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Brilliant Brucie!

Bruce Grobbelaar saved Liverpool an Upton Park mauling with some top drawer saves as league football's television serial began with a goalless episode.

Television audiences have grown accustomed to Grobbelaar's heroics during Liverpool's UEFA Cup progress and watching millions marvelled again at his reflexes.

He pulled off amazing saves to deny Frank McAvennie, Mike Small and Tony Gale who all thought they had scored from close range.

Grobbelaar deserved a little luck when West Ham failed to punish him for a characteristically head strong rush into the right back position. Stuart Slater skated past him but Steve Nicol headed out the cross and Kevin Keen's shot from the rebound was blocked by Nick Tanner.
In an effort to improve Liverpool's modest record of one win in their last seven league games manager Graeme Souness dropped Dean Saunders.

It was the first time 2.9 million pound British record buy Saunders, who had scored just twice in 13 games, had been omitted from the starting line up for a league match.

Liverpool were under pressure from the start and Grobbelaar produced his first stop after only 11 minutes to turn aside McAvennie's header from a George Parris cross.

Minutes later Grobbelaar flung himself to his left to deny Mike Small, who underwent a cartilage operation only 12 days ago.

In the closing stages Grobbelaar was perfectly positioned again to tip over Gale's firm header from a Bishop cross.

West Ham goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko not to be outdone, foiled Liverpool's best effort with a diving save from Mark Walters' 30 yard drive in the 28th minute.

The big Czech denied Liverpool again when he safely held a Jan Molby free kick which pierced the West Ham defensive wall.

Souness made it clear after the goalless draw that his British record buy will be staying at Anfield.

Saunders scored four UEFA Cup goals in one match against the part time Finns of Kuusysi Lahti but has hit the target just twice in 13 league games since his July move from Derby County.
Souness admitted: "Maybe Dean hasn't scored the goals for us that he would have liked. But he has suffered because we have had to chop and change the team."

Everton have been among several clubs linked with Saunders but Souness added: "No one has contacted me about Dean. I don't want to sell him anyway."

Saunders was the chief victim as Liverpool complied with the four foreigner rule in their UEFA Cup campaign but this was the first occasion he had been dropped for a league match. "I left Dean out because Ian Rush and Steve McManaman did well together in our last game against Auxerre and I felt it was worth sticking with them," explained Souness.

Saunders commented: "I was told just before the match I wouldn't be playing. Those sort of decisions are up to the manager. That's what he's paid for."

Both managers agreed television viewers received full value from an incident packed match.
Souness said: "I find it hard as a manager to enjoy a game but I thoroughly enjoyed that one. With the long ball so much in fashion these days I felt it was a great advertisement for the way the game should be played. The fact that there were no goals didn't take anything away from it."

West Ham manager Billy Bonds added: "It was a terrific game with good passing and a lot of effort. All 20 outfield players must be completely knackered."

There was a welcome postscript for England manager Graham Taylor when Souness revealed that defender Mark Wright, out since August, was likely to play in a friendly this week and John Barnes has resumed training.

Copyright - British Soccer Week

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