Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dalglish Hails Suarez Display

Kenny Dalglish believes Luis Suarez's performance against Aston Villa 'speaks volumes' as the Liverpool striker waits to learn the outcome of a Football Association hearing.

An independent panel spent two days hearing evidence last week into allegations of a racial slur by Suarez towards Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October.

The FA confirmed on Friday that a decision will not be announced until Tuesday, but Suarez shrugged off any concerns to start Liverpool's 2-0 win over Villa.

The Uruguay international impressed at Villa Park and twice struck the woodwork, with Reds boss Dalglish praising Suarez's display.

"He's had a bad week," said Dalglish." He's been three days sat in a hotel (at the FA hearing) so that's why we had to take him off (after 70 minutes).

"He only trained on Tuesday and Saturday and for him to put in a performance like that was unbelievable.

"It speaks volumes for the man."

With the two clubs waiting to learn the outcome of the charge, Dalglish said: "We can't comment on that. It's not my choice. We'd love to comment.

"I'm afraid we wouldn't like to prejudice anything.

"We've been respectful all the way through and I don't think at this stage we'd want to be accused of losing that respect."

Bellamy - Let's Push On

Craig Bellamy is looking towards 'a very positive season' after Liverpool beat Aston Villa 2-0 on Sunday to move into sixth in the Premier League table.

The Welsh ace returned to the starting line-up and scored the opener on 11 minutes before supplying the corner four minutes later from which Martin Skrtel headed home.

The Reds went on to win the game easily and Bellamy is looking for the Reds to push on - starting at Wigan on Wednesday.

He told the club's official website: "The two early goals helped us and put us in a good position.

"It can always be a tricky scoreline, but I thought we were quite professional and kept the ball.

"We had a couple of opportunities to score on the break in the second half as well, and I thought we were worthy winners."

Bellamy hailed the depth of squad available to Kenny Dalglish, adding: "We're a good team, there are no doubts about that. We are part of an incredible football club. When you go out onto the field, it's not just 11 players - it's 22/23 players.

"Fortunately we do have a lot of Liverpool players here who do deserve to play at this club. Touch wood, we will have a very positive season."

Luis Suarez hit the woodwork twice at Villa Park and Bellamy praised the overall contribution of the skilful No.7.

He said: "I've not seen a forward quite like him ability wise and for luck as well - he constantly either hits the post or bar!

"He could be on a lot more goals than what he is, but performance wise is enough for us. The way he goes about his business, he is a credit to us."

Liverpool Star Luis Suarez Wins Alex McLeish Praise

Alex McLeish was in awe of Luis Suarez after the Liverpool striker tormented his Aston Villa side at Villa Park on Sunday.

The Reds ran out 2-0 winners against the Villains thanks to early strikes from Craig Bellamy and Martin Skrtel, and climbed to sixth in the Barclays Premier League.

It was Suarez, though, who stole the show for Liverpool, with the Uruguayan proving a thorn in the side of the Villa defence for the majority of the afternoon.

Twice the 24-year-old striker was denied by the woodwork - the second attempt an outrageous chip - and his tireless performance deserved a goal.

And, says McLeish, there is little that can be done to stop Suarez when he is in full flight.

"Suarez is perpetual motion, he's a brilliant player," explained the Villa boss. "Suarez can slip into holes that other players leave, he is a very elusive player.

"He is non-stop and has been a fantastic signing for Liverpool."

Downing Shrugs Off Boos

Stewart Downing has brushed off being booed upon his return to Aston Villa and believes Liverpool's 2-0 win justified his decision to move clubs in the summer.

The England winger quit Villa for a £20million switch to Anfield after handing in a transfer request following two seasons in the Midlands.

He returned to Villa Park for the first time on Sunday and was jeered by home fans, but Downing expected as much and feels he answered his critics.

"I knew I would get booed and get some stick but that wasn't a problem for me," Downing told the Liverpool Echo.

"I was just focused on ensuring we got a result and I think they gave up after about 50 or 60 minutes and turned on their own team.

"We were by far the better team. I think it proved a point in terms of showing why I wanted to come to Liverpool. It wasn't to do with money, I've joined a top team.

"Just look at the players we've got on the bench who can't get a game, that shows how strong the squad is. This was the right move for me at the right time.

"I enjoyed my time at Villa, it's a great club with great people, but you move on in football, that's the way it is.

"It wasn't about me coming back, it was about the team winning and this was one of the places we needed to come to get three points."

Liverpool drew level on points with fifth-placed Arsenal and now face Wigan on Wednesday ahead of a busy fortnight.

Downing has found himself in and out of the side in recent weeks and admits no player can be certain of their place in the starting XI, although he appreciates having a strong squad is vital to Liverpool's season.

"We've got a good squad with a lot of people fighting for places," he said. "It's a headache for the manager but that's what you want. Everyone is going to be needed, it's a big period in the season for us.

"We've got some tough games but they are winnable and hopefully we will pick up maximum points."

BBC Football Pundit Lauds Consistency Of Towering Liverpool Star

Football Focus pundit Garth Crooks has praised the performances of Martin Skrtel in light of the towering centre-half's superb individual effort at the weekend.

The Slovakian international scored Liverpool's second goal during the 2-0 win against Aston Villa and the 27-year-old has been one of Kenny Dalglish's most consistent performers.

Alongside Daniel Agger, Skrtel has successfully kept Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher on the substitute's bench and the aforementioned Crooks suggests the Anfield veteran's hiatus from Dalglish's starting 11 is likely to continue given their defensive record this season.

"Last week it was Daniel Agger who made my team (of the week), this week it's Martin Skrtel. It doesn't matter which Liverpool centre-back makes my selection, both players are causing Jamie Carragher a great deal of discomfort." Crooks told the BBC.

"With Skrtel defending so well and coming up with the occasional goal like he did against Aston Villa, there's clearly no room at the inn for Carragher this Christmas. Clean sheets are the order of the day."

Skrtel's prowess from offensive corner-kicks has been a potent weapon for Liverpool this season. The Anfield stalwart has scored three of Liverpool's last five goals from corners in the Premier League as well providing great protection for Pepe Reina's goal at the other end.

The 27-year-old's Liverpool career has been reignited following the arrival of Kenny Dalglish. Since the Scot returned to Anfield in January, the Slovakian international has been a mainstay of the club's recent revival.

Liverpool Join Everton In Race To Sign Exciting Teenage Striker

Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor has revealed that Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has contacted the Irish club about the availability of star striker Rory Donnelly.

The Red's rivals Everton have already held talks with the club but it seems Liverpool are hoping to beat their Merseyside neighbours to the prolific 19-year-old.

Donnelly scored 17 goals in the Irish Premier League last season and has been heralded as a striker with a very bright future. The players representatives were due to talk to both Everton and Swansea in the coming days but Liverpool are hoping to hijack any potential deal.

"It's not every day you get Kenny Dalglish ringing you and asking how the Reds got on at the weekend," Lawlor revealed to the Belfast Telegraph. "He made it clear that Liverpool want to sign him and that they would be back in touch."

It seems Liverpool will have to sign the striker in the January transfer window if they want to bring to the club as Cliftonville have declared that they want his future resolved before the New Year.

"Cliftonville this week announced the acceptance of a transfer offer from Swansea City FC for striker Rory Donnelly," read a club statement.

"The club is also aware of interest in the player from a number of other sources and has responded to a series of tentative enquiries in recent weeks.

"We are, however, keen to bring the issue to a conclusion as soon as possible."

Jonjo Impresses On First Start

Jonjo Shelvey made his first ever Barclays Premier League start for Liverpool at Villa Park and recorded some impressive figures. Here are a selection of interesting statistics from the game courtesy of Opta.

From 29 passes made the No.33 recorded an accuracy level of 82.8%, had the most shots during his 83 minute outing and also had an assist for the first goal which Craig Bellamy slotted home from a corner.

Stewart Downing had 92.6% pass accuracy on his return to Aston Villa with Liverpool on Sunday.

The No.19 made 54 passes in total to record the 92.6% figure.

Jordan Henderson also brought in impressive stats, hitting 57 passes during the 90 minutes to claim a 89.5% accuracy.

Liverpool enjoyed 52.1% of the possession and had 17 shots on goal, compared to Villa's 16.

Of those attempts seven were on target including two against the woodwork.

Kenny Dalglish's side had 12 shots from inside the box compared to just three from Villa. Alex McLeish's side had more shots from outside the box, 13, compared to five from the Reds.

Liverpool won 10 corners compared to Villa's four.

Glen Johnson recorded a 100% accuracy from all four perfect tackles during the 90 minutes.

All in all the Reds recorded a statistic of 84.2% on tackles won compared to Villa's 68.2%.

The Reds made a total of 514 passes during the outing recording an accuracy of 83.3%.

Charlie Adam won 100% of his aerial duels.

Gomez Ready For Reds Test

Jordi Gomez claims Wigan will welcome Liverpool to the DW Stadium on Wednesday confident in their ability to pull off another shock result.

The Latics impressed many observers on Saturday evening as they stunned Chelsea with a dramatic late show on home soil.

Gomez's goal two minutes from the end of that contest saw Wigan take what could be a priceless point from the title-chasing Blues.

Things do not get any easier for Roberto Martinez's side, with top-four hopefuls Liverpool providing another sizeable test in midweek.

Wigan will enter that game inside the Premier League drop zone, but Gomez says recent performances have given everyone connected with the club cause for optimism.

"In the last three or four games, the team has played very well and with confidence, and that allows all the players to show their best form which brings about the results we've been having," the Spanish midfielder told the Wigan Evening Post.

"This result means we go into Wednesday's game against Liverpool with belief, and we don't care who the opposition is when we play like we know we can.

"No-one can deny we deserved at least a point against Chelsea, and the challenge now is to pick up at least the same result on Wednesday night.

"Yes, it is a hard run over Christmas, but you just have to take it game by game and try to do your best in each game.

"We are not thinking about the games we are playing next week or next month - all we are focused on now is Liverpool and we will be trying our best to get another good result."