Derby Match


Kenny Dalglish is facing up to the size of his task at Anfield as he prepares struggling Liverpool for its derby match against Everton in the Premier League on Sunday.

The Reds have lost both of its games since the club legend was installed as manager last weekend in place of the fired Roy Hodgson, with Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Blackpool keeping them four points off the relegation zone.

Dalglish was brought in by Liverpool’s American owners to galvanize a team that is lacking in confidence and he acknowledges it won’t be an easy ride after just a week back in charge.

“It’s obviously a big challenge – very seldom do you get a job where you walk in with no challenges,” Dalglish said, after seeing Liverpool surrender an early lead given to it by striker Fernando Torres at Blackpool. “The encouraging sign is the attitude and desire of the players, which is quite pleasing. The only reason we will have a problem is if they don’t show commitment to the club and I think they have shown that – we just need a result.”

Dalglish’s first spell in charge of the club, between 1985-91, saw him win three English league titles to add to the five he picked up as a player for the northwest giants.

This year, however, his main challenge could be stopping Liverpool slipping out of the top division.

It will be an emotional return to the Anfield dugout for the former Scotland striker, who quit in 1991 for health reasons two days after Liverpool drew a dramatic FA Cup match against Everton 4-4 at Goodison Park.

Liverpool owner John Henry will meet Dalglish for talks this weekend and is set to be present at a derby between two sides level on points, just below midtable.

“It’s all very well being a decent side but every side which has been successful and has ever done anything needs that bit of luck,” Dalglish said. “The longer we stick in there and the less sorry we feel for ourselves, the better chance we will have of correcting it.”

Any hopes of playing a part in the title race have long gone for the 18-time champions – they are currently 19 points behind unbeaten league leader Manchester United, which travels to fifth-place Tottenham on Sunday.

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp would have been hoping to have David Beckham available to play against his former club but the London team has been unable to secure a loan deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy for the ex-England captain.

As it stands, Beckham will only be at Tottenham to train until Feb. 11, when he is scheduled to return to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

United manager Alex Ferguson will hope to recall England striker Wayne Rooney, who missed last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Liverpool because of an ankle injury.

Second-place Manchester City, which is two points behind United having played two more games, could give a debut to new signing Edin Dzeko in the home match against Wolverhampton on Saturday.

City manager Roberto Mancini believes the Bosnia international, who joined last week for a reported fee of 27 million pounds ($42 million), could link up with talismanic striker Carlos Tevez to lead the bigspending club to its first title since 1968.

“I hope Edin can make the difference between second place and first,” Mancini said. “He is another good player who, in big and difficult games, can be decisive for us.”

Arsenal, which is a further two points behind in third, makes the short trip to London rival West Ham and will be looking to bounce back from a shock 1-0 defeat to second-tier Ipswich in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal.

The match will be decisive for under-pressure Hammers manager Avram Grant, who was widely reported in the British media on Wednesday to have been given a week’s reprieve by the club’s owners. The team is bottom of the table on 20 points and lost its last league match 5-0 at Newcastle.

Elsewhere Saturday, fourth-place Chelsea hosts Blackburn, second-bottom Wigan is at home to Fulham, Bolton travels to Stoke and Blackpool is away at West Bromwich Albion.

There are two other derbies on Sunday – Birmingham at home to Aston Villa and Newcastle at Sunderland.

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