Sunday, January 23, 2011

Liverpool kick start their new regime under the King

Liverpool defeated Wolverhampton 3-0 Saturday to give Kenny Dalglish his first win in his second stint as Reds manager and only the team’s second away win of the season. In Dalglish’s first three games in charge, the Reds have looked more eager and passed much better without the results following suit. They rectified that against Wolves, playing well and earning a well-deserved victory against the same Wolves team that won at Anfield a month ago by a Liverpool- flattering 1-0 score line.

The Reds played fluidly and lethally getting plenty of players forward throughout and not putting Pepe Reina in too many tight spots either. Fernando Torres had two of the easiest goals he’ll ever score but most importantly worked hard the full 90 minutes earning the praise of his manager. Raul Meireles, who finally earned some love from the Reds’ faithful for scoring in the Merseyside Derby last week, will certainly be a popular fellow in Liverpool now after his fantastic strike gave the Reds a 2-0 lead early in the second half.

The win not only lifted Liverpool, temporarily, into the top half of the table, but it was also the first away game since Bolton (their other away win) on the first weekend on November that the Reds kept a clean sheet. Most importantly, it was Captain Steven Gerrard’s last game on the side lines due to suspension.

Gerrard has missed a number of games this season because of injury, and the team has sometimes lacked inspiration without him, a fine example being the 2-1 loss at Blackpool last week even after Torres broke the deadlock on three minutes.

Meireles has looked good going forward since Dalglish put him in that role, and he can continue to do so now and let Gerrard control the game from the midfield.

Liverpool’s upcoming schedule is not all together tricky in the coming month except for the tie at Stamford Bridge in a week and a half, but Chelsea still isn’t back to its best, making that a tough game to call.

The good thing about a somewhat weak schedule is that defensive stalwart and emotional leader Jamie Carragher will still be out for at least a few more weeks. The Reds have allowed 14 goals in his 11-game absence, and they’ve been lucky. His leadership is sorely missed throughout the team but especially in the backline, and his return late in February should really perk up the team.

The feel-good factor is definitely back around Anfield because no Reds fan would dare question King Kenny, but most importantly, the players have played with real passion in all four games under Dalglish, something they were badly lacking almost every game under Roy Hodgson.

The only downside is most fans have claimed Europa League qualification would mean a good season for the Reds when at the beginning of the season, it was all about getting back in the top four. Liverpool is currently nine points behind fourth-spot, so there’s plenty of time to make that up, but the Reds may just have to try to salvage whatever they can from this season and start anew in the summer.

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