With this being Liverpool’s last pre-season match there would be expectations from the supporters of this being a strong team that Kenny would field in preparation for the first game of the season next week at home to Sunderland. This would be Liverpool’s first and only pre-season match at Anfield giving the supporters their first glimpse of the new signings. A good fixture this for Liverpool as Valencia are such a strong side, although they are a couple of weeks behind in preparation to their new season kicking off a little later.
As expected Dalglish fielded a very strong team to start with Reina in goal and a defence of Johnson, Agger, Carragher and a very welcome Aurelio making a return to the side at left back. The midfield read Downing on the left, Adam and Spearing in the middle with Henderson on the right side. Up front Liverpool started with Andy Carroll being supported with the impressing Aqualani.
A big crowd for this match as the supporters wanted their first look at Liverpool’s summer signings, and Kenny did not disappoint fielding Adam, Downing and Henderson from the start.
Liverpool started brightly with new signings Henderson and Downing combining to set up a goal mouth scramble which Valencia just about managed to survive.
Continuing their impressive start to the match Aurelio then released Downing down the left who teased a low cross agonisingly out of Carroll’s reach.
But Liverpool’s impressive start paid off in rather fortunate fashion when Albelda was woefully short with a pass back which Carroll raced onto, Carroll’s shot was fingertipped onto the post by Alves but Carroll was alert to the rebound turning the ball home from a tight angle.
It was a perfect start for Dalglish but his joy was short lived when moments later when Glen Johnson had to be replaced through injury, Martin Kelly replacing him.
Valencia eventually started to settle after about 15 minutes when Liverpool’s bright start subsided. Valencia started to show their class when Topal came close to diverting a left wing cross past Reina.
Liverpool responded with Henderson shooting from long range and then Carroll shooting tamely after a defensive error.
Carroll then showed his frustration by clattering into Rami very late, he would probably have seen red in a league match but in this case was only shown a yellow card.
Aurelio and Downing then linked up again with Downing’s dangerous low cross being hacked away. The only glimpse of the talented Mata was when he sent in a dangerous cross which Carragher had to stretch for to turn behind.
Dalglish made some changes at half-time with Lucas and Robinson coming on for Spearing and the very impressive Aurelio.
The second half lost its tempo of the first half due to the substitutions and Dalglish made more changes midway through the second half with Maxi, N’Gog, Kuyt and Cole coming on for Downing, Carroll, Aqualani and Jordan Henderson.
The substitutes almost made an instant impact when Kuyt’s cross was volleyed by Maxi and diverted just wide by N’Gog.
Agger and Maxi had long range efforts as they pushed for a second goal with Valencia playing some nice passing moves without threatening Reina’s goal.
Kyrgiakos came on late for Agger who strolled through the game and it was he who scored Liverpool’s second goal following a goal mouth scramble from a dangerous Joe Cole free-kick.
Liverpool looked a lot sharper against a good Valencia side and Dalglish will be pleased to see the defence keep a clean sheet after leaking so many goals in previous games.
This was a good test for Liverpool with the new season only a week away. The players looked a lot more sharper and the new signings impressed very much. The defence looked far more solid with Agger and Aurelio looking superb. Andy Carroll looked his sharpest yet since joining the club and was a constant thorn in Valencia’s side. I was a bit disappointed with Aqualani as he never got into the match, especially as he has impressed in previous pre-season games. After watching this match I believe we are now ready for the start of the season. Roll on next week.
Man of the Match – Downing – looks like the type of player we have been needing for years, he can go past a defender and deliver dangerous crosses. Other very good performers worth a mention are Aurelio, Agger and Carroll.
written by Jamie McLaughlin website at www.anfieldnews.com