Sunday, August 29, 2010

Liverpool 1 - 0 West Brom

Spain striker Fernando Torres volleyed in to give an unconvincing Liverpool victory over West Brom at Anfield.
Torres struck his first goal of the season by clinically converting a Dirk Kuyt cross from the edge of the box.
The Spaniard was denied a second when Baggies keeper Scott Carson blocked his far post shot at point-blank range.
The Reds were denied a late penalty for an apparent Gonzalo Jara handball before the visitors had James Morrison red-carded for a tackle on Torres.
The numerical advantage helped the Merseysiders close out the game as they were relieved to record their first league win of the season, albeit courtesy of a rare moment of quality in an encounter which had plenty going on before kick-off.
Liverpool's new signing Raul Meireles was presented to the crowd and left-back Paul Konchesky was also at Anfield to finalise a proposed move from Fulham.
The arrivals, even though Javier Mascherano is set to leave for Barcelona, will have added to the air of optimism sweeping through Anfield, although the Reds have so far failed to mirror that sentiment with performances and results this season.
And, when the focus of attention switched to the pitch, it was the same again for the home side as the industry of the Baggies served to frustrate a Liverpool side playing like strangers.
The Reds were too pedestrian and predictable and seemed unsure in possession as opposed to a West Brom side who grew in confidence as each of Liverpool's forward forays continually and harmlessly broke down.
The visitors had a penalty appeal waved away for Martin Skrtel pulling Jonas Olsson, while Torres thought he might have had a spot-kick for his shirt being tugged in the visitors' box.
Skrtel fizzed a shot just high of the visitors' goal but, while the Merseysiders were in sloppy mood, the Baggies could not capitalise as Marc-Antoine Fortune had a strike saved and were limited to speculative efforts from distance.
Torres had not scored in 10 games for club and country going into the match and was looking a shadow of his devastating best as he nursed his way back to match fitness from injury.
However, after the Reds survived a scare with goalkeeper Pepe Reina saving from Jara, Torres showed his quality and worth to his team by finishing off a Reds counter-attack with a volley from Kuyt's cross.
The Spain striker almost added another when found by a Steven Gerrard cross to the far post only for Carson to block his far post strike.
The Anfield side are clearly a work in progress as manager Roy Hodgson reinforces his squad and, in tandem, tries to embed his style on the side.
However, buoyed by the goal Torres thought he should have had a spot-kick when Jara seemed to block his effort with his arm.
Torres was the target of an over-zealous, rather than malicious, challenge which resulted in Morrison being sent off before the home side negotiated some anxious late moments to earn their first three points under manager Roy Hodgson.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trabzonspor 1 - 2 Liverpool (agg 1 - 3)

Liverpool secured their place in the group stages of the Europa League courtesy of a win at Trabzonspor.
The Turkish side drew level 1-1 on aggregate when Teofilo Gutierrez slotted in from a Gustavo Colman shot.
David Ngog headed wide from six yards for the Reds but they got a crucial away goal when Giray Kacar put a Glen Johnson cross into his own net.
Dirk Kuyt completed the win when he slotted in after Daniel Pacheco's shot had been parried into his path.
Liverpool's goals came late on in the match as they eventually showed the character to negotiate their way past some awkward opponents.
Trabzonspor had beaten the Reds 1-0 the the first leg of a European Cup tie in the 1976/77 season before the Anfield side overturned the deficit to win the second round tie.
And Liverpool knew it would be a tough task to dispose of the Turkish side who were last beaten at home in December 2009 and had since won eight out of nine at their Huseyin Avni Aker stadium.
A banner in the crowd also read: 'You're Alone Here' as it played on Liverpool's famous You'll Never Walk Alone anthem, with the Trabzonspor crowd giving the Reds the type of hostile welcome Turkish clubs have become renowned for giving opposing teams in Europe.
However, while the Reds were a vastly different side from the one beaten by Manchester City on Monday, they started off displaying the same lethargy and lacklustre qualities.
It appeared the visitors were lacking the appetite for the Europa League with Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson having left most of his leading players in England after stating the Premier League was this season's priority.
And Liverpool quickly had their lead from the first leg cancelled out as Kuyt was dispossessed by Colman, whose attempted shot across goal was sidefooted in by Gutierrez.
Ibrahima Yattara wasted a chance to put Trabzonspor in front as the Reds failed to deal with a free-kick but the striker headed wide from close range.
Liverpool slowly started to work their way into the game and should have scored when the previously anonymous Joe Cole dinked a lovely cross to the far post where Ngog nodded the ball wide from six yards.
It was a glaring miss which the Frenchman almost atoned for as he turned and jinked his way to the edge of the box only to shoot just wide.
Liverpool were now showing a steel and determination that was missing in the first half and were duly rewarded when Johnson cut inside on the right and delivered a cross to the near post which Kacar diverted into his own net.
That left Trabzonspor needing two goals to turn the tie around and, in their efforts to perform an unlikely comeback, they left themselves in a vulnerable position.
Liverpool took advantage as Pacheco's shot was palmed into Kuyt's path by keeper Onur Kivrak and the Dutch striker gratefully applied the finishing touch to put Liverpool in the draw for the Europa League group stages on Friday.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Man City 3 - 0 Liverpool

Manchester City celebrated owner Sheikh Mansour's first visit to Eastlands by delivering an impressive performance to cruise to victory against Liverpool.
Sheikh Mansour has changed the face of Manchester City since his takeover two years ago - and this latest expensively reconstructed version of Roberto Mancini's squad provided evidence that they may be able to meet the expectations that will accompany his huge financial outlay.
After a £130m summer spending spree, City needed to deliver a swift statement of intent and they duly obliged against a Liverpool team showing the extent of the work required by new boss Roy Hodgson.
James Milner marked his debut by setting up Gareth Barry for an early goal, and Carlos Tevez gave City breathing space from close range just after half-time, although Micah Richards may claim his colleague did not actually apply the crucial touch from his header.
Liverpool's reaction was a shot from captain Steven Gerrard that struck the post, with City keeper Joe Hart saving superbly from David Ngog and Fernando Torres in the resulting scramble.
And City wrapped up a convincing win when Tevez scored from the penalty spot after Martin Skrtel hauled down the outstanding Adam Johnson.
Mancini will understandably keep the lid on expectations, but the way in which City mastered and out-muscled Liverpool in all areas, even with David Silva and Emmanuel Adebayor on the bench and Mario Balotelli out injured, will give him huge cause for optimism - and will have delighted the watching Abu Dhabi powerbrokers.
Sheikh Mansour received a predictably ecstatic reception from City's fans as they expressed their gratitude for his lavish refurbishment of the club's playing resources since his takeover.
And he was able to watch two of his most recent investments combine impressively as City took a well-merited lead through Barry after 13 minutes.
Yaya Toure made light of his giant frame with some fancy footwork to start a move that ended with Milner sliding a cross into the path of his former Aston Villa team-mate Barry, who passed the ball into the bottom corner out of the reach of Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.
Johnson was a constant threat on City's right flank, giving Daniel Agger a torrid time under the watchful eye of England coach Fabio Capello's right-hand man Franco Baldini. He fired narrowly off target early on and pulled another effort just wide as the interval approached.
Liverpool, with Torres clearly working his way back towards full fitness, threatened only rarely, with Hart saving comfortably from Ngog and Gerrard demonstrating an uncharacteristic lack of accuracy when presented with two good shooting opportunities.
Boss Hodgson will no doubt have demanded greater urgency from his team after the break - but their hopes of a revival were effectively snuffed out as City doubled their advantage seven minutes after the restart.
Richards headed Johnson's header towards goal, and even though Tevez wheeled away in celebration after appearing to get the final touch past Reina, it looked as if he was more of a crucial distraction than the actual goalscorer.
Hart's elevation to City's number one keeper ahead of Shay Given has been a source of debate, but he demonstrated why he is rated so highly by Mancini as Liverpool attempted to mount a swift response.
Gerrard rattled the post from 20 yards, and as Liverpool tried to take advantage of confusion in the City penalty area Hart saved magnificently from Ngog and Torres in quick succession.
And the value of those saves was underlined as City swept forward to add a third from the spot after 67 minutes. Skrtel's rash challenge felled Johnson and Tevez completed the formalities from the spot.
Liverpool striker Torres, a summer target for City, was replaced to the ironic jeers of Eastlands with 15 minutes left - and City were able to see out time in comfort to record their first Premier League win of the season.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Liverpool 1 - 0 Trabzonspor

Liverpool's Joe Cole missed a penalty as his side had to make do with a slender first-leg lead over Trabzonspor in their Europa League qualifier.
The Reds went ahead when Cole set up Ryan Babel to finish with aplomb.
The home side then dominated but after winning a penalty for a foul on Lucas Leiva, Cole saw his tame effort saved.
Reds keeper Pepe Reina impressively saved from Umut Bulut before Christian Poulsen was denied a goal for a dubious foul on keeper Onur Kivrak.
Liverpool's failure to capitalise on their second-half chances will leave boss Roy Hodgson in rueful mood going into the return leg in Turkey next Thursday.
Hodgson, whose former club Fulham were losing finalists in last season's Europa League, had stated his priority this season was the Premier League and had consequently sent out a Reds second string.
Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Dirk Kuyt were not even in the home side's squad and Trabzonspor coach Senol Gunes would have had high hopes of earning a measure of revenge over the Merseysiders.
Gunes was the Turkish club's keeper when they were beaten by Liverpool in the second round of the 1976/77 European Cup as the Reds went on to claim their first victory in the competition.
The fact that Gunes is a Manchester United fan would have only added to his motivation.
His side certainly went into the game in good form after winning the Turkish Super Cup - the equivalent of the Community Shield in England - and opening their league campaign with an away victory.
And, apart from keeper Onur Kivrak palming away a Sotirios Kyrgiakos header, the visitors' efforts were seeing them contain Liverpool.
The Reds were almost caught unawares when Burak Yilmaz stole in to win a corner to the near post but he could not get the direction to his header as the ball went harmlessly across the area.
There was a disjointed look about Liverpool in a game which was proving hard work before they broke the deadlock with a moment of inspiration on the stroke of half-time.
Cole produced a surging run from midfield and weighted a lovely pass into the run of Babel, who took a touch before sidefooting high into the far corner.
Cole squanders the chance of opening his Liverpool account
Babel was playing in his preferred striker role as opposed to his normal position on the wing under former Reds manager Rafael Benitez and took advantage of a rare chance which came his way.
However, that was his final action of the match as he was replaced by Fernando Torres at the break and the Spaniard had an immediate impact.
His snapshot forced Kivrak to palm wide and, from the resultant corner, an unmarked Lucas should have done better than to put a 10-yard header wide.
The hosts had now found their stride and their pressure earned them a penalty when Lucas was tripped by Serkan Balci.
Cole, rather than Torres, placed the ball on the spot with thoughts of netting his first goal for the club only to see his penalty parried away by the Trabzonspor keeper.
Milan Jovanovic was also denied his first goal for Liverpool when his low angled shot was saved low to his left by Kivrak.
Liverpool were almost punished for their profligacy and had keeper Reina to thank for maintaining their lead.
Reina's mistake had cost them a late goal in the draw with Arsenal on Sunday but he atoned by getting a hand to Bulut's shot from point-blank range.
Liverpool were denied what appeared to be a legitimate goal when a Kyrgiakos header was only parried against Cole by Kivrak and, despite Christian Poulsen forcing the loose ball in, the goal was disallowed for a foul on the visiting keeper as Trabzonspor held on to keep themselves firmly in the tie.

Babel gives Reds Euro advantage

A Ryan Babel strike has given Liverpool a slender 1-0 advantage following the first leg of their Europa League play-off against Trabzonspor.

The Holland international fired home on the stroke of half-time but the Reds were denied the comfort of a second goal after Joe Cole missed a penalty in front of the Kop.
The scoreline keeps Liverpool as favourites to progress to the Europa League proper as Roy Hodgson tries to become only the second manager after Sven Goran Eriksson to guide three different teams to the competition's final.
Having fallen at the last hurdle with both Inter Milan and Fulham, Hodgson is desperate to make it third time lucky in Dublin.
However, the Liverpool manager has already made it clear he intends to use his full squad in Europe this term, and against Trabzonspor there were first starts of the campaign for new boy Christian Poulsen, Fabio Aurelio, Maxi Rodriguez and Babel.
Martin Kelly and Sotirios Kyrgiakos also made the XI as the likes of Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel enjoyed a rest.
It was Kyrgiakos who almost headed Liverpool into an early lead after just five minutes when he connected with a tasty Maxi corner only to be denied by Trabzonspor custodian Onur.
Burak flicked a similar opportunity wide of Pepe Reina's goal shortly after but it was the hosts who were playing more football, Milan Jovanovic in particular impressing down the left.
Aurelio came close to breaking the deadlock with a free-kick which swerved just over the bar on 26 minutes as Liverpool continued to probe without creating many clear cut chances.
The visitors offered little by way of an attacking threat, though Burak might have made a name for himself again had his sweetly struck dead ball crept under rather than over the crossbar.
But it was Liverpool who eventually took the lead in first-half injury-time when Cole swept an intelligent throughball into the box, leaving lone striker Babel with the relatively simple task of side-footing past Onur.
It was to be the Dutchman's last act of the evening after being substituted during the interval for Fernando Torres, who within 30 seconds of getting a rapturous welcome from the Kop was trying his luck with a rasping effort from wide of the box.
A minute later Lucas wasted a free header after Jovanovic's corner, while debutant Poulsen whacked over from range. The Reds were starting to purr.
The second goal looked certain to arrive on 52 minutes when Serkan tripped Lucas in the box and Cole stepped up from 12 yards. The No.10's penalty kick was weak, however, allowing Onur to parry away.
Jovanovic was next to hold his head in hands when he was denied by a decent save after smart footwork from Torres sent him through on goal.
Trabzonspor should have made the Reds rue their profligacy on 59 minutes as Umut evaded the offside trap before being thwarted by a superb hand from Reina.
Poulsen seemed to have made it a dream debut with just under 20 minutes remaining when he tapped in after a goalmouth scramble - only to be denied by a dubious call of a foul from the referee. Television replays showed justice may have been done, though, as the Dane was standing in an offside position.
The Reds now take their lead to Turkey in a week's time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reds agree on Australian keeper Jones fee

Liverpool have confirmed a £2.3m fee has been agreed with Middlesbrough for the transfer of Australian international goalkeeper Brad Jones.

The 28-year-old stopper passed a medical on Monday afternoon and has agreed personal terms. He is expected to complete the paperwork on a three-year contract on Tuesday.
The Australia international spent the early part of his career as understudy to Mark Schwarzer, before battling it out with Ross Turnbull to become first-choice at the Riverside at the start of the 2008-09 season.
During his time in the North-East he picked up a League Cup winner's medal and was between the sticks for the club's famous UEFA Cup semi-final victory over Steaua Bucharest back in 2006.
He has since won two caps for Australia and was named in their 2010 World Cup squad.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Liverpool 1 - 1 Arsenal

A mistake by Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina allowed Arsenal to salvage a draw against a Reds side who had Joe Cole sent off on his Premier League debut.
Cole was red-carded for a lunge on Laurent Koscielny before David Ngog's driven shot put Liverpool ahead.
The lead lasted until the last minute when Marouane Chamakh diverted a cross against the post and Reina spilled the rebound into his own net.
Koscielny was then sent off for a second bookable offence in injury-time.
The late drama capped a frantic finish to the game, with Reina the unlikely culprit as victory eluded a Liverpool side who had resolutely held Arsenal at bay.
Reina had produced two key earlier saves to help maintain Liverpool's lead as the Reds had defended with discipline and determination to neutralise Arsenal after Cole had received the first red card of his career.
The arrival of Cole at Anfield on a free transfer had been heralded as one of the transfer coups of the summer, with Liverpool desperate for the kind of creativity and invention the playmaker would bring.
But, instead of the England international arriving to help restore Liverpool's fortunes, his Premier League debut for the Merseysiders quickly turned into a nightmare.
He had been deployed in his favoured position in the hole behind striker Ngog but he cut a subdued figure as he failed to get into the game, with Arsenal quickly closing him down on the rare occasions he was in possession.
His afternoon got worse on the stroke of half-time when he produced a reckless challenge on Koscielny and referee Martin Atkinson wasted little time in producing a straight red card.
Koscielny was stretchered off, although he did come back out after the break.
Hodgson can understand Cole red card
Cole's dismissal had come shortly after a Glen Johnson shot had been tipped over the bar by Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia and an Ngog header from a Gerrard corner had been cleared off the line by Gael Clichy.
Those were rare chances in an opening half in which Arsenal had easily dominated possession and looked the more threatening.
It appeared the Gunners, with the numerical advantage of an extra player, would only add to the danger they posed but they were jolted out of any sort of complacency.
The visitors gave possession away on the edge of their area and Javier Mascherano seized on the loose ball to play in Ngog, who angled in a shot which Almunia will be disappointed to have let in at his near post.
Arsenal were shaken and the 10 men of Liverpool seized the initiative, with Ngog wasting a promising chance to add to the lead when he headed a Steven Gerrard free-kick over from six yards.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had insisted beforehand that his side were ready to launch a title assault this season and this was an early test of their credentials.
The visitors passed and probed and went close as Thomas Vermaelen headed wide from a Tomas Rosicky cross, before Reina tipped a Theo Walcott free-kick round the post.
Reina also tipped a Rosicky strike just over the bar but Arsenal were frustrated by the fortitude of a Liverpool side showing the type of character and combativeness they hoped would secure a notable win - even with a groggy Daniel Agger struggling after being hit by a ball in the face.
However, when Rosicky whipped in a cross into the Reds area in the 89 minute, Reina's normal assured manner deserted him and Arsenal were provided with a share of the spoils.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Liverpool 2 - 0 Rabotnicki Skopje (agg 4 - 0)

Joe Cole impressed on his competitive debut as Liverpool booked their spot in the Europa League play-offs draw with a 4-0 aggregate win over Rabotnicki.
Cole's curling cross after a corner set up David Ngog to nod in before the French striker soon created the second.
Ngog was hauled down by Fernando Lopes and the recalled Steven Gerrard poked home the penalty as half-time loomed.
Rabotnicki's best efforts came late on with Martin Kelly denying Marcio and Filip Petkovski hitting the right post.
Liverpool's future ownership may remain uncertain, with several parties reportedly keen on replacing Tom Hicks and George Gillett, but on the pitch the team look in relatively healthy shape.
It may not be Europe's premier event, but Roy Hodgson will be delighted with his team's efforts on the night he strode into Anfield for his first home match as manager.
Hodgson said he would put out the "strongest team possible" and dutifully introduced his England quartet who sat out last week's 2-0 victory in Skopje, with starts for Cole, Gerrard.
It was Ngog's double strike in the opening leg which set up his side's easy passage on Thursday and although the 21-year-old French striker was on the scoresheet again, it was Cole - so often an observer in the World Cup for England - who caught the eye.
The former Chelsea star orchestrated most of Liverpool's forward movement, and on 13 minutes he began a move that led to Ngog wasting a glorious chance when one-on-one as he casually allowed the keeper to swipe the ball from his feet.
Two minutes later, Cole's clever curling through-ball fell to Dani Pachecho and again the Liverpool's strikeforce proved negligent with the Spaniard too slow to react.
But Cole's artistry was finally rewarded as he picked up Gerrard's short corner and delivered a perfect bending cross for Ngog to head in from close-range.
With the Macedonian side increasingly pushed backwards as Gerrard and Cole dictated the pace and possession, the Anfield faithful were soon celebrating a second goal.
Lopes clumsily hacked down Ngog with five minutes to the break to leave Gerrard to coolly slot in the spot-kick for his 35th European goal for the club.
With the visitors restricted to one long-range free-kick from Nikola Gligorov in the first half, little changed after the break as the hosts continued to dominate with the ball.
They could even afford to bring on midfielder Alberto Aquilani for the impressive Gerrard on the hour, and Cole showed no signs in relinquishing his hunger for pressing goalwards.
Low saves from Martin Bogatinoc twice denied Cole before Ngog headed a Johnson cross narrowly wide.
But with just a few minutes left on the clock, Rabotnicki came close to scoring three times.
Gjorgi Mojsov had a reasonable penalty shout turned down and was booked for falling over Martin Skrtel's challenge and then Kelly was forced into a desperate clearance with Marcio inches away from heading in a consolation.
The Macedonian outfit poured forward and Petkovski was unlucky with a half-volley crashing against the woodwork from 10 yards out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Enjoy the photos of our two World Cup finalist players: Torres (Spain) and Kuyt (Holland):


Striker Fernando Torres is staying at Liverpool as he wants to write his place in the history books by bringing a long-awaited league title back to Anfield.

The 26-year-old was linked with a move away from Merseyside after a disappointing seventh-placed Barclays Premier League finish, with Chelsea and Manchester City reportedly ready to make British record bids. However, those who speculated about the World Cup winner's future did a major disservice to the player's love for, and loyalty to, Liverpool.
"I know that one trophy here at Liverpool - maybe the Premier League - means more than three or four with another club," he said.
When former manager Rafael Benitez brought the Atletico Madrid star over from Spain to sign for the Reds in the summer of 2007, Torres was given a DVD highlighting the club's long and glorious history.
While he was holed up in Liverpool city centre awaiting the completion of the finer points of his transfer it was those iconic images on his television set - and subsequently the response from fans who immediately took him to their hearts - which cemented his relationship with the Anfield club.
But Torres did not fail to notice that on the DVD there was no mention of a league title since 1990 - and that is something he is desperate to rectify.
"This was my target from the day I came and it's still my target," he added. "Hopefully this season we can feel this sensation here at Liverpool.
"This is the best club in the country so the targets and expectations are always high.
"At Liverpool the aim is to fight for every title. It was difficult last season but we are sure we can improve this season."