Tag Archives: linchpin

Liverpool 1 Southampton 0 match report: Daniel Agger heads winner at Anfield

Liverpool 1 Southampton 0: Agger header has Reds looking up the table

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UPDATED:

17:11 GMT, 1 December 2012

Defender Daniel Agger's first goal of the season ensured Liverpool returned to winning ways at home to Southampton but they made hard work of the victory.

The Denmark international powered home a header just before half-time, only his fifth in 133 Premier League appearances, after a host of chances had gone begging.

In doing so he helped the Reds to only their third home win of the season and back-to-back league wins at Anfield for the first time since September 2011.

On target: Daniel Agger secured a vital victory for Liverpool

On target: Daniel Agger secured a vital victory for Liverpool

Match facts

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Lucas, Allen (Henderson 69), Shelvey, Gerrard, Sterling, Suarez. Subs not used: Jones, Sahin, Downing, Carragher, Fernandez Saez, Wisdom.

Booked: Suarez.

Goal: Agger 43.

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw, Puncheon (Rodriguez 78), Cork (Steven Davis 70), Schneiderlin, Lallana, Ramirez, Lambert. Subs not used: Kelvin Davis, Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka, Reeves.

Referee: Michael Oliver.

Attendance: 44,525.

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But in truth it should have been far
more comfortable than it actually was, which is a familiar story where
Liverpool have been concerned recently.

They had 14 shots in a totally
one-sided first half although Southampton could easily have had a goal
of their own with Rickie Lambert's long-range shooting threatening to
catch out Jose Reina.

The Southampton striker sent an early
swerving effort just wide before, in added time, his 35-yard drive had
Reina scrambling back to turn ball around the post.

But those two chances book-ended what was a procession of missed opportunities for the dominant hosts.

The restoration of Lucas Leiva to the
side as defensive midfield linchpin after a three-month absence with a
thigh injury transformed the dynamic almost immediately.

With both Steven Gerrard and Joe
Allen freed to play higher up the pitch in a 4-1-4-1 formation most of
the action was concentrated in their final third.

Winning moment: Daniel Agger rises highest to meet Glen Johnson's cross

Winning moment: Daniel Agger rises highest to meet Glen Johnson's cross to spark celebration from the Liverpool players (below)

Winning moment: Daniel Agger rises highest to meet Glen Johnson's cross to spark celebration from the Liverpool players (below)

Mixed emotions: Southampton and Liverpool react after Agger's goal

Mixed emotions: Southampton and Liverpool react after Agger's goal

Jonjo Shelvey, also back in the side,
bobbled straight at goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, Glen Johnson flicked
Luis Suarez's pass across the face of goal, Steven Gerrard had a shot
charged down and then fired wide after a quickly-taken free-kick to
Suarez.

Gazzaniga denied both Shelvey and
Suarez, who made justifiable claims he had been pulled back by Jack
Cork, before the Uruguay international latched onto Reina's long kick
and beat the goalkeeper only for Maya Yoshida to clear the ball for a
corner.

When Shelvey smashed an angled shot
past the goalkeeper but back off the inside of the far post it appeared
luck was not on their side.

A marked man: Jason Puncheon gputs pressure on Raheem Sterling

A marked man: Jason Puncheon gputs pressure on Raheem Sterling

However, it took a double-dose of Uruguayan intervention to eventually help break the deadlock two minutes before the break.

Saints' South American summer signing
Gaston Ramirez flattened international team-mate Suarez on the edge of
the penalty area and although the Reds striker crashed his free-kick
onto the crossbar it rebounded to Johnson.

His cross into the penalty area was met by Agger who planted a header into the top corner from 10 yards.

Acrobatics: Daniel Agger clears from Gaston Ramirez

Acrobatics: Daniel Agger clears from Gaston Ramirez

Southampton, having undertaken damage
limitation in the first half, came out positively after the break and
Liverpool struggled to reassert their dominance.

After the first-half deluge it took until midway through the second period to carve out a good opportunity.

Jose Enrique, marauding from
left-back having been restored to his preferred position, exchanged
passes with Suarez on the edge of the area but his toe-poke at goal was
deflected wide by Luke Shaw.

Combative: Luis Suarez eases away from Maya Yoshida (above) as Lucas tackles Gaston Ramirez (below)

Combative: Luis Suarez eases away from Maya Yoshida (above) as Lucas tackles Gaston Ramirez (below)

Combative: Luis Suarez eases away from Maya Yoshida (above) as Lucas tackles Gaston Ramirez (below)

The Spaniard also saw his drilled half-volley from the left of the area batted away by Gazzaniga.
Such was Liverpool's desperation to score the second and give themselves
some breathing space Suarez tried to punch in Gerrard's cross.

It proved costly as his subsequent
booking ruled the side's leading scorer out of next Sunday's trip to
West Ham, who beat third-placed Chelsea earlier in the day.

Close attention: Jose Enrique fends off Gaston Ramirez

Close attention: Jose Enrique fends off Gaston Ramirez

Suarez flashed a left-footed shot
just wide in added time but in the end Agger's goal proved just enough
to ensure they crept closer to the top four, which manager Brendan
Rodgers insists remains a possibility.

It will only do so, however, if they
first find more support for Suarez in the January transfer window and
start converting more of their chances.

Luka Modric to tell Spurs: Time for me to move

Time for me to move, midfielder Modric will tell Tottenham

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 22 June 2012

Unsettled: Luka Modric

Unsettled: Luka Modric

Luka Modric will tell managerless Tottenham next week he wants to quit the club.

The Croatia midfielder, 26, is a target for Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris St-Germain.

He wanted to leave the club last summer amid interest from Chelsea.

Now, with the chance to earn more
money elsewhere together with his desire to play Champions League
football he has decided it's time to quit White Hart Lane.

Real Madrid are prepared to pay
Tottenham 30million for Luka Modric after coach Jose Mourinho has told
the club to press ahead with an offer.

The Madrid giants are confident of
finalising a deal ahead of rivals Manchester United who have been
closely linked with the 26-year-old playmaker.

The Croatia midfielder's move to the Bernabeu would give Tottenham's new manager funds to move in the transfer market.

Modric wants to leave White Hart Lane for Champions League football but managerless Spurs don't want to lose the linchpin of the midfield but might not be able to resist a second summer of bids.

Continued unrest in north London makes the job of retaining Modric's services a much harder task.

Stuart Broad interview: England captain hasn"t forgotten his roots

EXCLUSIVE: From Melton Mowbray to the furnace of Colombo… Broad goes back to his roots

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UPDATED:

23:41 GMT, 20 March 2012

Stuart Broad may be an England captain these days, but there seems little chance that he will forget his roots. Egerton Park CC, in the Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray, is the club he still calls home.

It's where he learned the value of grinding it out for a draw, of getting side on to bowl the away-swinger – and of hitting the ball into the River Eye to get rid of the shine. It's where he learned patience, aggression and cunning.

And it's where, even now, club regulars regard him as one of their own: the local lad whose enthusiasm caught the eye of the Under 11s coach Lennie Hunter and went on to become a linchpin of the Test attack and England's Twenty20 captain.

Back home: Broad at Egerton Park CC, where he started his cricket caree

Back home: Broad at Egerton Park CC, where he started his cricket career

Melton Mowbray, it turns out, really does deserve to be known for more than its pork pies and Stilton.

'The thing I remember from Egerton Park was you always had a beer with the opposition – win, lose or draw,' says Broad, who took three wickets in Colombo on Tuesday against a Sri Lanka Cricket Development XI and is confident of shaking off an ankle niggle in time for Monday's first Test in Galle.

'The youngsters, such as myself, would be sent out to pick up the boundary flags and lock up the scoreboard while the adults would get a few drinks in.

'Once we'd come back, the bar would be full of lads in their whites talking about cricket. It was invaluable.'

Broad was not always the splice-jarring fast bowler who, in his last two Test series – against India and Pakistan – took 38 wickets at 16. He started as a bowler of gentle away-swingers and compiler of steady 30s and 40s. Then, in his mid-to-late teens, came the growth spurt that changed his life.

Iain Lees, who first kept wicket to Broad when he was 12, recalls: 'To be honest we've had stronger 2nd XI sides over the years and he wouldn't have got in. He helped make up the numbers in those days. Then he grew…

Family ties: Stuart's dad, Chris, watches his son play in a match at Egerton Park (and below)

Family ties: Stuart's dad, Chris, watches his son play in a match at Egerton Park (and below)

Family ties: Stuart's dad, Chris, watches his son play in a match at Egerton Park (and below)

'He came back one summer and he must have shot up from being about 5ft 7in to over 6ft.

'Progressively in that first over, with the ball whizzing by, I was forced to stand further and further back. Not long after that, he moved into the first team, and then Leicestershire came knocking.'

If Broad's bowling would eventually come naturally to him, batting was a different matter.

He says: 'I was one of these dogged openers who couldn't hit the ball off the square. But playing adult cricket as a teenager is quite a valuable lesson.

'They'd be grinding it out for 40 or 50 overs to save the game, not giving it away and they'd be furious if they did. And you always had opposition who would see a young cricketer, and they'd try to throw their weight around. That really helps you develop as a character.

'I'd get nice fifties off 30 overs, but I never kicked on. Then one Saturday, I scored my first hundred. I was about 16, which was quite late. I got another one on Sunday, and two more the following weekend.

Young hopeful: The 15-year-old Broad Broad (above) and making an appearance in the paper (below)

Young hopeful: The 15-year-old Broad Broad (above) and making an appearance in the paper (below)

Young hopeful: The 15-year-old Broad Broad (above) and making an appearance in the paper (below)

'In between, I got 190 for Leicester Under 17s, so that was five hundreds in eight days. It was the breakthrough I needed.'

Then there was the sense of camaraderie, an all-for-one atmosphere in which prima donnas would not have been tolerated.

John Bailey, the former Egerton Park chairman, says: 'Even now, the fact that this lad with the baby face is the captain of England – well, it doesn't mean anything. He's just Stuart. He's the same: he hasn't changed.'

Broad agrees. 'The England team is very similar to my experience of club cricket. It's not a lease car – it's very much our team: we drive it our way. We still enjoy a beer if we've had a good victory. We still have the dressing-room banter.'

Not surprisingly, Broad is still the talk of the town.

In the wickets: Broad took three scalps against a Sri Lankan Development XI on day one in Colombo

In the wickets: Broad took three scalps against a Sri Lankan Development XI on day one in Colombo

'We're all avid supporters of him,' says Nick Newman, who captained Broad in two first XI games.

'When he plays for England, we're all at each other's houses or watching at home and we text each other afterwards and say, “There's our lad”.

'It's such a buzz for the club to have an international cricketer who does recognise his roots.'