Sunday, April 03, 2011

Match Report: West Brom 2 - 1 Liverpool

Chris Brunt's second-half penalty double enabled West Brom to win the battle of Liverpool managers past and present at The Hawthorns.

Current Reds manager Kenny Dalglish saw Martin Skrtel head his side in front five minutes into the second half.

But his predecessor, Roy Hodgson, was indebted to Brunt for initially levelling matters from the spot and then scoring the 88th-minute winner.

Albion were worthy of their victory and are now unbeaten in five games under Hodgson.

They had the game's most potent attacker in Peter Odemwingie while Youssouf Mulumbu anchored the midfield effectively.

Luis Suarez again showed flashes of his quality for the Reds but Andy Carroll had a quiet game after scoring his first England goal in midweek against Ghana.

Liverpool were the first to settle and almost went ahead after two minutes.

Carroll won a header from a Raul Meireles corner and the ball fell to Dirk Kuyt whose close-range effort was blocked by Scott Carson.

Kuyt was first to react to the rebound and his shot clipped the top of the bar.

Carroll appealed in vain for a penalty after a challenge by Baggies central defender Jonas Olsson.

Liverpool suffered a setback after six minutes when Glen Johnson pulled up with a hamstring injury when trying to close down Brunt.

He was replaced by Sotirios Kyrgiakos who went into the middle of the back four with Daniel Agger replacing Johnson at left-back.

Kuyt dragged a low shot wide after Suarez had turned the ball into his path.

Brunt tried to catch Jose Reina out with a low 35-yard free-kick but the keeper was alert to the situation.

Liverpool received another injury blow after 25 minutes when Agger hobbled off with what appeared to be a knee setback to be replaced by Danny Wilson in a straight swap at left-back.

Paul Scharner became the first player to be yellow carded after 27 minutes for a foul on Jay Spearing.

Carroll followed him into Martin Atkinson's notebook late after a challenge on Steven Reid inside the Baggies box.

Reina was brought into meaningful action for the first time to cling on to a Reid header from Brunt's deep free-kick.

Wilson was yellow carded after bringing down Odemwingie two minutes before the interval.

Albion began the second half brightly and Reina parried away a well-struck drive from Cox.

But Liverpool broke the deadlock after 50 minutes through Skrtel's second goal of the season.

Carroll won a corner after his shot on the turn was tipped over by Carson at full stretch but he was well beaten by Skrtel's header from the resulting cross by Meireles after he had outjumped Scharner.

Carson then had to be alert to block a swerving shot from Kuyt after he had ran unopposed into the Albion box.

The home side tried to regroup and Reina went down to hold Brunt's left-footed shot.

Then after 62 minutes Brunt brought Albion level from the penalty spot.

Kyrgiakos was adjudged to have brought down the impressive Odemwingie inside the box and Brunt sent Reina the wrong way from the spot.

It was the third goal of the campaign for the Northern Ireland international.

Odemwingie was a constant menace to Liverpool and Reina did well to turn aside a fierce drive.

Hodgson made his first substitution after 74 minutes with Marc-Antoine Fortune replacing Cox.

Liverpool skipper Jamie Carragher made a crucial block on Odemwingie's powerful shot.

Then Odemwingie flashed a shot across the face of goal after being found in space by Fortune.

A minute late Brunt put the Baggies ahead with his second penalty of the game.

Odemwingie shook off the challenge of Kyrgiakos and then was brought by Reina.

Up stepped Brunt to hammer the spot-kick past Reina.

In injury-time Nicky Shorey headed off the line from Suarez.

Kenny Dalglish Confused By Penalty Decisions In West Brom Defeat

Kenny Dalglish was left frustrated by his Liverpool side's 2-1 defeat to West Brom after going down to two second half penalties.

Speaking after the game, the Scot called for better communication after being left confused as to why the penalties were awarded by the linesman.

“The only thing I would say about the penalty kicks is one was given by the referee and the other by the linesman,” Dalglish told Sky Sports.

“If they just tell us when the linesman takes over the authority from the referee, then I think we will understand it better.

“We had the benefit two weeks ago against Sunderland I don't know why. And two weeks later I still don't know why.

“The linesman is there to be of assistance to the referee. It's important for them to tell us when the linesman has overruled the referee. The referee was only 10 yards away. Communication is always good.”

Dalglish was disappointed his side came away with no points after the awarding of two controversial penalties.

“We are always frustrated when we have nothing to show from our work," he added.

“They took the lead and when they got themselves back in front with two penalty kicks and you can argue whether they are penalty kicks or they weren't but sometimes it's not clear sometimes why it was a penalty and sometimes why the linesman flags for it.”

Liverpool was hampered by the news that Steven Gerrard picked up an injury the day before the game along with news that Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson are also struggling with knocks.

“We lost Steven [Gerrard] on Friday in training. It was innocuous, as were the two injuries today," he said.

“Steven was training to be ready for today and innocuously felt a sharp pain turning for the ball. It's the same area [groin] but not the same thing.

“We will get him and the other boys assessed later in next week – then we will know more.

“Daniel [Agger] has damaged a tendon behind his knee, Glen [Johnson] has damaged a muscle.”

Liverpool 'Involved' In Free Transfer Defender Talks

Liverpool are one of the English clubs in talks with defender Oscar Wendt, according to reports.

The Swedish international defender has emerged as a top target for a number of clubs across Europe, with his current contract at FC Copenhagen set to expire in the summer and the player set to become available on a free transfer.

Kenny Dalglish has been linked with the player for some time now, but the Metro reports that Liverpool are 'involved' in talks for the players, as are Newcastle United and Championship leaders QPR. A number of other unnamed English clubs are also thought to be monitoring the situation.

The player has previously stressed his desire to play in Britain, but confirmed that Portuguese outfit Sporting Lisbon has also been in contact with his agent.

"Sporting are one of the clubs we are talking to, then we have decided to not name the others," Wendt told newspaper Sportbladet.

"But my agent has serious talks with them. Nothing is decided, but I am not stressed about it. I want to find a club which feels right."

The Reds are thought to have highlighted the left back position as a priority, with Dalglish keen to find a long-term replacement for Paul Konchesky at Anfield. The summer signing is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest, and tipped to make a permanent Liverpool exit in the summer.

Glen Johnson has filled in at the position under Dalglish, but the England international is seen as a temporary fix with the Merseysiders keen to make an addition as soon as possible.

Jose Enrique, Taye Taiwo and Cristian Ansaldi have all speculatively been linked with a move to the Merseysiders, with Dalglish thought to have a long wish list of potential players for the position at Liverpool.

Wendt appears to represent the best value for money given his current contract situation, and with Liverpool keen to spend on players in other positions could be the player the Reds go for come the end of the season.

Carra Vows To Fight For Europe

Jamie Carragher his revealed his disappointment at Liverpool's inability to close the game on Tottenham after their defeat against West Brom.

Kenny Dalglish's team have an outside chance of qualifying for Europe but they trail fifth-placed Tottenham by five points, having played a game more.

For all intents and purposes it looked like they would close the gap after they took the lead against West Brom on Saturday through Martin Skrtel, with Tottenham held by bottom club Wigan.

However, two Chris Brunt penalties were enough to seal a come-from-behind victory for the Baggies.

The Liverpool vice-captain nevertheless insists his team will continue to fight for a European place.

"It was disappointing to lose the game and with Tottenham only drawing makes this even more of a bad result," Carragher told Liverpool's official website.

"We obviously didn't know the Tottenham score until the end of the game but we can't worry about other teams.

"We've just to look after ourselves and get as many points as we can to try and close the gap.

"West Brom did well and it was a big three points for them, but it was a very disappointing day for us.

"Luis Suarez looked dangerous again for us and he was unlucky not to get an equalizer right at the end, but unfortunately besides the goal we didn't create enough chances in the first 75 minutes of the game."

Gerrard Suffers Fresh Injury Setback

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish faces an anxious wait to learn the extent of Steven Gerrard's problems after the midfielder suffered a fresh groin injury in training on Friday.

Gerrard has not played since Liverpool's victory over Manchester United at the beginning of March but was expected to be on the bench for Liverpool's trip to West Brom on Saturday.

However, the midfielder did not travel to the Hawthorns for the Reds' 2-1 defeat after feeling further pain in his groin.

"Steven was training yesterday, ready to be available for Saturday. Then he innocuously tried to turn with the ball, and he felt a sharp pain," said Dalglish said.

"It is the same area of his groin but not the same thing. We will get him assessed and at the end of the week we will know better."

Manchester United Plotting To Beat Liverpool In The Chase To Sign Ashley Young

Sir Alex Ferguson is planning to plunder sporting riches from under the noses of Liverpool at football and horseracing.

The Manchester United manager is fancied to land next Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree with his star chaser What A Friend, then beat the Anfield club to the signature of Ashley Young during the summer.

Liverpool sporting director Daniel Comolli has made the 25-year-old Aston Villa winger his top summer target, but United have also made their interest known and are prepared to make him one of their three top targets.

Young’s value has soared on the back of two impressive performances for England last week against Wales and Ghana.

Villa are reluctant to part with the player who has refused to extend his current contract beyond the year it has left to run, but they are set to make an enormous profit on the £9.75million they paid Watford for him in 2007.

Ferguson will be kept in close contact with events at Aintree while he watches his team play Fulham from his place in the stand next Saturday. What A Friend is one of the National favourites.

Kelly Makes The Grade At Liverpool

A product of Liverpool's academy, Kelly has progressed admirably having missed two years with a back problem during the embryonic stages of his career. The versatile defender, who can play anywhere across the back line, recovered to break into the Reds' reserve side during the 2007/08 campaign.

He made his senior debut in the next season's UEFA Champions League, coming on as a late substitute in a 3-1 win at PSV Eindhoven on Matchday 6. Then boss Rafael Benítez subsequently allowed the 18-year-old to be loaned to Huddersfield Town AFC, where he appeared seven times in the third tier and scored his first senior goal.

A mainstay of England's FIFA U-20 World Cup team in late 2009, Kelly's first Liverpool start soon arrived: in a 2-1 home defeat by Olympique Lyonnais in the UEFA Champions League group stage. He made only two club appearances in the 2009/10 campaign thereafter, before truly establishing himself this term – receiving England Under-21 recognition as a result.

While Kelly began to force his way into the Liverpool side under Roy Hodgson, it was when Kenny Dalglish assumed the reins that he nailed a regular spot for the Anfield club. So assured were his displays that England right-back Glen Johnson was moved to the left of defence to accommodate his younger counterpart before injury struck in the form of a hamstring problem in late February.

Having had just three Premier League outings during Hodgson's brief tenure, Kelly soon found favour under the returning Dalglish. Despite having started only two top-flight games in his career, he was thrown into the first XI for the visit of Merseyside rivals Everton and turned in an impressively composed display.

"The injury made me more determined. Having those two years out meant I missed so much from my development. I was lucky to get a chance to come to [Liverpool training ground] Melwood."

"I'm made up with my own form. Hopefully I'll keep training well and get a chance to play. In the Premier League, Europa League and Champions League you need to play three times a week so it's really good to do that."

Pacheco Dazzles For Norwich

Daniel Pacheco enjoyed a debut to remember as he helped Norwich City to a 6-0 thumping of Scunthorpe United on Saturday.

The Spanish starlet delighted the crowd playing in his favoured role just behind the striker, and featured for 71 minutes.

Pacheco was a constant threat throughout and set up the opening two goals.

First he cut back a cross for Grant Holt to net the opener, and then his defence splitting pass led to a penalty that was converted by Holt.

Holt and Simeon Jackson both grabbed hat-tricks, and Canaries boss Paul Lambert was delighted with the debut of Pacheco.

Lambert told the Eastern Daily Press: “I thought his debut was as good as I've seen.

"I thought he was brilliant, he lifted the crowd and he was fantastic."

Kenny Dalglish Will Not Be Allowed Rafa Benitez-Style Freedom

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish will not be allowed to operate in the same way as Rafael Benitez did during his time in charge at the club, once instated as permanent manager in the summer - according to a report in The News of the World.

Dalglish has been linked with the permanent role ever since John Henry fired Roy Hodgson back in January, and will be formally appointed to the post in the summer.

However, the former Reds’ striker will not enjoy the same latitude as Benitez did during his six-year stint with the club, as Fenway Sports Group have made clear they wish to put in place a more collective type of management to govern Liverpool.

The old tradition of the manager having the final say may be over at Anfield, with a new approach being adopted that not only relieves some of the pressure on the head coach but also widens the transfer approval procedure to the Reds’ director of football, Damien Comolli.

This means that all future signings will have to be agreed amongst the board’s appointed staff, limiting the manager’s independence in the market, which the owners feel was the core reason behind failure in the past.

John Henry and his colleagues were apparently astonished at the amount of freedom given to Benitez, which let him loose in a transfer window subject only to keeping within the set budget.

Reports have emerged that conflict has already arisen between Dalglish and Comolli, with Dalglish said to prefer the acquisition of Stuart Downing to the Comolli-favoured Ashley Young in the January window.