the hunger and desire for the job, not forgetting how football has changed in recent years too.
I have always had great respect for Hodgson who has a wealth of experience and there can be no doubt he is a very good manager. His work at Fulham was spectacular topped of by a European Final. I don't think Hodgson ever got the full backing of the Liverpool supporters during his short term in charge and I believe a lot of this was to do with Dalglish being overlooked in the selection process.
Hodgson didn't have the best of starts to the season results wise to help him win over the fans but the biggest problem was surely the messy takeover that overshadowed football on the pitch. When the new owners were finally installed, the club found fresh hope for the future. But unfortunately for Hodgson the results on the park never really improved as Liverpool languished in the bottom half of the table.
Then in January Hodgson's short term in charge came to an end and Dalglish returned. Like I said I was happy with the appointment of Roy Hodgson but things just didn't work out for him, there are so many reasons or excuses we could make for his failure but in the end its a results based business and he never got the results needed for a club like Liverpool.
Dalglish's appointment was a brilliant move by the owners as Dalglish is a living legend at this club. His arrival gave the whole club and supporters a massive lift. Amazingly his first game in charge was against old rivals Manchester United in the 3rd round of the FA Cup and although we lost 1-0 to another star performance from United's 12th man Howard Webb there was a sudden change in the attitude of the players and their commitment especially with the terrible start we had and the loss of Gerrard in the first half having to play with ten men for the remainder of the match.
Dalglish has made a remarkable transformation to the club fortunes in such a short space of time with a miraculous climb up the league table taking us up to 5th position at my time of writing. Since Kenny took charge only Chelsea have won more league points than us which proves how good a run we have been on.
There has been so much talk about needing new players in and the players we have at the club are not good enough, and I was one of them, but in recent times I'm not sure we need to bring in as many players as I first thought.
Similar to Dalglish's first spell in charge was the departure of star striker Torres which he could not prevent, like Ian Rush's departure to Juventus. But like then when he brought another prolific strker to the club in John Aldridge he acted swiftly in signing Luis Suarez and Newcastle's Andy Carroll, and to be fair we haven't looked back or missed Torres.
For the last few years we have been so reliant on Torres and Gerrard and if any or both of them have been out of the side then we would go into a game with a defeatest attitude. But in this short space of time Dalglish has got this team looking totally different.
Even with Gerrard out of the side he hasn't been missed as Dalglish has stressed the most important players at the club are the ones available for selection. Lucas and Jay Spearing who I have both been critical of in the past are bossing the midfield in games recently and Martin Skrtel who I have never really trusted has been immense not puting a foot wrong. Glenn Johnson is also looking like an accomplished defender where not so long ago I think I could have skinned him. Dirk Kuyt is more involved in everything good we do and not just running about like a headless chicken and his strike rate is as good as I can remember. Dalglish has introduced young Robinson and Flanagan into the team probably sooner than he would have wanted to but they have stepped up to the plate with confidence not looking out of place, and Martin Kelly was looking like one of the best right-backs in the league until his unfortunate injury at West Ham.
I could go on about the improvement of many more individuals in this last few months but it is obvious Dalglish and his coaching staff have made a significant difference to the players. He keeps speaking about the great attitude and workrate the players show in training but he has installed this belief and work ethic to the players and he deserves great credit for this.
When I watch Liverpool play I see similarities to the good old days with the pass and move philosophy that worked so well and with the players looking so much more confident in possession instead of treating the ball as a hot potato like earlier in the season. Also I have noticed Dalglish has us pressing higher up the park when not in possession with a similar look to how Barcelona play showing tremendous workrate to initalise this tactic.
I am just disappointed this season is drawing to a close and I wonder what we could have achieved if Dalglish had been there from the start of the season. But what I'm sure of is that the future looks bright for us and I can't wait to see what wheelings and dealings Kenny makes in the summer. Next season is going to be a really exciting one for Liverpool supporters as this last few months has just given us a taster.
It must only be a matter of time before Kenny is given a long term contract and I'm sure the owners will give him their full support to improve the club.
To the best supporters in the world.
Posted by james walker at 04:18
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Liverpool who are on a great run of form at that moment were hoping to continue this run at home to Newcastle. This is a fixture with a history of exciting games and plenty of goals, but there is an added spice to this match this time around with Newcastle having won against Liverpool earlier in the season and with a certain Andy Carroll scoring for the Magpies that day. Carroll now a Liverpool player facing his old team for the first time since his last minute transfer in the January transfer window would be preparing for a hot reception from his former supporters.
Liverpool still with a long list of injuries welcomed back Glen Johnson to the side at left back with young Jack Robinson making way for him at left back. The rest of the team was the same that started against Birmingham last week. Carroll who was coming back from injury was only passed fit for the bench, so Maxi kept his place in the team after his brilliant hat-trick last week. Flanagan once again starting at right back as he continues his impressive run in the side.
Similar to last weeks match Liverpool struck early and it was that man Maxi once again who netted after a good passing move by Liverpool which was finished off by the Argentine via the leg of Danny Simpson.
It was another great start for the home side but unlike last week where domination set in Newcastle responded by getting good possession as Liverpool struggled to make headway. Jay Spearing was unlucky with a 25 yard effort which Krul could only parry, but he recovered quickly befory Kuyt and Meireles could pounce.
Ameobi connected with a Joey Barton header as Newcastle threatened and they continued to dominate proceedings with a series of corner kicks and free-kicks inside Liverpool territory as Liverpool struggled to clear their lines.
Lucas had a chance before the break with a header from a Flanagan cross but Krul was alert to the danger. So Liverpool went in at the break with a slender 1-0 lead.
The second half began with chances at both ends, first Barton fired just wide from a Nolan centre, then Suarez danced past a couple of defenders on the left before his shot was almost deflected beyond Krul by Mike Williamson.
Liverpool came out a different team in the second half and they were looking more dangerous and passing the ball better. Then in the 58th minute Reina sent a long searching ball downfield which Suarez chased after, but Williamson read the situation as he tried to let the ball run out for a goal-kick, but Suarez never gave up and he somehow managed to keep the ball in surprising Williamson who tried to recover the situation by fouling Suarez in the box giving referee Walton no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Dirk Kuyt despatched the spot-kick sending Krul the wrong way and doubled Liverpool's lead. It was Kuyt's 14th goal of the season and his 8th goal in his last 7 League outings.
Minutes later Kuyt should have made it three but he headed wide of goal from 6 yards out. But then in the 65th minute Kuyt became provider with a lovely flicked pass into the path of Suarez who fired into the net from 6 yards out ending the match as a contest.
With the points secure Dalglish introduced Andy Carroll to a standing ovation from the Kop. Liverpool nearly made it four but Meireles headed just wide from a Johnson cross. But another impressive win for Liverpool as they now move up to 5th place in the League.
Another great win for Liverpool as the scoreline doesn't suggest how difficult it was at times. Liverpool got off to a great start and great to see Maxi finding the net again, but Newcastle dominated long spells of the first half as Liverpool played second fiddle. The defence played really well and stood firm under this Newcastle pressure limiting them to very few chances. Spearing and Lucas were again superb in midfield and Flanagan coped well against a difficult opponent in Gutierriez who goes to ground very easily and drew a soft booking from the youngster. Dalglish made a great move at half-time when he switched the more experienced Johnson to right back which nulified the threat of Gutierriez, instead of substituting Flanagan which could have damaged his confidence Dalglish switched him to left back where he played very well. Luis Suarez was a constant threat and got a deserved goal. Kuyt is superb right now involved in everything and scored once again keeping his fine scoring form going. The only disappointing thing for Liverpool right now is that the season is drawing to a close but up to 5th in the League now and a real chance of European football next season which would be some achievement for the club with all thats happened in this eventful season. It would be great ot go out on a high.
Man Of The Match - Kuyt - so involved in everything good about Liverpool, once again a cool head at the penalty and a sublime pass to Suarez for his goal. He is such an important player for us.
Posted by james walker at 03:29