Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Raul Meireles Shines Against Troubled Wolves

It wasn’t all bad under Roy Hodgson. Despite the former Fulham man’s troubled time in charge of Liverpool coming to an abrupt end earlier this month, his presence was felt in a game which ironically signified the club moving on from his time as manager.

Kenny Dalglish’s first win in charge of Liverpool was somewhat of a departure from the manner that Liverpool fans have gotten so used to this season. Desire was the name of the game as his side looked to harass a Wolves side as short of points as they are luck.

Although the 3-0 score line represents a fair result, Mick McCarthy’s side can count themselves slightly unlucky not to have found the net; they troubled the Liverpool defence, particularly in the second half, and the arrival of new signing Adam Hammill did much to boost the home side’s attacking prowess.

But the man doing most of the damage in the game was to be found in red rather than gold. Although Hodgson’s time in charge will be quickly forgotten by the Anfield faithful,  Raul Meireles provided a fitting final goodbye to the man that signed him.

The absence of Steven Gerrard meant that someone new was needed to put their hand up and take control of the game, and that someone turned out to be the former Porto man. Feeding the fired up Fernando Torres for Liverpool’s first goal, Meireles displayed a clear head where plenty others would have fired a shot into to side netting, Meireles selflessly teed up the Spaniard for an easy tap in. His second contribution to the game was somewhat more spectacular. A Wolves half clearance dropped to the Portuguese international; technique and timing did the rest as he volleyed home a contender for goal of the season.

But his contribution went beyond that. His work rate set the tempo for the rest of the team to follow and his range of passing looked as though his personal mission was to exorcise the ghost of Xavi Alonso. Blackpool’s Charlie Adam may be the man to take up that challenge in the long term, but Meireles's delightfully chipped pass to play in JonJo Shelvey gave an indication of his passing ability. If Dalglish can accommodate him into a midfield alongside Gerrard, the returning Liverpool boss will have a midfield which big free bet will back to match most teams in the league.

The sight of Liverpool’s two holding midfielders betrayed the intent with which they set out to play, and alongside Meireles, Dalglish would have been happy with the contributions of the much maligned Christian Poulson as well as Fernando Torres. Although glimpses of defensive frailties were evident, Dalglish will look back fondly on an almost perfect weekend. Bigfreebet will likely see a shift in punters supporting the Red’s late push for a European spot if they continue in this manner.

The emergence of Meireles will be an added bonus to the feel-good atmosphere surrounding Anfield since “The King” returned to the hot seat. Although Hodgson’s time at the club will be remembered for its failure, he can find comfort in bringing the talented Portuguese midfielder to Anfield. The win at Molineux closed the chapter on his time with Liverpool, and now they will look forward to an altogether more successful period. It just so happens that the man to usher in the new era, is a man from Liverpool’s darker days.

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