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Sunday, 28 August 2011
Liverpool was hoping to keep their early season momentum going with a win at home to Bolton. A brilliant result away at Arsenal last weekend followed by a good carling Cup win at Exeter during the week have the team and supporters in confident mood going into the game. But Bolton are always a tough opposition under the leadership of Owen Coyle. Bolton gave title contenders Manchester City a very tough game last week, just losing out 3-2.
Dalglish made a number of changes from the side that beat Exeter through the week, fielding a side more similar to the side that beat Arsenal last week. Dalglish has so many options to him with his summer signings and the number of youngsters breaking through. But the big surprise to Kenny’s team selection was the exclusion of Andy Carroll, especially after him scoring against Exeter. So Dirk Kuyt was given the task of partnering Luis Suarez up front.
With the home support expecting nothing other than a home win it was Liverpool who started on the front foot with Adam orchestrating the midfield and Kuyt and Suarez causing mayhem in the Bolton defence with their movement.
Then on 15 minutes Suarez swerved a superb cross which Downing volleyed first time, Jaaskelainen made a great save but the rebound found Henderson who placed a great shot into the top right hand corner of the net sending the home supporters wild.
Liverpool were rampant playing some superb pass and moves, but Bolton did respond when Reina had to make a smart save from Petrov volley. Then Adam split the Bolton defence but Suarez just couldn’t collect after making a great run.
Next Henderson whipped in a dangerous cross which Kuyt just failed to reach. The chances kept on coming for Liverpool as they were irresistible now, and Suarez should have scored after being sent clear from a first time Henderson pass, but his chipped effort over Jaaskelainen hit the roof of the net.
Liverpool were dealt a blow when Kelly had to be replaced by Martin Skrtel on the half hour mark after picking up an injury. Liverpool continued to create chances and Kuyt went close with an angled shot and then just before half-time Liverpool thought they had won a penalty when Steinsson handled right on the edge of the box when Downing tried to cut inside, but only a free-kick was awarded. So Liverpool had to settle for a 1-0 lead at the half after all their domination, wary of a repeat of the Sunderland match.
Liverpool made a great start to the second half, doubling their lead seven minutes into it when Skrtel headed powerfully into the Bolton net from an Adam corner. Then a minute later it was Adam himself who scored his first for the club when he hit a low drive into the bottom corner from 25 yards with his right foot.
Liverpool should have won a penalty when Suarez cut into the box as Knight tackled him but as Suarez skipped past him Knight tripped the striker with his hand, oblivious to the officials.
Suarez almost made it 4-0 when he rounded Jaaskelainen but he shot into the side netting. In the 77th minute Jordan Henderson left the field to a standing ovation from the Anfield faithful being replaced by Maxi. Skrtel , Carroll and Downing had late chances to add to the score but it was Bolton who scored a late consolation when Klasnic netted.
The late goal couldn’t detract from the tremendous performance from Liverpool.
Kenny surprised me with Carroll being left out but at the same time I know Kuyt can play a great role up front. Liverpool played to a great tempo making Bolton look very ordinary as they struggled to cope with the pass and move. The attitude and work ethic Kenny and Stevie Clarke have installed is impressing to the eye. I am also impressed by the amount of chances Liverpool created, and with the way they wanted more goals after taking the lead. A great team performance but special mention to Henderson who has had a bit of a rough time to start his career at Anfield, Kuyt and Adam were also superb, but Lucas must be the most improved player in the Premiership. A brilliant performance from Liverpool, and I so hate these international breaks.
Man Of The Match – Suarez – he is class, such a handful and should have scored, but in the heart of everything great about Liverpool.
Posted by james walker at 15:27
Friday, 26 August 2011
Liverpool started their quest for this season's Carling Cup away to Exeter down in Devon. A banana skin of a tie for Liverpool with fresh in the minds of Lverpool supporters was last season's debacle against Northampton. So Liverpool travelled down to Exeter determined to avoid such an upset. Exeter would make this a very difficult tie for Liverpool as this is like a Cup Final to team like them who find themselves 60 places lower in the League ladder.
Liverpool travelled down south with a very strong squad for their third round tie. Dalglish did make eight changes to the side which beat Arsenal at the weekend, but he fielded a very strong team mixed with youth and experience. A completely different defence from Saturday read, Flanagan and Robinson at full backs with Skrtel and Danny Wilson in the centre of defence, with Reina in goal. Big summer signings Henderson and Adam also started alongside Spearing and Maxi with Meireles and Suarez also returning to the line-up.
A colourful and pact crowd in this tight little ground at Exeter, with high hopes of a major upset. Liverpool on the other hand were in no mood to let this happen as Liverpool fielded a very strong side, with great experience on the bench.
It was Liverpool who threatened first with Skrtel side-footing a shot into the side netting from an Adam corner. Then Adam had a low drive saved by Kyrsiak. But Exeter did come into the game and Nardiello headed straight at Reina when he found himself unmarked at a free-kick.
Then Meireles landed awkwardly on his shoulder following a strong challenge, the Liverpool midfielder having to be replaced clutching his injured shoulder, Andy Carroll took his place. Midway through the half Liverpool took the lead after good work by Maxi and Henderson's cross eventually falling to Suarez who drilled a low shot into the net.
Liverpool were on top and controlling possession and almost doubled their lead but Adam shot wide after Carroll set him up. Then right on half-time Suarez chipped an effort just over the bar.
Liverpool got a fright at the start of the second half when Nardiello beat Reina to a long ball, but his lobbed effort went just wide. But Liverpool got their important second goal when a Henderson pass sent Suarez down the right and his low cut back was slid into the net by the onrushing Maxi.
With Liverpool in the ascendency, they netted their third minutes later when Carroll worked space for himself on the edge of the box before unleashing an unstoppable shot past the helpless Kyrsiak.
With the contest over the dangerous Suarez was replaced by Downing who almost made it four when he cut in from the right and hit a near post drive which Krsiak did well to drive.
The home side were awarded a penalty with ten minutes to go when Skrtel upended Nardiello in the box, the striker took the spot-kick himself, firing past Reina and giving the home support something to cheer. Liverpool withstood some late pressure comfortably and came way from Exeter happy with a 3-1 win.
After last season's disappointment in the Carling Cup I was very pleased to see Kenny field a very strong team with experience on the bench. Kenny showing the respect the competition and the opposition deserves, when far too often in recent years we have failed to do this. A good mixture of youth and experience which brought about a very professional performance from Liverpool as they played some great football and kept possession for lengthy spells. A great attitude shown by the players in what could have been a very tricky tie. But Exeter were not really given much encouragement of an upset as Liverpool controlled the game.
Man Of The Match - Suarez - superb once again scoring his third goal of the season in as many games, but his attitude and work ethic is really impressive, where many players could have found it hard to get excited about a midweek trip to Exeter.
Posted by james walker at 07:24
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
I find it amazing, that only two games into the new season that Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson seem to be getting a lot of criticism that I find totally unfair.
Jordan Henderson has just moved from his boyhood team Sunderland during the summer, Liverpool spent a lot of money on the youngster and this obviously adds to the expectations of the supporters, who are expecting an instant impact from the club's investment.
We have to remember that Henderson is still a youngster and with no disrespect to Sunderland, Jordan has moved to a bigger club with bigger expectations. He has also found himself played out of position on the right side of midfield due to the competition for places in the middle of midfield.
I personally think Henderson has played well on the right side of midfield he is playing in a position where you can be out of the game for long spells compared to playing in the middle you are more involved. He is not a Downing type player who is going to dribble past two or three players, and maybe with the way Downing has started his career at Liverpool is adding pressure on him with the supporters expecting the same type of performance from Henderson on the other flank.
Jordan has worked really hard in the games he has played and his strong runs forward have been impressive, some people thought that he left Flanagan a bit exposed in the Sunderland match, but we have to remember that it was such a big game for him, and especially against his old club.
I hope Henderson gets a run in the team to prove himself as I think he will be a great asset to the team. It will be difficult for him to stay in the team with the competition for places, but I think Kenny will give him a fair crack of the whip, especially after spending so much money on him.
Like Henderson, Andy Carroll has been getting some stick from sections of the Anfield faithful. Carroll has been at the club a bit longer but he is still early into his Liverpool career due to his lengthy injury spell on the side lines.
The massive price tag doesn't help Carroll either as he settles into his new club. Last season was a stop start season for him and he never really looked fully fit. But with Carroll having a full pre-season behind him, I'm sure we will see the real Andy Carroll soon.
Liverpool's summer signings will only help Carroll and his style of play, with Adam and Downing supplying the ammunition, not to forget Gerrard's return to the team soon. I'm sure the goals will start to come.
Carroll has looked sharp in pre-season and bagged a few goals too. Last week against Sunderland I felt he was harshly done out of a goal when the referee's assistant ruled out his great strike.
Then on Saturday I felt he worked very hard for the team, without much joy as he was mostly isolated on his own. He was unlucky with a headed effort that was saved and he created a good chance for Kelly.
With Carroll being a striker his goals coring record is what the supporters are going to look at so the sooner he starts scoring the better for the big man, but like I say, with the creative players we now have in the team I'm sure the goals will come.
But it has been disappointing to hear some supporters’ discontent so early in the season regarding these two players. It is far too early to judge players and we have to show patience towards the team. Getting on players backs will not help anybody and we need to show why we are the best supporters in the world.
Good luck Jordan and Andy from the best supporters in the world.
Posted by james walker at 05:20
Sunday, 21 August 2011
Always one of the biggest fixtures of the season and after both teams kicking off the new season with draws last week, there would be an impatience to record their first win. Liverpool go into the game knowing that they have never won at the Emirates Stadium and have not recorded a win against Arsenal away from home for 11 years. But Liverpool have a new confidence and belief encouraged by Dalglish as manager and with all the new summer signings. Arsenal on the other hand are like a club in turmoil, with their talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas leaving for Barcelona last week and an uncertain future regarding star player Nasri, Arsenal have also been decimated by injuries in this new season. Even with all Arsenal's troubles Liverpool know this would be a very difficult match.
Dalglish made a couple of changes to the side that drew with Sunderland last week, Martin Kelly came in for the unfortunate Flanagan, but more surprisingly was the news that Luis Suarez was to start on the bench with Dirk Kuyt coming back into the side. Even without Suarez starting the match the side still had a lot of attack minded players starting with the likes of Carroll, Kuyt, Downing and Adam being complimented with marauding wingbacks in the shape of Enrique and Kelly.
Another massive crowd inside this magnificent stadium for the match of the day and Arsenal were the first to threaten in the early stages when Vermaelen headed over from a corner.
The game became a little heated when Frimpong squared up to Henderson resulting in a yellow card for the Arsenal youngster. Arsenal were dealt another injury blow when Koscielny hobbled out of Arsenal's makeshift defence.
Liverpool tried to capatilise as Arsenal regrouped when Carroll had a header from an Enrique cross well saved by Szczesny. Then Henderson failed to convert a Kuyt centre.
Liverpool were shading the play during the first half and Adam went close with an ambitious effort from the centre circle, the ball just going over the crossbar.
It was 30 minutes before Arsenal threatened Reina's goal when Frimpong had an effort well saved by Reina. Then Nasri had a very good run ending up with a shot into the hoardings. Downing had a similar effort at the other end as the half ended.
Liverpool started the second half with Carroll setting up Kelly who shot against the outside of the post. But as the half wore on Arsenal started to dominate.
Carragher did well to cut out a Walcott cross as Van Persie waited to fire home. Then Adam made a great tackle on Nasri at the edge of the box as Arsenal continued to test Liverpool.
But the game changed in the 70th minute when the reckless Frimpong caught Lucas late with a bad challenge and was sent off for a second yellow card.
Dalglish changed his attack at this point bringing on Suarez and Meireles for Carroll and Kuyt. Liverpool smelled blood now and looked dangerous. Downing went close with a rasping shot being brilliantly saved by Szczesny.
But Liverpool made the breakthrough in the 77th minute in bizarre fashion when Henderson tried to pass a ball through to Suarez but Miquel's clearance ricocheted off Ramsey and into the Arsenal net bringing great joy to the travelling Liverpool support.
Meireles should have made it 2-0 but he shot high. But Liverpool finished the game off in the 90th minute after a triangle of passes between Lucas and Meireles was finished off by Suarez and gave Liverpool a superb victory.
Well I was as surprised as everyone to see Suarez not starting but Dalglish probably feels he needs a bit more training yet as he did tire last week. I was pleased to see Kuyt come back into the team as his workrate was needed at the Emirates. Liverpool worked superbly as a unit and limited Arsenal to few chances. There was a hint of offside at the goals but we were unlucky with decisions last week so good to see them going for us this week. Great performances from Adam, Enrique, Downing and Kelly to name a few. But overall a great performance and a confidence boosting result ending an 11 year wait.
Man of the Match - Enrique - Walcott never got past him all game and he looked dangerous going forward too. Looking like a great signing.
Posted by james walker at 05:31
Monday, 15 August 2011
As always much anticipation and excitement regarding the first match of the season, and with all the summer signings their is a renewed hope around Liverpool. It is always great to start of the new season with a home match but with a game against Sunderland it would not be easy as Steve Bruce and his team have a good record against the Reds in recent times, and with Sunderland also being busy with transfers during the summer, both sets of supporters would be eager to see their new signings.
Kenny has strengthened his squad immensely during the summer and not surprisingly he fielded a very strong team to start off the season. With four of the five new signings starting the match for Liverpool and Luis Suarez starting the match alongside Andy Carroll in attack it did look a completely different team from a year ago. Key players for Liverpool last season Dirk Kuyt and Martin Kelly had to be content with a place on the bench due to the strength of the squad.
A packed and excited Anfield welcomed the teams onto the hallowed turf for this first game of the season, and Liverpool started brightly lifted by their passionate supporters. Luis Suarez was involved in all the early action as he started off the way he left South America only three weeks ago.
Then on 7 minutes Suarez charged down Keiran Richardson's clearance on the half way line and ran through on goal, but as he tried to go around goalkeeper Mignolet, Richardson clipped the striker's heels inside the box in attempt to retrieve the situation. Referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot for a penalty but what looked like a certain goalscoring opportunity for Liverpool meaning Richardson should have been red carded, Dowd only showed the fortunate Sunderland player a yellow.
The man of the moment Suarez stepped up to take the penalty looking very confident, but to everyone's surprise he blasted the spot-kick into the Anfield Road supporters. Sunderland were let off the hook temporarily as Liverpool continued on the offensive and they eventually took the lead in the 13th minute when Charlie Adam whipped in a free-kick which Suarez met with his head giving Mignolet no chance and sending the home supporters wild.
Liverpool were playing some great stuff as they continued to create chances. Andy Carroll was unlucky to have a goal ruled out when he finished off a Downing cross in clinical fashion, the referee's assistant flagging for an infingement.
Suarez who was key in most of Livepool's moves almost sent Lucas through in goal with a great turn and pass, but the Sunderland defence just managed to deny the Brazilian. New signing Downing who was looking lively then made a great run down the right before cutting inside and unleashed a rocket which smacked the Sunderland bar with Mignolet beaten.
The only threat of note from Sunderland came just before half-time when a teasing Larsson free-kick had Reina in trouble as he missed the cross completely.
So Liverpool went in at half-time in a commanding position but in all honesty they should have been more goals to the good.
Sunderland came out a different team and started to pressure Liverpool more and started to cause the Liverpool defence some problems. Then in the 52nd minute Larsson robbed Flanagan of possession before whipping in a cross but Gyan's effort was straight at Reina.
Liverpool responded Carroll powering in a header just off target and then the big man was only a whisker away from an Enrique cross.
But in the 57th minute the game changed when Ahmed Elmohamady's cross evaded the Liverpool defence allowing Larsson to volley past Reina.
The equaliser knocked Liverpool off their stride and they suddenly looked disjointed as Sunderland became more dangerous. For the remainder of the match Sunderland looked the more likely to snatch a winner as Liverpool lost their way and especially when Suarez had to be replaced after running himself into the ground.
It was a disappointing result for Liverpool especially with the way the played in the first half and with the chances they spurned.
It was a very strong side that Kenny started the season with but I was surprised to see that Kelly and Kuyt never started but this shows the options that Dalglish now has available to him. Liverpool played really well the first half but if you don't take your chances it comes back to haunt you. Surprised but very pleased to see Suarez starting and he was superb, shame about the penalty miss. The new signings did well, especially Enrique who only signed the day before, although I felt Henderson was a bit off the pace and left Flanagan exposed a bit at times. Decisions went against us too as Richardson should have walked and Carroll's goal should have stood. But disappointing they way we lost our way in the second half when Sunderland equalised. Still its only the first game and plenty of positives to take out from the game.
Man Of The Match - Suarez - won and missed a penalty but never let it bother him and scored a great goal soon after. He really is a class player.
Posted by james walker at 04:34
Sunday, 7 August 2011
With this being Liverpool's last pre-season match there would be expectations from the supporters of this being a strong team that Kenny would field in preparation for the first game of the season next week at home to Sunderland. This would be Liverpool's first and only pre-season match at Anfield giving the supporters their first glimpse of the new signings. A good fixture this for Liverpool as Valencia are such a strong side, although they are a couple of weeks behind in preparation to their new season kicking off a little later.
As expected Dalglish fielded a very strong team to start with Reina in goal and a defence of Johnson, Agger, Carragher and a very welcome Aurelio making a return to the side at left back. The midfield read Downing on the left, Adam and Spearing in the middle with Henderson on the right side. Up front Liverpool started with Andy Carroll being supported with the impressing Aqualani.
A big crowd for this match as the supporters wanted their first look at Liverpool's summer signings, and Kenny did not disappoint fielding Adam, Downing and Henderson from the start.
Liverpool started brightly with new signings Henderson and Downing combining to set up a goal mouth scramble which Valencia just about managed to survive.
Continuing their impressive start to the match Aurelio then released Downing down the left who teased a low cross agonisingly out of Carroll's reach.
But Liverpool's impressive start paid off in rather fortunate fashion when Albelda was woefully short with a pass back which Carroll raced onto, Carroll's shot was fingertipped onto the post by Alves but Carroll was alert to the rebound turning the ball home from a tight angle.
It was a perfect start for Dalglish but his joy was short lived when moments later when Glen Johnson had to be replaced through injury, Martin Kelly replacing him.
Valencia eventually started to settle after about 15 minutes when Liverpool's bright start subsided. Valencia started to show their class when Topal came close to diverting a left wing cross past Reina.
Liverpool responded with Henderson shooting from long range and then Carroll shooting tamely after a defensive error.
Carroll then showed his frustration by clattering into Rami very late, he would probably have seen red in a league match but in this case was only shown a yellow card.
Aurelio and Downing then linked up again with Downing's dangerous low cross being hacked away. The only glimpse of the talented Mata was when he sent in a dangerous cross which Carragher had to stretch for to turn behind.
Dalglish made some changes at half-time with Lucas and Robinson coming on for Spearing and the very impressive Aurelio.
The second half lost its tempo of the first half due to the substitutions and Dalglish made more changes midway through the second half with Maxi, N'Gog, Kuyt and Cole coming on for Downing, Carroll, Aqualani and Jordan Henderson.
The substitutes almost made an instant impact when Kuyt's cross was volleyed by Maxi and diverted just wide by N'Gog.
Agger and Maxi had long range efforts as they pushed for a second goal with Valencia playing some nice passing moves without threatening Reina's goal.
Kyrgiakos came on late for Agger who strolled through the game and it was he who scored Liverpool's second goal following a goal mouth scramble from a dangerous Joe Cole free-kick.
Liverpool looked a lot sharper against a good Valencia side and Dalglish will be pleased to see the defence keep a clean sheet after leaking so many goals in previous games.
This was a good test for Liverpool with the new season only a week away. The players looked a lot more sharper and the new signings impressed very much. The defence looked far more solid with Agger and Aurelio looking superb. Andy Carroll looked his sharpest yet since joining the club and was a constant thorn in Valencia's side. I was a bit disappointed with Aqualani as he never got into the match, especially as he has impressed in previous pre-season games. After watching this match I believe we are now ready for the start of the season. Roll on next week.
Man of the Match - Downing - looks like the type of player we have been needing for years, he can go past a defender and deliver dangerous crosses. Other very good performers worth a mention are Aurelio, Agger and Carroll.
Posted by james walker at 12:06