Blackpool battle to beat Reds again
The manager and the year may have changed but Liverpool's problems away from home continued as Kenny Dalglish's first Premier League match since returning as manager ended in a 2-1 defeat at Blackpool.
Liverpool's troubles on the road contributed to the departure of Roy Hodgson last weekend but the Seasiders showed October's win by the same score at Anfield was no fluke. Fernando Torres had given Dalglish the ideal start with a third-minute strike but goals from Gary Taylor-Fletcher and DJ Campbell extended Liverpool's miserable away league record to just two victories in almost 13 months.
It was not the start the 59-year-old Scot was expecting on his return to the top flight after more than 12 years away. Dalglish said when he took over at the weekend he did not think the game had altered much. However, when he was last in charge of Liverpool almost 20 years ago, Blackpool were in the old Fourth Division and the times are changing as Blackpool secured their first league double over Liverpool since 1947.
"We'll work away and try to get the confidence we need to produce more positive results," Dalglish said after the game. "A lot of teams are going to come here and get a really tough game, they've shown that already. It's a great credit to Ian Holloway they've got a team as good as that."
Holloway, the Blackpool manager, added: "It was a fantastic result, a fantastic game and I thought we more played than our part in it. It looked like the Kenny Dalglish effect was going to sweep us away but my boys just keep going."
It had all begun so well for the visitors, looking to bounce back from Sunday's FA Cup exit at Manchester United. After that game Dalglish had promised to get Torres back to his best after a laboured season and he was true to his word as the Spaniard struck in double-quick time from the kick-off.
And the goal came from another of the manager's tactical decisions, which saw the returning Glen Johnson, whose partner gave birth to a boy last night, lined up in an unfamiliar left-back position after Martin Kelly's impressive display against United. Dalglish was rewarded for keeping faith with youngster Kelly as he set up the opening goal.
When Dirk Kuyt span the ball out to the defender he advanced over the halfway line before rolling a pass into the inside-right channel. Torres did not need a second invitation, racing into the area and even from a tight angle he was able to fire a ferocious shot past Richard Kingson and into the roof of the net. It was only the Spain international's second goal in his last nine matches and just his seventh of the season.
The visitors' joy lasted only until the 12th minute, however, as when Raul Meireles carelessly gave the ball away to David Vaughan in midfield, he played in Taylor-Fletcher to exact the ultimate punishment by running through the defence to roll a shot under Pepe Reina.
Home side in the mood
Blackpool had the better chances in the remainder of the half, with Campbell heading wide from five yards and Taylor-Fletcher almost catching out Reina with a lob from the right wing. The home side stepped up the pressure after the break with Charlie Adam's left-footed drive beaten away by Reina, who then tipped over Vaughan's shot.
Liverpool almost produced an eye-catching response when Milan Jovanovic's left-wing cross to the far post saw Torres volley well over, with the Spaniard also forcing a low save from Kingson, this time from the left of the area. Meireles then cut in from the right to hit a left-footed shot wide while Kuyt's low effort forced Kingson to save at the expense of a corner.
With 21 minutes remaining the Seasiders struck the killer blow when Ian Evatt beat Martin Skrtel to Eardley's deep cross and Campbell headed home. Meireles' header from Torres' cross at the other end was not as accurate and dropped just over the crossbar.
Liverpool could have had a penalty in the 79th minute when the ball hit Craig Cathcart's arm, which was raised well above his head, but referee Michael Oliver blew for a foul by Torres. The Reds have now lost ten of their 21 league matches and eight out of 11 on the road. If Dalglish wants the job on a permanent basis he will have to find a way of eliminating results such as this.