Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Reds in good shape as the big kick off approaches

Liverpool - Jay Spearing sets the example for others to follow

By Emdad Rahman

I was at Anfield on Saturday and joined fellow and very eager Reds to cast an eye over Kenny Dalglish's new look team.

Pepe Reina was cheered as he returned to the Anfield fold and was his usual assured self. Pepe had very little to do and was sufficiently protected by a back four diligently marshalled by Jamie Carragher.
It was great to see Martin Kelly return, coming on for the shaven headed Glen Johnson after he left the field early with an injury scare. Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing joined Alberto Aquilani in the starting line up.
Despite a poor pre-season in terms of friendly results Liverpool stormed out of the hatches determined to put on a show for the home fans. The flying Red men ran out comfortable 2-0 winners with goals being scored at the beginning and end of the game.
Andy Carroll scored on seven minutes and also earned a first half yellow that would have been shown a likely red in the Barclays Premier League.
Fabio Aurelio also made a welcome return to the first team for his first pre season outing.
The Brazilian linked well with Downing, allowing the new boy to outshine Anfield target Juan Mata by bombing down the wing to fire in some searing crosses. Fans will be particularly keen to see Downing's crosses directed towards Carroll.
Henderson made a sound an energetic home debut, whilst it will be interesting to see who out of Lucas and Adam will occupy the holding midfield role.
Lucas has the experience of the specialist role and is current player of the year, whilst Adam offers more in terms of attacking forays, goals, distribution and vision.
It's likely that one who deals better with swift opposition counter attacks and converts defence to offence will be favoured an extended run in the deep lying anchor berth.
There was less cut and thrust in the second half than in the first as Valencia posed a momentary threat to Reina before Joe Cole's 89th minute cross was headed in by Sotirios Kyrgiakos to seal a 2-0 home win.
Unsurprisingly, Jay Spearing was by far the the most impressive player on the pitch - full of running, energy, tracking, skill and a silky continental style passing range. Spearing has benefited most from the faith shown by his boss.
The Liverpool star has a committed all action outlook and is developing very nicely at Anfield.
An extended run of form and appearances should see the young Liverpool schemer beating a path to the door of Fabio Capello, and quite possibly gatecrashing his England squad.
With a good season, Spearing and Henderson could end up supporting or even playing alongside Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry in the European Championships next year.
Liverpool now look forward to next week and a tasty opening day start to the league campaign against Steve Bruce's vastly refurbished Black Cats.
After splashing the cash John W Henry seeks fourth spot so no pressure there lads. With no Europa league 'distraction' on Thursdays it'll be a very interesting season.

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