Monday, December 31, 2012

Match Report: QPR 0 - 3 LIverpool

QPR's survival hopes were dealt a major blow as Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to a comprehensive victory despite the absence of manager Brendan Rodgers.

It was a dreadful end to a rollercoaster 2012 for the west Londoners in which there have been plenty more troughs than peaks.

Liverpool dominated from the outset and coasted to victory even without Rodgers, who was unwell and too sick to be on the touchline.

Assistant manager Colin Pascoe and coach Mike Marsh deputized at Loftus Road, which witnessed two Suarez goals inside the opening 16 minutes.

Daniel Agger nodded the visitors further ahead in the 28th minute and, despite an improved second-half performance from the hosts, Liverpool were never in any real danger of losing grip of proceedings.

The defeat leaves QPR bottom and eight points adrift of safety heading into a tough January, which starts with a trip to rivals Chelsea.

Harry Redknapp's side had an important day given their current predicament, with fans calling for the spirit shown when Liverpool last visited back in March.

QPR came back from behind to secure a 3-2 win that day, with the result proving a catalyst in their successful battle against the drop.

The west Londoners needed a similar result but started poorly, with returning goalkeeper Julio Cesar tested inside three minutes.

Suarez jinked past Clint Hill and unleashed a fierce strike that the Brazilian, recalled in place of Robert Green, could only parry.

Cesar may have wished he had stayed on the bench given the pressure he was under from the outset, with Suarez netting his first of the afternoon in the 10th minute.

The Uruguayan collected a pass from Jordan Henderson and ghosted past Hill with worrying ease, before striking low past the goalkeeper.

It was the 14th time this season that QPR had conceded the opening goal and in the 16th minute Liverpool doubled their advantage.

Suarez was again both scorer and creator, bursting along the byline from the right to produce a cross that Nedum Onuoha could only block straight into the striker's path, allowing him to net again.

Adel Taarabt and Djibril Cisse tried and failed with audacious efforts in a bid to reduce the deficit, although it was Liverpool still in the ascendancy.

Ryan Nelsen did superbly to stop Suarez connecting with a low Glen Johnson cross, before an unmarked Steven Gerrard tested Cesar from the resulting corner.

Liverpool did not have to wait long for their third goal, as Gerrard collected a short corner and sent in a right-wing cross for Agger to nod home.

Taarabt called Jose Reina into action for the first time shortly afterwards, although most of the action was still at the other end.

Jordan Henderson was inches away from Liverpool's fourth with a drilled 20-yard strike, before a Gerrard effort was cleared off the line by a combination of Armand Traore and Nelsen.

Taarabt struck a number of shots from distance as he tried to single-handedly claw QPR back, but the home team's efforts were met by boos at the half-time whistle.

The Hoops emerged for the second half with Shaun Derry on in place of Cisse as Redknapp switched to a 3-5-2 formation.

The move to make the home side sturdier worked for the most part, but the Reds were still creating chances.

Suarez saw a goalbound effort superbly tipped over by Cesar, before Gerrard and Henderson threatened.

QPR proved more of a threat in the second half and, after Traore flashed a cross-shot across goal, Stephane Mbia had two strikes from distances.

Jose Enrique limped off and was replaced by Suso as the game entered the final 20 minutes in which Liverpool shut up shop.

Mbia saw two further strikes as QPR searched for a consolation that never came as the 3,288 visiting supporters went home happy. Their QPR counterparts, though, were left to wonder where they go next.

Gerrard Heaps Praise On 'Magician' Suarez

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has praised the club’s “magician” Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan played a pivotal role in inflicting a 3-0 defeat on struggling Queens Park Rangers.

The former Ajax forward scored two goals in the first 20 minutes of this afternoon’s game at Loftus Road, adding his 12th and 13th goals of the Premier League campaign before Daniel Agger added a third before the half time whistle.

Despite Brendan Rodgers being unable to make the trip due to illness, the Reds never looked in doubt of taking all three points, and the club captain Gerrard was quick to praise the club's talismanic forward.

"He's been brilliant for us since he came to the club," Gerrard said, Sky Sports report. "Week in, week out he shows what a top player he is.

"These players have only got to play against him twice a year, we've got to train against him every day, he's a magician."

Northern Irishman Rodgers missed the trip to London after he was struck down with a virus that has also affected other members of the Liverpool coaching staff. Gerrard was also quick to praise the influence of his manager, despite his absence this afternoon.

"Yeah, it's tough [without Rodgers], there's a gap there," Gerrard explained. "You can tell when Brendan's not there, he's been fantastic since he came in.

"He's been brilliant to the players and when we knew he wasn't going to be coming today it was important that we got the three points for him and make sure he's getting looked after at home and he'll be happy with the lads On Sunday."

Liverpool Defender Jose Enrique Tears Hamstring

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique suffered a torn hamstring in Sunday's 3-0 win over QPR, Reds assistant boss Colin Pascoe has confirmed.

The Spaniard was substituted after pulling up 71 minutes into the game at Loftus Road, which the Merseyside club won thanks to Daniel Agger's header and a Luis Suarez double.

And Pascoe, who led the team in the absence of the ill Brendan Rodgers, has now conceded that Liverpool may be without the full-back for some time.

"Unfortunately it looks like he's got a tear in his hamstring," he told reporters.

"He was terrific on Sunday, absolutely superb, and the way he's been performing these last couple of months has been a joy to watch.

"It's a shame, and hopefully he's not out for too long."

The 26-year-old has appeared in 12 Premier Leagues so far this season.

Liverpool Make Sneijder Bid

Liverpool has made a bid for want away Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder, Gazzetta dello Sport have claimed.

The Milan-based paper has reported that the Premier League club has made a bid in the region of €10m for the Dutch international.

The 28-year-old has been embroiled in a bitter contract dispute with the Nerazzurri after he refused to sign a new deal with reduced wages.

Coach Andrea Stramaccioni has since refused to play the former Real Madrid man, with a number of clubs around Europe being linked with his services.

Manchester United, Schalke and Tottenham have all been reportedly interested in Sneijder, but Gazzetta believe Brendan Rodgers' team can be considered serious contenders for his signature.

Two stumbling blocks for the move however could be the lack of Champions League football the Anfield club can offer, as well as the player's wage demands.

Liverpool & Newcastle Fight For Nicolas Isimat Mirin

Liverpool is ready to go head-to-head with Newcastle for highly-rated Valenciennes central defender Nicolas Isimat Mirin, according to reports.

The 21-year-old defender is one of a number of blossoming talents in the French league, and both the Reds and Magpies have him on their list of targets for the January transfer window.

Indeed, Liverpool are reportedly the front-runners, having been scouting Mirin all season, while Newcastle chief scout Graham Carr is also urging his club to make a bid.

The two clubs are now set to battle it out in the new year, with Valenciennes ready to do business for around £4million.

Ligue 1 outfits Lyon and PSG have also expressed an interest, but Mirin is said to favour a switch abroad, despite making just 31 first-team appearances.

According to French radio station RMC, Valenciennes would ideally opt to do business with a club that would allow Mirin to remain with them on loan until the end of the season.

Chelsea And Liverpool Still In The Race For Brazil Star

Chelsea and Liverpool remain in the hunt to sign AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato after Corinthians denied stories that they had agreed a deal to sign the Brazilian star.

Pato has been strongly linked with a move back to South America and reports circulated that Corinthians had agreed a move with the prolific forward.

But the 23-year-old has still got a long way to go before a deal can be finalized.

The news will come as a big boost to both Chelsea and Liverpool who have both been linked with Pato.

The talented forward stated during the summer that he could be tempted by a move to the Premier League and both Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers are monitoring his situation closely.

Corinthians remain the favourites to sign him but both Chelsea and Liverpool are waiting to pounce if the deal falls through.

Corinthians director Duilio Monteiro Alves said: "I had a meeting with the CEO of Milan [Adriano Galliani].

"It was only an initial talk - the negotiation is complicated. The figure is high and the player is young. Galliani and I will meet next week and we will talk more."

Aldridge Says Liverpool Should Try To Sign Walcott And Ba

John Aldridge has urged Liverpool's owners to splash £20million on signing both Theo Walcott and Demba Ba during the January transfer window.

The former striker feels the club's transfer policy has not been particularly successful in recent years with millions spent on the likes of Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll.

Brendan Rodgers looks set to close a deal for Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge in January, but Aldridge wants to see more attacking options added to the squad and says Walcott and Ba would be ideal cut-price signings due to their contract situations at Arsenal and Newcastle respectively.

He told Goals on Sunday: "With all due respect we've paid a lot of money for people that haven't fitted the bill, £20million here and there.

"I'm only speaking hypothetically, but Demba Ba - what a couple of seasons he's had! He's mobile, he's a presence up front and he's strong.

"And Walcott as well... you'd probably get them two now for £20million. It's only hypothetical, but I think they are the type of players that they are looking at.

"Whether they'll come or not is a different matter. If Sturridge comes that's fine, but we can't just stop there. We need more potential players up front who can get you a goal."

Walcott's Arsenal contract expires at the end of the season and Aldridge says he would be the perfect fit to play in Rodgers' 4-3-3 system, alongside Luis Suarez.

And while he's not convinced the England striker, who scored his second hat-trick of the season against Newcastle on Saturday, would move to Anfield, he says Liverpool should be looking for forwards of the highest quality.

"To take us on to the next stage we should be looking to match the quality of Suarez alongside him," Aldridge added.

"One of the problems Brendan had when he came in was he changed the system from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and in a 4-3-3 system the three up front have to be strikers / semi-strikers like Walcott or Sturridge.

"We got rid of Craig Bellamy, Maxi and Dirk Kuyt who fit that bill. They will get you goals from the wide areas. You're always going to get goals from your striker, but you need your left and right-hand front men to chip in.

"But the players we've been left with, with all due respect to them, are wide men in a 4-4-2. Raheem Sterling and Downing are not strikers.

"So what he has to find now are the people that can play up alongside Luis Suarez. Sturridge could fit the bill and Walcott would be ideal, from my point of view, to play in that system.

"But I don't think Arsene Wenger can afford to let him go. Whatever his demands are at the moment, he has to match them.

"He's scored two hat-tricks playing down the middle. He's a fantastic player and against Newcastle he showed the potential in his play."

QPR In Negotiations With Liverpool Over Joe Cole

Sky Sports understands Queens Park Rangers are in talks with Liverpool over a move for Joe Cole.

The former England international, who earns a reported £90,000 a week, is expected to leave Anfield in January as he does not feature in boss Brendan Rodgers' long-term plans.

QPR manager Harry Redknapp hopes to take advantage and take former West Ham United colleague Cole to Loftus Road to help in their fight against Premier League relegation.

The playmaker was not a member of Liverpool's squad in Sunday's comfortable win at QPR, which ensured the London club stayed bottom of the table.

And Cole's absence has only increased speculation he will be on the move when the transfer window opens next week.