Jumat, 31 Agustus 2012

Rodgers: Arsenal will be up there

Rodgers: Expects Arsenal challenge

The Gunners have made an indifferent start to their Premier League campaign with successive goalless draws.

Coming after the loss of star player Robin van Persie to Manchester United, that has led some to question whether the club can mount their usual challenge for Champions League qualification.

Yet after they came through a difficult spell to finish third last term, Rodgers is anticipating another strong showing from the Londoners, who visit Anfield on Sunday.

Rodgers said: "They have been consistently in that top four for the last 14 or 15 years.

"I think the competition now, especially the competition at the top end of the Premier League, is immense. The money invested into the clubs is incredible.

"That makes it tougher but certainly Arsenal are a team that have been up there for a number of years and I am sure it will be the same this year."

Liverpool are hoping last week's creditable 2-2 draw with champions Manchester City can provide the spark to kickstart their season.

The Reds crashed to a 3-0 defeat in their opening fixture at West Brom, a terrible first league outing for new boss Rodgers.

The Merseysiders will also be buoyed by their progress to the Europa League group stages as well as the encouraging performances of youngsters Raheem Sterling and Adam Morgan in recent games.

New midfield signing Joe Allen has also slotted in well alongside irrepressible captain Steven Gerrard.

Rodgers said: "We have got a massive game at the weekend. We had a brilliant performance last weekend, just didn't quite get the result we deserved.

"It will be tough this weekend as well but the players are really looking forward to it, as am I."

Kamis, 30 Agustus 2012

Carroll may still leave Liverpool

Carroll: Reds future remains unclear

Carroll joined the Reds in a big-money deal from Newcastle 18 months ago, but he is not part of Rodgers' future plans with the manager admitting he will only be used as a 'cover player'.

The England striker appears keen to stay and fight for a place, despite interest from West Ham, but Rodgers has suggested he should seek regular first-team football elsewhere.

"Obviously, I have seen a lot of the links and it is great that those players would want to come here, but the reality is that we are not in a position to do those sort of deals at this stage," Rodgers said.

"The reality is, financially, we need to repair, so the players being linked for the money mentioned, I don't have the ability to sign in this window.

"I respect players and I'm precise with my information so they know where they stand. We all come into the profession knowing what the job is. Ultimately, it comes down to what your objective is as a player.

"I can only be st raight. I've made it clear I have a 1 to 11, cover players and development players. Some of the development players may become starters. If you fit outside that, I will tell you. Then it's up to the player. Does the player want to play football?

"You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see Andy has been a cover player for us and has been excellent in terms of his attitude and acceptance of where he is at, but as a football club, I don't think we are in a position to have 35 million players as third-choice strikers, or wingers who are on 5 million-6 million a year. This is the challenge I have."

"There's still a wee bit of thinking time, and it's hard to walk away from here.

"The ones who want to play will probably look elsewhere, irrespective of finance, because that's their passion."

Selasa, 28 Agustus 2012

Gerrard holds title ambition

The midfielder, who came close to joining Chelsea seven years ago, has remained loyal to his hometown club though several periods of transition.

An eighth-placed finish last season suggests the Reds are no closer to challenging at the top, and Sven-Goran Eriksson said this week Gerrard must leave if he wants a winners' medal.

Liverpool have begun another rebuilding process under Brendan Rodgers, but the captain told Sky Sports News: "I don't think we're miles away.

"We have to be realistic and we finished eighth in the league last year, but we got to two major cup finals which shows that we are a good team and we can compete with anyone on our day.

"If we find a better level of consistency at the club, I think we can find ourselves higher up the table than last year.

"Who knows what's around the corner? For me, I just take each game as it comes and hopefully before I hang my boots up I can realise the dream of winning it, but I'm also realistic as well."

Senin, 27 Agustus 2012

Pardew still eyeing Carroll swoop

Carroll: Transfer target for Toon

Carroll left Newcastle for Liverpool in a 35million deal 18 months ago, but he has been unable to make the expected impact at Anfield.

Following Brendan Rodgers' appointment as Reds manager, there has been continued speculation that the England international will struggle to adapt to the new regime.

West Ham have expressed an interest in signing Carroll, while the 23-year-old has been linked with a return to St James' Park.

Carroll would reportedly be willing to rejoin the Magpies on loan, but Rodgers has said it is taking a 'liberty' to believe he would let the forward leave Liverpool on a temporary basis.

With the transfer window closing on Friday, the latest speculation has claimed that Newcastle will make a final 17million bid to bring Carroll back to the North East.

Magpies boss Pardew would be happy to have the imposing front-man back in his squad, but is unsure whether a deal will be agreed.

Speaking after Saturday's 2- 0 defeat at Chelsea, Pardew said: "That is above me that deal, it is a financial deal that will be done at board level if Liverpool agree.

"If I was saying on a playing level would I like him in the squad, of course I would he would add a nice dimension to us."

Rodgers hails Sterling display

Sterling: Caught the eye against City

Rodgers had no qualms about handing Sterling his first Premier League start as the champions visited Anfield, and the 17-year-old repaid the faith with an eye-catching display.

The pacy Sterling gave the City defence, particularly Kolo Toure, plenty to think about as part of a three-man attack with Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini during a pulsating 2-2 draw.

Rodgers said: "It was an easy decision. I said when I first came in, I wouldn't judge people on their status, on what they are or what they have done, but on what I see in front of me.

"He is a young player who has just improved every single day since I came in here.

"He was a player that played on his own in the one v ones.

"And you look at him fighting for the team, his tactical understanding playing a really experienced player - he was blocking the lines of the pass, he was pressing at the right time, he was coming back to block the lines inside.

"For a 17-year-old playing against the champions, I thought his performance was fantastic but he has a long way to go because you have got to be consistent and that is something I'll have to keep a close eye on."

Liverpool are still looking for their first win of the season but morale will be greatly enhanced after bouncing back from their opening day loss at West Brom with a fluid display.

The Reds deservedly twice led through Martin Skrtel and Suarez but defensive errors allowed Yaya Toure and, 10 minutes from time, Carlos Tevez to equalise.

Defender Jose Enrique, who came on as a second-half substitute, was also impressed by Sterling's display, which came after the teenager was given 90 minutes in last Thursday's Europa League qualifier against Hearts.

The Spaniard said: "I think he did well the last two games for us and he worked really hard in pre-season.

"I don't have to tell you, everyone knows the qualities he has. He is amazing, one v one he is amazing.

"He has everything but we have to be quiet with him.

"He is still young, 17 years old. There are too many things to do yet but if he continues like this and listens to us, and of course to more from the manager, he can learn a lot, he has the qualities."

Enrique felt the overall performance of the team offered great encouragement for the rest of the season.

He said: "I think we did well. I think we deserved to win but we had two mistakes - that can happen in football.

"But then we got a point against Manchester City and that is not a bad point, of course.

"They were the best last year, that is why they won the league.

"I think we did better than them and I think this is the way we have to play this year."

Rodgers is trying to instil a new, quick pass-and-move style after earning many plaudits for deploying a similar system with Swansea last season.

Enrique likes the style but accepts it will take time for the team t o become comfortable with it, especially as they are trying to emulate some of the best exponents of it in the world.

He said: "We are trying but there is still time - because there is a new manager we need time - but if we can play like this I think we will get many points.

"The best team in the world is the best example - Barcelona.

"You can see against Real Madrid a few days ago, how when they have the ball it is amazing and when they lose it, within three or four seconds they have it back. This the way we try to play.

"We can't compare with Barcelona - they are different, but we are trying to play like this. We are starting to learn but we are learning well."

Bittersweet result for Allen

The Wales midfielder, making his Anfield debut, impressed as Brendan Rodgers' side twice took the lead against City.

Crucially, though, they twice lost it, with Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez responding to goals from Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez.

"It was pretty frantic. It was a brilliant game for the neutral and it was great to go ahead twice, so we're disappointed not to win the game," he told Sky Sports 1.

"Bittersweet probably sums it up perfectly."

Sunday's draw came eight days after the Reds' opening-day humbling at West Brom.

Anticipation was naturally high at that point, with Rodgers in the dugout for the first time, but Liverpool were crushed 3-0.

"We knew we would bounce back," Allen added. "We put that behind us and we will look to kick on from here."

There was a clash of styles on show today, with City's three-at-the-back powerhouse approach going up against a new, slick-looking Liverpool.

"Playing three at the back is not something many teams do," Allen said.

"We had to make changes to deal with it and for the first 15 minutes we struggled to get to grips with them.

"We play three in the middle and we didn't chance too much.

"Personally for me it was fantastic to make my debut and it was a great occasion and atmosphere."

For City, it was a point saved, with Tevez's goal his 100th in the English game.

Manager Roberto Mancini was not as happy as he could have been, though, calling for an end to the defensive sloppiness that has blighted his side over recent times.

They have shipped two goals in each of their last four games and the Italian said: "This is the time to finish conceding two goals every game.

"But we have taken one point when we went down two times.

"We started with the ball for 30 minutes, we had it in their half and had four or five chances to score.

"But we conceded a goal from a corner and somethin g changed."

Despite boasting an embarrassment of riches in his squad, Mancini is still keen to bolster it before Friday's deadline.

Swansea's Scott Sinclair has been heavily linked, and Mancini said: "We have five days and we should work really hard, but no-one spoke to me during the game about Scott Sinclair."

For his part, Rodgers hailed his players as "incredible". Renowned for favouring a passing style of play, Rodgers is overseeing the start of a new era at Anfield and was happy with how today panned out.

"My glass is very nearly full," he said.

"I thought it was a brilliant performance. We were asked a lot of questions and I thought the players were incredible. Some times the best team doesn't win.

"Let's remember we were playing a good side."

With his passing ethos in mind, Rodgers also cleared Skertl of blame after his backpass fell short to allow Tevez in for his goal.

"He was brave enough to play it and that's the development of the team. As a group we will only get better," Rodgers said.

Minggu, 26 Agustus 2012

Liverpool v Man City reaction

Tevez: Enjoys his equaliser

The controversial Argentinian continued his rehabilitation after last season's troubles by pouncing on a Martin Skrtel mistake at Anfield and ensure City avoided a first Premier League loss of the season.

It capped a lively performance from the rejuvenated 28-year-old, who also scored in last week's defeat of Southampton and in the Community Shield against Chelsea.

Mancini said: "Carlos is in good form at this moment. I am happy for him. It is important he continues to play like he did in these two games."

Despite Tevez's excellence, Liverpool still dominated most of a pulsating encounter and deservedly led twice through Skrtel and Luis Suarez either side of a Yaya Toure effort.

Ultimately a draw might have been a good result for City but Mancini was still disappointed to settle for the point.

He said: "We want to win, always. We were 2-1, 1-0 down but we didn't deserve to lose this game because we played well.

"I think we did a good performance, we played very well in the first 30 minutes.

"We had good chances and if you want to win a game at Liverpool, you should score.

"We had three at the back because we wanted to play more in attack.

"I don't think there are a lot of teams that come here and push Liverpool in their half.

"In the first 30 minutes we had three or four incredible chances but we conceded a goal from a corner and it changes."

Mancini will now turn his attention to the last five days of the summer transfer window and is anxious to add new faces.

City have been linked with a number of players including Swansea's Scott Sinclair, Athletic Bilbao's Javi Martinez and Roma's Daniele De Rossi.

Mancini, after joking he has "10 or 15" targets, said: "We need to put players in but we work for this, we have five days and we should work hard."

Of those prospective signings, a deal for Sinclair looks the closest to coming to fruition, eve n though Mancini played it down.

When asked about him, the Italian said: "Maybe, I don't know. We can't say a name."

Mancini laughed off a suggestion he might leave City if he does not secure the transfer targets he wants.

He said: "No. It is not true. If the newspaper sells a lot of copies, I am happy for the newspaper. I never said this and I never think this."

Mancini also played down an apparent show of frustration from midfielder James Milner during the game.

He said: "No - I think all the players played well but when you are down you should try something different but all the players played well."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers felt he should have claimed his first league win since taking charge.

The Reds were much improved from the side which crashed 3-0 in their opener at West Brom, with midfielder Joe Allen particularly impressive on his home debut.

Striker Raheem Sterling, 17, also shone on his first league start.

Rodgers said: "The best team didn't win. I thought we were outstanding, playing against a top side.

"Once we managed that first 10 minutes, tactically the players were terrific.

"The players' attitude and application has been great. We have shown great resilience. We had a one-off day last week."

Rodgers had words of support for Skrtel, whose bullet header for the opening goal was the highlight of a fine display marred by his costly error.

He said: "Martin Skrtel was immense. I commend the courage. The easy thing is to smash it up the pitch.

"For us to dominate games, we need players to have the courage to have the ball."

On Allen's performance, Rodgers said: "The Liverpool supporters will enjoy watching this kid play football.

"We paid 15million but I said when he came in that price will double. Some people probably laughed."

Rodgers also hopes to add to his squad this week.

"We just need help," h e said. "We lost players in the summer and we need to bring in players to replace those."

Skrtel error sees City claim draw

Sorry, we have no report for this match.

Sabtu, 25 Agustus 2012

Jol waiting for Dempsey bid

Dempsey: Not involved at United

Fulham took the lead at Old Trafford through Damien Duff's early opener but were pegged back by goals from Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Rafael.

After the break, though, United's defensive frailties came back to haunt them, with David de Gea getting in a real mess trying to clear a routine cross, which ended with Nemanja Vidic putting the ball into his own net.

Unfortunately for the visitors, it was too little, too late.

After the game Jol expressed concern at the plight of Dempsey, who was again missing after spending the last five weeks training with the Fulham physios as he hankers after a move to Liverpool.

"Everyone thinks he was left out of the squad today but he has not been there for four or five weeks," said Jol.

"If there is no bid - like Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis at Wolves - he could have played until he got his big move. I would have liked that.

"But there is no official bid. It is a very bad situation for us, and for him of course."

And Jol wonders if something will happen before the transfer window closes on Friday to save him dealing with a very difficult situation.

"I am not a person who will not forgive a player," he said.

"I loved him last year but I have not seen him much this year.

"If there is no bid what can I do? I cannot sell him to the non-league or put him on loan at Stevenage.

"Maybe something will happen next week.

"He really thought he would be on the move four or five weeks ago. His head was turned.

"He thought it would happen in the next couple of days and it didn't."

Meanwhile, Jol admitted he was surprised at Wayne Rooney's absence from United's starting line-up.

"I was surprised," he said. "I thought Van Persie and Rooney would play.

"I know Kagawa from my time in Germany and I knew he would not play on the left. I thought it might have been an advantage because my players did not k now him.

"He is a quality player. But Rooney is a fantastic player as well."

Jumat, 24 Agustus 2012

BR: Everyone responsible for goals

Rodgers: Hoping goals are shared around

The Reds have not had a striker who can consistently deliver in front of goal since they sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea in a record 50million deal in January 2011.

Missed chances were the main cause of the team's eighth-placed finish last season as they failed to capitalise on the dominance they had over teams, particularly at home.

With Andy Carroll relegated to the bench - at best - in Rodgers' new system, his two main attacking options up front are Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini, neither of whom are considered to be purely goalscorers.

Champions Manchester City, the visitors to Anfield on Sunday, have an embarrassment of riches on the forward line with the likes of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko.

Manchester United have new 24m signing Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, Arsenal have Olivier Giroud - France's leading goalscorer last season - while Chelsea have Torres.

"It is no good having a goalscorer scoring 30 goals an d no-one else scores - I've always been against that theory," said the Reds boss.

"You are going to need upwards of 70-odd goals to be up around the Champions League [places].

"For me it is a team ethic. Luis Suarez will score goals, Steven Gerrard can score goals, young Fabio Borini will score goals - but we also need goals from our centre-halves.

"If you can get your centre-halves scoring five goals that will always add and then you are looking at your full-backs doing a bit more.

"It is a team responsibility, not just one player. You bring in one striker who can score you goals, which is great, but it's not good for the team if the rest don't score.

"For us it is trying to have players in different areas of the field who can cause a problem.

"But equally important is that at the other end you are not conceding goals.

"I think we have shown, apart from last week (in the 3-0 defeat at West Brom) when the game was broken when we went down to 10 men, that we have a good mindset and been strong this year."

Last season Liverpool hit the post or crossbar more than 30 times and missed seven of 11 penalties.

Rodgers said that could not be allowed to happen again and he had drummed into his squad they had to be sharper in front of goal - although Borini looks like he still has some work to do after firing against a post with only the goalkeeper to beat in last night's 1-0 Europa League play-off win at Hearts.

"I told the players this year you can't blame referees and crossbars, you have to be clinical, you have to be ruthless," added the Northern Irishman.

"We will always create enough chances but even if we don't, if there are only one or two chances as in big games it is tight as defences are harder to break down, when you do get those chances you have to put them away.

"It is something I have reinforced since I came in here: it really is about ruthless simplicity.

"When you get chances you have to take them but I believe I have a number of players who can score goals.

"We just have to make sure we keep arriving in the areas and not get disappointed.

"It might be goalless for 90 minutes and come in the last minute but you have to keep going and keep pushing and wait for that moment to come and when it comes you have to exploit it."

Reds set to sign Sahin on loan

Sahin: Set to join Liverpool

Jose Mourinho is willing to send the Turkey international out on loan but the player looked destined to link up with Liverpool's Premier League rivals Arsenal earlier this week.

The Gunners, though, are believed to have wanted a permanent move and the 23-year-old was only willing to leave the Bernabeu on loan.

Now Rodgers, who worked with Real boss Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, believes a deal is imminent for Sahin to go on loan to Anfield instead.

"Hopefully in the next 24 hours we will get some confirmation on that," said the Liverpool manager after his side's Europa League win at Hearts.

"It's quite far along. He's a very good footballer."

Rabu, 22 Agustus 2012

Pascoe: Reds to rotate in Europe

Pascoe (l): Admits rotation is on the cards

Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson have all remained behind on Merseyside to rest ahead of Sunday's visit of Premier League champions Manchester City.

That means some fringe players will be involved in the Europa League qualifying play-off first leg in Edinburgh and Pascoe accepted that would be the case this season if they successfully progressed from the two-legged tie.

"That's the way you've got to look at it," he said. "With the squad and the players we have got here it's fantastic so you have to rotate the players because you play on a Saturday, then a Thursday and a Sunday, so it's an opportunity for all the players to perform.

"One minute you are in the Europa League and the next we will be playing Manchester City, then it's the second leg against Hearts followed by Arsenal.

"There are some fantastic games and teams who you want to play against. These are games we can't wait for."

Despite the squad bei ng weakened by the absence of that key quartet Pascoe insisted they would not be taking the Scottish Cup winners lightly.

"Every game you put a shirt on for Liverpool FC is very important," he told liverpoolfc.com. "There will be a full house up in Scotland and all of the boys are looking forward to it.

"It's one of those banana skins and it's a great pull for them to play Liverpool.

"It's two legs and we are going to be positive and try to win the tie up there and then bring them back to Anfield for the same again."

Midfielder Jordan Henderson may be given a run-out in Edinburgh and he is looking to find a way back into the team having been left on the bench at West Brom.

The 22-year-old had a difficult first campaign at Anfield last season but believes he has learned from the experience.

"I think there were a lot of positives to be taken out of my first full season," he said. "Admittedly there were also a lot of ups and downs but I learnt a lot and I became a man in that time.

"I've just got to use all the experience that I gained in that year and hopefully this can be a better year for me.

"Obviously all of us players are disappointed if we haven't played very well or we've got beat but you've just got to go away and stay positive and keep training hard, keep working hard and eventually it will come right for you.

"I look to kick on every season. This season is no different.

"I just need to work hard and try and get into the team first. I need to make sure I train well and that come the weekend, the manager can't leave me out."

A summer stint with England at the European Championship, where he made two substitute appearances has also helped his self-belief.

"Being there with these types of players gives you more confidence when you go and play at the highest level," he added.

"It gave me a lot of confidence, so let's hope I can use that and just keep p ushing forward."

Jose: Prem will improve Sahin

Sahin: Needs to pick up certain characteristics

Mourinho confirmed on Wednesday that Madrid had received a number of offers for the 23-year-old Turkey international, with Liverpool and north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham linked.

Sahin has had little game time since making his move to the Bernabeu 12 months ago and Mourinho is eager to farm him out to continue his development.

And the former Chelsea boss believes the English top flight is the best place for his young midfielder, regardless of the club.

"The Premier League is a good place for players to pick up certain characteristics which he does not have," Mourinho told a press conference ahead of his side's Supercopa first-leg tie with Barcelona.

"It is all the same to me, though, which club he goes to. I just hope that it happens soon for him, as it is best for him. Liverpool, Arsenal or Spurs - I have no preference."

While interest in Sahin is high, Mourinho revealed the club were yet to field an offer for Brazilian Kaka .

There had been reports Manchester United were interested in tabling a bid for the 30-year-old, but Mourinho denied that was the case.

"Kaka's situation is completely different," the Portuguese said. "We have no official request for Kaka; we do for Nuri."