Sunday, January 16, 2011

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs Everton

Liverpool recently sacked Roy Hodgson after an underwhelming campaign and brought in former boss and club legend Kenny Dalglish to take the reins on a temporary basis. But the Scot is yet to taste victory in his second stint at the helm.

His first game in charge was against Manchester United in the FA Cup, which ended in a 1-0 defeat to his side. This was followed by a trip to Bloomfield Road, where the Reds surrendered the lead before allowing the hosts to snatch a victory.

Now for the Merseyside derby. It is almost two decades since Dalglish suddenly quit the very position he holds, after his side played out a 4-4 draw with these very opponents.

The 59-year-old is held as a true legend of the club as a player as well as a manager, but his status could be dimmed if he is unable to bring about a resurrection in the team’s dreadful form. But on the contrary, a positive achievement - and a victory over Moyes’ men, for now - will do a world of good to the team as well as himself.

It is almost as if the two clubs on Merseyside are sympathizing with each other stooping down to newer lows, as only goal difference separates both teams in the Premier League.

This means that the derby takes an added significance as both teams are only four points above the relegation zone, and the loser could face potentially very difficult consequences in terms of getting back up in the standings.

The visitors were having some trouble converting their chances in recent weeks, but were able to successfully put five past Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup. But their current opponents are not a team that sit in the Championship drop zone, which would make the task all the more difficult.

To add to the Moyes’ woes, Australian Tim Cahill is away on international duty in the Asia Cup and will play no part in this game. But on the positive side, the Toffees have won their last two games and the cup win should give them enough confidence to hope for the right result at Anfield.



Daniel Agger, Martin Kelly, Christian Poulsen and Daniel Agger recently received encouraging words from manager Kenny Dalglish, and could all be set to start this game. Jamie Carragher (shoulder) remains sidelined following his surgery, while Joe Cole and Jay Spearing are doubts for this one. Steven Gerrard will play no part in this game since he is suspended.

Possible starting line-up: Reina; Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Kelly; Kuyt, Lucas, Poulsen, Meireles; Cole; Torres.


David Moyes has revealed that the Toffees have accepted an offer for Steven Pienaar from an unnamed club, but the South Africa international could still play in this game. Phil Jagielka (thigh) was expected to be in contention to feature in the Merseyside derby, but he has been unable to recover well enough to take part in the mammoth encounter at Anfield. Tim Cahill is unavailable since he is away on international duty at the Asian Cup.

Possible starting line-up: Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Fellaini, Rodwell, Arteta, Pienaar; Saha.

Pepe Reina Believes Victory Over Everton Can Be A Catalyst For Change In Liverpool's Fortunes

A victory over local rivals Everton could lead to a revitalisation of Liverpool’s season, according to Pepe Reina.

Currently below their neighbours on goal difference, the Reds desperately need a result, having lost three on the spin.

"It can be a turning point in the season," Reina told the club's official website. "What better game to do it in than the derby? For the supporters and for us, it is a massive one and I hope the season will turn around from Sunday onwards."

The Spaniard believes the atmosphere will reach fever-pitch on Sunday with new boss Kenny Dalglish embarking on his first home fixture since his shock departure in 1991.

Reina said: "I think the supporters will be more excited than ever because of Kenny, the situation of the team and because it is a derby and we need the three points desperately.

"We need to have them behind us. I'm sure we will, but they have to be conscious that now is the time to get the famous Kop and Anfield behind us because we definitely need them more than any other game."

The 28-year-old shot-stopper is adamant that all the players know the importance of the game, and believes that the squad is beginning to grasp the ideas of the new manager despite falling short at Blackpool in midweek.

"Kenny has told us to trust ourselves, to trust each other and to try and train harder and be more positive," said Reina.

"He knows a lack of confidence is there and we need a couple of positive results, but by doing a great job in our training sessions we will get them.

"He has spoken to all of us together about where we have to improve as a team, told us to stay together and be more compact than ever, to try to trust each other and have confidence things will turn around."

The fixture will see three of its usual protagonists sidelined in Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Tim Cahill, and the World Cup winner admits that whilst the absence of Cahill is a boost, Liverpool must up their game if they are to succeed without the local duo.

He said: "Cahill's a great player and it's good for us in this case that he's involved in the Asian Cup and won't be on the park.

"But we have to worry about ourselves and when Stevie and Carra are missing, we are a bit weaker. The players know what the game means and all of us will be ready for Sunday.”

On a personal level, the absence of Gerrard and Carragher puts Reina in line to be handed the captaincy by Dalglish.

"It would be a proud honour," he added.

"With Mikel Arteta captaining Everton as well, it will be fun and a great picture of both of us together before kick-off.

"Whenever you are wearing the Liverpool armband, it is a pleasure, honour and a privilege."

Kenny Dalglish Aiming To Recreate Glory Days For Young Liverpool Fans

Kenny Dalglish is hoping today's Merseyside derby is the first step on the road to glory for young Liverpool fans.

The Reds boss, who returned to the Anfield hot seat last weekend, previously played and managed Liverpool during the all-conquering era that older supporters love to reminisce about.

Dalglish is all too aware the club have not won the league since 1990 and that the younger generation of Reds fans are sick of hearing about the good old days, instead of experiencing domestic success themselves.

'There are a couple of generations out there who don't know what it's like to see their team win the title,' he said.

'My aim is to let those people share in the kind of times that our older supporters still remember.

'I know it's a huge ask to recreate the days of the 1970s and '80s and that you have to be realistic about what you can achieve - but we have always aimed high here.'

Dalglish added that although it would be difficult for Liverpool to return to the top, Manchester United had shown it is possible to recover from a prolonged period without success.

No Reds Move For Ajax Ace

Urby Emanuelson's agent has played down reports linking Liverpool with a move for the Ajax defender.

Reports have suggested Liverpool have targeted the Dutch international to help solve their problematic left-back position.

Emanuelson's future at Ajax has been the subject of speculation for some time with the player rejecting a new deal at the Amsterdam ArenA and his contract expiring in the summer.

New Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is thought to be keen to bring in some new faces to freshen up the squad at Anfield and Emanuelson has been mentioned as a possible target due to his versatility in that he can play in defence or midfield.

Emanuelson's, representative, Brian Berkleef, insists he has had no contact with Liverpool, but that the Dutchman would consider a move to Anfield if they came calling for his services.

"Nobody from Liverpool has contacted us about Urby, but they are a great club and we would be happy to talk to them if they were to contact us," Berkleef told

"Obviously there is a lot of clubs interested in Urby as he is a talented player and he is out of contract in the summer.

"It is a bit tricky as Ajax could make some money by selling him now, but I think he will stay until the end of the season as he wants to try and win the championship with Ajax.

"However, if a good offer arrives and Urby feels good about it he would consider moving this month."

Liverpool Eye Stewart Downing

Liverpool is trying to tempt Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier to part with England winger Stewart Downing.

New Kop manager Kenny Dalglish believes Downing, 26, would give his side much-needed width and pace.

Dalglish’s predecessor, Roy Hodgson, had also been eyeing Villa’s Ashley Young, 25, but it’s Downing who is on a shortlist of possible Kop signings during the transfer window.

Liverpool believes Downing would come cheaper than his Villa Park team-mate at around £10 million.

Also on Liverpool’s radar is Wigan’s enigmatic Charles N’Zogbia, but it’s believed that manager Roberto Martinez is holding out for around £15million.

Stephen Warnock 'Set For Liverpool Transfer'

Stephen Warnock is poised to return to Liverpool after accepting he has little future at Aston Villa, according to a report.

The England left-back has lost his place in the Villa first team and manager Gerard Houllier has indicated he is free to leave.

Blackburn Rovers were keen to sign the 29-year-old but it now seems that his destination will be Liverpool, reports the Daily Mail.

The Reds have asked to take Warnock on loan for the rest of the season and the player has apparently been told he can move to Anfield.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish views Warnock, who began his career with the Reds, as the answer to his team's left-back problem.

England right-back Glen Johnson moved across the defence to fill the role during the 2-1 defeat at Blackpool in midweek, but Dalglish believes he needs a more permanent replacement for Roy Hodgson favourite Paul Konchesky.

Aston Villa, who completed the transfer of Cameroon midfielder Jean Makoun from Lyon this morning, plan to sign a replacement for Warnock in the next few days.

Wigan Athletic's Maynor Figueroa is believed to be Houllier's preferred choice.

Roma Reject Liverpool Interest In Mirko Vucinic

Roma are in no mood to unclench their fists with Mirko Vucinic as they reject Liverpool advances.

The 27-year-old Montenegrin striker has been heavily linked with a move to Anfield. Il Corriere dello Sport claimed on Friday that Roma were considering a sale as budgetary constraints was forcing the club to offload.

However, Sky Sport Italia are now reporting opposition to a sale by the Roma directorate. Chiefs at Trigoria have rejected proposals from Anfield, telling the Premier League side that Vucinic is not for sale.

Vucinic is considered a stable part of plans by coach Claudio Ranieri and he is part of the squad for Sunday's trip to Cesena.

Kenny Eyes Clarke Connection

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is hopeful Steve Clarke can provide the answer to getting the best out of Joe Cole and Glen Johnson.

The pair have so far failed to live up to expectations at Anfield, with Johnson costing the club £17million in the summer of 2009, while Cole has not hit the ground running since arriving this season.

The conundrum was something former manager Roy Hodgson was unable to solve during his six months in charge.

But Dalglish hopes the arrival of former Chelsea assistant Clarke will help find the key to unlocking the talent of the former Stamford Bridge duo.

"It is a positive because Steve and Glen have terrific respect for each other, as has Joe for Steve," said the Reds boss, whose side takes on local foes Everton on Sunday.

"They worked closely at Chelsea and they have a great belief in him.

"Steve has a lot more information on Glen and Joe than I have so it is going to be helpful for everyone."

Dalglish has not had the immediate impact he would have hoped for having cut short a family holiday to take over from Hodgson last Saturday and heads into Sunday's derby fixture with a team which have lost four of their last five domestic league and cup fixtures.

Confidence has taken a battering and even his own return to the manager's position, although bringing brighter performances on the pitch, has not halted the slide.

He does not have much time to turn things around, having been given the job initially until the end of the season, and accepts everyone is still coming to terms with the new set up.

"It is a bit difficult when you are in the middle of the Persian Gulf to try to prepare a team for a game," said Dalglish in reference to last weekend's SOS call from principle owner John W Henry.

"Steve Clarke has been excellent this week and the players have responded brilliantly.

"Steve and Sammy Lee (assistant manager) have set the program up and we've had conversations every morning about what we want to achieve in that session and they have gone out and the players have adapted to it and done it.

"They have shown in training sessions and the matches they are determined to get this ship turned around and for it to be more positive than it has been.

"It is a change for them (the players) as well. A change of manager, change of training - they have got to adapt and I've got to adapt because it's been a while since I was a manager.

"I have changes to make and I have to re-educate myself so the quicker we can all learn from each other the better we will all be.

"There is one common denominator of both parties is that we have respect for each other."

Silva Strike Seals U18s Win

Liverpool U18s continued their impressive start to 2011 with a convincing 3-1 victory over Bolton on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds followed on from their FA Youth Cup heroics with another performance full of attacking purpose and deservedly took the spoils courtesy of goals from Adam Morgan, Conor Coady and Toni Silva.

Jack Sampson had pulled the visitors level with a well-taken first-half volley but they could do little to deny the home side victory in what proved to be a one-sided second 45 at the Academy.

The result means Rodolfo Borrell's youngsters will head into next Saturday's mini-derby at Everton in high spirits and eager to impress as they bid to secure starting berths for their upcoming Youth Cup clash with either Southend or Derby.

The Reds made a supercharged start to the proceedings and were ahead on eight minutes when a fine move down the left flank ended with a clinical near post finish from Morgan.

The Academy die-hards that had braved the blustery conditions may have felt it was a sign of things to come for the visitors who had succumbed to a 6-0 defeat against Borrell's side on their own patch back in November.

And the Trotters could well have been two down just minutes later but Jay Lynch did well to deny Morgan after the forward had been sent scampering clear by Silva.

It looked all set to be a comfortable afternoon for Borrell's charges until Sampson latched on to a loose ball in the Reds area and dispatched a well-struck volley back across Tyrell Belford and in off the far post on 15 minutes.

It was shock to the system for the hosts and they struggled to impose their usual game on events until a sublime ball from Krisztian Adorjan sent Silva galloping in on goal. The Portuguese winger cut inside his man before teeing up Raheem Sterling to sting the fingertips of Lynch with a first time drive.

Adorjan's creativity when dropping off the frontman was causing the Bolton rearguard all sorts of problems and it was only a fine stop from Lynch that denied Silva on 38 minutes after the Hungarian had conjured up another beautifully weighted pass.

As the interval approached the Reds continued to probe but it was the away team that almost snatched the lead when Oluwasanmi Odelusz rounded Belford, only to see Stephen Sama keep out his effort with a remarkable headed clearance.

The second half brought with it heavier rainfall and both sides threatened in what had developed into a keenly contested encounter.

Liverpool continued to play the more attractive football while the away side looked dangerous at set pieces and it became evident that the next goal would be hugely significant in the outcome of the game.

Thankfully, it fell the home team's way as Coady seized upon a pass 25 yards from goal and sent a rasping first-time drive into the far corner of the net on 56 minutes.

It gave Borrell's men an instant lift and Adorjan looked to extend their advantage with a dipping 25 yard free-kick that drew another good save from Lynch.

With Bolton legs getting weary Liverpool unleashed new signing Jason Banton into the action and he showed some neat touches when he replaced Sterling late on.

By now it was all one-way traffic and Silva ensured the Reds would complete the double over Bolton when he drilled in a third from a tight angle.

Adorjan then came close to rubbing salt in their wounds in added time when his swirling free-kick crashed back off the crossbar.