Sunday, December 11, 2011

Match Report: Liverpool 1 - 0 QPR

Luis Suarez ensured Liverpool's season did not follow a familiar storyline, but it was another edgy afternoon at Anfield in a 1-0 victory over QPR.

The Uruguayan scored the only goal of the game when taking advantage of some slack marking to head the winner just two minutes after half-time.

However, it was far from a perfect afternoon for Kenny Dalglish's team, as the match looked set to follow a similar pattern to the frustrating stalemates against QPR's fellow newly-promoted sides, Norwich and Swansea.

Neil Warnock's team was designed to frustrate their hosts in their first Premier League meeting since February 1996 and they almost achieved their target thanks to the heroics of veteran goalkeeper Radek Cerny.

But Suarez, who has been in the headlines for two Football Association charges in as many weeks, proved the difference and ensured Liverpool ended a run of four successive draws at Anfield.

Suarez had been the main topic of conversation pre-match but it was another instrumental display on the field which was the talking point afterwards.

The 24-year-old has found himself targeted by opposition players and fans alike who believe the South American goes to ground far too easily.

Early signs at Anfield were that QPR were not going to dish out the sort of harsh treatment that had prompted Reds manager Dalglish to produce video clips in a determined defence of his striker at his press conference on Thursday.

Suarez, who is also facing a racism-related charge dating back to mid-October, should have taken advantage in the 10th minute from Stewart Downing's right-wing cross, but he headed straight at Cerny from 10 yards.

It set the tone for the rest of the half, as he then somehow squeezed a shot from a narrow angle between the goalkeeper and his left-hand post which eventually went out for a throw before skewing wide with the outside of his right foot when it looked easier to go with his left.

Having dominated at home against the other promoted teams Norwich and Swansea - which both finished in draws after missing a number of chances - a familiar pattern was developing for Liverpool.

In the 31st minute Dirk Kuyt put Maxi Rodriguez through in the inside-left channel and his low shot across Cerny was destined for the far corner of the net until the goalkeeper fingertipped it behind.

A driving run from Downing set up another Suarez chance but his attempted close-range lob was clawed away by Cerny and the Uruguay international blazed over the rebound.

It took Liverpool just two minutes to put the frustrations of the first half behind them when they returned after the interval.

Charlie Adam's left-wing corner was cleared back to him and his right-footed cross picked out the unmarked Suarez who easily headed past Cerny from five yards.

It was the Uruguayan's first goal since getting two in the Carling Cup in late October and his first in the Premier League since the Merseyside derby on 1st October.

The situation worsened for QPR when Anton Ferdinand sustained an injury and had to be replaced by Bradley Orr.

Suarez continued to be Liverpool's main threat in the final third and when he pulled the ball back for Rodriguez to shoot only a great one-handed save low to his left by Cerny prevented a second all-important goal.

Rodriguez should have scored after a brilliant interchange with Suarez in the area, but he wastefully shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Liverpool continued to dominate, but QPR were always capable of nicking a goal and they almost did when Danny Gabbidon, five yards out, diverted over Joey Barton's inswinging free-kick.

Warnock's side enjoyed their best spell in the closing 20 minutes, but the hosts still looked the most likely to score again as substitute Craig Bellamy curled a free-kick into the side-netting.

QPR felt they should have had a penalty late on when Alejandro Faurlin went down under Martin Skrtel's challenge, but referee Lee Mason saw nothing wrong.

In the last action of the game Shaun Wright-Phillips deflected Bellamy's cross on to the bar but, unlike in recent weeks, one goal proved to be enough as Liverpool moved up to sixth in the table.

Dalglish Delight At Courage

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish praised the courage of his players after their perceived dominance was again not reflected in a scoreline.

A 1-0 win over QPR at Anfield ended the Reds' run of four successive and frustrating home draws after star striker Luis Suarez headed the only goal of the game early in the second half.

The heroics of visiting goalkeeper Radek Cerny denied Suarez and Maxi Rodriguez from making the scoreline more convincing.

And, after the match, Dalglish had no complaints with the performance of his team, while he also repeated that sooner or later an opponent is going to get humiliated.

The Scot told Sky Sports: "It takes a lot of courage to get back in there and have another pop when you miss one (a chance). So the boys are pretty courageous lads.

"If they keep getting in there, then eventually the lot of them is going to score two or three. We look forward to that day.

"We are disappointed for the players, not with them, because we couldn't ask for better football than that."

Liverpool has drawn five league matches at Anfield this season, which is the main factor behind why they trail the UEFA Champions League places.

But Dalglish was adamant his team should only have dropped points in one match this season and that was when they lost 4-0 at Tottenham in September.

"There has only been one game this year where we have not deserved full points, or a victory, if it was a cup tie, and that was at Tottenham," he said.

"I don't think the players have got the points that their football deserves. They will continue to do what they do best, and that is moves and football like that."

Warnock Praise For Suarez

Manager Neil Warnock was left wishing Luis Suarez played for QPR after suffering a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool.

The Uruguayan, who has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons after two Football Association charges, scored his first goal since October to seal the points at Anfield.

Heroics from QPR goalkeeper Radek Cerny had for a time looked as if they might have condemned Liverpool to a sixth Premier League draw at Anfield this season.

But Suarez was the difference and Warnock acknowledged as much after the final whistle on Merseyside following his patched-up side's defeat.

When asked about the former Ajax striker's performance, the QPR boss is quoted as saying by Liverpool's official website: "Oh, to manage him."

Warnock also told Sky Sports: "I think it was appropriate that the best player on the pitch by a mile scored the winner.

"I think Luke (Young) was disappointed. He was marking him at the corner and it just went over his head.

"But that is good players. They make that half-a-yard of space and we go down to it.

"But I can't fault the lads. I thought Radek Cerny in goal was excellent. I thought everybody did (well).

"As you could see with the bench, we were struggling today. We didn't have any forwards at all to put on.

"Poor old DJ (Campbell) has come on. He has been out for nine weeks and has only had two days with the fitness coach. I don't think he has kicked a football yet.

"So I asked him if he would do 20 minutes for me, and he did. That is the difference, when you see their subs coming on.

"But I can't fault them (the QPR players), great performance in the circumstances."

Suarez scored early in the second half to take the points, but it had been a frustrating afternoon for Kenny Dalglish's team up to that point, as chances went begging.

The Liverpool boss, however, had no complaints about the performance of his players and believed they were unlucky not to record a more convincing scoreline.

Warnock agreed QPR's hosts deserved the points, as he said: "They pass it around for fun. The players they've got, they're going to cause any team a problem.

"They were the better side. Most people in the ground might have thought we'd go four or five down, but we showed great resolve."

Adam's Joy At Suarez Strike

Charlie Adam admits he was delighted to see Luis Suarez return to the scoresheet and help Liverpool return to winning ways with a 1-0 success over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

The Uruguay striker headed home the only goal of the game - his eighth of the season - early in the second half at Anfield to help the Reds collect three points and move up to sixth in the Barclays Premier League table.

Suarez had Adam - who was celebrating his 26th birthday - to thank for providing the assist, and the midfielder admits he was pleased the No.7 was on the mark for the first time since his Carling Cup brace at Stoke City.

He told "It was good to see Luis on the scoresheet because the chances have been coming for him, but he's just not been able to get them into the back of the net.

"But like all top strikers, they always wait for their time, and Luis was the match winner.

"I'm delighted for him because he works ever so hard for the team - and his hard work paid off with another great goal.

"It's nice to get an assist, although maybe it was a bit of a swinger with the right-foot cross!

"It was a good way to win the match and it was important because we dominated throughout and we were delighted with the way we played."

Suarez's goal was just rewards for Liverpool, who dominated the contest throughout.

Kenny Dalglish's side tallied up 25 efforts on goal over the course of the afternoon, compared to QPR's seven, and could have won by a greater margin had it not been for the heroics of Radek Cerny between the sticks for the visitors.

Adam said: "We would have been disappointed if we hadn't won the game because we had a lot of chances, but in the end 1-0 was enough and we're happy with that.

Dalglish Eyes Porto Midfielder As Lucas Replacement

Another name has been added to Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish’s alleged January wish-list, with the Daily Mail reporting this morning that the Reds are in line to swoop for Porto’s Fernando Reges.

It is thought that Dalglish will be given some considerable funds with which to strengthen his Anfield roster in the imminent transfer window and, in the wake of Lucas Leiva’s season-ending knee injury, midfield is a key priority.

24 year-old Brazilian Reges is widely regarded as one of the best in his position, and is valued at £17 million despite not yet having featured for his country, Brazil.

Andre Villas-Boas, having managed Reges, is also thought to be eying up a move but Liverpool’s scouts, who watched the player on Tuesday during a 0-0 draw with Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League, have urged Dalglish to make the signing as quickly as possible.

Liverpool To Rival Juventus For Gaston Ramirez

Gaston Ramirez is set to be the subject of bids from both Liverpool and Juventus when the January transfer window opens.

The Uruguayan playmaker has emerged as one of the most in-demand players in Italy, thanks to his impressive form since joining Bologna from Penarol in 2010.

It was thought Juventus would land the 21-year-old at the end of the season, but reports in Italy have suggested the situation has changed.

Liverpool have had Ramirez watched and manager Kenny Dalglish is apparently now keen to bring him to Anfield to play alongside his international team-mates Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates.

Should the Reds make a £15million move in January, the Turin-based club would be forced to bring forward their plans to sign the youngster and make a rival offer.

Bologna are not keen to sell a player who put pen to paper on a new contract last summer tying him to the club until 2016, but the Serie A strugglers would find it difficult to resist big-money bids.

Sunderland Striker Alerts Tottenham And Liverpool With Exit Wish

Despite admitting his admiration for new manager Martin O’Neill, Asamoah Gyan has outlined his reluctance to return to Sunderland, perhaps even after his loan spell with Middle Eastern outfit Al Ain has finished.

Ghanaian goalscorer Gyan – who has netted 27 times in 54 matches for the Black Stars – is in the United Arab Emirates as a result of a deal struck back in September and, although rumours to the contrary have circulated this week, the 26 year-old ruled out a return to Wearside this January.

“Will I come back to Sunderland at the end of this season? For now I don’t want to talk about my situation because I am currently on loan and I am doing well,” said the striker, who has six goals in six league games for his current side. “Let’s see where my future lies after my loan deal.

“I miss the Premier League because it is the best league in the world so I have a lot of respect for it. It is a great league and who knows what will happen in the future. But what I have to say is that I am enjoying my football at the moment. I don’t know – let’s see what happens at the end of my current deal.”

“I know all about Martin O’Neill. I remember him from when he was at Aston Villa and they did very well when he was there,” Gyan added. “He is a good manager and everyone speaks well about him.”

With such comments in mind, both Harry Redknapp and Kenny Dalglish – who are not shy of gambling on high-profile attackers – could be compelled into approaching the Black Cats about Gyan’s availability.

Scoring 10 Premiership goals in 34 appearances since his record breaking £13 million move, Gyan has proven pedigree in the top-tier of English football and would be a strong addition to the squads of either Tottenham or Liverpool.

Charlie Adam Pleads For Patience With Misfiring Andy Carroll

Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam says Andy Carroll will come good for the club following an indifferent start to life as Britain’s most expensive ever player.

Carroll was signed from Newcastle last January for £35 million and has so far failed to reproduce the form he showed on Tyneside, though Adam says it is important to remember he is just 22 years old.

"Andy is still young - we have a young squad and we are learning. Let people be judged over a season," Adam said in an interview with the BBC.

"No matter what you do as a player, people have doubts about you. It doesn't matter who you are.

"You can be the best player in the world and somebody will pick something out that they don't agree with and that's what happens in football, it's all about opinions."

Liverpool have made many big-money signings since Kenny Dalglish was appointed for his second spell as manager, with Luis Suarez, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Jose Enrique, Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam costing well in excess of £100m between them. But Adam has pleaded for patience.

"We are still trying to get to grips with each other's game," he explained.

"We have bought in seven or eight new players and it's going to be difficult at times, but in the end the quality will shine through.

"I don't think we've done too badly this season so far but we know we can do better."

Steven Gerrard Returns To Light Training

Liverpool FC have received a welcome boost ahead of Saturday’s clash with Queens Park Rangers at Anfield after skipper Steven Gerrard returned to light training.

The talismanic LFC midfielder has been sidelined since he was diagnosed with an ankle infection six weeks ago.

However, Gerrard was pictured being put through his paces away from the main group by the Liverpool FC's head of fitness and conditioning Darren Burgess at Melwood.

No date has been put on the 31-year-old’s comeback but the fact he’s back running again will raise hopes that he will be involved over the festive period.

“It’s all part of Steven’s natural progression,” said boss Kenny Dalglish.

“We’ve been delighted with his progress and that’s continuing.

“But we have never put a time frame on when he will be back playing and we won’t now.”

Gerrard hasn’t played since the game against Norwich City on October 22 as his ankle flared up on the eve of the Reds’ trip to West Brom a week later.

His anticipated return later this month will be timely with Liverpool FC facing a hectic Christmas schedule of four league games in the space of 13 days.