Monday, May 14, 2012

Match Report: Swansea 1 - 0 Liverpool

Danny Graham struck four minutes from time as Swansea ended a memorable debut Barclays Premier League campaign with victory over Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium.

The striker fired low to Alexander Doni's left from Angel Rangel's astute ball across the box to give the Welsh side a win to rank alongside their successes over Arsenal and Manchester City earlier this term.

The hosts dominated the opening half and were denied by two excellent saves from Doni, who brilliantly kept out Gylfi Sigurdsson's free-kick and denied Nathan Dyer.

The visitors proved more of a threat after the break with Michel Vorm making a stunning save from Andy Carroll's overhead kick and denying the £35million striker's low shot before Graham struck.

It was another demoralizing afternoon for Kenny Dalglish's side, and will have done little to lift the pressure on the Scot after a thoroughly disappointing league campaign.

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers had encouraged the home fans to turn up in Elvis Presley costumes to celebrate their survival.

And the joyous atmosphere seemed to inspire them as they bossed the opening exchanges, with Liverpool barely having a kick.

Graham came close to giving them an eighth-minute lead but could not convert Joe Allen's cross-shot after the midfielder had robbed Jonjo Shelvey.

Carroll's afternoon had started ignominiously by misdirecting an attempted flick-on straight in the air, and then being beaten By Vorm as he closed the Swansea keeper down.

And his overhit pass back into defence was picked up by Doni, prompting referee Mark Halsey to award Swansea an indirect free-kick inside the box, but Scott Sinclair's shot was well blocked.

Maxi Rodriguez was off target with a half-hearted effort for the visitors but the majority of the action was taking place in the Liverpool half.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was left unmarked at a corner and almost swept home from Allen's pinpoint delivery but his effort was bravely blocked by the onrushing Liverpool defence.

Shelvey threatened at the other end but his on-target effort was blocked away by Ashley Williams' head.

Sigurdsson was brilliantly denied by Doni in the 32nd minute, as the Iceland international intelligently struck a free-kick across the Liverpool wall, but the Brazilian showed lightning reactions to tip the ball round the post.

Carroll wasted Liverpool's best chance when he fired narrowly over Vorm's bar five minutes before the break, while Dyer did the same for Swansea at the other end as Doni blocked his strike after being played in by Sigurdsson.

Carroll's increasing frustration was clear to see and he was involved in a tussle with Williams at the end of the opening half after objecting to the defender's challenge, which earned the pair bookings.

Dalglish had his players out very early for the second half but any strong half-time words appeared to have little effect as Swansea again set about their familiar possession style.

Dyer failed to make the most of good link work with Angel Rangel when he dallied after being picked out by the Spaniard's low pass.

Liverpool began to assert themselves as Carroll's far-post header diverted to safety off Steven Caulker's back, before the England forward produced a brilliant overhead kick that Vorm matched with a superb agile stop to his right.

Carroll's central role in proceedings continued as his clumsy defensive clearance almost allowed Rangel to poke home, before Steven Caulker wastefully headed over from the resulting corner.

Swansea showed signs of fading as the game entered its final 20 minutes, and Vorm made another sharp save from Carroll's low shot after a bright run from substitute Dirk Kuyt.

But the hosts struck to find the winner as Rangel and Sinclair linked on the right and Graham converted coolly for his 14th goal of the season.

Dalglish Rues Reds Defeat

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish lamented his side's late 1-0 defeat to Swansea on the final day of the season.

The Reds slumped to defeat thanks to Danny Graham's late strike as they finished in eighth spot and below neighbours Everton in the table.

Dalglish felt the defeat was harsh on Liverpool after creating the better goalscoring opportunities in the second half after Swansea dominated the first half.

"I think we finished the stronger team, the second half we got ourselves together so it is disappointing not to take something from the game," admitted Dalglish.

"I think they were probably better in the first half. Second half we played a lot better than the first half and it was a fantastic save from Andy's overhead kick, so it is disappointing not to take something from the game.

"Congratulations to Swansea, they have had a great season winning in front of their own fans and sending them away with a good taste in their mouth."

Asked what he made of Liverpool's season, Dalglish said: "We will go home and revise the season and see what happens."

Reds Prepared For Market

Liverpool have drawn up their blueprint for the summer transfer market and it does not include significant outgoings from their squad.

Manager Kenny Dalglish spent more than £80million in the last close-season on the likes of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam, but a disappointing Premier League campaign has included just six home wins.

Ahead of Sunday's last game of 2011/12 at Swansea, Dalglish's Carling Cup winners and defeated FA Cup finalists can at best hope for a seventh-placed finish and that underachievement is likely to mean changes.

Fulham's Clint Dempsey and Juventus' Eljero Elia have all been reported as possible targets and while Dalglish has been characteristically cagey on his plans, he does admit there will be some business.

"All we want to do is add to the start we've made here," Dalglish told Liverpool's official website. "With the transfer window opening, there will be a bit of business done. But that's the same at every club.

"We sit and talk to the owners throughout the season. We've discussed all the possibilities with various parties and been through every option.

"Most of the plans for next season are in place. We just need to get the work done and get on with it."

The 25-man squad rule in the Premier League means manager's often have to sell before they can buy, but Dalglish is only planning on losing injury-plagued Brazilian full-back Fabio Aurelio.

That would appear to imply Dalglish has plans for Maxi Rodriguez and Alberto Aquilani and Joe Cole, who have both spent the season on loan away from Anfield.

"We are not looking to move anyone out. The only one who will be leaving is Fabio, because his contract is up," said Liverpool's manager.

"The transfer market always brings up surprises. But what the surprises are going to be I can't help you, because I'm not clairvoyant.

"But what I can say is that we are not actively looking to move anyone out."

Liverpool To Offer Dimitar Berbatov Premier League Lifeline

Liverpool are reportedly considering making a move for out of favour Man United striker Dimitar Berbatov. Kenny Dalglish is looking to beef up his Anfield attacking options but still has faith in Andy Carroll to deliver the goods in the long term and is therefore looking for an experienced back-up options with a proven Premier League record and sees a move for the Bulgarian international as a viable option.

The 31 year old Man United forward has made just five Premier League starts this season, despite last term finishing as the top joint top scorer in the top tier. Despite the lack of playing time there is no doubting that the former Tottenham man is still in a rich vein of form, notching up nine goals in eleven starts in all competitions.

Berbatov has been linked with a number of clubs on the continent, most notably Lazio and his former side Bayer Leverkusen, but having spent the past six years in England he is apparently hoping to be thrown a Premier League lifeline but does not wish to continue to warm the bench at Man United, a fact echoed by Sir Alex Ferguson who has admitted that he may well lose the talented forward.

Dalglish has seen his Liverpool side struggle for goals this term, managing just 47 goals in 37 Premier League games to date, the same total as relegated Blackburn Rovers and now the Scot is looking at possible additions to help add strength in depth up front.

The Merseyside club has depended a great deal on Uruguayan Luis Suarez for both goals and assists and though Carroll has started to string together a series of improved performances there is still a need to bring in alternatives, especially as both Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez are strongly linked with exits this summer.

Though clearly Man United and Liverpool are arch rivals Old Trafford supporters could hardly blame Berbatov for looking at a move to a club where first team chances would be more forthcoming and likewise fans of the Anfield side will surely welcome the addition of a player of his calibre.

A move for Dimitar Berbatov would also prove inexpensive with the forward having just over a year left on his current contract, which was extended merely so that Man United wouldn’t lose a player who cost the club £30.75m for nothing. An offer in the region of £3-5m would probably suffice.

Liverpool Close To Agreeing Move For Midfielder

Liverpool is reported closing in on a move for Wigan midfielder Mohamed Diame, who is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.

According to reports on, the Reds are due to hold talks with the player’s representatives over a £60,000-a-week deal, which will more than double his current salary.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is believed to have been told by the club’s owners to look for summer bargains, after seeing over £110 million spent on new talent in the last 18 months, and it appears he has done just that by moving for the Senegalese star.

The report continues, claiming that Dalglish see’s Diame as ideal competition for the young Jay Spearing, who has had to fill the void left through Lucas’ injury mid-way through the campaign.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez revealed earlier this week that Diame was just one of four Latics’ players who would be leaving the DW Stadium this summer.

“There are four players out of contract and I expect them all to go - Hugo Rodallega, Momo Diame, Chris Kirkland and Steve Gohouri,” he said.

Kuyt Rules Out Feyenoord Return

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt has ruled out a return to Feyenoord in the immediate future because he feels it would be a step back in his career.

Kuyt, 31, is almost certain to leave Anfield this summer after struggling to hold down a first-team place under manager Kenny Dalglish.

Last month, the Holland international was seen having talks with Feyenoord technical director Martin van Geel, sparking reports he would sign for the Rotterdam club. However, although the player admits he considered a move back to his former club, he believes he still has much to offer a top European side.

''The fact I held talks with Feyenoord indicates I wanted to give it a serious chance,'' he told AD Sportwereld. ''But in many ways the gap is too great at this moment in time.

''If I returned to Holland, I would have to take an 80% cut in my Liverpool wages. If you are 35 or 36, you know your career is almost done. But I'm only 31 and in the prime of my life. I still have two or three years left at the top.

''I still have the ambition and fitness to play at the highest level, a club in a major competition or a big club with European ambitions.''

Liverpool Defender Martin Skrtel Seeks Transfer

Liverpool may pay the price for a dreadful season in the Premier League after it was revealed that defender Martin Skrtel is ready to ask for a transfer at the end of the season. has reported that Skrtel is ready to ask the club to allow him to leave in order to find Champions League football, despite the fact that he still has two years remaining on his contract.

Skrtel has been in fantastic form this season and had formed a crucial partnership with Daniel Agger, which was keeping veteran defender Jamie Carragher out of the side.

Liverpool has struggled in front of goal this season and their lack of goals has certainly cost them, however, there have been plenty of plaudits for the defence, with Skrtel in particular enjoying an impressive campaign.

Along with Jose Enrique, Skrtel has the most appearances of an outfield player for Liverpool this season with 33 league appearances and he has been one of the first names on the team sheet under Kenny Dalglish.

The 27-year-old was signed in January 2008 for £6.5million and has gone on to be a regular in the first team under Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson and now Dalglish.

It would certainly come as a blow to Liverpool fans who have taken to the no nonsense defender who has even scored some crucial goals this season.

Martinez Happy With Links

Roberto Martinez insists it is a 'compliment' to be linked with bigger jobs after the Wigan Athletic manager was mooted as a candidate to take charge at Liverpool.

The Wigan boss masterminded a stunning closing few weeks of the season as victories over several of the Premier League's leading clubs ensured top-flight survival.

Latics chairman Dave Whelan has previously stated that Martinez will eventually land a top job and the Spaniard has been linked as a long-term replacement for Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool.

But far from viewing it as a distraction, Martinez, who turned down a move to Aston Villa last summer, takes it as recognition of his achievements at the DW Stadium.

"There is another manager in that club, no?" he said when asked about the Liverpool link, adding that he had also seen his name associated with Barcelona.

"When you get stories linking clubs with your players or in this case with a manager, it must be because you have done something right.

"We cannot control speculation and I am not going to lie to you, I like the speculation. I see it as a real compliment. Speculation will follow a team - you get good speculation and bad speculation.

"The speculation I don't like is when it suggests you are going to lose your job after a couple of defeats.

"I am proud and happy that the club is attracting a lot of good headlines and stories.

"We always need to be prepared that whatever happens is for the good of the club.

"We need to make sure we carry on with the progress we have been making in the last few years, not just on the pitch but off it.

"That is all I am bothered about; working hard and making sure the chairman is a proud man when he assesses his football club."

Dalglish Takes Swipe At Rumours

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has taken a swipe at reports in some Sunday newspapers that he will leave the manager's position in the summer.

John W Henry and Tom Werner, who head the Fenway Sports Group, were expected to meet with the Scot following their final day defeat at Swansea.

Danny Graham's 100th career goal condemned the Reds to an eighth-placed finish and a 14th defeat of the season.

The former Celtic and Blackburn manager is less than 12 months into the three-year contract he signed last summer at Anfield.

He has spent £120million recruiting Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique.

But, despite Dalglish guiding Liverpool to a first trophy in six years with a Carling Cup victory over Cardiff and leading his team out for last week's FA Cup final against Chelsea, reports claimed the owners are ready to replace him with Wigan boss Roberto Martinez.

When asked if he expected to be in the Anfield hot seat next season, he replied: "I expect the owners to have more dignity and integrity than to believe a story in a newspaper."