Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Reds Are Making Promising Progress

Kenny Dalglish was delighted with the way Liverpool put their preparations for the new season back on track with victory over Valencia and reserved special praise for goalscorer Andy Carroll.

The former Newcastle striker, a big money buy in January, notched his third goal of pre-season against the La Liga outfit, to set the Reds on their way, before Dirk Kuyt's late second sealed the win.

"I think the boys deserve great credit for the work they've done out there," he said. "They've worked hard all week on the organizational side of it.

"They got their reward for what they did in training by not conceding any goals and that's as pleasing for us as scoring two at the other end.

"We are delighted with everybody and delighted with the attitude and commitment. Winning against such quality opposition won't do us any harm."

After setting Liverpool on their way against Valencia, Carroll earned praise from manager Dalglish, who claims the England striker is over his injury problems.

"We were delighted by Andy's performance," he said. "You could see him flying about there and that he is over his injury problems. That's great for us.

"He's worked very hard and we are delighted he has got over his knee injury and that he can train properly now."

Despite the victory in the club's final pre-season game before the start of the new season, injury to Glen Johnson marred what was a thoroughly rounded performance from Dalglish's men.

How Charlie Adam Can Help Liverpool Exploit The Pace Of Luis Suarez And Stewart Downing

As the mood of English football’s most celebrated sleeping giant lifted following the return of Kenny Dalglish last January, as did their level of performances on the pitch.

Aided by the arrivals of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll and the emergence of youngsters such as Martin Kelly and John Flanagan, Liverpool ended the season with a tactical fluidity that had been missing at Anfield for nearing two years.

That’s not to say that it was a flawless run-in. Tepid displays against the likes of Braga, West Brom and Tottenham showed Dalglish’s men to be lacking creative direction and an attacking plan B.

Versus West Brom, the vigour and work rate of the Reds in the middle of the park failed to hide the fact that there was a missing link to the front two of Carroll and Suarez.

As a result, the territory of Dalglish’s side remained in the centre of midfield as the side grew narrow, desperate for expansion on the flanks.

Unable to break against Roy Hodgson’s side, the temptation to kick and chase often proved too tempting for the team’s frustrated defenders with the game at 1-1. For the hosts, it was all too easy to defend against and the Baggies’ last-minute penalty rewarded the better side with three points.

However, with over £40 million worth of summer signings having joined the Reds, two new faces in particular can ensure that such one-dimensional play no longer need plague the Merseyside outfit. Just as when the club’s owners appointed King Kenny, Liverpool must look back to the not so distant past for inspiration.

This season, protected by Lucas, Charlie Adam’s wide-ranging distribution can be used to link up in close contact with the more advanced Steven Gerrard or spray balls to the flanks for Suarez and Stewart Downing to latch onto. From here, the Uruguayan can attack the box, cutting in from the channel whereas the former Aston Villa man can utilize his inch-perfect crossing ability to target Carroll in the area.

The more centralized route one option would also benefit, with Gerrard in a position to mop up knockdowns that have come from Carroll in the area in which he is most dangerous: just outside the 18-yard box.

With a three-pronged approach to goal such as this, Dalglish would be able to take advantage of Adam’s vision while maintaining the security of Lucas and the power of Gerrard.

A little more variety and less narrow-minded, this is the formation to continue Liverpool’s ascension.

Scott Dann The Man For Kenny Dalglish

Kenny Dalglish has moved for Birmingham star Scott Dann after Liverpool’s pre-season defensive shambles.

Dalglish wants to make the £8m-rated centre-back his fifth summer signing after seeing his side leak 15 goals in six friendlies.

He was eyeing Liverpool-born Dann, 24, earlier in the summer but opted to strengthen his midfield, landing Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson.

Dann, who has been likened to Kop legend Alan Hansen, missed half of last season after picking up a hamstring injury in January.

Anfield chief Dalglish has been hit by injuries to key defenders Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson in pre-season.

Liverpool Line Up Loan Deal For Man City Defender

Liverpool's need for a left back is inching them closer to proposing a loan move for Manchester City defender Wayne Bridge.

The Reds are short of options in that part of the field having seen Emiliano Insua, Paul Konchesky, Fabio Aurelio and Glen Johnson all turn out in that position to differing levels of success over the past two years. And despite attempts to rectify the situation this summer, the club have still not managed to secure any of their targets.

Lyon's Michel Bastos and Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre had both been shortlisted but with the former speaking publicly about wanting to stay at the Stade Gerland and the latter having suffered a broken leg against Aberdeen on Sunday, options are now limited. As a consequence, Dalglish is now considering making an approach for Bridge in order to have an experienced Premier League operator in that position.

The former Chelsea and Southampton defender might not be the most exotic name to be linked with a move to Anfield but, crucially, he is available and - when given a run of games - is a solid player capable of delivering telling crosses upon which £35m man Andy Carroll would thrive. Any deal would not be concluded until the end of the transfer window as Liverpool still hope to make a permanent signing but if they are unable to do so and can reach an agreement with City over his £93,000 a week wages then Bridge could be wearing the famous red shirt in September.

Poulsen Ready To Fight

Christian Poulsen has dismissed speculation that he will leave Liverpool and insists he sees his future at the club.

Kenny Dalglish has increased his midfield options with the signing of Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson this summer.

These new recruits will augment a squad already bulging with midfielders in Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Jay Spearing.

Indeed, Dalglish's transfer business has prompted talk that the Denmark international would be sacrificed to balance the books.

But the 30-year-old, who has two years left on his contract, is in no hurry to leave Anfield.

"I have been really happy and I want to play, that's my goal for the future," Poulsen said.

"I am happy there with my family, it's a good club and they treat me really well. I hope I can change my situation and play more.

"I haven't heard anything from Liverpool; I am trying to be fit for the new season. So I think they want me at the club and I am happy to be there and unless they tell me something different, I am a Liverpool player for the coming season."

Glen Johnson Ruled Out For Two Weeks

Glen Johnson is set to miss the start of the new season for Liverpool after being ruled out for up to two weeks.

England right-back Glen Johnson damaged his thigh in the friendly win over Valencia at the weekend and is likely to be replaced by Martin Kelly when Sunderland visit Anfield on Saturday.

Johnson’s absence came as star striker Luis Suarez returned to training at Melwood following Copa America success with Uruguay.

New Midfielders Will Give Liverpool Great Options – Martin Skrtel

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is happy with the signings made by manager Kenny Dalglish and believes they will make the team stronger next season.

Skrtel has been impressed by what he has seen of new boys Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing so far.

"I must admit these players give us great options," the Slovakian told the club's official website.

"I remember Stewart from when I was playing against him a couple of years ago. I was at right-back and he was giving me a really hard time.

"He played really well that day so I am sure his crosses and speed will be very useful for our team.

"Charlie had a great individual season with Blackpool and I am really happy he is here.

"You could see his team depended a lot on him and he made a big difference. Jordan is still very young but he played for England so this says a lot about him."

Final Heartbreak For U16s

Liverpool slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Sierra Leone's FC Johansen in the final of the Swiss U16 Cup in Ruggell on Sunday afternoon.

After the contest ended goalless, FC Johansen managed to find the net in the early stages of extra time to secure the win.

With time ticking away, the Reds threatened to grab an equalizer but they were unable to find the back of the net despite their gallant efforts.

Earlier in the day, Liverpool beat Manchester City 2-1 in the all-English semi-final and boss Steve Cooper was delighted with the efforts of his players over the course of the competition.

The Academy manager told Liverpoolfc.tv: "I'm very proud of the boys - I think they've performed really well over the four days.

"It was always going to be a difficult task today heading into the semi-finals because there is more at stake in trying to get to the final, and also because the boys have had four hard days.

"It's been physically demanding with a lot of minutes played. We've picked up a few knocks, so we haven't been able to make many changes.

"But the lads didn't half perform well and I am really, really pleased with what they gave us.

"It's not just about playing and winning this weekend, it's about what we take from it and going back to the Academy with the boys having become better players.

"I think the four days here can only have been beneficial to the overall development. We've had a bit of everything - games where we've had to play football and pass our way to goals and wins, but we've also had to dig in a few times as well.

"We conceded a bit of a sloppy goal in the final, but it was going to take something like that for the game to go in somebody's favour, and on another day it could have gone our way.

"The players are entering a stage now where the football is becoming more competitive, and as long as the players realize this is what happens in elite, competitive football then they'll become better players for it.

"It's been pleasing that in every game they have tried to play our way, the way we are trained to develop our footballers at the Academy, and that's all we can ask."

The U16s were led out onto the pitch by members of Liverpool's Ability Counts squad, who have also been in action in Ruggell this week, before 'You'll Never Walk Alone' was played as the teams lined up.

The players have conducted themselves superbly all week in Ruggell - and Cooper is pleased with the attitude they have shown.

He said: "There was a bit of an opening ceremony to the final, and we're probably the only club with their own song here. I reminded the boys that they're playing for such a big club.

"With that comes a responsibility and an expectation all the time, and they have to live up to that. They cannot let the club down - and they didn't.

"We've told them that, and they realize it anyway. Every player that has come away with us this weekend has been on a trip with Liverpool before, so they know what's expected of them.

"They always need to know who they play for because it's a very special club and they're privileged to be part of it."

Though Liverpool has had a busy schedule of seven matches in four days in the tournament, Cooper feels the trip will also prove advantageous off the pitch.

"The football always come first on these trips because obviously they are footballers," he stated.

"But to be a footballer, you've also got to be a teammate and part of a team - and there's no better way to bond with your teammates than when you're away from home and staying in a hotel together.

"There hasn't been a single problem and it's been very enjoyable to be around the boys - and I think they've enjoyed being around each other as well. I think it's been a very beneficial experience for them."

He added: "We'll travel back soon, we'll give them a day off on Tuesday and then straight back into the normal training program on Wednesday. We have games at the weekend and we expect them to be at a good level straight away."

Ladies Claim Chelsea Triumph

Liverpool Ladies secured their first WSL win of the season as they recorded a 1-0 victory away to Chelsea.

Chloe Jones was the matchwinner, illustrating just why the club signed her from Leicester, as she bagged the only goal of the game.

The Reds were boosted ahead of kick off with the news that Nicky Twohig would return from suspension to replace Beth Bailey at the heart of the defence, whilst the only other change from Wednesday's draw with Doncaster saw Cheryl Foster replace Ruesha Littlejohn.

And it was Twohig that came closest to opening the scoring, as she met a Jones corner forcefully, only to see her header cleared off the line by Danni Buet.

However, Chelsea's goal was soon to be breached, as Jones swung a corner into the near post, with the ball seemingly evading everyone to nestle in the net.

There were some suggestions that it may have deflected off the back of Chelsea midfielder, Buet, but Jones was not to be denied her first goal in Liverpool colours and took the adulation of her teammates.

Buet tried to make amends as she gained some space down the right-hand side, but blazed her shot over the bar, as the Blues struggled to get a foothold in the game.

A last ditch challenge from Lara Fay was required to deny Kelly Jones after 27 minutes, before she snatched at a loose ball from the resulting corner and saw her strike narrowly fly over the crossbar.

It took Chelsea 33 minutes to force Dani Gibbons into action, as Ashlee Hincks's 25-yard shot forced the Liverpool stopper into a fine save down low.

Buet then shot wide, as Chelsea upped the pressure going into the half-time break, with Gibbons required again to deny Helen Lander to ensure Liverpool retained their lead.

The Reds regained the upper hand as the second half got underway, with Twohig unfortunate not to double the advantage, as she latched onto another fine delivery from Jones, only to find her close range effort rebound off Blues 'keeper, Carly Telford.

The game then entered a scrappy stage, with Chelsea becoming frustrated by their inability to create chances against the team that had conceded the most goals in the division.

Cheryl Foster should have doubled the advantage on 69 minutes, as a fantastic centre from Jones found her in acres of space, only to divert the ball wide of the post.

Liverpool was in the ascendency, as Kate Brusell forced Telford into a close range save, before Jones hit the post, with the Blues' 'keeper beaten.

A minute later, and Liverpool were thankful to Gibbons for keeping their advantage, as Hincks raced clear on goal. The Reds' stopper stayed big however, deflecting the ball away with her legs.

Liverpool came back again, with Jones denied by Telford and Brusell seeing her long range cracker whistle past the post.

As the rain started pouring down, so did the Chelsea pressure, as they upped the tempo in the final 10 minutes in search of an equalizer.

Hincks couldn't quite wrap her foot around a loose ball, toe-poking wide of the post, before Gemma Bonner missed the target with a header from a Buet free-kick after Brusell had gone into the book for a wild challenge.

Sophie Perry found Twohig in the way once again, whilst Chelsea nearly snatched an undeserved equalizer at the death through Laura Coombs, but Gibbons was on hand to protect her clean sheet and ensure Liverpool claimed their first three-point haul of the season.