Monday, May 02, 2011

Match Report: Liverpool 3 - 0 Newcastle

Goals continue to flow at Anfield under Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool strengthened their claim for European football next season with a 3-0 victory over Newcastle.

The Reds, who have scored 14 in their last three home matches, moved above Tottenham into fifth place having rarely been troubled by the Magpies.

Dirk Kuyt's eighth in his last seven Barclays Premier League matches was sandwiched between another for Maxi Rodriguez, who hit a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Birmingham last week, and one for the impressive Luis Suarez.

Only a goal for Andy Carroll, the subject of incessant abuse from the travelling fans, against his former club would have capped off the performance.

The £35million striker came on for the final 20 minutes but made little impact save for increasing the vitriol from the large away contingent.

Their anger at the way Carroll left them in January, with the club claiming he handed in a transfer request when made aware of Liverpool's interest, was understandable but he was never going to be a major player in this game having missed last week's victory with a knee injury.

The man who was the main reason Newcastle's record of just two wins at Anfield in their last 39 visits was not improved was Suarez.

Carroll's fellow deadline-day signing has made a much greater impression and his inventiveness and workrate were a constant problem to the Magpies.

But it took even him a long while to get things going as, having played their best football of the season in demolishing Birmingham, the first half failed to reach anywhere near those heights despite taking a 10th-minute lead.

Raul Meireles had already bundled a shot wide from a cross by Glen Johnson, returning at left-back after a three-match absence with a hamstring injury, before the hosts went ahead.

Even then they required a slice of luck. Teenager John Flanagan's deep cross was only half headed clear by Mike Williamson and Rodriguez's follow-up volley took a big deflection off Danny Simpson.

It went downhill from there for Dalglish's side as they conceded too much territory to their opponents, who enjoyed a sustained period of possession without really threatening.

It was briefly broken by Jay Spearing's dipping shot, which Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul claimed at the second attempt with Meireles bearing down on him.

The home side were fortunate, however, that for all their time on the ball Newcastle struggled to carve out a decent opportunity.

Liverpool-born midfielder Joey Barton was the Magpies' main culprit as his delivery from set-pieces was poor.

The one time he did put a free-kick into a dangerous area Johnson headed behind for a corner, from which Kevin Nolan subsequently ballooned a shot over.

Liverpool's only other chance of the half saw Lucas Leiva's looping header easily caught by Krul, while Newcastle left-back Jose Enrique, a summer target for the Reds, had the final opportunity with a free-kick deflected behind off the wall.

For the second half Liverpool's full-backs switched sides, with Flanagan having been given a difficult time by Jonas Gutierrez.

But the youngster was almost caught napping within seconds of the restart as Nolan's low cross was side-footed wide by Barton at the far post.

Luck was certainly on Liverpool's side as Suarez almost scored with a deflected shot which hit the side netting and Rodriguez hit the crossbar as he tried to centre from the left.

There was a hint of fortune about Liverpool's 59th-minute second when Suarez isolated Williamson wide on the left from Jose Reina's kick and was sent tumbling by the defender right on the edge of the penalty area close to the byline.

Referee Peter Walton, who had frustrated the home crowd with a number of decisions, had no hesitation in pointing to the spot to allow Kuyt to score.

The Holland international should have doubled his tally with a free header seven yards out minutes later but missed the target.

Suarez made no such mistake in the 65th minute when he exchanged passes with Kuyt to sidefoot under Krul from 10 yards.

With the game safe Dalglish sent on Carroll for Rodriguez with 20 minutes to go, just before Meireles' diving header was deflected behind by Fabricio Coloccini.

Carroll barely touched the ball as his side ran out comfortable winners and, despite having played one match more than Tottenham, Liverpool are strong contenders to take the Europa League berth.

Kuyt - Confidence High

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt insists confidence is brimming at Anfield following his terrific run in front of goal.

The Holland international scored for the fourth successive game on Sunday in the Reds' 3-0 league success over Newcastle.

Since finding the back of the net against Sparta Prague on February 24, the 31-year-old has now bagged 10 goals in 12 games in all competitions.

Kuyt knows he is currently at the top of his game, although he believes everyone has their tails up after moving ahead of Tottenham in the Premier League ladder into fifth.

"The last time I had a run like this must have been in Holland, where I scored quite a few," explained Kuyt.

"At the moment things are going well, I have scored in the last four games now, which is nice to do.

"My confidence is high, but that is also to do with the management and my team-mates.

"I think the confidence of every player is high at the moment, because everyone is doing well.

"It is the same for me, I am feeling much better than I did at the beginning of the season, and I am enjoying playing football again."

Reds Look To Defender

Paris Saint-Germain may have priced centre back Mamadou Sakho out of a move to Liverpool or Arsenal with an inflated price tag.

The centre half has been attracting interest from both Liverpool and the Gunners but, after seeing PSG put a £20m price tag on his head, neither club are likely to offer that sort of money.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish has a list of candidates for the positions he wants to strengthen in the summer and director of football Damien Comolli will oversee all the transfers in a busy close season.

If the Reds decide that £20m is over the top for the 21-year-old Sakho they will refocus their attentions on either Gary Cahill at Bolton, thought to be their preferred choice, or Phil Jones at Blackburn.

Moyes Insists Leighton Baines Won’t Join Liverpool

Everton manager David Moyes has brushed off the prospect of Leighton Baines joining Liverpool this summer, insisting that he has the final say on the club’s transfers.

The 26-year-old left-back has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park in recent weeks but the Everton boss has dismissed the possibility of the England international crossing the Merseyside divide.

Baines, who has made 152 appearances since signing from Wigan Athletic for £6m in 2007, penned a new five-year deal with Everton last summer.

“I can’t see it,” said Moyes. “It’s not for me that one and I think Liverpool know that as well. Nobody will leave the club unless I give it the go-ahead and that won’t change.

“We have signed Leighton on a five-year deal. I don’t want to sell him and Everton don’t sell cheap. The chairman looks after the players and gives them what he can. So Leighton’s not for sale – and they know that as well.”

Nicky Barmby and Abel Xavier are the only two players to have joined Everton from Liverpool with both clubs in the Premier League.

Steven Gerrard Targets Pre-Season Return For Liverpool

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has targeted a pre-season return for the Reds after he went under the knife in March to cure a troublesome groin injury.

The England star had initially hoped to make his comeback before the end of the season, but suffered a further setback which has left him looking a frustrated figure on the sidelines.

Writing in the program notes for Liverpool's 3-0 win over Newcastle at the weekend, the 30-year-old explained that it has been painful watching from the stand.

'Fingers crossed, I'll be there on the first day of pre-season,' he said.

'The manager and everyone else do their best to make you feel part of it. But, unless you are out there starting every week, it doesn't quite feel the same.'

Gerrard explained that he is feeling confident in his groin for the first time in a long while and hopes to be raring to go for the 2011/12 season.

He recently watched his side comfortably beat Newcastle with goals from Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez and knows that the victory could be vital as the Reds push for a European place.

Kenny Dalglish's men are currently in 5th place in the Premier League, ahead of Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference.

Kenny Dalglish Calls For Goal-Line Technology

Kenny Dalglish added his voice to those calling for the use of a video referral system to prevent games being decided by refereeing errors.

Chelsea was lucky to secure three points against Spurs on Saturday. Frank Lampard was awarded a goal for a shot which Heurelho Gomes stopped on the goal-line, and Salomon Kalou got the better of a touch-and-go offside call to score a late winner.

On Sunday, both Manchester United and Arsenal were aggrieved not to be awarded penalties at the Emirates, as referee Chris Foy failed to whistle when Nemanja Vidic handled the ball inside United's area, then when Gael Clichy brought down Michael Owen at the other end.

When he was asked his views on bringing in goal-line technology, Dalglish said: "As for using technology, I don't know why everyone is stubbornly against it.

"When competitions are that important you deserve the best you can get," said Dalglish. I don't see any reason why it can't be there. I'm sure it has been tested somewhere."

Hyypia Calls Time On Career

Bayer Leverkusen defender Sami Hyypia has confirmed he will retire from playing at the end of the Bundesliga season.

The ex-Liverpool man won a wealth of trophies during his time at Anfield and will take up a coaching role with Leverkusen next term.

Hyypia, who joined the Reds from Willem II, helped the Merseysiders win the UEFA Champions League, Uefa Cup, two FA Cups, two League Cups and two European Super Cups during his time at Anfield.

The 37-year-old was mulling over his career throughout the season and says he has no desire to continue playing, whether it be for Leverkusen or anyone else.

"The decision to retire gradually grew during the season," he told Finnish TV station MTV3.

"I had no interest any more to go elsewhere to play. There are no regrets.

"Thanks to all those who have helped during the course of my career and to my relatives a big thank you, without family and friends it would not have been possible."

Hyypia, who will also be involved in the Finnish set-up, added regarding his move into coaching: "It will be an interesting year.

"I must get a coaching license and then I get the experience of Leverkusen and the national team coaching.

"I'm really happy about this. All who know me know I put myself fully into it. It is 100 per cent or nothing."

Judge Liverpool's Transfer Policy A Few Years From Now - Dalglish

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes that the club's transfer policy must be judged after a few years, whilst hailing director of football Damien Comolli and managing director Ian Ayre.

The duo was promoted to their current positions last month, and it has been reported that the manager is working with the Frenchman to outline potential targets for the upcoming transfer window.

The Reds sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea in a deal that is widely thought to be worth about £50 million, and brought in Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in the last transfer window.

But Dalglish reckons the fans would need to watch the functioning of Fenway Sports Group for a few more years, before judging the transfer policy.

"The structure is great now with Ian as managing director and Damien as director of football," he told reporters.

"We said at the time they were two great appointments by the club.

"As for transfers, it remains to be seen. We have Andy and Luis in and they have done very well but it is only two.

"We need to wait a few years before we judge it but certainly they are two positive appointments."

The Scot also believes that the two recent arrivals can only improve further once they have had a pre-season with the Merseyside club.

He said: "Most players are better after a pre-season with their new club and that will apply to Andy and Luis next year."

But the manager also admitted that international duty could pose as a problem, as Suarez would need to represent Uruguay in the Copa America tournament in July.

"Luis will be away until 24 July if Uruguay get to the final," Dalglish said. "It's not helpful but there's nothing we can do about it and we just have to get on with it. The competition is there and it's a huge event for the South Americans and we've got to respect that."

Liverpool To Wait Another Year To Get Green Light For £200m Anfield Revamp

Liverpool will have to wait for another year before being given the green light for the long-awaited £200m redevelopment of Anfield.

The earliest the Reds can reportedly look to complete the works at their ground will be the start of the 2014-15 season, given that the refurbishment of the stadium will take at least two years.

According to News of the World, Fenway Sports Group are also evaluating the possibility of increasing the stadium’s capacity from 45,000 to 65,000 after owner John W. Henry announced in November that his final decisions on the developments will be made "within a year."

The owners have reportedly been distancing themselves from two existing approved plans.

The one proposed by AFL architects is said to be too old while previous owner Tom Hicks’ plan is too expensive a blueprint for the redevelopment.