Monday, December 12, 2011

Liverpool Club Focus - Should Reds Tweak Their System To Get The Best Out Of Suarez?

Liverpool tasted victory over a promoted side for the first time this season as Kenny Dalglish’s men clinched all three points with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers. The Reds, who had failed to beat both Norwich and Swansea at Anfield in recent months, had striker Luis Suarez to thank for the victory following the Uruguayan’s 47th minute header – his first Premier League goal since the beginning of October.

The 24-year-old forward, who is currently facing two Football Association charges, has been in the headlines for all the wrong reason of late, but Dalglish will have been relieved to see his star man end his goal drought. Suarez has now scored five league goals so far this campaign and is Liverpool’s top-scorer.

Scoring goals has been one of the Reds’ major problems this term. The Merseysiders have scored just 18 goals in 15 top-flight games this season – no other current top-half side has scored less. Liverpool have also only managed a paltry 10 goals in eight games at home so far this season. The Anfield side will undoubtedly need to find the net more often if they are to finish in the top-four come May. The last time a team ended up in a Champions League spot with less than 50 league goals was in the 2004-2005 season, when Everton finished fourth despite scoring just 45 goals.

But where are those goals going to come from? Suarez has been terrific for Liverpool since his arrival in January, and the South American striker has wowed crowds across Premier League grounds with his sublime pieces of skill, but his performance in front of goal has been average so far. The Reds’ may have to adapt their style of play in order to get the best out of Suarez – after all, this is a striker who scored an incredible 49 goals in just 48 games at Ajax in 2009-2010.

While some would argue that it is easier to score goals in the Dutch league, Suarez’s previous record suggests that he can be a prolific goalscorer in England if chances are created for him. In many games this season, the Uruguayan hot-shot has used his trickery and quick feet to create space for himself, but has failed to find the net regularly. Liverpool would perhaps be better off using an attacking midfielder tucked in behind Suarez to provide him with some much-needed support. This system worked wonders for the Reds in the 2008-2009 season, when Steven Gerrard played in behind Fernando Torres.

Given that Gerrard is injured, Dalglish may be tempted to splash some cash on a creative player in January. Other options could be to use Suarez in the ‘hole’ behind a different striker, or start playing a more direct style of football to suit Andy Carroll’s strengths. Which one of these options the manager will use remains to be seen, but it seems likely that Liverpool will have to tweak their system in order to start scoring more goals over the next five months.

Dalglish Tight Lipped On Liverpool FC Transfer Plans

Kenny Dalglish refused to be drawn on his January transfer plans after question marks were again raised about Liverpool’s potency in front of goal.

Dalglish watched his side take a richly deserved three points on Saturday afternoon to leapfrog Newcastle United in sixth in the Premier League table but Liverpool’s victory over Queens Park Rangers should have been by a more handsome margin.

Luis Suarez’s eighth goal of the campaign won the game but the Uruguayan and several of his Anfield team-mates were guilty of profligacy.

Despite the reoccurrence of this worrying theme, Dalglish remains bullish that Liverpool will rack up a healthy scoreline sooner than later and when asked if the club would look to sign a striker in the New Year in order to cure their wastefulness, the Liverpool manager was noncommittal.

“We did miss some chances, yes, but the goalkeeper saved a lot of them too,” said Dalglish, highlighting the fine performance of QPR’s Radek Cerny.

“Do I feel the need to go out and do something about that? Aye, whichever side comes along here next, we’ll ask them to come without a keeper. That’s the best way to do it, isn’t it?

“Irrespective of what I say, it’s not going to stop speculation we are going out in January to sign Joe Bloggs up front, or whoever. I don’t need to say anything.

“For us it was a fantastic team performance. We are quite happy.

“I trust the players implicitly when it comes to scoring, implicitly.

“They continued to get in there on goal, and even with the keeper having a good day, they didn’t drop their heads. They must be enjoying what they are doing, to continue playing like that, and creating chances like that.

“One day, creating chances like that, we are going to get a load…or we are going to be garbage, and win 1-0. And I think that will do us.”

As Dalglish was keen to point out, some of Liverpool’s approach play was excellent as QPR struggled to deal with their pace and precision.

“I think some of the football we played in the first half was brilliant, and we won’t change our beliefs or the way we play,” said Dalglish.

“That’s why we brought the players here in the first place, and we will stick to those principles.

“Our performance was fantastic, and the only thing missing was the goals that confirm that.

“If you look at home performances they have been fantastic, look at points…maybe not. There is not a game we have played here that we couldn’t have won, we shouldn’t have won.

“The goalkeepers that have come here have done very well for their sides…I’m saying that again. Performance wise, we don’t have any problem whatsoever, goals – yeah, we’d love more, and we’ll get more.”

Following a week in which Suarez was slapped with a FA misconduct charge for an alleged hand gesture made to Fulham supporters last Monday, the Liverpool forward answered his critics with the winning goal.

“I didn’t hear the QPR’s fans giving Luis any stick, didn’t hear anything,” said Dalglish. “I haven’t spoken to him about it – ask the people who target him, not us, they should be the ones questioned, not us.

“I did speak to him – I said well done wee man, great goal.”

Liverpool Plot Move For Real Starlet

Liverpool are looking to move for Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez, according to The People.

After several scouting trips to watch the 20-year-old the club is ready to splash out on the defender.

The fee being linked with Martinez is around £20 million, however Liverpool could be forced to pay more.

A clause in the player’s contract means a bid of £28 million could be sold before his contract expires in 2015.

However, in the knowledge that they won’t be able to keep hold of the starlet for long, a fee of £17 million plus a player would be enough for Liverpool to get their man.

Liverpool have spent around £100 million on new players in the last 12 months, and are unlikely to shirk away from a bid following multiple scouting trips.

Suarez Not Just About Goals

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists Luis Suarez's value to the team is judged on far more than goals.

The 24-year-old scored for the first time in the Premier League since 1st October as the Reds beat QPR 1-0 on Saturday to end a run of four successive Anfield draws.

During that period Suarez has racked up two Football Association misconduct charges, but the January 2011 signing has been fully supported by Dalglish.

The Liverpool boss believes his player has earned an unwarranted reputation for going down too easily, which has resulted in opponents unfairly targeting him.

However, after watching Suarez end his goal drought, Dalglish said: "I would never judge anyone solely on goals.

"That is for the simple reason that you wouldn't judge a goalie on saves because if he is making great saves we have some problems somewhere else.

"Everyone is entitled to score a goal, but certainly for anyone who scores a goal they get a tremendous lift so I am sure it will help the wee fella."

The goal was Suarez's fifth in the league - and eighth in all competitions - but the way he celebrated with his team-mates suggested it was a relief to end his drought.

"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," Charlie Adam, who provided the cross for the goal, told Liverpool's official website.

"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."

Kuyt Backing For Suarez

Dirk Kuyt has been impressed by team-mate Luis Suarez's unwavering focus after the striker put his recent controversies behind him to return Liverpool to winning ways at Anfield.

Uruguay international Suarez scored his first Premier League goal since 1st October as his club beat QPR 1-0 on Saturday to end a run of four successive home draws.

During that period, Suarez has racked up two Football Association misconduct charges and he has until 4pm on Monday to respond to the most recent accusation.

Suarez has been fully supported by manager Kenny Dalglish, who believes his player has earned an unwarranted reputation, and Kuyt has also offered his backing.

"For all of us, it is important to score a goal, but especially for Luis, who played really well. It was good to see him scoring again," said the Dutchman.

"He is just focusing on the game and he is happy with all the support he gets from the club, players, manager and his own fans.

"This is the Premier League so they (opponents) are trying to do everything to stop you and the better you are the more they try to stop you - and Luis is a really good player.

"But that is football and he knows that and he is a great professional and is just focusing on his job - that is what he does in training and in the game.

"Luis has done great so far and he is a great player."

Barton And Bellamy In Tunnel Bust-Up

Craig Bellamy and Joey Barton were involved in a X-rated tunnel bust-up at Anfield on Saturday.

The controversial pair had a heated exchange of words during the closing stages of Liverpool's slender 1-0 weekend win.

Queens Park Rangers boss Neil Warnock tried to brush the on-pitch feud under the carpet in the post-match press conference.

But Sportsmail can reveal that the combative pair were embroiled in a foul-mouthed row moments after the final whistle as bad blood between the two spilled into the tunnel area.

Bellamy and Barton traded explicit F-word rants as the rift threatened to erupt into something more violent.

But the pair were separated and ushered into their respective dressing rooms before the row escalated any further.

An eyewitness told Sportsmail: 'It was more words than anything else, like handbags at 10 paces.

'Let's just say some of the language they used was only for the ears of the working man.

'But neither player would have voluntarily backed down. There was a bit of a giggle in the tunnel afterwards given which players were involved.'

The FA will wait on referee Lee Mason’s report before deciding whether to investigate the incident further.

However, the duo are likely to avoid FA sanctions given the bust-up was purely verbal and no physical violence was involved.

Bradley Orr: Suarez Is Unplayable

QPR defender Bradley Orr has described Luis Suarez as 'unplayable' after the Liverpool striker capped another sublime display with the winning goal on Saturday afternoon.

The Uruguay ace was a constant menace throughout the Reds' 1-0 triumph over the Hoops and Orr admits he has become a huge fan of the No.7.

Orr said: "I think he is unplayable. He's so strong, I didn't realize how strong he was for a small player. I love him. I'm a big Liverpool fan and to be on the same pitch as him was a pleasure."

A boyhood red, Orr realized a lifelong dream on 50 minutes when he appeared as a substitute for Neil Warnock's men.

It was a moment he will savour for the rest of his life - despite ending up on the losing side.

He said: "It's mixed emotions for me. I'm disappointed with the result, but on personal level, it's a dream come true (to have played here). I've dreamed about this day for years.

"I think it's the number one fixture the lads look forward to. It's disappointing to come away with nothing, but I don't think many sides will come away from Anfield with anything this season.

"Liverpool played very well, they are just so dangerous. At the end maybe we could have nicked a point, but if you look at the whole match Liverpool could have scored a lot more. Our goalkeeper played very well too.

BBC Football Pundit: Agger Falls Into Both Categories

Football Focus pundit Garth Crooks has praised the performances of Liverpool centre-half Daniel Agger this season.

The Danish international has been keeping Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher out of the side, with Kenny Dalglish persisting instead with a centre-back partnership of Martin Skrtel and Agger.

The Liverpool duo have been superb throughout the season thus far and although Carragher's hiatus from first team duty is perhaps something of a surprise given his lofty standing at Anfield, Skrtel and Agger can boast the meanest defence in the Premier League at the moment.

Agger and his Slovakian defensive partner kept yet another cleansheet during Liverpool's 1-0 win against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend and the aforementioned football pundit believes Agger is the key member of the Merseyside club's current resolve.

"Anyone who is partly responsible for keeping Jamie Carragher out of the side must be either an excellent defender or in great form." Crooks told the BBC when referring to Liverpool's backline.

"I think Agger falls into both categories. He didn't give QPR a sniff."

Agger's Liverpool career has been revived since the arrival of Kenny Dalglish. The 26-year-old has started six Premier League matches in a row and has not started seven consecutively since December 2009. He can match that record if he starts Liverpool's match against Aston Villa next Sunday.

Liverpool paid £6 million for the Danish international in January 2006 and although his Anfield career has been blighted by injury and loss of form which at times has threatened his future at the club, the former Brondby starlet has thrived under Dalglish.