Dalglish wants stronger defense

BY foxsports • October 1, 2011

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish knows there is still defensive work to do within the team after just one clean sheet this season.

So far their only shut-out has come in the 2-0 win against 10-man Arsenal in only the Reds' second match of the campaign.

Even League One strugglers Exeter and npower Championship side Brighton have breached Jose Reina's goal in Carling Cup.

But although lapses at one end have been masked by goals at the other, Dalglish's fifth-placed side currently have a goal difference of zero.

That is worse than eighth-placed Aston Villa and Sunderland, in 14th.

The Liverpool defence is certain to be tested in the 216th Merseyside derby at Goodison Park tomorrow and while Dalglish is not overly concerned he accepts there is work to do.

"I wouldn't say we're worried about it," said the Scot, returning to the ground where, just over 20 years ago he quit as Reds boss first time around after an epic 4-4 FA Cup draw citing the pressures of the job for having an effect on his health.

"It's something we've got to continue working on but if we keep scoring more goals than the opposition then fine.

"But it's always nice to have your opposition with a nothing after their name, isn't it?

"Last week against Wolves (a 2-1 win) we might have been under pressure a little bit and got a couple of tackles in around the box but for me we had by far the greater and most chances in the game.

"It looked more likely that we would have extended our lead than lost it.

"If you keep scoring goals, it makes it more difficult for the other team, but certainly losing not goals makes it a bit easier for ourselves as well as scoring at the other end.

"If you want to get points, then it's helpful not to lose any but I wouldn't say we've got a problem with it."

Injuries in defence have not helped consistency with right-backs Martin Kelly and Glen Johnson both missing matches while centre-half Daniel Agger is just returning to training after breaking a rib at Tottenham a fortnight ago.

Kelly is now fit again but neither Johnson nor Agger will be available.

Dalglish made no excuses, though.

"I don't think the changes in defence have affected it particularly," said the 60-year-old.

"Sometimes you go through phases where you don't lose a goal for games.

"We don't like losing goals but we understand in the division we are playing in there are a lot of good teams and good players who are likely to score a goal."

Everton may be below their near-neighbours in the Barclays Premier League, having played one match fewer, and coming off a defeat at Manchester City but Dalglish knows that will make little difference tomorrow.

"(Everton manager David Moyes) Moysie has done a fantastic job and we've got a great deal of respect for David Moyes and also for the football club," he added.

"They have done well and were unfortunate to have to go to Manchester City last week having played extra time on the previous Wednesday night, not having the benefit City had of making wholesale changes.

"They put on a very resilient performance even though they lost but last year they won 3-0 so we know they will be competitive and we have to match it.

"They will play to their strengths and we will play to our strengths.

Everton boss Moyes has admitted to frustration, but not envy, at the spending power of Dalglish since he took charge at Anfield earlier this year.

The financial divide between the two clubs is currently vast, with Dalglish backed by wealthy owner John W Henry, whilst Moyes has to juggle his squad with one hand tied behind his back given the constraints.

The last two transfer windows underline the gulf that exists as Dalglish has spent in the region of £120million on star names such as Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique, Stewart Downing and Sebastian Coates.

In stark contrast, Moyes' signings have been four on loan, and one for a nominal fee in Apostolos Vellios, yet he continues to pull rabbits out of hats, and will be asked to do so again by the fans for the 216th Merseyside derby.

Asked simply to comment on Tim Cahill's remark that the derby game is "magical", Moyes was quick to turn the focus on the financial situation.

"It's always been a tough game for us because we're up against good opposition, and Liverpool have always had a level of finance which has allowed them to buy a different level of player than us," said Moyes.

"Over the years we've tried to be competitive, tried to get as close to them as we can.

"We know it's a big rivalry in the city, and I'm aware of that, but most people are aware there have been differences over the years between Liverpool and Everton, and all of it has been financial."

This year, in particular, has been particularly tough for Moyes, who added: "This time last year Liverpool weren't in great condition.

"They were maybe in a similar situation to us here where they were having to give money back to the banks.

"The supporters were quite restless at the time, but they've had new owners, a change of manager and brought in new players, so they have turned it around quite a lot.

"That's there for everybody to see and everybody knows that. At this present time we've not got the funds Liverpool have had given to them in the last year. That's given them a big help."

Suggested to Moyes there was a touch of frustration in his remarks, he replied: "Yeah, only because we got really close last year, and things have changed very quickly for Liverpool in that time.

"Last season we had a really good side at times. I think we showed that, although not come the end of the season because our league position wasn't good enough.

"But with a little bit of help then we could have been up there competing."

Despite the huge sum of money Dalglish has enjoyed spending, Moyes insists there is no hint of green in his eyes.

"I don't think I look with envy. I'm just stating facts. It has never been any different here," said the Scot.

"We have always worked within our means, and in many seasons the same things have happened and we've still always found a way of getting there, so hopefully we can do that again this year.

"It has been hard to get above Liverpool in the league table, and we have done everything we can to win as many derby games as we can, which has been tough.

"We've tried to be competitive against them, tried to hang onto their shirt tails, and at times try to get above them, but as I say, it's not been easy."

At least Moyes knows that when it comes to a derby there can be no greater leveller, and he is expecting the same on Saturday at Goodison Park.

"When you cross the line it doesn't matter what has happened, who has paid what. It's just two teams competing," added Moyes.

And when it comes to enjoying a drink with Dalglish after the game, wine might not be the order of the day.

He said: "Scotsmen together is always good, but I don't know with Kenny what to drink. Irn Bru. I think that's us."

Tim Cahill should be fit to play despite sustaining severe bruising to a shin after an apparent stamp by Vincent Kompany in last week's 2-0 defeat by Manchester City.

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