Liverpool Club Focus - Reds set new targets
Spanish goalkeeper Jose Reina was sent off as lacklustre Liverpool lost for the sixth time in seven Premier League games to slip even further away from their conquerors Newcastle United. Alan Pardew’s side are now a staggering 11 points ahead of the Reds with just seven games remaining and should the Magpies collect another 11 points from the rest of their games, then they will be guaranteed to finish above the Anfield outfit for the first time since 2003.
Liverpool began the season with hopes of finishing in the top four and the Reds remained within touching distance of a Champions League place during the first half of the campaign. However, the form of Kenny Dalglish’s men has been disastrous since the turn of the year – the Merseysiders have won just two of their 12 top-flight games in 2012. As a consequence, Liverpool find themselves currently sitting in eighth spot. The last time the Reds finished outside the top seven was in 1994.
For many, the clash against Newcastle was interesting, mainly because it provided an opportunity to analyse the signings made by both sides over the past 18 months. For all those who consider Pardew’s new players, such as Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse to be successes, there are those who have been equally critical of Dalglish’s eye for talent. Big-money summer signings Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing did not even start for Liverpool at the Sports Direct Arena, while former Newcastle star Andy Carroll was left frustrated once again.
There have been and still are big questions over the Reds’ new boys. Some argue that the likes of Downing and Henderson simply need more time to settle and will perform to a higher level next season. Others point to Carroll, who has been at Anfield for over 14 months but scored just five times in the league for Liverpool. Will the Englishman ever hit top form for the Anfield outfit or should Dalglish cut his losses in the summer?
Meanwhile, the absence of goalkeeper Reina for the next three games could prove to be costly for Liverpool. Not only will the Spaniard miss the Premier League games against Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, but he will be forced to sit out the FA Cup semi-final against local rivals Everton at Wembley. Brazilian stopper Doni, who signed for Liverpool on a free transfer last summer, is expected to deputise.
Despite their poor form, the season is by no means over for Liverpool. The Reds have seven league games remaining in which to get back on track, with only one of those to come against a team in the top five. Last season, the Merseysiders collected a total of 58 points. They can still beat that tally and that is likely to be a key aim for Dalglish. The FA Cup is also within reach. There is still time for Liverpool to end the season on a high.
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