LIVERPOOL 3 Man City 0: Carroll stinger gives Liverpool a lift
Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City
Well Red match reporter MARTIN SMITH delivers his verdict on a great night for the Reds
FOR the second time this season, we managed to score three at home against a team from Manchester - and like the game against United last month, we’ll look back on this as one of the best performances we’ve put in this season.
Everything that was wrong at West Brom was a million times better here. Misplaced passes where now pin-point accurate, the defending was more structured and organised and creatively, we were on another planet. Much better Reds – this was a fantastic result.
Beforehand, it would have been no surprise if some lads had turned up with their boots in one hand, ticket in the other and had the cheek to ask if there was any chance of a game.
Injuries to Martin Kelly, Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger meant the defence was down to the bare bones. Jack Robinson and Fabio Aurelio, both of whom had returned from injury, were in the squad and the Brazilian got the nod at left back. It was a solid game from Aurelio, who on his day is a good player, but is sadly let down by his injury record.
At right back, Scouser John Flanagan made his Reds debut and looked more than comfortable. It was a great statement by Kenny Dalglish, and despite coming up against Milner, Balotelli, Tevez, Silva, Johnson and Dzeko at various stages of the game (more than £130m worth of 'talent'), the 18-year-old looked like he had been playing in the Reds' first team for years. He hit some great passes and one turn to get himself out of danger showed he was brimming with confidence.
Dalglish deserves a lot of credit for taking that risk with Flanagan. Other managers may have been hesitant to throw in such inexperienced youth, but Kenny was happy to put his faith in a player he worked with closely at the academy. And to think some newspapers questioned why Kenny was re-hired in the first place as he had “been out of the game for years”. Utter tosh – Dalglish pulled off a masterstroke, although Flanagan will have been glad to see Jamie Carragher playing at centre back, a leader in the heart of the defence.
The game itself was as one sided as I’ve seen at Anfield in a good few years. For all their expensive signings and fancy tracksuits, City looked like a team that had never played together before.
You have to admire some of their stars, but the fact is they have a team of individuals rather than a squad prepared to fight for one another. The deadlock was almost broken early on. Luis Suarez, who is looking sharper every week, spun the City defence and his shot was tipped on to the post by Joe Hart.
On 13 minutes, Andy Carroll’s moment to shine arrived. The dangerous number nine was lurking outside of the box, and as the ball fell, he smashed a low left-footed bullet into the back of the net. It was a fantastic finish from Carroll and a goal that looked similar to the one he buried past Pepe Reina earlier in the season.
Dirk Kuyt’s well-placed finish added a second and two minutes later, Carroll made it 3-0 with a guided header that left Hart grasping at thin air. Half time had rarely felt so refreshing.
The Reds continued to push forward throughout the second half and while the deadlock wasn’t broken, it was certainly tested. A looping header from Carroll nearly completed the hat trick, but it was sadly the only part missing from what was another majestic performance.
It’s too early to say for sure, but Carroll and Suarez’s partnership is already looking like one that will cause problems for the league’s best defenders next season. The Uruguayan has some of the best footwork we’ve seen at Anfield since John Barnes and his ability to create something out of nothing is incredible.
He’s took a mere few games to settle in England - a stark contrast to someone like Dzeko at City - and he’s also coming off a lengthy ban in Holland which cost him vital match sharpness. Similarly, Carroll signed for Liverpool while recovering from an injury, and is still edging towards his best form.
With more games together, the duo will surely be one of the most feared in Europe.
Another duo worth mentioning is Jay Spearing and Lucas, who were excellent in the middle of the park. The work rate of both was second to none and both battled hard. Spearing is showing signs of real quality and has picked up some good little attributes from Javier Mascherano’s time at the club.
Let’s not forget that this was a win achieved without Steven Gerrard. A very, very positive performance from the lads without the captain’s influence. Of course, we move on and look ahead to Arsenal now, but we’ll enjoy this win.
A season that was threatening to fizzle out now has a bit more spark in it. Catching the top five is going to be tough, even if we beat Spurs in a few weeks, but the priority for now is getting things right on the pitch and seeing where we end up.
Our squad still lacks some strength in depth and a few quality wingers, but this performance has reassured a lot of people that we can be up there next season and pushing the top four. Home and away wins over Chelsea, as well as victories over Man United, Man City and a home draw with Arsenal, have shown that quality remains at Anfield.
Well Red Magazine Man of the Match: Andy Carroll – fantastic movement, two well deserved goals and battled hard to keep City’s defence on their heels.
LIVERPOOL: Reina, Flanagan, Carragher (c), Skrtel, Aurelio, Lucas, Spearing, Meireles, Kuyt, Carroll (Ngog 91), Suarez Subs not used: Gulacsi, Robinson, Wilson, Cole, Maxi, Shelvey.
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|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 April 2011 09:13 )|