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Monday, 31 October 2011
THE LIVERPOOL WAY
What a difference Kenny has made since his return back in January, it has been quite remarkable the transformation of the club’s fortunes. With superb backing from the new owners who gave Kenny the much needed finances to rebuild the threadbare squad, things at this great club are starting to go in the right direction.
No promises or shouting from the roof tops about Liverpool going to win this or win that or sign him or build a new stadium tomorrow. Everyone at Liverpool is pulling in the same direction and singing of the same hymn sheet, it is just like the good old days, when Liverpool went quietly about their business, collecting scores of silverware in the process.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and nobody at the club is promising instant success, and the supporters understand this as well. If success does come then this season then the club will just take it in their stride and not blow their trumpet about it like other clubs do. There is a great sense of purpose and sense of daily improvement at the club from on the park to the hierarchy.
Kenny brought in a lot of new faces in the summer and in my opinion this was needed as too many youngsters were asked to step up to the plate last season, maybe a bit too soon, although in no way did they look out of place as Liverpool have some great talent flourishing in the youth teams. But to ask youngsters to play week in week out at the highest level is a very big ask, so Kenny went out and brought some talented individuals in with great experience with the likes of Adam, Downing and Bellamy.
The squad now has quality in every position with competition for places in every position which is very important. Reina has Doni as back up and I saw him at Ibrox the other week and he looked very good. At right back we have Johnson, Kelly, Flanagan and Carragher who can all play there. On the left there is the impressive Enrique, Glen Johnson, Agger, Aurelio and young Jack Robinson who is a tremendous prospect. In the centre of defence we have Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Wilson, Coates and we also have the option of Martin Kelly to play there also. On the left side of midfield we have Downing, Bellamy, Aurelio and Maxi who has been unlucky to miss out in so many matches this season. On theright side we have Henderson, Kuyt, Johnson and Downing and Gerrard can also be used there. The centre of midfield is very strong too with Lucas, Adam, Gerrard, Spearing and Henderson another option for the middle. Up front we have Suarez, Carroll, Kuyt, Bellamy and Gerrard can also be used higher up the park. So personally I am very pleased with the squad we have as we look to challenge for trophies and at least a top four place.
But what I like best about Liverpool over recent months is our style of play, we are now playing a far more attacking style of play compared to our defensive style that we have played over far too many years for my liking. Yes we have been losing more goals than we are used to and so far we have not scored near as many goals as we should have, but the amount of chances we are creating is superb and the goals will come. The football we are now watching is similar to the style of play Kenny had his team playing in his first stint as manager. The passion and work rate of the players is much better to see and the players look as if they are enjoying there football.
The new signings including the much maligned Andy Carroll are starting to gel and they will all be important players for us this season and for the future. So I am very pleased with the progress we have made over recent months and I think we will at least finish in the top four this season, with hopefully a trophy in the cabinet too. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with continuation of the Liverpool Way.
Posted by james walker at 05:52
Sunday, 30 October 2011
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0-2 LIVERPOOL MATCH REPORT
Liverpool travelled to the Hawthorns on the back of a great midweek win at Stoke in the Carling Cup, but Liverpool were hoping to get back to winning ways in the League after two draws in their last two league matches. West Brom were going into the match with some decent form too and on the back of a great win over their local rivals last weekend. Liverpool lost at the Hawthorns in this fixture last season soon after former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson had taken charge, so Liverpool were hoping for a better result this time around as they try to keep in touch of a top four place.
The big team news regarding Liverpool was the absence of Gerrard and Carragher who had injuries, but better news for the travelling support was the news that Suarez was starting after shaking off a knock from Wednesday night. Glen Johnson came back into the side at right back with Enrique coming back into the side at left back, Agger partnered Skrtel in the middle of defence. The midfield saw Downing start on the left with Henderson on the right and Lucas partner Charlie Adam in the middle. Andy Carroll got another start up front alongside the form man, Suarez.
Liverpool went on the offensive from the first whistle with Enrique splitting the home defence with a raking pass, but for once Suarez failed to control the ball when clean through. Moments later Suarez teed up Adam but his effort went well over.
Liverpool were asking all the questions and they took the lead in the 9th minute after Suarez was impeded in the box by Jerome Thomas, but the penalty was only given after referee Lee Mason noticed his assistant’s flag. The West Brom players protested the decision, but Charlie Adam kept his nerve to send Foster the wrong way from the spot and give the visitors a deserved lead.
Liverpool continued to press after taking the lead and were continuing to create chances and they thought they had won another penalty after a Carroll header struck the arm of a West Brom defender. Suarez seemed to be involved in everything and most of the chances were falling to the striker, but his luck in front of goal was deserting him, his best chance came when Skrtel teed up 6 yards out but his effort went high over the bar.
West Brom were not giving the Liverpool defence much trouble in the first half although Scharner saw his long-range effort well blocked by Skrtel. Liverpool scored a second on the stroke of half-time when a superb first time pass by Suarez sent Carroll clear, the big striker stabbed a low shot beyond the advancing Foster and into the net. The 2-0 score line was well deserved by the visitors.
West Brom almost pulled a goal back right at the start of the second half but Tchoyl saw his low shot just miss Reina’s far post. The home side were starting to have more possession as they tried to get back into the game but Liverpool were dangerous on the break and continued to create chances. Suarez had a few efforts on goal and he eventually saw an effort end up in the net only to be flagged offside.
Enrique saw a brilliant effort spectacularly saved by Foster as it looked like he would score his first goal for his new club. Andy Carroll had a stinging shot well saved by Foster as Carroll and Suarez showed glimpses of a blossoming partnership.
West Brom continued to press for a goal but they never really threatened Reina’s goal and Liverpool almost got the icing on the cake when Downing smashed a shot in injury time off Foster’s near post, but it was a very good performance from Liverpool and got them back to winning ways in the league.
I thought this could be a tricky fixture for Liverpool especially with Carragher and Gerrard absent. But I do believe we have strength in depth now this season and Kenny still managed to field a very strong team. I have to say I expected more from West Brom but you can only beat the team you face and I thought Liverpool totally dominated the match. Reina was virtually redundant as Liverpool dictated the play away from home. This time last year we feared every away game but credit to Kenny and his coaching staff he has Liverpool taking the game to his opponents away from home, especially with sticking two up front. Stonewall penalty kick and the ref should have gave it himself with no need of help from his assistant. Great to see Carroll score and this could be the making of him, with glimpses of an understanding with Suarez in this match. Impressed with Lucas again in the middle of the park complimenting Adam and Enrique is superb at left back, but Suarez is unbelievable and is so important to Liverpool right now. Overall it was a great professional performance from Liverpool away from home.
Man Of The Match – Suarez- just for a change, well its getting so obvious now isn’t it, another superb game, amazing how he failed to score.
Posted by james walker at 16:14
Thursday, 27 October 2011
STOKE CITY 1-2 LIVERPOOL MATCH REPORT
With no European football for Liverpool this season the Carling Cup has taken on extra importance. Drawn away to Stoke was not the kindest draw for Liverpool but they would know what to expect after losing 1-0 to them recently in the league. Kenny has stated how important this competition is for the club and he has proved with his team selections in previous rounds of the competition. The last time Liverpool visited Stoke at this stage of the competition was in 2000-01 when they won 8-0 on their way to lifting the cup.
Kenny made 8 changes for the visit to Stoke from the team that drew with Norwich at the weekend. But the team Kenny selected certainly wasn’t a weakened side as he has so many more options and strength in depth this season. Dalglish obviously selected a team to cope with the Stoke’s dangerous set-piece tactics. The team read, Reina, Kelly and Agger at full-backs and Carragher and Coates in the middle of defence. The midfield had Maxi on the left and Henderson on the right with Lucas and Spearing in the middle, with Carroll and Suarez up front. There was also a very strong bench with Aurelio, Kuyt, Adam, Doni,Skrtel,Flanagan and Bellamy. There was a big surprise with no mention of Gerrard on the team sheet.
As ever a tremendous atmosphere for this match at the Brittania Stadium, and it was Liverpool who threatened first when Carroll had a chance with a free header from a left wing corner. Suarez almost beat the Stoke offside trap as he started menacingly.
But Stoke had the next chance when Walters saw a curling effort worry Reina as it flew just over. But Liverpool were on the front foot and dictating the play and Carroll was unlucky with a stinging shot which Sorenson could only parry to the onrushing Suarez but he could only direct his effort wide of the target with the ball rebounding to him so quickly.
Stoke were playing second fiddle to a very sharp looking Liverpool side, but they did have their moments, mostly from the menace of Delap’s long throws.
Liverpool were playing some great football in the first half as Stoke struggled to cope with their movement. A great move involving Lucas and Maxi resulted in a low cross to Suarez but his close range effort was superbly saved by Sorenson as Suarez cursed his luck once again.
Liverpool showed they were not going to be intimidated with Stoke’s physical approach as Carragher showed when he was booked for a strong challenge midway through the first half.
Liverpool once again were not getting their reward in goals for their superb play similar to the match last weekend and they were dealt a blow just before half-time when Stoke took the lead. A mistake by Coates allowed Walters to get down the right flank before crossing to Jones who headed past Reina stunning the visitors. Suarez almost equalised in stoppage time but he dragged his shot wide.
The second half started with Liverpool still creating chances although the second half was contested more evenly. But Liverpool did manage to equalise, and what a way to do it. Suarez collected the ball on the left before producing a sublime nutmeg on Shotton giving himself a sight of goal from the edge of the box, Suarez then spectacularly curled a shot into the far corner of Sorenson’s goal giving the keeper no chance.
Liverpool and their supporters were buoyed by this goal and were now looking for the winner. But with all the enterprising play from the visitors they could not find a winner so Dalglish brought on Bellamy for Maxi with about ten minutes to go to ignite some pace into Liverpool’s attack and he made an immediate impact hitting the post with a shot from 20 yards after good link up play with Carroll.
With extra time looming Liverpool snatched the winner with 5 minutes remaining when Henderson found Suarez at the back post with a volleyed cross and the Uruguay striker headed past Sorenson sending the visiting support wild. Stoke bombarded the Liverpool goal in the latter stages but the visitors held on to book a place in the quarter finals of the Carling Cup.
A superb performance and result from Liverpool. The desire and work ethic of the players was superb. Stoke is such a difficult place to go, and to go behind after playing so well in the first half was like a kick in the teeth, but the response was brilliant. Dalglish put out a very strong team, but I was worried their would be a lack of creativity in the midfield without Adam and Gerrard, but I was oh so wrong, some of the passing was superb as we created so many chances. Andy Carroll was flying around the park like a man on a mission and his link up play was very good, all that was lacking from the big man was a goal. The defence was superb as they had to withstand many long throws. Coates was very impressive apart from the mistake for Stoke’s goal. But it was great to see us get a win we so greatly deserved after being left frustrated against Norwich. So many great performances from Liverpool players but I think Agger deserves a mention, he was superb on the left side of defence and creative going forward. But Suarez is amazing, unplayable at times and deserved his superb goals, For me, this was the performance of the season so far.
Man Of The Match – Suarez- it just had to be. He is unbelievable right now and got the goals his performance deserved.
Posted by james walker at 12:19
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Liverpool was hoping to put newly promoted Norwich to the sword in their quest for at least a top 4 place. Liverpool who drew 1-1 with Manchester United last weekend would be hoping to get back to winning ways against Paul Lambert’s charges. Norwich have impressed so far this season with their style of play, they have played an attractive attacking style with tremendous displays without reward at Chelsea and more recently at Old Trafford. Norwich go into the match on the back of great win against Swansea last weekend and will give them great confidence.
Dalglish made two changes to the side that drew with Manchester United last week with Glen Johnson coming in for Kelly and Craig Bellamy replacing the suspended Lucas. A big night for Dirk Kuyt making his 250th appearance for Liverpool. Liverpool started with a very attacking line-up with Gerrard and Adam in the middle of midfield with Downing on the right and Bellamy on the left of midfield with Kuyt and Suarez up front. Andy Carroll had to be content with starting on the bench once again.
Liverpool attacked from the start and almost took the lead inside two minutes when Skrtel headed off the bar from an Adam corner, then two minutes later Suarez made a brilliant turn before shooting wide.
Liverpool were dominating the early stages with Suarez and his brilliant best. Then in the 10th minute Bellamy made a great run down the left before crossing low to Suarez and his first time effort was tipped onto the post. Moments later Suarez tried a chip from outside the box but it floated over the bar.
The chances kept coming for Liverpool and another one went a begging when Suarez shot wide after being played in by Johnson. But Norwich showed the threat they had Morrison powered a header straight at Reina from a corner kick. Then moments later Norwich had another effort from long range saved by Reina.
Then on the half hour mark Kuyt had a header blocked from a corner. Liverpool continued to create chances as the half wore on, but just as it looked as Norwich would hold until half-time Liverpool took the lead after tussle for the ball involving Suarez broke to Bellamy who ran into the box before shooting past Ruddy via a deflection.
Norwich started the second half sharply and Pilkington was unlucky with a low shot bringing out a save from Reina. A minute later Kuyt couldn’t direct his header on target from a Downing cross as Liverpool responded.
A few minutes later a piece of brilliance on the edge of the box by Suarez left the Norwich defence bewildered but his shot was deflected onto the post as he cursed his luck. Liverpool was still threatening and Gerrard made one of his trademark runs into the box but he shot weakly.
But Norwich drew level on the hour mark when Adam lost possession looking for a foul and Pilkington’s dangerous was headed into the Liverpool by substitute Holt who beat Reina to the ball.
Shortly after Holt could have scored a second with another header but for a great reaction save from Reina. Norwich were certainly encouraged by the goal and Liverpool were struggling to find their first half fluency.
Dalglish brought on Henderson for Bellamy and Carroll for Downing in the latter stages to try and win the game but it wasn’t until stoppage time when the best chances came first a brilliant cross from Gerrard found the head of Carroll but his header went agonisingly wide from 6 yards out. Then with just about the last kick of the ball Suarez smashed a volley on target but Ruddy pulled off an amazing save to earn Norwich a point and leave Liverpool frustrated.
I was expecting nothing less than a win here tonight as I feel we have to win these type of games if we are to challenge this season. I liked the look of the team Kenny selected as it had a very attacking look about it. We started on fire and could have been four up inside 20 minutes but couldn’t get one. I just had a bit of a feeling these missed chances could come back to haunt us and unfortunately it did. We had some great attacking play, especially from Downing and Bellamy on the flanks and Suarez was causing all sorts of problems, the only thing lacking from him was he couldn’t find the net. The referee didn’t give Suarez much as I felt he was constantly fouled, leaving the striker frustrated. We did lose a bad goal as Norwich posed more of a threat second half, with Reina getting caught out. But these things can happen. We were very unlucky right at the end with Carroll and then Suarez’s volley. I’m left very disappointed with the result as both Chelsea and Manchester United have struggled against Norwich this season but managed to win, where we failed to. But I’m very encouraged with the performance and the amount of chances we created and I’m sure the goals will come over a very long season.
Man Of The Match – Suarez – once again, unplayable at time, lost count of the number of attempts he had on goal, only a goal was missing from his night.
Posted by james walker at 12:55
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
GLASGOW RANGERS 1-0 LIVERPOOL MATCH REPORT
It is very unusual for Liverpool to be playing friendly matches at this stage of the season, but with both Liverpool and Rangers not participating in Europe the match was arranged to benefit both clubs, both financially and for match fitness. Dalglish who supported Rangers as a boy would be determined for his side to put on a good show in Glasgow. Obviously the main aim was to get some much needed match fitness, especially for the players that have not been getting a game and for the players returning from injury.
As promised Dalglish did bring a strong team up to Glasgow for this glamour friendly, although many of the players starting the match have not played recently. Kenny started the match with Doni in goal with former Ranger Wilson at left back, the fit again Johnson at right back, with Coates and Agger in the middle of defence. The midfield consisted of Aurelio on the left with Spearing and captain for the night Lucas in the middle, and Maxi on the right side, with up front Andy Carroll partnering Craig Bellamy.
It was a decent crowd for a friendly fixture with a nice gesture before the match with supporters from both clubs parading a banner in memory of those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough and Ibrox disasters prior to the match, while a collection was set up with half of the total funds raised going towards the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
The game started with Liverpool almost taking the lead within 90 seconds when Maxi found Carroll with a tremendous pass on the left hand corner of the penalty area, but the big striker’s first time volley went into the crowd.
After this early chance Rangers started to threaten and in the 10th minute Ortiz beat the Liverpool offside trap but the Liverpool defence managed to scramble away his cutback for a corner. Shortly after Ortiz had a drilled effort well saved by Doni as Rangers kept on the offensive.
Then in the 20th minute Doni made a great save from a low Whitaker shot pushing the ball round his left hand post. But from the resulting corner Rangers took the lead when McCulloch’s scuffed effort squirmed beneath the legs of Aurelio on the goal line as Liverpool failed to clear the corner. It was a deserved lead for the hosts.
Rangers were on the ascendancy now and Doni had to make another good stop from McKay’s headed effort from a Lee Wallace centre. Then Davis should have doubled Rangers lead when he got behind the Liverpool defence but his lobbed effort landed on the roof of the net.
Liverpool never troubled McGregor in the Rangers goal during the first half but they did work a fine move with Johnson and Maxi combining down the right but Maxi’s effort was well blocked by Broadfoot to keep Rangers in the lead at half-time.
I think Dalglish had some strong words to his team at the break after watching his side look extremely off the pace in the first half, and within minutes of the re-start Bellamy almost brought Liverpool level with a shot on the turn just missing the upright.
But Rangers thought they had made it 2-0 in the 55th minute when Lafferty smashed his effort off the post from 6 yards out before Doni managed to prevent the ball crossing line when it seemed like a goal was inevitable. The big stopper injured a finger in the process and had to be replaced by Hansen.
As Liverpool looked to get back into the game they should have equalised when Maxi robbed Broadfoot of possession 25 yards out but his cutback towards Carroll was well read by the Rangers defence.
Dalglish brought on Adam, Kuyt, Downing and Flanagan for the last 25 minutes as they tried to salvage the game but it was Rangers that came closest with Lafferty and the veteran David Weir being very unlucky with terrific efforts.
As the game entered its conclusion, Carroll was centimetres away with a powerful header from an Adam corner. Downing also had low strike well saved by McGregor at his near post. The substitutions had the desired impact but Rangers held out to claim a win.
I took my daughter to the match but unfortunately had to sit with the Rangers supporters as the Liverpool end was full. So I’m afraid it was not as enjoyable an experience as I had hoped. It was a tremendous gesture by the supporters with the banner being paraded before kick-off in respect of both disasters that both clubs have endured. It was good to see so many players starting the match that were in desperate need of match fitness. Good to see Johnson, Aurelio and Agger back to fitness although Johnson and Aurelio looked off the pace. In fact most of the team looked short of match fitness as they struggled against a sharper Rangers side in the first half. If it wasn’t for Doni we could have lost by a lot more as he made some terrific saves but worryingly left exposed too often as the Liverpool defence looked disjointed. I thought Maxi looked lively and Bellamy too without an end product. But Andy Carroll was very disappointing and looked like very lethargic on the night. I was very disappointed that Carragher and Suarez but especially Gerrard never featured as there was a superb travelling support, but I can see the reasons for not playing them in a friendly with so many important games coming up. I can’t hide my disappointment of the night but got to take out the positives and they are the match fitness for many of the squad players.
Man Of The Match - Agger – great to see him back and thought he played well under quite a bit of pressure at times from Rangers. He just shaded it from Doni who made some vital saves.
Posted by james walker at 05:11