Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Match Report: West Brom 3 - 0 Liverpool

West Brom stunned 10-man Liverpool with a resounding victory to mark the start of the Steve Clarke era in style in this Barclays Premier League encounter at the Hawthorns.

A superb strike from Zoltan Gera, Peter Odemwingie's penalty plus a header from on-loan newcomer Romelu Lukaku made it a miserable day for new Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.

Liverpool also had defender Daniel Agger sent off early in the second period and looked a shambles at the back in the final half hour.

Their day was summed up by striker Luis Suarez, who could have had a hat-trick before Liverpool were swept aside after Agger's dismissal.

Albion, who also saw Shane Long miss a spot-kick, got to grips with the midfield area with James Morrison an inspirational figure.

But for Rodgers this was a reminder that there is much work to do before Liverpool re-emerge as a potent force.

Albion started brightly and Liam Ridgewell was only just too high with a 20-yard drive while Long's chip flew over the bar after he dispossessed Lucas Leiva.

But the first save of note came from Baggies keeper Ben Foster who parried away a powerful 20-yard drive from Suarez after a weaving run.

The home side were fortunate to win a free-kick when Long stumbled over Martin Skrtel, but Steven Reid was unable to take advantage as his set piece was deflected wide.

Suarez looked sharp and turned inside Gareth McAuley before forcing another save out of Foster.

He should have scored after half an hour when heading over from the edge of the six yard box after attacking a Glen Johnson centre.

Albion came back strongly in the final minutes of the half which culminated in them taking the lead after 42 minutes.

Glen Johnson was booked for a foul on Peter Odemwingie and, although Reid's free-kick was deflected wide, the resulting corner led to the deadlock being broken.

Morrison's centre was headed away by Skrtel but Gera seized on the ball and in an instant flashed an unstoppable rising shot past Pepe Reina from 20 yards out.

Suarez's frustration boiled over in first half injury-time when he was yellow carded for dissent.

Liverpool started the second half on the offensive and Suarez floated a free-kick wide after being brought down on the edge of the box by Youssouf Mulumbu.

But the Baggies weathered the initial storm and doubled their lead from the second of two penalties awarded them in the space of six minutes.

The Reds were reduced to 10 men after 58 minutes when Agger pulled back Long just inside the box only for the Republic of Ireland striker's weak spot kick to be saved by Pepe Reina.

But referee Phil Dowd awarded another penalty when he adjudged that Skrtel had tripped Long although this seemed a harsh decision.

This time Odemwingie took the spot-kick and hammered the ball past past Reina.

Suarez missed a golden chance to reduce the arrears when he shot over from six yards after Foster had dropped a Steven Gerrard corner.

But Albion were now carving chances at will and Morrison shot wide with the goal at his mercy before substitute Lukaku put the icing on the cake for Albion after 77 minutes.

Mulumbu's shot was deflected into the path of Ridgewell and his lovely lob to the back post was headed in at the far post by the on-loan Chelsea player.

Agger Considers Red Card Appeal

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger is considering appealing his red card in the opening day defeat to West Brom.

Agger was shown a straight red card by referee Phil Dowd for giving away a penalty after appearing to push Shane Long inside the box.

The Danish international was unhappy with the decision and insists he made no contact with Long.

Agger is in line to miss next weekend's clash with Manchester City as a result of his dismissal, but the defender claims television evidence will prove he was wrong to be sent off.

Asked whether he would contest the red card Agger said: "Of course. I've seen it again on television and there is no contact.

"Referees are only human. They make mistakes as well.

"I was unlucky to be involved in one of the mistakes. It's frustrating but that's part of the game."

Despite suffering their heaviest opening day defeat for 75 years at The Hawthorns, Agger is confident Liverpool will bounce back and that there is no need to panic.

"I know we will bounce back from this," added Agger. "I think we controlled the game before the sending-off," said Agger. "We had the momentum, we kept the ball well and we created chances. The red card changed the game.

"Everyone is frustrated. I don't think the result was right. It doesn't really make sense. But that's football and it happens.

"We have to continue. We showed a bit of the football we want to play. The manager said the same - that we controlled the game, created some chances and were a bit unlucky with some decisions.

"At Liverpool, the spotlight is always there. There is no reason to panic. I think the Premier League is getting better and better. There will always be tough games ahead."

Gerrard - No Panic

Steven Gerrard insists there is no reason for Liverpool to panic despite their heavy opening day defeat at West Bromwich Albion.

The Reds went down 3-0 at The Hawthorns, which was their heaviest opening day loss for 75 years.

Manager Brendan Rodgers refused to condemn his players after the match and Gerrard insists there is no reason to get too upset.

"The feeling after was one of total shock with the result. It was never a 3-0 game," the England star told the Liverpool Echo.

"I fancied us to go there, dominate and win but things didn't work out that way. In football you can be left feeling hard done by.

"It's not the start we wanted but it's no time for panic. It's only the first game and it was one bad day at the office.

"We've got to look at the bigger picture. There's been so much hope around the place and rightly so.

"After a 3-0 defeat everyone is going to be concerned. It's important that the likes of myself and the other experienced players take responsibility for a poor defeat.

"We have to put it behind us. We've got to dust ourselves down and bounce back against Hearts (in the Europa League) on Thursday night.

"We have to react in the right manner and look to put things right in the coming games."

Liverpool Cannot Rely On Luis Suarez For Goals - Gary McAllister

Luis Suarez cannot deliver the goals Liverpool need to propel them to success, says Gary McAllister.

After a 3-0 opening day defeat by West Brom, McAllister said his old side must become more clinical in front of goal, or suffer like last season.

But he does not think they can rely on the Uruguayan, 25, to do that.

"Suarez is a fantastic player, but I don't know if he is a natural goalscorer, somebody like a Michael Owen," said the Scot.

Liverpool missed several good chances at West Brom as Brendan Rodgers's first league game in charge ended in defeat.

"The players have got to put away the chances being created," former Reds midfielder McAllister told BBC Sport.

"That was the big thing last year - an inability to put away chances when they were dominating games."

Suarez was Liverpool's main culprit at The Hawthorns, spurning a number of opportunities.

The forward scored 11 goals in 31 league outings last season and has 21 goals in 54 appearances since joining from Ajax in January 2011 for £22.7m.

McAllister said: "I can see him chipping in with a good amount of goals but is he somebody who is going to get 25 plus? I'm not so sure.

"But that's me being hyper-critical as he brings so many other things to the game, like linking play and his technical abilities are fantastic.

"Liverpool certainly has to be more clinical with their finishing. Looking back to last season, I can just picture a lot of openings where players were snatching at the chances or trying too hard when they just needed to let it happen.

"I worked with Stewart Downing and he has never scored a league goal for Liverpool. He's got two great feet and very capable of getting himself into double figures as far as I'm concerned."

McAllister said Rodgers needs time to implement his philosophy and Liverpool fans should not raise their expectations too high as their new manager tries to restore them to former glories.

"In terms of dominating the league and winning European Cups, that is a long way off," he said. "It's a big ask to say that he can do that in the next couple of years. It will be small steps first. They have to get into the top six or seven first and then look to get back into the top four.

"I think top four is possible in the next two or three years but the manager has got to be given time. There have been too many changes in recent years and they have got to stick by this guy.

"A good season for Liverpool would be getting into the top six. It would be an outstanding season if they managed to get themselves back into the Champions League."

Liverpool face Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in three of their next four league games.

"It's a tough start but it will give them a good indication of where they will be," said McAllister, who was a guest on 5 live Sport’s Sunday Review.

"Those games tend to take care of themselves. Liverpool doesn’t have a problem in those games because of the type of club it is - it raises itself for those games. There's no need to panic."

Liverpool And Others Warned Off Butland

Birmingham City manager Lee Clark has declared that he has no intention of selling goalkeeper Jack Butland to Liverpool or any other club.

Liverpool have been linked with a £7.5 million move for the 19-year-old, who became England's youngest-ever goalkeeper when he made his debut against Italy in Berne on Wednesday.

Butland, who went to Euro 2012 with England, was also Team GB's first-choice goalkeeper during the Olympics.

The goalkeeper has limited experience at domestic level; he only made his Birmingham debut on Saturday, having played 24 times on loan at League Two Cheltenham last season.

His swift rise to prominence, though, has attracted the attention of Premier League scouts. He put in a solid performance as Birmingham drew 1-1 with Charlton in the Championship on Saturday.

And Clark is adamant that the teenager will be staying put for now, as will highly-rated 18-year-old winger Nathan Redmond.

"We've got no intentions of letting the young players go," Clark said. "The likes of Jack Butland and Nathan Redmond are the future of the club.

"If we were to cash in on them now, we'd be doing ourselves a disservice. Once they've got another year or two of experience, they'll be worth huge amounts of money."

Arsenal Beat Liverpool To Sahin

Arsenal look to have beaten Liverpool to the punch for Nuri Sahin, with the Real Madrid midfielder agreeing a one year loan deal to make the move to the Emirates this summer.

Both Liverpool and Arsenal have been heavily linked with the unsettled Turkish international, and it appeared as though the Merseyside club had got their man last week thanks to manager Brendan Rodger’s relationship with Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, who he worked under at Chelsea.

However Arsenal have stolen a march on their rivals thanks to the input of Arsene Wenger, who reportedly made a call to Sahin personally in order to convince him to make the move to north London – despite Liverpool offering the better financial package.

The player himself has reportedly always preferred a move to Arsenal who can offer him Champions League football, however Mourinho was said to have been pushing him in the direction of Liverpool.

The Gunners will pay a fee of around £2 million to take Sahin on loan for this season, and the 23-year-old will act as a replacement for the out-going Alex Song, who is expected to be announced as a Barcelona player tomorrow morning.

It is believed Arsenal could have the option to secure Sahin on a permanent basis after his year-long loan, although the details of the deal have yet to be confirmed.

Bolton Linked With Spearing

Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle has described Jay Spearing as a 'wonderfully talented young player' amid reports linking the Liverpool midfielder with a move to the Reebok Stadium.

The former Premier League club is known to be in the market for a defence-minded player in the middle of the pitch and a miserable defeat by rivals Burnley on Saturday has potentially increased their need.

Reports have suggested Bolton want Spearing, who was not named in new manager Brendan Rodgers' 18-man squad for the opening day loss at West Bromwich Albion on a season-long loan.

And while Coyle has not directly confirmed his determination to sign the 23-year-old former Leicester City loanee, the Bolton boss has admitted he is and admirer.

Coyle said: "It's fair to say we're always going to be linked with players in that area, because we've said that's the type of player we're looking for.

"Jay Spearing is a wonderfully talented young player, but he's a Liverpool player and it's not for me to comment on anybody's players."

Liverpool Defender Commits Future To Club

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has committed his long term future to the club by agreeing a new deal.

The 27 year-old put pen to paper on a contract extension, as talk began to swirl that he could be on his way out of Anfield.

The Slovakian international, who joined Liverpool in 2008, had been linked with a surprise switch to Premier League rivals Manchester City in recent months, after he refused to comment on his future.

However, the powerful defender has blown all talk of a transfer away by agreeing on new terms, and told the official Liverpool website how he is happy at the club.

“After last season there was a lot of talk about my future but I have to say that the first priority for me was always to sign a new deal with Liverpool.

"For me it's a great thing to play for Liverpool. I am proud to play for Liverpool with these great players - probably some of the best players in the world.

"I hope I can create history at this club and that the fans will always remember me - that's my target for the future."

Skrtel has developed into one of Europe's finest defenders since his move from Zenit St. Petersburg, and has gone on to make 175 appearances for Liverpool since.

The defender then went onto comment on the club's targets for the new season. Liverpool's new reign under Brendan Rodgers began in dismal fashion on Saturday, with the Reds losing 3-0 to West Bromwich Albion.

However, Skrtel believes that Liverpool made the right decision in appointing the former Swansea City boss, insisting that the club will play attractive football this season.

"A lot of things have changed, a new manager has come. I think we can start to make history and I want to be a part of that history,” he said.

"We have our target. For this season it is the top four and I hope we can do it. Then we will see.

"I think Brendan Rodgers showed his quality with Swansea and now he's carrying on doing that at Liverpool. He's showed he's a great manager and I hope we can play better football than we did in the last seasons and I hope we can get our target."

Adam Happy At Liverpool

Charlie Adam insists he is happy to stay at Liverpool despite being linked with a move away from Anfield.

Adam's future has been the subject of speculation this summer following the arrival of Joe Allen from Swansea.

The likes of Fulham and Everton have been linked with a move for the Scotland international, but Adam claims he has no plans to quit Liverpool after just one year at the club.

"I have never heard anything about Fulham, nobody has spoken to me about it, so for the moment it is paper talk and at the moment I am not going anywhere," Adam told the Scotsman.

"I am happy at Liverpool and why would I leave after a year? There is no point.

"I am open enough to say I have had a conversation with the manager but for me I'm not going anywhere.

"I am playing with some of the best players in the world, I have a good coach, good manager, and I am learning every day from what he is doing.

"I want to play this year and hopefully I get the opportunity to do that. It is a big season for everybody. For us at Liverpool it is a big season, we have got Europa League and we want to improve on what we did last year in the league."