Thursday, May 10, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 4 - 1 Chelsea

Liverpool put the hurt of Saturday's FA Cup final defeat behind them with their biggest league win of the season which ended Chelsea's hopes of a top-four finish.

Kenny Dalglish's side was as energetic and irresistible in the first half as they had been lethargic and wasteful for an hour at Wembley.

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo had virtually accepted his side could not qualify for the Champions League with a top-four place by naming an understrength team with eight changes from Saturday, with his sights now set on a Champions League final.

But even if he had put out the side who did so well for 60 minutes on Saturday it is debatable whether they would have been able to resist as the Reds scored four in the league for the first time since the 5-2 win at Fulham a year and a day ago.

The hosts raced into a 3-0 first-half lead through a Michael Essien own goal, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Agger while Stewart Downing also missed a penalty.

Ramires pulled one back just after the break but Jonjo Shelvey restored the three-goal cushion.

Liverpool's shirt sponsors Standard Chartered swapped their logo for Seeing is Believing, one of the bank's initiatives for fighting avoidable blindness, but fans must have been questioning what they witnessed with their own eyes in the first half.

The accusation levelled at Dalglish's side on Saturday was that they did not turn up until it was too late.

That was far from the case in front of their own fans as they were 3-0 up inside half-an-hour and should have been even further ahead by the interval.

Luis Suarez's nutmeg on John Terry served as an early warning, the Uruguay international dragging a shot wide, while Andy Carroll's decision to opt for placement rather than power saw his shot drop over the crossbar.

The woodwork has been Liverpool's downfall this season but they enjoyed a let-off themselves in the 17th minute when Branislav Ivanovic planted a free header against the post at a corner.

But in an eight-minute spell the hosts virtually put the game out of sight with three goals almost from nowhere.

First Suarez produced a brilliant run from wide on the right to get to the byline and his cut-back was turned in by Essien.

A slip from Terry put Henderson through on goal to curl a low shot past Ross Turnbull and then, in the 28th minute, Carroll headed down a corner for Agger to nod in from close range.

But a familiar foe returned again as Downing's 30-yard dipping volley struck the crossbar before the England winger drilled a penalty at the post late in the half after Ivanovic had been punished for knocking over Carroll.

Spot-kicks have also been an issue for the Reds with that the fifth out of six in the league which has gone begging this season, with others also missed in their runs to two cup finals.

Chelsea briefly got themselves back in the game five minutes after half-time when Florent Malouda's inswinging free-kick was turned in by Ramires five minutes after the break.

But the hosts did not back down and, if anything upped the pressure, which led to their fourth.

An out-of-position Turnbull mis-kicked straight into the path of Shelvey 30 yards out and he drilled a shot into an empty net.

Dalglish was criticized for leaving Carroll out of the starting line-up for the cup final despite the 23-year-old noticeably improving over the last six weeks in particular.

The club's record signing has had to work hard to not only impress his manager but fans and he must have had a smile on his face after receiving a standing ovation simply for chasing the ball deep into the corner to ensure Chelsea received only a throw in.

It is not what £35million strikers are paid to do but it was greatly appreciated by the majority of the 40,721 at Anfield.

So was the save by Jose Reina, who by his own admission has had a poor season and was at fault for Chelsea's opening goal at Wembley, when he brilliantly denied substitute Romelu Lukaku's header from close range.

Liverpool's onslaught continued late on with Henderson, Suarez and Agger all putting efforts wide but the job had been done in the first half.

Di Matteo will now focus on the Champions League final. Dalglish, still to lose a league match against Chelsea in 12 meetings as manager, will already be looking at summer strengthening to catch up with their Blue rivals.

Dalglish Welcomes Deserved Win

Kenny Dalglish believes his Liverpool side finally got what they deserve at Anfield on Tuesday as they rounded off their home campaign with a 4-1 win over Chelsea.

A convincing victory over the side that put them to the sword in the FA Cup final just three days earlier offered a clear indication of what the Reds are capable of.

They have, however, struggled to hit those heights on a regular basis in 2011/12 and the midweek success against Chelsea was only their sixth in front of their own supporters in 19 attempts.

Dalglish is convinced that their showings have been better than their record suggests, but he is delighted to have given the Merseyside natives something to cling to heading into the summer.

"I think the players, every one, will be happy that they finished on a high note at Anfield," he told Sky Sports.

"That performance there is on a par with a lot of the performances that we have had this season but, here especially, we haven't had the results that the performances have deserved. Tonight we got that.

"(Branislav) Ivanovic hit the bar early doors, but maybe that's the luck that you need. We also hit the woodwork twice again, so for us it's satisfactory and I just hope that the supporters go away feeling very happy.

"I don't think there is any other place in the Premiership where the supporters would turn up and be as loyal and as supportive as they have been, especially on Tuesday night after losing the cup final at the weekend. Great credit to them and I hope the boys have put a smile on their face."

Dalglish has defended his players against any criticism which has come their way this term and he feels Liverpool's loyal supporters appreciate that he and his squad have given their all to a season which has seen them grace two cup finals and book their place in the 2012/13 Europa League.

"I think they understand better than anybody," he said.

"They know that there have been some very good performances here and they know that it hasn't been through the lack of trying and belief and determination to get the result. They understand that.

"There is a bit of silverware back in the cupboard after six years, back in Europe at the first time of asking after being out last year and we went close to winning the FA Cup.

"I think when they reflect on the season and the performances, I'm sure this one will feature quite highly, but there have been others that were just as good as that."

Liverpool Lining Up Bid For Juventus Outcast

Liverpool are lining up a summer move for Juventus outcast Milos Krasic.

The Serbian winger has made just seven Serie A appearances this season after falling out of favour with manager Antonio Conte.

Krasic was expected to leave Turin in January but Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp had a loan bid turned down by the player.

He eventually stayed put in Juventus after the transfer window shut - and has not featured since.

Now a summer departure is almost inevitable and there is no shortage of clubs currently in the hunt for the 27-year-old, who joined Juve for around £13m in 2010.

It has been reported that Fenerbahce have already bid £10m for Krasic, but the winger is not keen on a move to Turkey.

And now Italian TV station Mediaset has claimed that Liverpool are ready to offer Krasic a chance in the Premier League with a similar offer of their own.

Liverpool Interested In Spain Striker Bojan Krkic

Liverpool are believed to be interested in signing Roma forward Bojan Krkic in what could be a complicated deal as the youngster has a number of clauses in his contract.

Bojan was allowed to leave Barcelona in order to join the Italian side where former Barca coach Luis Enrique was becoming the manager, however, a number of clauses where inserted into his deal.

The forward was essentially sent on a loan deal as Barcelona have the option to bring the player back to the club but it will cost them €17million after his first year or €13million after two years.

For Roma to be able to keep the striker they will have to make an additional payment of €28million following the €12million they paid to Barcelona last summer.

However, reports in corriere dell sport have announced that Barcelona have told Roma that there is interest from both Liverpool and German outfit Schalke.

The Italian media has reported that representatives from Barcelona and Roma met to discuss the future of the striker who won three La Liga titles with the Spanish giants.

Should Liverpool continue their interest then it seems as though it could be a complicated transfer as Bojan could belong to either Roma or Barcelona in the summer.

Liverpool Alerted As Dutch Winger Admits Leaving Juventus

Liverpool will have a second opportunity to land Holland international Eljero Elia after the winger made it clear that he would be leaving Juventus at the end of the season.

The skilful winger was on the radar of Liverpool back in the summer of 2011 when it was clear that he would be leaving German side Hamburg but there were no official moves for the 25-year-old.

Talksport has reported that Liverpool was interested in the midfielder but he instead made the decision to join Juventus where he has struggled to make an impression in the first team.

Should Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish hold some interest in Elia then it is quite clear that he would be available in the summer after revealing how unhappy he is with life at Juventus.

"I want to leave Juventus. I want to enjoy playing football again. I remained quiet all year and was always positive towards the club and the team, but I never got a chance to prove my worth," Eliarevealed to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

"I didn't play much and consequently miss out on Euro 2012. It's fair to say this season has been a failure. It's really hurt me, but I've become stronger mentally.

"I'm 25 now and I still have a long career ahead of me. I came from far, but I will have to start all over again."

Juventus have been in superb form all season, clinching the Serie A title without losing a single game all season but Elia has made just two appearances in the league campaign.

The winger is no stranger to international football having made 26 appearances for Holland and appearing in the 2010 World Cup final where he came on for Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt.

Liverpool Closing In On Rasmus Elm

The Merseysiders are on the verge of sealing a £7m deal for the AZ Alkmaar midfielder.

And the Reds hope to have it wrapped up before the highly-rated 24-year-old heads to Euro 2012, where he will come up against England in Kiev on June 15.

Elm, who also featured for Sweden in the friendly against the Three Lions last November, has been one of the top performers in Holland this season.

He has just enjoyed his best goal-scoring season, striking 13 times in 36 games for Alkmaar.

Elm has one year left on his contract at Alkmaar but has no wish to stay and his club now wants to cash in.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has been a long-term admirer of the free-kick specialist.

And he has been forced to step up his interest after Newcastle chief Alan Pardew entered the race.

Dalglish and Pardew flew to Holland last weekend hoping to see Elm against Feyenoord but he was absent due to the birth of his child.

Hamit Altintop Lined-Up As Dirk Kuyt Replacement

Liverpool are eyeing up Real Madrid utility man Hamit Altintop as a possible replacement for Dirk Kuyt, as manager Kenny Dalglish looks to reshuffle his squad this summer.

Reds boss Dalglish is targeting up to five new signings when the transfer window opens at the end of the season, but wants to maximize his budget by moving on several of the club's under-performing high earners, including Dutch forward Kuyt, who has only managed two goals in 26 Premier League appearances this season.

Bundesliga outfit Hamburg has already made tentative enquiries over the 31-year-old, but Liverpool baulked at their £1million offer, and has told them to triple it before talks will continue.

Kuyt, who is poised to play a key role for Holland at Euro 2012, is a clear favourite on Merseyside - noted for his versatility and strong work ethics - but Dalglish has already lined up a suitable replacement, in the form of Real Madrid's Altintop.

The Turkey star is ready to quit the Spanish champions at the end of the season, having only played five times following his free transfer move from Bayern Munich last summer.

Altintop had enjoyed eight successful years in German football before that, turning out for the likes of Wattenscheid, Schalke and then Munich, operating in a number of different positions, including right back, holding midfield and on the wing.

Liverpool are now keen to benefit from that experience and versatility, with rumours in Spain that a bid of £2 million would be enough to tempt Madrid into parting with the 29-year-old, who's current contract runs until 2015.

Hamit is not the first Altintop to be linked with the Reds, after twin brother Halil was reported to be close to a switch to Anfield two seasons ago, only for talks to break down.

Bundesliga Outfit Confirm Interest In Liverpool Attacker

The chairman of German side Hamburg has confirmed that he is interested in opening talks with out-of-favour Liverpool attacker Dirk Kuyt.

Kuyt has been heavily linked with a move away from Anfield after finding his first team opportunities limited this season, with rumours swirling that a number of European clubs are considering moves for him.

The 31 year-old is thought to be a target for former club Feyenoord, with reports that the Dutch side are willing to offer him a player/coach role.

However it appears as though Bundesliga outfit Hamburg are ready to make the first move for the Netherlands international, after Carl-Edgar Jarchow admitted that he is prepared to open talks with the player.

As reported by, Jarchow told reporters: “Until now there have been no negotiations.

“We have to sit down with the player and his agent to find a solution.”

Hamburg have endured a difficult season, finishing just above the relegation zone, and are hoping to add to their squad over the summer months as they plan for next year.

As Jarchow continues, that would include Kuyt, but he concedes that there may be an issue over the wages on offer. "The level of wages in the Premier League is very different to ours. Whether there is the possibility of a move remains to be seen."