Monday, February 28, 2011

Match Report: West Ham United 3 - 1 Liverpool

West Ham produced arguably their best display of the season to haul themselves back off the bottom of the Premier League and all but end Liverpool's faint Champions League hopes.

Goals from Scott Parker, Demba Ba - rapidly developing into one of the signings of the January transfer window - and Carlton Cole secured a 3-1 win at Upton Park and kept the pressure on the Hammers' relegation rivals.

Glen Johnson pulled one back for Liverpool but their late rally was in vain as their revival under Kenny Dalglish suffered its first major setback.

The defeat left the Reds eight points behind fourth-placed Tottenham having played a game more, while Avram Grant was able to celebrate a result that moved the Hammers level on points with fourth-bottom Wolves.

The hosts certainly did not lack for confidence in the opening moments, Thomas Hitzlsperger - making his Premier League debut for the club - unleashing an outrageous 40-yard volley that flew into the arms of Jose Reina.

A minute later, Raul Meireles looped a header wide from the fit-again Steven Gerrard's pinpoint 50-yard ball before Martin Skrtel was booked for tripping Frederic Piquionne in full flight.

Meireles also fired straight at Robert Green, Gary O'Neil's shot hit a Liverpool defender and Glen Johnson saw a header from a corner blocked before the game settled down.

A Hitzlsperger rocket was again too close to Reina before Parker showed the kind of precision his team-mate had been lacking to give West Ham a 22nd-minute lead.

He and Hitzlsperger played a neat one-two on the edge of the box and Parker floated a delightful finish right into the far corner with the outside of his foot.

Dirk Kuyt hit the side netting from 20 yards following a lightning Liverpool break when team-mates were arguably better placed.

The recalled Piquionne then sent a wicked ball across the six-yard box, which just evaded Ba.

Liverpool struggled to respond, Luis Suarez repeatedly coming off second best in his personal battle with the impressive James Tomkins.

Right-back Martin Kelly's low drive was too close to Green as the interval approached, while Mark Noble curled a free-kick wide at the other end.

Liverpool suffered another blow when Kelly pulled a hamstring and was replaced by Joe Cole, Dalglish switching his formation from 5-3-2 to 4-4-2.

That was not the end of their woes, with the unmarked Ba powering home a header on the stroke of half-time from O'Neil's cross.

Liverpool began the second half on top but nevertheless made a quick change when David Ngog came on for Meireles.

With Wolves having won 4-0 yesterday, West Ham needed another goal to climb out of the drop zone and Ba almost provided it when he drilled inches wide from 25 yards.

Tomkins, Piquionne and Ba were all close to connecting with a corner as the home side hit back.

But they had Green to thank for preserving their two-goal lead when Suarez finally beat Tomkins with a quick turn and unleashed a rising drive which the goalkeeper tipped behind.

Piquionne missed a glorious chance to kill the game when he glanced Noble's corner wide midway through the half but West Ham's commitment was summed up when Parker threw himself in front of a goalbound Gerrard shot.

Gerrard was making his presence felt and Green tipped a dipping volley over the bar from the England star.

Reina had to be equally alert to beat Ba to the ball from a Hammers break but he almost produced an absolute howler when he spilt Piquionne's shot goalwards before recovering.

It was all Liverpool at this stage and Grant responded by withdrawing Piquionne for Jonathan Spector after Cole had mishit a volley for the visitors.

But the Reds' pressure paid off six minutes from time when Suarez crossed for Johnson to tap into an unguarded net.

West Ham ran down the clock by bringing on Cole for Ba - although time-wasting was the last thing on the substitute's mind as he left Skrtel in a heap and drilled home at Reina's near post in stoppage-time.

There was still time for Suarez to test Green again but the points had already been lost.

Kenny Dalglish Wants Team To Learn From Mistakes

Disappointed Kenny Dalglish has urged Liverpool to learn from their mistakes after their eight-match unbeaten run was brought to a shuddering halt.

First-half goals from Scott Parker and Demba Ba sent West Ham United on their way a convincing 3-1 victory at Upton Park yesterday.

Glen Johnson's 84th-minute strike – his second goal of the season against his former club – did threaten a comeback until Carlton Cole's injury-time clincher.

And Dalglish has warned his players there can be no repeat of the failings that gave Liverpool too large a task to overcome after the interval.

“The last 20 or 25 minutes we started to play a wee bit like we can,” said the Anfield manager.

“We got the goal near the end and we thought we might steal a point, but then Carlton scored. There were a couple of shouts for a penalty, things that are outside our control that you can’t manage, but we’ll try and correct the mistakes we made today.

“I don’t know if it was an aftermath to Thursday night, but we just didn’t seem as good as we have been.

“We still had a few opportunities up and around their box. Obviously we’re disappointed at losing, but it was the way we played as well. Don’t take any credit from West Ham, though.”

Injuries to Martin Kelly and Raul Meireles added to the gloom for Dalglish, although the Liverpool manager was pleased to see Steven Gerrard return from a three-match absence and Johnson recover from an Achilles problem.

The game came too soon for Andy Carroll, with Dalglish refusing to rush the £35million into his debut having been sidelined since December by a thigh complaint.

“We’re analyzing Andy every day,” said the Scot. “He’s better than bang on schedule. We never pencilled in a date when he’d play.

“If he’s okay, then as soon as he is he’ll be involved.

“We just have to wait and see. There’s been nothing that’s happened since he came in that’s had an adverse effect on his progress.

“We never had him in mind for this game.”

Remarkably, yesterday's defeat was only Liverpool's sixth in their last 47 meetings with West Ham.

Kelly Hoping For Speedy Recovery

Martin Kelly is hoping a scan on his injured hamstring will give him positive news as he looks to continue his excellent form under Kenny Dalglish.

The England U21 international was forced off the field in the first half during Sunday's 3-1 defeat at West Ham United after he pulled up while mounting an attack down the right wing.

"I knew straight away I had injured my hamstring," Kelly told

"I took Scott Parker on down the right and when I took my last touch I felt a pull in my hamstring and there was no way I could carry on.

"I will have the scan and hopefully it won't be too bad.

"I'm usually a quick healer and we have good medical staff at the club so hopefully I will be back soon."

While the defeat at Upton Park ended Liverpool's excellent recent run, which had seen Kenny Dalglish's side go eight games unbeaten, Kelly insists the squad are determined to make an instant response and show their true colours in next Sunday's Anfield showdown with arch rivals Manchester United.

He added: "We were all disappointed with the result and our performance on Sunday and we've got to put this behind us and look forward to the big game against Manchester United at Anfield.

"It's at home, we will have our fans behind us and hopefully we can give them the result we all want."

Meireles Shining Bright Under King Kenny

Liverpool ace Raul Meireles has revealed how the arrival of Kenny Dalglish has brought the best out of him.

The Portuguese international, a contender for the ESPN PFA Fans' Player of the Month in February, signed for Liverpool under former manager Roy Hodgson, but believes the change at the top has worked in his favour.

A lack of backing from the now West Brom boss is highlighted as a reason for his slow start to life at Anfield, but the 27-year-old has become influential in a more advanced position for the Merseysiders.

"It is certain that under Dalglish I get more chances than I did in Hodgson's time," Meireles told the People.

"The system we play now is different. We play more in attack, which helps me. I don't know why, but perhaps Hodgson didn't think too well of me. But I am the same now as I was then."

Signed from Porto, Meireles spoke of the relationship 'King Kenny' has with the players, and how his style of training is also benefiting the players at Liverpool despite the defeat to West Ham yesterday.

"Kenny Dalglish is closer to the players and he also speaks to them a lot more in training. The relationship between the players and coach is more direct. Hodgson is a veteran coach, an old-school gentleman, and was respectful towards the players. But the injuries and bad start to the season damaged our work with him."

The £11.5 million acquisition is now an integral part of the Liverpool line-up, and his five goals in eight appearances suggests Dalglish really has made all the difference.

Charlie Adam To Turn Down Spurs For Liverpool Move

The Blackpool captain Charlie Adam was chased by the Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish for some time during January transfer window, but Ian Holloway was not impressed by the amount of money on offer and simply refused to allow him to move to Anfield.

Then the Spurs boss Harry Redknapp made an attempt to take Adam to White Hart Lane in the final hours, but yet again the paperwork was delayed enough by Blackpool to prevent any move happening before the final deadline.

Both teams are expected to return with new offers in the summer, especially as Harry Redknapp surprisingly named Adam in his top three players this year in the PFA awards, but according to today’s People, Adam will refuse a move to North London in favour of Liverpool as he is desperate to sign for the club he supported as a boy, and to work under Kenny Dalglish.

Adam is presently suffering from a mystery injury, but if he recovers well, it is nearly certain that Liverpool will return with a new bid for him in the summer, but they will have to match whatever Tottenham offer before Holloway will let him leave Blackpool.

Liverpool Target Opens Door For Big-Money Move

Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Young has reiterated his desire to wait until the end of the season before deciding whether he will commit his future to the Midlands club.

The announcement comes amidst heavy media speculation that Young is a transfer target for Liverpool, with Kenny Dalglish keen to bring the England international winger to Anfield reports the Metro.

Young’s current contract expires in the summer of 2012, and Villa chiefs will be keen to extend his deal after recent stunning performances has raised his profile even further.

If however he decides his long-term future lies away from Villa Park then boss Gerard Houllier may be forced to sell Young in the summer, or risk losing their prized asset for nothing in just sixteen months time.

"I have always said I will leave talks until the end of the season and that's how it is," Young explained in an interview with The Sun.

His reluctance to commit his future has alerted Liverpool who are keen to further strengthen their attacking options with a particular focus on recruiting a winger.

Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli has given the green light on a summer approach for Young, who has delivered some scintillating performances in the Barclays Premier League this season.

He scored twice in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers, helping to extend Villa’s recent return to form, but Young is said to doubt his current club’s long-term ambition and capabilities reports

A move to Liverpool could be favourable with Anfield owners NESV making a statement of intent in the recent January transfer window when they spent in excess of £50m for the capture of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in a bid to return the Reds to their former glories.

Long-term Liverpool Target Back On Anfield Radar

Want-away winger Sylvain Marveaux could still complete a move to Liverpool after Rennes chiefs admitted he would never again play for the Ligue 1 club.

The 24-year-old Frenchman emerged as an Anfield target in the January transfer window after the arrival of Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli.

Comolli was thought to be keen on using his contacts in France to persuade the player that Liverpool was the place to be, and Marveaux was reportedly in the Director’s box at Anfield for Liverpool’s home defeat against Wolves back in November.

Searching for a move away from France, Marveaux was left out-in-the-cold at Route de Lorient, rarely featuring for Les Rouges et Noirs this season.

And having now been ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a groin injury, Rennes General Manager Pierre Dreossi admitted, “We will never see Sylvain Marveaux in the jersey of Rennes again.”

The former France Under-21 international has spent his entire career to date at Rennes, but with his contract set to expire in the summer Liverpool now look to be the favourites to land the player’s signature.

According to, Marveaux’s representatives have already entered discussions with a number of potential suitors.

Should Marveaux make the switch to Anfield, he is likely to provide Liverpool with an exciting attacking option – possessing bags of creative ability as well as an eye for goal.

Newcastle United had also expressed an interest in the former France U-21 international, with Alan Pardew looking to use some of the money generated from the sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool to considerably improve his current wage.

But that offer looks to have been placed on hold with Marveaux now likely to be heading to Anfield in time for next season.

Arsenal Planning £20 Million Move For Liverpool's Pepe Reina

Arsenal is plotting a £20 million bid to bring in Pepe Reina from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

The Gunners have struggled in the goalkeeper position since Jens Lehmann left the club at the end of the 2007-08 season, with 20-year-old Wojciech Szczesny now the first-choice shot-stopper.

With Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski having both failed to impress at the Emirates, it has been reported that the north London outfit are willing to break the bank for a world class goalkeeper.

It is thought that Reina is high on Arsene Wenger's wish-list and with the Reds' European aspirations having taken a blow with Birmingham's qualification for the Europa League as a result of their win at Wembley, Arsenal are reportedly ready to swoop.

Reina is said to have been offered a new £110,000-a-week deal to stay at Anfield but the Spaniard has made clear in recent weeks that he does not want to wait to play in the Champions League.

Manchester United have also been heavily linked with the former Villarreal man, who has become one of Liverpool's most consistent performers despite their erratic league form this season.

LFC Youngster Joins Hull On Loan

19-year-old Liverpool attacker David Amoo has joined Hull City on loan until the end of the season.

The deal is still subject to Football League clearance, but is expected to go through later today.

Amoo recently spent some time on loan at MK Dons, making three appearances, but now joins Championship side Hull in their quest for promotion.

Hull are currently ninth in the league, five points off the play-offs.

Amoo made his debut for Liverpool’s first team in the Europa League qualifier against Rabotnicki last summer.