Sunday, August 28, 2011

Match Report: Liverpool 3 - 1 Bolton

Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam scored their first Liverpool goals as the Reds crushed Bolton to move top of the Barclays Premier League tonight.

The summer signings struck either side of a powerful Martin Skrtel header as the hosts, inspired by the outstanding Luis Suarez, produced an electrifying performance at Anfield.

Bolton struck late on through Ivan Klasnic but generally offered little as Liverpool, backed by a raucous crowd, displayed further evidence of their rejuvenation under Kenny Dalglish.

The home team maintained a ferocious tempo from the kick-off with Suarez, preferred to Andy Carroll up front, at the heart of almost all their attacking play.

With another new player in Stewart Downing also influential, Liverpool looked a different proposition from the Roy Hodgson side which started the last campaign so sluggishly.

For Bolton defeat was a reality check after a promising start to the season.

It may also have been their last game with Gary Cahill as Arsenal consider whether to make another bid for the inspirational defender before Wednesday's transfer deadline.

Bolton struggled to cope with the pace of Liverpool and was fortunate to survive when Downing lost control in the area after a quick counter-attack.

It came as little surprise when the Reds claimed the lead after more good work in the 15th minute.

Suarez brilliantly crossed into the box with the outside of his left boot and Jussi Jaaskelainen reacted quickly to keep out Downing's volley.

Dirk Kuyt was first to the loose ball and fed Henderson who, after his first effort was blocked by Nigel Reo-Coker, fired firmly into the top corner.

Bolton almost grabbed a spectacular equalizer moments later when Chris Eagles crossed for Martin Petrov but Jose Reina parried the Bulgarian's tight-angled volley.

Liverpool upped the tempo with Suarez driving forward and Kuyt almost diverting in a low cross in from close range.

Suarez then broke clear and coolly lobbed Jaaskelainen but the ball dropped just over the bar.

Both sides were forced to reorganize midway through the first half.

Bolton sent on Mark Davies after Fabrice Muamba went off before Liverpool right-back Martin Kelly, who missed the closing months of last season, left the action to be replaced by Skrtel.

Suarez delivered another dangerous cross but Kuyt volleyed straight at Jaaskelainen from a Downing flick-on.

Kuyt then went close from long range before the Reds appealed for a penalty when Gretar Steinsson handled as Downing tried to flick the ball past him.

Replays, however, backed referee Lee Probert's decision to give a free-kick just outside the box and Henderson's cross was cleared.

Liverpool maintained the pressure after the break and within moments of the restart Suarez was clear again.

The Uruguayan broke into the box but his fall after an attempted challenge by Zat Knight seemed rather theatrical.

Suarez, with countryman and prospective new signing Sebastian Coates watching in the main stand, was then involved in the action again on the edge of the area.

He was bundled off the ball but Adam picked up possession and had a shot deflected wide.

The Scot took the resulting corner himself and delivered an inviting cross for Skrtel to double the lead with a thumping header.

Adam got on the scoresheet barely a minute later as he finished off good work from Kuyt by firing low past Jaaskelainen.

It almost got worse for Bolton as Suarez rounded Jaaskelainen but shot into the side-netting.

Bolton had a rare opportunity when Klasnic had a shot blocked by Jamie Carragher.

But there was little respite for the Trotters as Daniel Agger charged forward from deep to fire a shot well over.

Liverpool should have had a free-kick inside the area when Jaaskelainen clearly handled a back-pass from Paul Robinson under pressure from Suarez but Probert gave nothing.

Suarez and Henderson made way for Carroll and Maxi Rodriguez 14 minutes from time.

The Reds eased off but continued to dominate possession with Jose Enrique twice finding room to whip in good crosses.

Some of the gloss was taken off their afternoon, however, when Petrov troubled Carragher and Klasnic tapped in a stoppage-time consolation.

Dalglish Delighted With Reds

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish paid tribute to his players after a 3-1 victory over Bolton lifted them top of the Premier League table.

It is early days in the season and Manchester United and Manchester City will have the opportunity to go back above the Reds on Sunday, but there has been plenty for the Anfield faithful to get excited about already this term.

Jordan Henderson, Martin Skrtel and Charlie Adam scored to seal the win and even a late consolation from Ivan Klasnic did not take the gloss off for Dalglish.

"It was a pleasure to watch," he told Sky Sports.

"We got the result because we worked hard, played together and played for each other.

"To lose a goal at the end maybe puts a dampener on it for 40 seconds or so but that also says a lot."

Luis Suarez may not have got on the scoresheet but he was once again an inspirational figure in attack, and Dalglish had nothing but praise for the Uruguayan.

The Scot said: "He's a fantastic player and a good character in and around the place."

Henderson and Stewart Downing were also united in their acclaim for Suarez after the final whistle.

"His movement is brilliant, he's always moving and always looking to get in behind," Henderson said of Suarez, who led Uruguay to the Copa America title this summer.

"He's a nightmare for defenders."

Downing was similarly enthusiastic, saying: "We all know he is a top player.

"He creates things and he scores goals too, he's had a long summer but it doesn't seem to be affecting him."

Bolton Remain Keen On David Ngog

Bolton Wanderers remain keen to sign Liverpool forward David Ngog in a £3 million deal, according to reports.

The French forward has been heavily linked with a move away from Anfield in the transfer window, with Kenny Dalglish thought to be weighing up his current attacking options.

Owen Coyle has remained coy over his interest in the 22-year-old, who moved to Liverpool from PSG in 2008, but admitted that his side could use more players for the advanced position.

"We do have a goal threat - and we will look to add to that - and for me that augurs well," said the Trotters boss.

"We are still trying to get people in but I don't have anyone cut and dried at this moment. In the next few days we will try to pursue that quite vigorously to ensure that happens.

"We will try to get the one or two in who we think will help us because we want to make sure we have a squad that is able to cope with the demands of the season."

Rafael Benitez brought Ngog to England for an undisclosed fee, and the French U21 international has since made 94 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool.

However, the player finds himself behind Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in the Liverpool pecking order, and a move to the Reebok could provide the youngster with his first taste of regular first team football.

The Daily Express claim Liverpool will be looking for around £3 million from any possible sale.

Coyle - Cahill Affected

Bolton manager Owen Coyle admitted after the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool that Gary Cahill's performance had suffered as a result of the recent transfer speculation.

The defender has attracted interest from Arsenal this summer and Coyle admitted on Friday that Bolton had rejected an offer that was so far below their valuation 'the word derisory doesn't even cover it'.

Arsene Wenger later responded by saying the reported figure of £6m-£7m was wrong, but there are now just a few days remaining to see if the Gunners can reach an agreement to buy Cahill.

Coyle was reluctant to discuss Cahill's situation after the Anfield loss but did concede that he had not been at his best.

"I do think it had an effect on him today," said Coyle.

"It's probably the first time I have seen him not be the normal outstanding lad that he is. But that can happen to anyone."

Coyle did also admit that he would not stand in Cahill's way if a bigger club came in with a suitable offer.

"If something happens prior to Wednesday and Gary is to leave the club then I, as a manager, will wish him all the very best. He is a great lad," Coyle said.

"But if it doesn't then Gary is all heart and he will be ready to give everything for Bolton Wanderers.

"Gary wants to play at the highest level and there is nothing wrong with that ambition and he has been a terrific servant for Bolton.

"The bottom line is, if someone out there has a price that I think is the right value for Gary Cahill and they make an offer, then there is a chance business will be done.

"If they don't, there is nothing to talk about."

Coyle was philosophical about his side's performance, admitting that while Liverpool had played well, Bolton had not helped their own cause with some poor defending.

"Liverpool are a very good side but saying that, I thought we started the game pretty well," said Coyle.

"It was a great finish from Jordan Henderson but that's why you pay £20million for players, exquisite finishes like that."

Coyle added: "We shot ourselves in the foot at the start of the second half by conceding two goals.

"They were good finishes from both the (Liverpool) lads but poor defending from us as a group, and it gave us a mountain to climb."

Jordan Henderson Hails Luis Suarez

Jordan Henderson scored his first Liverpool goal in a 3-1 win over Bolton Wanderers at Anfield, but insisted Luis Suarez should take the credit for the victory.

The Uruguayan striker did not manage to join Henderson, Martin Skrtel and Charlie Adam on the scoresheet, but he posed a constant threat and caused a Bolton defence that included £17million-rated Gary Cahill no end of problems.

Henderson, a £16million summer signing from Sunderland, was quick to pay tribute to Suarez after a victory that sent Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table.

'His movement is brilliant, he's always moving and always looking to get in behind. 'He's a nightmare for defenders,' the England midfielder said.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish also had words of praise for Suarez following a game he thought was a 'pleasure to watch'.

'He's a fantastic player and a good character in and around the place,' Dalglish said.

Henderson opened the scoring after just 15 minutes at Anfield with a fine finish that will silence some of the critics who have suggested Liverpool paid too much for him.

Skrtel doubled the home side's advantage with a powerful header from Adam's corner seven minutes after half-time, before Adam made certain of the three points with his first Reds goal just 60 seconds later.

Liverpool should have extended their lead, but ended up conceding in injury-time when Jamie Carragher's mistake allowed Martin Petrov to set up Ivan Klasnic for a close-range finish.

Dalglish Rues International Break

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has expressed his frustration that his new signings' bedding-in process at Anfield will be disrupted by the forthcoming international break.

Dalglish is eager to get his squad settled, but after Saturday's home fixture against Bolton, and with their Barclays Premier League campaign just three games old, the group will then split as the players go off to represent their countries.

"It's a fantastic honour to represent your country and you should go and do that, but you get a wee bit of momentum going (at club level), then you're off for two weeks and have to pick it up again and start off," said Dalglish, whose side's next match after Bolton is a trip to Stoke on September 10.

"It's difficult, but it's the same for everybody - and everybody knew the score before we started (the season).

"New boys come in, they're settling down and here for a wee while, and then they've got to go and represent their countries.

"It's not undermining the honour of representing your country, it's just a fact of life - the longer they're here, the quicker they'll settle."

Henry Questions Transfer Critics

Liverpool owner John W Henry is baffled by criticism of the club's summer spending spree and believes critics have been hypocritical.

Since taking over the club in October 2010, Henry has sanctioned big-money signings such as Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing for a combined figure in the region of £71million.

The American entrepreneur claims the same critics who have slated the club's policy of spending huge sums on British talent are those who questioned that he had the team's best interests at heart upon his takeover.

"It's odd to be criticized by some who think we are overspending," he told The Daily Telegraph. "The worry seemed to be that we wouldn't spend.

"But we've been consistent, we intend to strengthen this club annually but that doesn't mean we will deficit spend.

"Look at the prices paid this summer for (Connor) Wickham and (Alex) Chamberlain. At Liverpool we have purchased each player for a different reason, and are headed in the right direction.

"This year our goal is to get back to the Champions League. But it won't be easy as there are six big clubs - among the best in Europe - fighting for four spots.

"It's up to us to strengthen revenues. Only then will we be strong enough to compete in Europe."

Meanwhile, Henry revealed talks over Liverpool's prospective ground move are ongoing, but suggests a new business strategy may be needed to fulfil the club's potential, although a ground-share with Everton is unlikely.

He said: "There's no doubt that if a new stadium were to be built in Liverpool from a financial prospective, which is the major issue, a ground-share would be helpful for both clubs.

"But there doesn't seem to be any support for that from fans. If Anfield cannot be expanded, a new stadium is a wonderful choice.

"But we already have 45,000 seats. If a new stadium is constructed with 60,000 seats you've spent an incredible sum just to add 15,000 seats.

"If the cost is £300million for an extra 15,000 seats, that doesn't make any sense. Liverpool isn't London, you can't charge £1million for a long-term club seat."

Reds To Face Brighton

Liverpool will visit Brighton in the third round of the Carling Cup.

The Reds will travel to the Amex for the clash with the Seagulls in the week commencing September 19.

Kenny Dalglish's side set up the tie following a 3-1 win at Exeter City in the previous round.

The last time the two sides faced each other in the competition was at the same stage back in October 1985.

The boss was on target that day but it was Paul Walsh's hat-trick that stole the limelight as Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners at Anfield.