Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Match Report: Swansea 0 - 0 Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers secured a point on his return to the Liberty Stadium but will feel his Liverpool side deserved more at the home of his former employers.

The Reds had Jose Enrique's first-half strike ruled out for a marginal offside decision, while teenage prodigy Raheem Sterling rattled the bar and Jonjo Shelvey's late strike was beaten out by Gerhard Tremmel.

Man of the match Pablo Hernandez had Swansea's best chances. The Spain winger curled narrowly wide in the first half before having his low-free-kick brilliantly tipped wide by Jose Reina.

Ashley Williams, who shook hands with Luis Suarez prior to kick-off after his criticism of the Liverpool striker, also saw former Swan Joe Allen clear his header off the line.

Despite seeing his side only secure a point, which extended their unbeaten league run to eight games but keeps them below Swansea in the table, Rodgers will have taken heart from another promising performance as he looks to rebuild at Anfield, with Sterling, Enrique and Glen Johnson excelling.

And with his intimate knowledge of Swansea's style, the Northern Irishman, who received a good reception from the home faithful, set Liverpool up to press his former club as high up the pitch as possible.

It proved effective, and Johnson should have given them the lead from Steven Gerrard's corner after Allen had dispossessed Leon Britton.

Wayne Routledge forced a sharp near post save from Reina after turning on the edge of the area, but the game was being played almost exclusively in the Swansea half.

Suarez should have capitalized when Swansea again surrendered the ball, but strayed offside as Enrique advanced, before the Spaniard steered narrowly wide from Sterling's superb cross.

Enrique turned provider with a lovely pass for Johnson in the 26th minute, but Tremmel was out quickly to block his effort.

Swansea were limited to counter-attacks, and one sharp break saw Hernandez go close to breaking the deadlock, his curling strike beating Reina but also the far post.

Liverpool went straight up the other end and failed to convert a trio of clear-cut chances that would have given them a deserved reward for their dominance.

Angel Rangel's brave block denied Suarez a simple finish, before Sterling struck the bar with a thunderous volley.

Enrique had the ball in the net after 34 minutes from Suarez's delicate pass, but the assistant referee ruled offside, although replays suggested he may have been level.

Hernandez, Swansea's most lively operator, shot over the bar as half-time closed in, but there was no denying Liverpool's superiority.

Michael Laudrup brought Ki Sung-yueng on for the anonymous Itay Shechter at half-time and pushed Michu up front in an effort to alter the pattern of the game.

The change succeeded in solidifying the Swans midfield but the visitors still looked the more likely to break the deadlock, with Tremmel beating away a fierce angled drive from Suarez.

After that scare the hosts enjoyed their best spell of the game.

Michu had a header saved by Reina when Hernandez broke free of Johnson's marking before Allen denied his former team by clearing a Williams header off the line at the far post.

Nathan Dyer, just on as a substitute, raced through on goal after robbing Stewart Downing at left-back, but could not beat Reina as the two slid for the loose ball and collided. Both players were fine to continue after treatment.

Michu had a penalty appeal turned down after a grapple with Daniel Agger, and Swansea would have gone behind had Liverpool not blown a golden opportunity with eight minutes to play.

Suarez and Sterling broke from a Swansea corner and had only Ben Davies in front of them, but a laboured pass from the winger forced the Uruguayan wide and Tremmel held his shot.

Hernandez thought he had stolen the points with just three minutes remaining, only for Reina to make a superb fingertip save, before Tremmel blocked Jonjo Shelvey's fizzing strike to ensure the points were shared.

Rodgers Pleased With Liverpool Quality In Swansea Draw

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was impressed with the ‘marked difference’ in his side despite a 0-0 draw with Swansea.

Liverpool came close to securing three points with Raheem Sterling hitting the crossbar after Jose Enrique had a goal disallowed and Rodgers believes his side is constantly improving.

"I thought there was a marked difference," Rodgers told Sky Sports. "I was really pleased with the quality of our game on Saturday, I thought our build-up play was good and we got through the thirds well.

"I just thought we needed a fraction more belief in the final third. There were opportunities around the box where we could have got a shot off a bit quicker.

"That comes from certain types of player and personnel you have in. I thought the method in our game was good, and people who would have seen the game at the end of last season would have seen a difference, hopefully.

"We were unfortunate with the offside goal that was ruled out. I thought that was a goal having seen the replays of it.

"I'll never say coming here is two points dropped because it's a difficult place to come. Our performance level is continually improving. We're just chipping away at climbing up the league, and we'll do that."

Skrtel: Liverpool Deserved To Beat Swansea

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel feels his team deserved more than just a point after the 0-0 draw with Swansea City on Sunday, but was happy to have kept a clean sheet.

The Reds were the more threatening side on show, with Jose Enrique seeing his first-half goal ruled out for offside before Raheem Sterling hit the crossbar with a fine half-volley.

However, despite disappointment at not winning the game, Skrtel underlined the importance of not losing and stretching Liverpool’s unbeaten run to eight matches.

"The main thing if you don't win the game, don't lose the game," the Slovakian told the club’s official website. "We try to work hard in the defence, try to keep a clean sheet, and as defenders help the team to get the points.

"But we knew before the game it was not going to be easy in Swansea and we could see it wasn't.

"We took the point and remained unbeaten, that's good, but I think we were feeling we could win and get more than we got."

Liverpool travel to Tottenham next as Brendan Rodgers reaches 25 games in charge of the Reds, and Skrtel has admitted that the new methods the manager is trying to implement have taken time to take effect but is confident the methods are starting to reap rewards.

"It wasn't easy at the start of the season because all the things changed when the new manager came in," Skrtel added.

"He wanted to change the style, the way we play - it needs time. The last few games we have started to play the way we want to play and we just need more wins.

"Too many games we have played well, created chances, just couldn't take them and score. That's the thing we need to improve and start getting the points."

Rodgers Expecting A Quiet January Transfer Window

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers does not expect to do a great of business in the January transfer window.

Since taking over as Liverpool boss Rodgers has bolstered his struggling side with just two major signings in Joe Allen and Fabio Borini. In the meantime Liverpool lost Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll leaving the Red's short of fire power as they failed to secure a deal as the deadline passed.

It has be well reported that Liverpool are set to be busy in the winter transfer window but the Northern Irishman has suggested that this may not be the case.

He said, "I am not so sure it will be in January to be honest. This year the club wanted to balance the books and see where it was at.

"There was a big investment in the club and obviously a lot of players went out in the summer and a few came in.

"We will look to do some business in January to help and support the players here, but that is where we are at as a football club and it is something the owners trust me to grow over time. Eventually we will get there."

Liverpool is currently lying eleventh in the Premier League after picking up a point at former side Swansea and he continued, “It will evolve. The guys are working very well, they have been fantastic, but we all know you need to get in your own types of players before you can say it is your own side.

"When I came to Swansea in my first season there were 12 players that were used and six moved on. In the second year seven came in over the course of the season and there were nine who went the other way.

"Until you get that turnover of players you can only look at it then as your team. But we will work with the players we have."

Liverpool And Stoke Eye Lazio Striker Mauro Zarate

Liverpool and Stoke are set to fight it out for Lazio forward Mauro Zarate when the transfer window opens in January.

The out-of-favour striker has featured just five times for the Serie A side this season and would be available for around €10million, but Liverpool and Stoke face competition from other suitors around Europe, including Malaga and Spartak Moscow.

But the Argentine is believed to favour a move to the Premier League, according to La Lazio Siamo Noi, after his ill-fated spell in Italy.

Zarate has previously featured in English football, having had a brief loan spell at Birmingham City during the 2007/08 season, netting four goals in 14 appearances.

And Liverpool have previously shown interest in the Lazio man, having been in talks to take the 25-year-old to Anfield on a loan move in the summer of 2011, but the prospective deal fell through.

He instead remained in Serie A with Inter Milan, where he scored just twice in 22 league outings.

Darren Bent Closes On Liverpool Loan

Darren Bent is reportedly closing in on a January loan to Liverpool after being axed by Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert for the home draw with Arsenal.

The striker, 28, was available after missing three games with an ankle problem but Lambert instead preferred rookie Jordan Bowery as his back-up forward for Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate with the Gunners.

Now Liverpool, who are in desperate need of extra firepower, are believed to already be in negotiations with Villa over taking Bent on loan until the end of the season with a view to making the move permanent in the summer.

A temporary signing would be the ideal solution to Liverpool’s striker problems, as Brendan Rodgers admitted after his side’s 0-0 draw with Swansea that funds may not be available to bring in a permanent recruit.

‘If we can get in the quality in the final third we need to support what we have, then there will be enough to keep the team moving forward,’ said Rodgers.

‘But I am not so sure that will happen in January. This year the club wanted to balance the books and see where we are at.

‘There has been big investment in the club and lots of players went out and a few came in during the summer, so we will look to do some business.’

Whether Villa would settle on a loan deal for a player who cost them £22million just two seasons ago remains to be seen, and boss Lambert insists there’s no rift with the England striker.

'Darren is fine. There's nothing at all. The most important thing is Aston Villa Football Club,' said the Scot.

Benfica Move To Tie Down Star Striker Amid Liverpool Interest

Benfica want to end speculation over Oscar Cardozo's future by securing the Liverpool target for another two years.

Brendan Rodgers has confirmed he will be active in the January transfer window and signing a striker is his priority.

He has scouted Cardozo this season and was weighing up a move for the 29-year-old, who has netted nine in 12 appearances so far.

Rodgers wants to take the goalscoring burden off Luis Suarez and believes the Benfica star could be a decent acquisition at Anfield.

The Portuguese club has other ideas, however. With the Paraguay striker's contract up in the summer, negotiations over a new deal have already begun.

A two-year deal is planned and Benfica hope to get their man to sign shortly.

Chelsea Set To Launch Bid For Suarez

Chelsea is prepared to pull off a major coup by luring Luis Suarez to Stamford Bridge.

Suarez, who could leave Anfield for £40m at the end of the season, is being targeted by Chelsea and Manchester City.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is desperate to hold onto his main talisman, who has been in excellent form this season.

Rodgers admits Suarez can ‘rub people up the wrong way’, but says he is a fantastic player.

He said: “He is a good man and a wonderful player and if you work with him, you see why managers will love him and why supporters idolize him. He gives it his all.

“He trains very day and is never injured and is never in the medical room. He is an absolute dream.

“In January we will make reinforcements.”

And with the Blues failing to get the best out of Fernando Torres, Suarez could rejuvenate the front line.

He has been Liverpool’s saving grace this season, and without his goals, the Reds would find themselves closer to the foot of the Barclays Premier League table.

The Uruguayan has been a totemic figure since his £22.8m move from Ajax in January 2011.

Suarez currently heads the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 10 goals.

Arsenal Could Make £10m Swoop For Downing

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is preparing to make a £10 million move for Liverpool’s Stewart Downing, according to reports.

Wenger has tried to sign Downing before as a replacement for Samir Nasri but was outbid by Liverpool. Now he believes he can salvage Downing’s career after a disappointing time at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers does not want Downing and has previously criticized the 28-year-old for a lack of work-rate. He has been out-of-favour at the club after his £20 million switch to the club.

Downing has 34 England caps and was signed by Kenny Dalglish following an in-form season with Aston Villa but came under fire when he failed to score or assist in his first season.

Last week reports suggested that Downing’s former club Middlesbrough were also interested in having him back.

Ferguson Questions Liverpool's £35m Carroll Investment

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was surprised Liverpool did not do more 'homework' on Andy Carroll before breaking their transfer record to sign the striker from Newcastle.

Liverpool spent £35 million on Carroll in the January transfer window of 2011, but the 23-year-old has been sent out on loan to West Ham after failing to make an impressing at Anfield.

Carroll was signed by Liverpool as a replacement for Fernando Torres, who left on deadline day for Chelsea, and joined the Reds with limited experience of playing in the Premier League.

The England international had spent the previous season in the Championship with Newcastle, but impressed enough on return to the top-flight to earn his British record move to Liverpool.

Carroll, however, has far from justified his hefty price-tag since joining Liverpool, and Ferguson feels that the Reds were too hasty in their move for the young striker.

The Manchester United boss believes Liverpool should have waited to see how Carroll fared during his second campaign in the Premier League, before launching a bid to sign him.

He’d played not a lot of games for Newcastle and had to deal with a £35m transfer to a club like Liverpool," Ferguson told The Mirror.

"He was young and it was quite a big jump for him for that kind of money. We’ve gambled on young players in the past, a couple of million, something like that.

"But when you get to that level of £35m, you need to do a bit more ­homework and see how he is in the second season, maybe."

Ferguson's Manchester United side will face Carroll this week when West Ham travel to Old Trafford, and the Scot is wary that the on-loan forward will have a point to prove.

He added: "Now it’s up to the boy to improve himself. He’s a great header of the ball and very aggressive. He’ll be a handful on Wednesday.”