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Friday, 29 July 2011
Liverpool's pre-season schedule took them to Turkey for a much tougher fixture in the build up to the new season. Turkey don't do friendlies and this would be a good test for Liverpool as they move ever closer to the new season. Liverpool have fond memories of Istanbul and tonight they would face one of their heroes from that memorable night in the shape of Milan Baros.
Kenny opted for a very young looking side with Flanagan, Kelly, Robinson and Shelvey starting the match complimented by more experience with Cole and Poulsen and Kyrgiakos acting as captain for the night. Andy Carroll starting up front in his build up to match fitness with newly returned Insua and Degen also starting alongside new signing Doni keeping goal.
No friendly atmosphere for Liverpool inside the Turk Telekom Arena which I'm sure came as no surprise to the Reds as this new stadium opened in January is in the Guinness Book of World Records for generating the loudest noise at a sports stadium.
Galatasaray fired up by their passionate support almost scored inside the first minute as former Red Baros stabbed a shot just wide of Doni's post. Moments later Turan looped a header just wide of target as Liverpool were under intense pressure from the off.
It was no surprise that Galatasaray took the lead on 8 minutes when Baros slammed home a low cross from the right with Liverpool's defence all over the place. With the hosts totally dominant and Liverpool trying to keep the score at 1-0 they could only muster a wayward long range effort from Carroll as an attacking threat.
Doni then had to make a good save from a Baros header as the home side continued to threaten. Then on 36 minutes Kelly missed a glorious chance from 6 yards out after a good header by Kyrgiakos, the linesman's flag spared his blushes.
Doni had to make another good stop turning a Turan shot round the post. But Doni was helpless as Baros made it 2-0 four minutes before the break when he headed in at the back post after a near post flick from a corner. It was just what the home side deserved from their dominant display. Shelvey was unlucky with a long range effort as the half ended.
Dalglish rang the changes at half-time bringing on Jones, Kuyt and Aqualani and Liverpool responded with a better start to the second half with Carroll having a headed effort saved by Ceylan. Aqualani was unlucky with his shot being well saved by Ceylan after good work from Kuyt down the right.
Liverpool probed throughout the second half without looking threatening as Galatasaray's pace dropped from the first half. Galatasaray capped off a fine win when former Bolton striker Elmander volleyed a stunning goal from the edge of the box with four minutes to go.
The team selected for this match had me worried and my fears were realised inside ten minutes of the match. I can't criticise Dalglish for giving everybody in the squad a chance to prove themselves this pre-season, but with only a couple more fixtures to go until the season starts I think he should be playing his first team and getting those players match fit. The likes of Degen, Insua and Poulsen are just not good enough unless he was using them in a shop window last night, but I think any customers would be put of with that showing. Never mind its only a friendly and I am sure Kenny will get it right when the season starts and we will see a different team on Monday night in Norway.
Man of the Match - Kuyt - made a big difference in the second half as he tried to lift the side and created a few chances. Such an important player for us.
Posted by james walker at 04:19
Sunday, 17 July 2011
Liverpool continued their Asian Tour to Malaysia as they step up their pre-season preparations for the new season. With Kenny back home tying up the deal for new signing Downing, Liverpool would be managed by fellow Scot Steve Clarke for this match. Once again the main aim for this match would be to give as many players as possible a run out.
With such a large following in this part of the world the Bukit Jalil Stadium was sold out for this match with 80,000 fans at fever pitch to witness their heroes. But the game started in a more relaxed fashion as both teams settled into proceedings.
It took 10 minutes for Liverpool to create their first chance and it was new signing Adam that created it finding Carroll with a perfect pass, Carroll's effort was thwarted by Allawee Ramli with Meireles failing to turn the rebound goalward.
Moments later Adam clipped a free-kick just over. With Liverpool dominating proceedings they were awarded a rather soft penalty when Puttra tugged back Carroll in the box when trying to connect to another Adam pass. Adam confidently converted the spot kick at the second attempt after the referee awarded a re-take.
Meireles then had a back post header saved before the hosts equalised three minutes before half-time with a tremendous strike from a free-kick by Captain Rahim who gave Brad Jones no chance. Liverpool had a couple of scares before half-time as the hosts were bouyed by their goal and Liverpool were happy to hear the whistle to end the half.
Liverpool put a new team out for the second half making eleven changes and they almost took an early lead but N'Gog dragged his shot wide after being sent clear by Aqualani.
Shelvey then hit a low free-kick just wide of the target before Kuyt put a dangerous ball across the face of goal which Aqualani just couldn't reach.
Then in the 69th minute Liverpool took the lead after an Insua cross eventually found N'Gog at the back post after a mix up at the near post as Ahmad tried to clear, N'Gog stretched to steer the ball into the net.
Moments later N'Gog scored his second goal of the match when he fired into the top corner after being sent clear by Aqualani.
With Liverpool in the acendency now and the Malaysians tiring they scored a fourth when a good move started by Aqualani found Insua down the left who's centre was met by Maxi who made no mistake from close range.
With contest seemingly over the hosts remarkably pulled a goal back with ten minutes remaining when Sali scored. Amazingly the substitute added a second shortly after setting up a tense finale.
Liverpool ended the comeback with two late goals, another from Maxi and one from Kuyt giving the massive crowd plenty of goals to cherish from their heroes.
Overall it was a good performance from many players as they continue their preperation for the new season. Adam and Aqualani impressed the most for me with N'Gog looking sharp up front scoring a couple of goals.
Man of the Match - Adam - everything good came from him and very confident with the penalty, I was also impressed with his workrate tracking back.
Posted by james walker at 08:06
Thursday, 14 July 2011
It seems no time since our last match of the season, that defeat to Villa, but it is great to see Liverpool back in action with food for thought with the coming season. A new experience for Liverpool playing for the first time on Chinese soil against Guangdong. Obviously the most important thing about pre-season games is getting everyone fit for the new season and Kenny was always going to use as many players as possible for this match.
With a very excited support in the stadium hoping to witness a few Liverpool goals, the game got off to a good start and it wasn't long until Liverpool had their first chance when Wilson headed a Pacheco corner just wide of the far post.
The hosts reponded when Ricardo Steer had an effort beaten away by Gulacsi. But Liverpool were looking the most dangerous and the lively N'Gog forced Yu Yongzhe into his first save of the match.
N'Gog had the ball in the net in the 15th minute but it was ruled out for offside. Liverpool did take the lead in the 19th minute when Cole found Poulsen at the back post who volleyed low into the corner of the net sending the supporters wild with excitement.
Liverpool were playing some good stuff as you could see the players trying to impress Dalglish. Dalglish was smiling again two minutes later when N'Gog doubled the lead after good work from Cole and Shelvey.
Pacheco should have made it three after a superb passing move sliced open the hosts' defence but he side footed wide.
With Liverpool dominating the play and creating all the chances you were starting to wonder how many they would score especially when N'Gog had another effort ruled out for offside.
But Guangdong had a late flurry at the end of the first half with Mahamad Awal fizzing a shot across the six yard box, and then pulling a goal back on the stroke of half-time when Ricardo rose above Gulacsi to head home.
Dalglish made 11 changes at half-time giving first games to Wisdom, Coady and new signing Adam. It was good to see the new faces being introduced and Liverpool dominated proceedings like they did in the first half.
Maxi was unlucky not to score with a couple of good efforts at goal. Liverpool did make it three when Carroll set up Coady who capped an amazing debut with a great finish.
Andy Carroll got on the scoresheet making it 4-1 with 5 minutes to go firing in from close range.
The scoreline was just about right for the way the game played out, but fair play to Guangdong they never gave up and they grabbed a couple of amazing stoppage time goals stunning Liverpool somewhat.
Overall it was a good first game for Liverpool as most of the squad recieved match action.
Man of the Match - Flanagan - He carried on from where he left off last season.
Posted by james walker at 11:36
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Defensively we look very good with Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Danny Wilson and Soto Kyrgiakos covering the centre of defence. At left back many people see this as a weak position but I don't think it is a priority position to rectify as we have Aurelio (when fit) to play there, but we also have Glen Johnson who played extremely well at left back last season and young Jack Robinson who showed he is well up to the task when brought into the team last season, also John Flannagan showed he can play at left back too, so we do have options for left back.
At right back we are very strong with Glen Johnson, John Flanagan, not forgetting Jamie Carragher who can still fill in when required but in my view Martin Kelly should be the number one right back for us as he looked superb last season before injury ended his season.
I see the left side of midfield being the problem position for us but with speculation of trying to sign Downing from Aston Villa that could help resolve the problem. But at the moment we still have Joe Cole who should be offering more than he has shown in his first season and Maxi who had a tremendous end to the season, Aurelio could also play there as he has a great left foot to provide crosses when getting forward. Charlie Adam used to play wide left with Rangers so he could be used on the left and it may be a reason why Kenny signed him.
The centre of midfield looks extremely strong with Lucas who shone last season and Jay Spearing who stepped up to the plate. The signings of Henderson and Adam have added real quality which wasn't lacking anyway with Meireles and the key man Gerrard also available. The disappointing Poulsen won't see much action with all these guys ahead of him but with Aqualani back it will be interesting to see if he features in the midfield.
On the right side of midfield we have the ever reliable Kuyt who is a massive player for us, we also have Meireles who has been used wide right, but I think we could see Glen Johnson being used here if both full back positions are taken.
For years we were so one dimensional in our attack relying on Torres and his fitness but now we have more options with the dangerous Suarez and Andy Carroll looking to form a potent partnership, but Kuyt is great option up front too as he showed last season when Carroll was struggling for fitness, N'Gog is another option but I personally don't think he is good enough. and I would like to see us signing another striker as I think we need four good strikers in the squad.
We also have some brilliant youngsters coming through and I won't be surprised to see more of them breaking into the first team next season. The like of Wisdom, Coady, Pacheco, Silva, Morgan and the very exciting Sterling are really exciting prospects and could save us a lot of money too.
Overall when you look at the squad I think its safe to say we don't need to panic buy this summer as we have great quality already with potential coming through. Like I said maybe a left sided midfielder or another striker but then no squad is perfect is it ?
Posted by james walker at 04:09