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Allen: Rodgers has the backing of all the players

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 20:56

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen believes the scrappy 2-2 Champions League draw against Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets can be an unlikely platform on which to rebuild their season.

 Liverpool's Joe Allen in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The point kept alive the Reds’ hopes of making the knockout stages of the competition, which now goes down to a must-win match at home to Basle in a fortnight, but the result may be just as significant in helping get their domestic campaign back on track.

Manager Brendan Rodgers told the players they had to start afresh in Bulgaria after a morale-sapping four-match losing streak and despite conceding an 88th-minute equaliser, having turned things around from conceding a third-minute opener, Allen insists there are positives to be taken from the match.

“There’s an element of frustration because we were ahead in the game until so late on,” said the Wales international.

“It was disappointing to concede a goal like that but the bigger picture is that our Champions League dream is still alive and still in our hands and that is a big bonus for us.

“There were improvements all round. The commitment was there for everyone to see.

“I thought we had more composure than we have had at times and certainly more self-belief and it is a step in the right direction. The only disappointment is that we didn’t get all three points.

“The start (to the game) almost summed up how it’s been going for us recently but the biggest test for us was (showing) that resolve to come back.

“It is not easy in an away Champions League fixture to come from a goal behind and if you look back we could have extended it to 3-1.”

Allen, whose side face Stoke on Saturday, added: “The manager mentioned that it was almost like a fresh start and we see it that way as players.

“It’s up to us to turn it around and it is now back to Premier League action at the weekend and we are looking forward to giving everything to get three points.”

Players and managers have come in for increasing criticism as Liverpool lurched from one poor performance to another and Allen admits you have to find a way to deal with the negativity which accompanies a run of bad results.

“As a professional footballer you are always dealing with that pressure and expectation but you have to learn to deal with it,” he said.

“I feel better at dealing with it. It’s not been an ideal start to the season, I think that is obvious, but the biggest thing is I have confidence in myself and the whole squad that we have the ability and the quality to turn it around.

“It is something you learn with experience. Every single player at this club has had highs and lows in their career but it is how you deal with it and I think the biggest positive of this club is that everyone is capable of doing that.

“Last night was a positive step in the right direction and long that may continue.”

On criticism of Rodgers he said: “Brendan is handling it fine. He wouldn’t be Liverpool manager if he couldn’t handle it. He has the backing of all the players and he knows that.”

Allen believes having home advantage in their now season-defining final group match will be of huge benefit in two weeks’ time.

“If you are serious about doing well in this competition, when we got the fixtures at the start we would have targeted the Basle game as one where we needed to get three points and that hasn’t changed,” he said.

“We all believe we can do it. We’re at Anfield and we’ll be calling on all our supporters to get behind us and make it a seriously tough night for Basle.

“It’s still in our hands and that’s a big bonus for us. The outcome hasn’t changed at all so that was a positive.”

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert celebrates scoring the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One plus to come from the Ludogorets match was a second goal in as many matches for Rickie Lambert, who took over from injured striker Mario Balotelli at the weekend and has fully justified his place.

The £4million summer signing from Southampton has scored as many goals (two) in five starts this season than £16million arrival Balotelli has in 11.

“There has been a lot of talk about our lack of goals,” added Allen. “We obviously lost a world-class goalscorer (in Luis Suarez) so for Rickie to come in and get two in two is all you can ask for.

“It has been great for him and I am sure that will really kick his self-belief on and he will keep that goalscoring run going.”

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Raheem Sterling on his best LFC goal, Mignolet on his best save, and Borini on being an interior designer!

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 20:00

Liverpool players Raheem Sterling, Simon Mignolet, Emre Can and Fabio Borini last week met with a group of teenage Liverpool fans as part of the Kicks Programme from Warrior Football and the LFC Foundation.

[embedded content]

During the question and answer session, Sterling was asked what his favourite Liverpool goal so far was:

“The one against Man City at Anfield because at that point we were still in the title race and it was a very important goal.”

Meanwhile, Borini was asked for the best player he’d played against:

“I have played with a lot of good players on international duty like Totti and Pirlo. Stevie G and Drogba [at Chelsea]. The chance to play with all of them was special.”

Mignolet was asked for his best save:

“Difficult question. Making saves that help the team is the best feeling. When you know that you’ve made a save that has given the team three points or a victory. It does not happen often that you can affect the game as a goalkeeper but when it does like a penalty save, the one on my debut against Stoke for example in the last minute and we won the game, they’re my favourite and most important.”

Can on his first goal for the club:

“[It] was a great feeling and I was very happy.”

And finally, Borini on what he’d be if he wasn’t a footballer:

“Interior Designer.”

Warrior Football donated £50,000 worth of kit to the Liverpool FC Foundation to distribute to community charities locally and overseas. The Foundation’s programmes encourage people of all ages, ethnic groups and disabilities to take part in team sports as a fun and healthy platform to develop life skills such as confidence building, motivation, and teamwork.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Rickie Lambert proves a better option than Mario Balotelli for Liverpool

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 17:05

With two goals in two games on only his fourth and fifth starts for the club, Rickie Lambert has shown why he’s a better option than Mario Balotelli as Liverpool’s forward in Daniel Sturridge‘s absence.

European Football - UEFA Champions League - Group B - PFC Ludogorets Razgrad v Liverpool FC

Lambert endured a difficult first few months to his Liverpool career, but a couple of promising performances from the 32-year-old, against Crystal Palace and Ludogorets, have given definite reason for optimism.

Admittedly, these displays haven’t set the world alight, but two goals in as many games, coupled with two solid all-round performances, means that he should now be ahead of Balotelli in the pecking order when the Italian returns from injury.

Despite the Palace and Ludogorets games being disappointing results and performances by the Reds, Lambert should definitely feel happy with his input.

Balotelli has yet to convert a big chance in the CL or PL for Liverpool; Lambert has bagged two in four days.

— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) November 26, 2014

Lambert vs Balotelli

Strikers are, first and foremost, judged on goals, and Lambert’s statistics, especially in comparison to Balotelli, make for interesting reading.

The England striker has scored three goals in 366 minutes of playing time so far this season, according to WhoScored, which is actually a far from shameful effort. Balotelli, on the other hand, has found the net just twice in 911 minutes.

That means the former Southampton man is averaging a goal every 122 minutes, compared with the Italian’s 455.5. That is a sizeable difference, and goes some way to showing why Liverpool have been so ineffective in attack with Balotelli playing.

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert scores the first goal against Crystal Palace during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lambert also has three assists to his name, while Balotelli has none. This highlights the former’s unselfishness and intelligence in the final third, bringing others into play far more effectively.

The 32-year-old’s prowess in the air is also far superior to his teammate’s, winning 2.2 aerials duels per game compared to Balotelli’s 0.9. According to Squawka, Lambert has won 50 per cent of his duels in general, while the 24-year-old has come out on top a measly 36 per cent of the time.

Some of Balotelli’s supporters feel he offers better movement off the ball than Lambert, but can you really imagine him making the intelligent run Lambert did against Palace on Sunday for his goal? It’s more likely that he would have been static, expecting an inch-perfect pass to land at his toes instead.

Another key difference between the two is their on-pitch demeanour and team ethic. Lambert is hard working and positively encourages others around him.

Balotelli, on the flip side, is a player you never feel truly cares about who he’s playing for. Yes, sometimes his naturally sulky attitude works against him when he’s actually trying hard, but he’s seemingly still had a negative impact on the side.

Carragher and Neville

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was asked whether Lambert should now be picked ahead of Balotelli in Sky’s post match coverage and had no doubt about who he thinks should be starting out of the two.

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“He (Lambert) should be playing 100 per cent in front of Balotelli. He played the ball off to his teammates three or four times and made a few movements.

“The Liverpool players will want Rickie Lambert in the team, because he’s someone to play off and make movements. He deserves to keep his place. He brought people into play and showed a good touch.”

Similarly, Jamie Carragher noted Lambert’s lack of opportunities until now:

“He needs to be playing regularly. Maybe not against the elite, but in your run-of-the-mill games he should have had more opportunities. He’s a goalscorer and can hold the ball up.”

Lambert, who made 37 appearances for Southampton in the Premier League last season and all 38 the season before, is a player who clearly benefits from playing regularly rather than as a bit-part or impact player. Yet nine of his appearances so far under Rodgers have been as a sub late on in games.

Playing them together

Brendan Rodgers does, of course, have the option of playing the two strikers alongside each other in a 4-4-2 diamond, once Balotelli returns from injury. This would suit both players, who are at their happiest with a partner alongside them.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli looks dejected as his side draw 0-0 with Hull City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Balotelli showed potential alongside Sturridge in the 3-0 win over Tottenham in August, but in fairness to him, he has been mainly used as a lone striker from that point on.

Lambert, meanwhile, doesn’t have anywhere near enough mobility to lead the line by himself, and his hold-up play and underrated creativity would be a good foil for the Italian’s more risky, impulsive style.

It seems baffling that Rodgers has only given them a chance alongside each other late on in the 0-0 draw at home to Hull – a game which saw Lambert’s introduction alongside Balotelli spark a flat performance into life.

Short-term solution

It would be foolish to denounce Lambert as the answer to Liverpool’s current problems, just as it would be unjust to write Balotelli off completely, but as it stands the Englishman must be Rodgers’ first-choice striker without Sturridge around.

He has justified his selection in the last two games, and has shown enough quality to suggest he can continue to improve the more his confidence increases. Playing him and Balotelli together is also a viable option.

That nightmare start to life at Anfield for Lambert is now slowly turning into the dream move he imagined it would be back in the summer. There’s still a long way to go though.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Ludogorets 2-2 Liverpool: Good Game, Bad Game – Featuring Sterling, Hendo, Mignolet and Lambert

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 14:45

After Liverpool’s 2-2 draw away to PFC Ludogorets Razgrad on Wednesday, Jack Lusby selects his best and worst performers from the night.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers has come under consistent pressure recently as his Liverpool side has struggled to find anything resembling form, and a win away to Champions League opponents PFC Ludogorets Razgrad was a must.

However, Georgi Terziev clearly hadn’t read the script as his late equalising header kept the Bulgarian side in with a chance of qualification.

This was after Dani Abalo’s early goal was cancelled out by a comedy goal from Rickie Lambert, on his first start in the Champions League, and a fine strike by Jordan Henderson.

Ludogorets remain level with the Reds on four points, behind both FC Basel and Real Madrid in Group B.

It was a better performance than that mustered up away to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday, but miles away from the magnificent attacking side of 2013/14 under Rodgers.

But who played well for Liverpool in Sofia, and who underperformed?

A good game for Raheem Sterling

.@sterling31: MotM vs Ludogorets, Rating 8.20, Key passes 1, Assists 1, Dribbles 6 @LFC pic.twitter.com/hLQKiSD7sr

— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 26, 2014

19-year-old Sterling has been underwhelming in recent performances for the Reds, either due to fatigue, being deployed out of his best position or an accumulation of poor form all-round.

However, the England international was back to his best in flashes against Ludogorets, and it was his direct running style that troubled the Bulgarian side the most throughout.

After some fine interplay between him and Lambert on the left-hand side of the pitch, Sterling’s inch-perfect cross allowed Henderson a simple finish at the far post to make the score 2-1.

Raheem Sterling's game by numbers: 2 shots 1 assist 81% pass accuracy 6 take ons completed 1 chance created pic.twitter.com/9moMyEHjJ9

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 26, 2014

However, perhaps identifying the fragile state of the forward at the moment, Sterling was replaced on 82 minutes.

Nevertheless, a shining performance from the Liverpool man.

A bad game for Simon Mignolet

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in action against Real Madrid CF during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Belgian goalkeeper Mignolet was the subject of some bizarre criticism from former Reds goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar on Wednesday.

The 57-year-old told BBC Sport that “I’ve likened Mignolet to worse than Dracula because at least Dracula comes out of his coffin now and then. He seems to stay on his line and that’s it.”

Grobbelaar continued that “I would give Brad Jones a chance to see if he can come to the party and put Mignolet on the bench.”

While an interesting comparison, to say the least, Grobbelaar touches on a lack of confidence in Mignolet that was on show once more against Ludogorets.

Since the start of last season, Simon Mignolet has made 7 defensive errors leading to a goal in the EPL and UCL. #LFC pic.twitter.com/AkkMGtAmIu

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 26, 2014

His spilled attempt at a save allowed Abalo the simplest of finishes on two minutes, and Mignolet looked shaky from then on.

Dejan Lovren was, ostensibly, dropped on Wednesday night due to his poor form. Now is the time to offer Mignolet the same respite.

A good game for Jordan Henderson

Henderson, like Sterling, has looked out-of-sorts of late in a Liverpool shirt, and has rightfully warranted a rest in order to recuperate his trademark fervour.

With Steven Gerrard deployed in a more advanced role on Wednesday night, it was Henderson’s duty in tandem with Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen to provide both defensive pressing and support from midfield.

Henderson was particularly impressive in this role, as his run from deep to get on the end of Sterling’s cross outlined.

GOAL! LFC 2-1 Ludogorets. Henderson. https://t.co/SQYsnB2E8L

— LFC Vine (@LFCVine) November 26, 2014

Furthermore, the vice-captain showed some impressive leadership in organising his teammates in both midfield and during defensive phases—although his post-match positivity was perhaps a little too diplomatic.

A good game for Rickie Lambert

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert scores the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After netting in his second Premier League start for Liverpool after just two minutes at Selhurst Park, Lambert was on hand early on once more to make things equal against Ludogorets.

It wasn’t the most graceful of finishes, with some poor defensive work from Cosmin Moti leading to a simple headed effort from the England striker, but Lambert’s goal gave Liverpool some belief after being deflated early on by Mignolet’s error.

Balotelli has yet to convert a big chance in the CL or PL for Liverpool; Lambert has bagged two in four days.

— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) November 26, 2014

However, the real praise for Lambert’s performance should come from the striker’s technical play, and Rodgers may have found the right striker to deputise for the absent Daniel Sturridge.

Lambert serves as a target for Liverpool’s pacier attacking talents to utilise, and could be Rodgers’ ‘plan B’.

His partnership with Gerrard as the No. 10 affected late on, however, as both old hands tired.

A bad game for Brendan Rodgers

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during a press conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Once more, the Liverpool manager proved his unwillingness to adapt in light of some glaring deficiencies within his side with a bizarre managerial performance on Wednesday night.

After the loss away to Palace, Rodgers told reporters that “it is something I need to take full responsibility for,” suggesting he had soaked up these poor decisions and would react.

However, his initial team selection, and decisions during the game went against this claim.

Deploying Gerrard in the No. 10 role despite the captain clearly tiring early on at Selhurst Park at the weekend, and in dire need of a rest, underlines this succinctly.

Later in the game, after Ludogorets had made three, energetic substitutions, Rodgers made just one change, introduction left-back Alberto Moreno in place of Sterling; Gerrard and fellow fatigued veterans Lambert and Lucas remained on the pitch.

I think we can now conclude that there was never a plan to rotate Gerrard this season. The plan was 3 games a week, every week. At 34.

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) November 26, 2014

Unable to press the Bulgarian side high at 2-1 up, the Reds sat deep and allowed Ludogorets to force their way in to the 18-yard-box to equalise.

After the game, Rodgers attested that Liverpool “showed wonderful resilience and kept our focus.” Far from it though, Brendan.

Who were your best and worst performers for Liverpool against Ludogorets? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Simon Mignolet error due to pitch, says Brendan Rodgers

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 10:23

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to blame goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for another error which could have ended their Champions League dream.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet fumbles the ball to PFC Ludogorets Razgrad's Dani Abalo to score the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Belgium international has come in for criticism this season for a number of unconvincing performances and when he fumbled, Dani Abalo gave Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets a third-minute lead.

Striker Rickie Lambert's second goal in as many games and a Jordan Henderson strike turned things around before the break but Georgi Terziev nicked an equaliser at the death to set up a must-win final match at home to Group B rivals Basle in a fortnight, where victory would take Liverpool through to the knock-out stage.

"It was disappointing for the team to go a goal behind so early on but thankfully it didn't cost us," said Rodgers of Mignolet's error.

"The pitch was difficult for players and the goalkeepers, and it was especially bobbly around the 18-yard box.

"The players showed character to come back and not let it affect them."

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers changed his set-up with Lucas Leiva recalled in central midfield, allowing Steven Gerrard to operate further forward, in order to make the side more difficult to break down and despite conceding twice, the manager felt it worked well.

"I felt we needed more of a solid structure so we played two controlling players whose job was not to get ahead of the ball with Steven in front of that – so he has probably not run as much since 2009 and I thought he was excellent," he said.

There can be no more slip ups in the clash at Anfield in two weeks but Rodgers insisted he was more than happy their destiny was in their own hands.

"We are frustrated but we needed to come here and put in a performance which would give us encouragement going forward, and also to have a result which would allow us to still qualify from the group and we've had both of them," he said.

"The reaction to going behind was magnificent. Of course we are frustrated because we had defended very well but we've come away with a point.

"It was always going to be a very close group. We have had a good result and should have won the game. Now it is all in our hands and I can't ask any more than that.

"I am happy to rely on us to play at Anfield in front of our own supporters in the final game."

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Rickie Lambert believes Liverpool answered critics with Ludogorets draw — have they?

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 02:53

Rickie Lambert admitted a late equaliser for Ludogorets had left Liverpool "devastated" in Bulgaria but claimed their performance in the 2-2 draw ought to be enough to silence their critics.

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A Simon Mignolet error gifted the hosts an early lead through Dani Abola, but Lambert's first Champions League goal levelled it before Jordan Henderson put Liverpool ahead eight minutes before the break.

But Liverpool spent the last 10 minutes on the back foot and Georgi Terziev levelled it with two minutes to go, leaving Liverpool needing victory over Basle in their final match to secure progression.

Liverpool came into the match reeling from their defeat at Crystal Palace at the weekend, but Lambert felt they were much improved.

"It meant a lot," he said on Sky Sports 5 of his goal. "It was my first start in the Champions League and it was brilliant to get off the mark and get us back in the game.

"I thought the performance was a lot better, that was the main thing. We're devastated about the goal at the end but it is still a good result.

"We knew if we got a draw today a win would get us through and it's about getting through. But it was about the performance today, win, lose or draw, and the performance was a lot better today, I thought anyway.

"We've answered some critics about Sunday night. We wanted to address it and we wanted the win. We almost got it but it's about the performance. We've got to take heart from it now and go for an even better performance on Saturday."

Liverpool draw 2-2 to a Bulgarian side. Lambert: We answered our critics. Rodgers: A real confidence boost. Am I missing something?

— Charles Ducksbury (@cducksbury) November 26, 2014

"We've answered some of the critics," claims Rickie Lambert. See, some of you critics, you've been answered.

— Jim Boardman (@JimBoardman) November 26, 2014

 Liverpool's Joe Allen in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers has come under increasing pressure given his side's stuttering start, but the manager backed Lambert's assessment of a strong performance.

"We showed wonderful character tonight," he said.

"Obviously (if you) go a goal behind in this competition you need great spirit and character of team.

"We were disappointed with the goal at the end but that's irrelevant. We need to win a game at the end against Basle and at the start we would have looked at that game as the one to see us through and it should be a great night at Anfield."

Rodgers' team selection focused on players who had been part of their title challenge last campaign, with Lambert and Javier Manquillo the only summer signings in the starting eleven.

Asked if he had gone back to basics, Rodgers said: "They're certainly players that I know what their capable of. Lucas coming into the team, the last time he played was against Real Madrid and he was outstanding. Obviously they are players I know what they're capable of but in time the new players will adapt to how you want to play.

"We've set a standard here in the last two and a half years and we've not lived up to that so far this season."

Is Lambert right? Have Liverpool answered some critics in their 2-2 draw in Bulgaria? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Stats and Reactions to Liverpool’s draw against Ludogorets

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 02:47

There were some positives and negatives to take from Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The biggest positives were the performances of Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson, while the conceding of a 13th goal from a set-piece two minutes from time is the biggest frustration.

Liverpool can progress from the group if they beat Basel at Anfield in a fortnight in the final group game, but that’s a big ask at the moment given Brendan Rodgers‘ sides current form — without a win in their last five games.

Rickie Lambert’s second goal in two games was a positive from the match, but the decision to keep him and Steven Gerrard as the team’s two attackers for the full 90 minutes, a duo with a combined age of 66, lead to much frustration and puzzlement.

We round up the stats and reactions to the match.

The Stats:

Since the start of last season, Simon Mignolet has made 7 defensive errors leading to a goal in the EPL and UCL. #LFC pic.twitter.com/AkkMGtAmIu

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 26, 2014

13 – Liverpool have conceded 29 goals in all competitions this season, 13 of which have come from set pieces. Shaky.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 26, 2014

Raheem Sterling's game by numbers: 2 shots 1 assist 81% pass accuracy 6 take ons completed 1 chance created pic.twitter.com/9moMyEHjJ9

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 26, 2014

4 – All four of Liverpool's goals in the Champions League this season have come against Ludogorets. Monopoly.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 26, 2014

Liverpool failed to complete a single pass inside the Ludogorets penalty box this evening. No penetration. pic.twitter.com/98usgPBBEM

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 26, 2014

Liverpool have had a one goal lead after 85 mins six times in all comps this season. They've lost that lead six times.

— Alex Shaw (@AlexShawESPN) November 26, 2014

Media and Player Reaction:

Well done boys!! Unlucky to concede late on. Keeping my dream alive!!!

— Daniel Sturridge (@D_Sturridge) November 26, 2014

I think that result means we have to just win at home to Basel.So coulda been much worse.Lambert done well for us and our support was class.

— John Aldridge (@Realaldo474) November 26, 2014

Much better from LFC tonight, apart from the obvious….

— Chris Bascombe (@_ChrisBascombe) November 26, 2014

Disappointed with the late equaliser but a step forward tonight after Sunday. Great night to look forward to at Anfield against Basle.

— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) November 26, 2014

The Fans View:

Yeah, play Gerrard & Lambert play for the full 90 up front, leave 2 subs unused & invite pressure for the last 30. Absolutely pathetic!

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) November 26, 2014

A better performance. Shame we didn't win for general confidence. But we needed to win against Basle at Anfield anyway even if we'd won.

— We Are Liverpool FNZ (@WeAre_Liverpool) November 26, 2014

How Lambert and Gerrard lasted 90 minutes out there I will never know. Crazy not to take SG off. Massive night at Anfield in 2 weeks time.

— Ben Twelves (@bm12s) November 26, 2014

In the second-half Sterling was the biggest threat. Take him off and they have nothing to worry about bar two shattered thirtysomethings.

— Michael Owen (@mfowen91) November 26, 2014

Rodgers' post match comments sums him up. If you accept mediocrity and applaud your limitations, you become confined by them.

— Simon (@TalkingAnfield) November 26, 2014

Quite remarkable Liverpool could still qualify from the group stage, really. One decent performance in five – and that resulted in defeat.

— Kristian Walsh (@Kristian_Walsh) November 26, 2014

I think we can now conclude that there was never a plan to rotate Gerrard this season. The plan was 3 games a week, every week. At 34.

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) November 26, 2014

Gerrard looked knackered, Can on for him with 15-20 minutes left would have been ideal. No idea what it'll take for Gerrard to be taken off.

— Joseph Musker (@Musker_LFC) November 26, 2014

Liverpool players claiming a great result against a team they hadn't heard of 3 months ago.

— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) November 26, 2014

Took off the only player with any pace or ability to get beyond Lambert. Lost the out ball, invited pressure and crumbled in minutes.

— Michael Sweeting (@M_Sweeting) November 26, 2014

No matter how hard we are trying, we can't seem to throw this season away yet… #LFC.

— Simon Steers (@sisteers) November 26, 2014

LFCs second half was decent enough in the context of the game until the last 10 minutes. Fatigue and concentration issues are worrying.

— Colin Spreag (@ColinSpreag) November 26, 2014

a coach doesn't have to give an honest assessment. But false positivity reeks of desperation.

— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) November 26, 2014

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Brendan Rodgers hails Liverpool resilience after Champions League draw with Ludogorets

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 02:42

Brendan Rodgers was in a positive mood despite watching his side concede a late equaliser as Liverpool kept their Champions League hopes alive with a 2-2 draw against Ludogorets in Sofia on Wednesday night.

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After going behind inside three minutes to a Dani Abalo close-range strike, goals from Rickie Lambert and Jordan Henderson turned the game in the Reds’ favour on a bitterly cold night in Bulgaria.

Georgi Terziev’s late equaliser for the hosts was disappointing, but ultimately makes little difference to Liverpool’s hopes of qualification from their Champions League group; victory at home to Basel next month will secure progression.

It was a result that ended a four-game losing streak for Rodgers side, and the Northern Irishman appeared relieved on full time.

“To go a goal behind in this competition so early on you really need a team that is together and I think the character of the team came out,” he told Sky Sports.

“We spoke before the game that this needs to be the night to change our season and for that we needed to show the character in our team.

“We are disappointed with the goal we conceded in the end but is irrelevant, we need to beat Basel in the final game.

“We showed wonderful resilience and scored two good goals.

“I picked players I know what they are capable of. In time the new players will adapt to how we work. This is a real confidence boost for us, because Ludogorets are a really difficult team to play against.”

Liverpool face Basel in their final group stage game on Tuesday, 9th December at Anfield. Next up in the Premier League is the visit of Stoke City on Saturday, 29th November — kick-off is 3pm (UK).

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Ludogorets 2-2 Liverpool: Reds Concede Late In Bulgaria

Чт, 27/11/2014 - 01:34

Liverpool conceded an 88th-minute equaliser to Ludogorets, in their vital Champions League clash, as they drew 2-2 in Bulgaria. It means they have to beat Basel in their final group game in two weeks.

 Liverpool's Joe Allen in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ludogorets 2-2 Liverpool

Champions League / Vasil Levski Stadium, Sofia / Wednesday, 26th November 2014

Goals: Lambert 8, Henderson 37; Abalo 3, Terziev 88

By Henry Jackson

It was a huge night of Champions League football for Liverpool, and they knew that victory over Bulgarian side Ludogorets was critical. Defeat would have eliminated them if Basel avoided defeat at home to Real Madrid.

Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side that performed woefully against Crystal Palace on Sunday. Kolo Toure replaced the out of sorts Dejan Lovren, while Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson came in for Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho.

It was an absolutely disastrous start for the Reds. Simon Mignolet‘s howler from a Ludogorets shot allowed Dani Abalo to convert from the rebound, and Rodgers’ men had it all to do.

Liverpool were level just five minutes later, thank god, and it was a soft goal for the hosts to concede. A bouncing ball was not dealt with inside the penalty area, and Rickie Lambert snuck in to head home his second goal in three days.

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert scores the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Both sides looked woeful defensively in the opening exchanges, and it seemed impossible that the game would end 1-1. Kolo Toure almost added to his own goal scrapbook, but his interception missed the post by inches.

The Reds looked all at sea from corners once again, and Lambert’s goal had done nothing in terms of stopping Ludogorets’ early dominance. Sterling fired over the bar, but his poor effort was indicative of Liverpool’s start opening 30 minutes. Javier Manquillo shot tamely at Vladislav Stoyanov.

It was an extremely scrappy contest, not helped by a bumpy pitch, but Liverpool were 2-1 up nine minutes before the break. Sterling’s inch-perfect cross found the marauding Henderson at the back, and the 24-year-old did the rest. It was a massive relief for all concerned, not least a passionate Rodgers on the touchline.

 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson scores the second goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It hadn’t been a pretty first-half from the Reds, but at the break they crucially led 2-1. They couldn’t afford to rest on their laurels though, and they needed to improve noticeably after the interval.

HT: Ludogorets 1-2 Liverpool

The second-half got underway with no changes for either side, and it was sure to be a rather tense 45 minutes. It was a tentative start by both teams.

By the time the game reached the 60-minute mark, there had still not been a genuine chance of note since half-time.

Fabio Espinho’s free-kick failed to test Mignolet, while at the other end, Lambert almost got his second of the night. The whistle had already gone for a foul by Henderson on Stoyanov though, as the former Southampton man’s diving header was blocked on the line.

A deflected Marcelinho effort span just wide, and Ludogorets suddenly went up a notch. It was a real onslaught from the hosts, and the final 20 minutes would certainly test Liverpool’s nervy back-line.

The Reds looked threatening on the break, but the lack of pace between Lambert and Gerrard was an issue. Sterling had a glorious chance to put the game to bed with nine minutes remaining, having been put through by the captain, but he lacked confidence in front of goal.

The 19-year-old was replaced by Alberto Moreno soon after, suffering from a stomach injury. Without Sterling’s attacking threat Liverpool invited pressure with two thiry-somethings toiling up front playing their second 90 minutes in four days.

The final few minutes were incredibly nerve-wracking, and with three minutes remaining it was 2-2. Yet another goal was conceded from a corner – the 13th from set-pieces this season- with Georgi Terziev heading home from a flick-on. It was a hammer blow.

The final whistle blew, and although the late goal was a sickener, Real Madrid’s win in Basel means Liverpool have to beat the Swiss side in two weeks in order to qualify for the knockout stages.

Man of the Match: Raheem Sterling

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Tactical Overview

Rodgers went with a 4-2-3-1 shape that was more of a 4-4-1-1, with Gerrard supporting Lambert in attack.

Sterling played from the left, with Henderson on the right. Allen and Lucas were the two deep midfielders protecting the back four.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Toure, Johnson, Lucas, Allen, Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling (Moreno 82), Lambert.

Subs not used: Jones, Lovren, Coutinho, Lallana, Borini, Can.

Ludogorets starting XI: Stoyanov, Minev, Moti, Terziev, Caicara, Alexandrov, Espinho, Abalo, Dyakov, Marcelinho, Misidjan.

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Confirmed Liverpool lineup vs Ludogorets: Lucas and Toure start

Ср, 26/11/2014 - 22:28

Liverpool are in Champions League action this evening on Sofia, Bulgaria, against Ludogorets Razgrad (kick off 7.45pm).

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli celebrates scoring the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad with team-mates Fabio Borini, Lucas Leiva and Raheem Sterling during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers makes two changes to the side that lost at Crystal Palace as his side seek to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat in all competitions – something that hasn’t happened since 1953.

Lucas starts in midfield along with the returning Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen, meaning a more advanced role for captain Steven Gerrard.

Raheem Sterling continues up front alongside Rickie Lambert.

Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana are the two who are dropped the defeat at Palace.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Toure, Johnson, Lucas, Allen, Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling, Lambert.

Subs: Jones, Lovren, Coutinho, Moreno, Lallana, Borini, Can.

More:

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Video: Brendan Rodgers and Rickie Lambert defend Liverpool criticisms in Sofia

Ср, 26/11/2014 - 14:27

Brendan Rodgers and Rickie Lambert issued rallying calls amid criticism of Liverpool’s recent form in their pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League clash with Ludogorets in Sofia.

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The crunch game is make or break for the Reds — with victory required to keep their hopes of qualifying from the Champions League group stage alive following three successive defeats in the tournament.

Rodgers and his players have come under immense pressure this week after Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Crystal Palace left them 12th in the Premier League table — their sixth domestic defeat of the season.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone (at FSG) as of yet. I’ve had a few messages but they have always been supportive of me,” Rodgers told the media.

“My focus is on getting Liverpool to win games and I know that is what will make them most happy.

“I always believe losing can be the making of you as a player and a manager in terms of how you learn from it and move on from it.

“When you don’t have so much coaching time on the field it is mostly psychological what you want to achieve.”

Lambert, who scored his first goal for the club in Sunday defeat at Selhurst Park, said the responsibility for Liverpool’s poor form must come down on the players.

“Most of the players know what the gaffer said. It is full credit that Brendan said that but it was totally down to the players,” the former Southampton forward said.

“They are desperate to get the game under way and try to rectify our performance at the weekend.

“First and foremost we are focusing on our performance. Win or lose we have to put in a performance of the standard of a Liverpool team.”

Ludogorets v Liverpool gets underway at 7:45pm (UK) on Wednesday night.

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Liverpool’s Expected Line-Up vs Ludogorets

Ср, 26/11/2014 - 13:33

Liverpool travel to Bulgaria for their fifth game of a disappointing Champions League campaign to date. Brendan Rodgers is likely to make changes to his side for the fixture. Ben Twelves discusses some of the options available.

 Lazar Markovic, Javier Manquillo, Lucas Leiva, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers’ Liverpool have the chance to move on swiftly from the weekend’s dreadful result and performance when they travel to Sofia to take on Ludogorets Razgrad in a crunch clash as the Reds look to hang on to their Champions League status.

A win is needed to keep any realistic qualification aspirations alive, though a defeat wouldn’t necessarily see Liverpool exit the competition either. However a fifth straight loss for the first time in over 60 years would certainly make qualification extremely improbable in the final group stage match, as well as failing to stop the desperate run of form.

The last time #LFC lost 5 games in a row was September 1953 (confirmed by @ged0407) . No pressure on Wednesday then…

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) November 23, 2014

In a season of low points, Rodgers’ side reached arguably their lowest ebb to date on Sunday afternoon following the woeful defeat, and surely from this position the only way the team can move is forwards.

It was a truly hideous display in London with the fixture producing the same old problems and yet again the same players underperforming. It’s becoming tedious viewing, and Rodgers must act before he pays the price for the poor performances and results with his job.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during a press conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is the Liverpool manager’s failure to address the recurring issues that has helped place the team in this messy situation and one thing for sure is that it can no longer be tolerated, meaning failure to make changes to his team now would signify a simple display of ignorance.

Any sign of persistence with those letting the team down and lack of change in approach could be enough to raise serious question marks over his Anfield future, and starting on Wednesday, Rodgers must show he recognises the issues by altering his team.

The Team

In theory, Wednesday’s team selection should be the easiest of the season for Rodgers such was the abysmal performance level of most of his side on Sunday.

The Liverpool manager must drop all of Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard as their performance levels continue to fall at alarming rates, and the four of them should be replaced in the starting XI as best as alternative options allow.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Crystal Palace score the third goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Good news is that Mamadou Sakho has returned to training but as the game has to come too early for the Frenchman to be inclued, only Kolo Toure is a genuine option to come in at centre back and therefore one of Lovren or Skrtel looks set to keep their place. However, there’s an easy decision for the Liverpool boss as Johnson should be replaced at left back by Alberto Moreno.

In midfield, Gerrard ideally has to make way, and Emre Can is available to come in to the side as well as Jordan Henderson who is now back after illness kept him out of Sunday’s encounter, and Rodgers has little excuse to persist with the captain with a case for both players to come in to the starting team.

Raheem Sterling looks to be affected by the pressure of the team’s poor form and the lack of attacking threat alongside him, but with the game being of such importance, Liverpool need their match-winners on the pitch. A goal on only his second start should see Rickie Lambert continue up front in the absence of Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli who will miss the trip through injury.

The Line Up – Toure and Lucas Start

Reports suggest that Toure and Lucas Leiva are set to make a welcome and deserved return to the team, and in the diamond formation that saw Liverpool at least head in level at half time against Crystal Palace – this is how Liverpool should look for the clash:

ludo diamond ammended

Alternatively, Rodgers could play a more creative team as his side realistically need to win the game and that could see The Reds line up like this:

alternative diamond ludo away

However, Lucas’ inclusion is likely to see Gerrard moved into a more advanced role, and with this in mind, I expect Rodgers to pick his team as something like this tomorrow night:

4-2-3-1- ammended

Even though defeat on Wednesday night wouldn’t necessarily see Liverpool eliminated from the prestigious competition, Brendan Rodgers and his struggling team must begin to make life easier for themselves to prevent the current mess of a situation becoming any worse.

Rodgers: We will keep fighting and working in the belief that the honesty and commitment of the group will get us the results. #LFC

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) November 25, 2014

It will be a tough fixture in a hostile atmosphere for The Reds, but both management and players have to stand up, take responsibility and be counted to work together to turn fortunes around – starting with avoiding an embarrassing and record equalling defeat in Sofia.

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Steven Gerrard requires rest and reintegration

Ср, 26/11/2014 - 11:00

The debate around the captains’s role within the team has reached fever pitch post-Palace, with Rodgers claiming that Gerrard’s picked on merit, not sentiment. Brett Curtis urges the boss to change tact.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers gives instructions to captain Steven Gerrard against Hull City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We need to talk about Steven Gerrard.

Plenty of Liverpool fans have been too quick to do so in recent years, blaming the captain when there have generally been bigger problems within the team.

Now those bigger problems are diminishing, it doesn’t mean those fans were right all along. Throughout the second half of last season, after Brendan Rodgers decided to permanently utilise him as the deepest midfielder, numerous Liverpool fans insisted Gerrard couldn’t play holding midfield.

Again, now he is struggling, it doesn’t mean those fans were right at the time.

It should be noted he did not begin either of the previous two seasons under Rodgers particularly well, before improving after Christmas, rightly making his eighth appearance (and first since the brilliant 2008-09 campaign) in the PFA Team of the Year last season.

Equally, however, he hasn’t looked as helplessly mediocre as this since injury dogged him between the deeply forgettable period of 2010-12.

The fateful slip which cost his side the title and the fateful header which saw his country exit the World Cup at the group stage, all within the space of a few months, have undoubtedly taken their toll.

The man himself described it as “the worst three months of [my] life.” Such setbacks are harder to bounce back from towards the end of a professional’s career, particularly for one perennially prone to beating himself up for mistakes.

It becomes even harder when, at a time when things are going very wrong for Liverpool, so much is still reliant on him, both tactically and emotionally.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the first goal against Everton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But, at 34 years of age, why does that remain the case?

With his legs waning, why is he a regular 90 minute man, let alone a regular starter?

At Manchester United, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs were regularly rested in their mid-to-late thirties: from 2007, with both men approaching their 33rd birthdays, Scholes averaged just over 21 league games a season, and Giggs 24, with plenty of those from the bench.

Even Frank Lampard, a player who missed only five league games from 2001-07, was gradually eased out at Chelsea. Former Reds boss Rafael Benitez predictably took pelters for often resting him during his brief time in charge, yet the midfielder had an incredibly productive spell as a result.

Rest helped those players’ ageing legs. It helped other options, which were abundant, gain independence and confidence in the absence of a legend’s presence. And it helped the manager trust those options, too.

Options. Not something Liverpool have been blessed with throughout Gerrard’s career. But, after spending over £120 million in the summer to address that exact issue, that should no longer be the case; in Gerrard’s position, it isn’t.

In Lucas Leiva, he has an experienced deputy who showcased the defensive stability he can still provide in helping stifle the reigning Ballon d’Or winner at the Bernabeu.

There are also three all-rounders in Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Emre Can, all of whom are younger than Gerrard when he led Liverpool in Istanbul approaching a decade ago.

Philippe Coutinho, whose battling qualities and lack of goal-threat surely makes him more of a No. 8 than a No. 10, is also an option in a three-man midfield.

These players are no worse than the likes of Jon Obi Mikel and Darren Fletcher, reliable midfielders who could come in for Lampard or Scholes and largely do what was required of them.

Indeed, Lucas aside, they also have a higher ceiling.

But, currently, they are without a consistently defined role. Rodgers must let them find it. In a confident, free-flowing, multi-dimensional outfit, using Gerrard as the playmaking base of the side was a masterstroke.

In a nervous, stale, defensively gaping one, it borders on tactical suicide.

Gary Neville analysed on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football that Liverpool “look like a football team that’s carrying lead legs.”

Nobody epitomises that more than Gerrard right now. But, at his age, after the aforementioned footballing trauma he went through, and in the demanding role he is asked to play, is it any surprise?

Nonetheless, he must be judged equally. He would expect no different.

His defensive energy and efficiency, at times under-rated last season, has visibly dropped a level (with the exception of Everton at home). It was there for all to see as, against Crystal Palace on Sunday, he failed to make a tackle or an interception, or indeed provide sufficient protection against midfield runners for Crystal Palace’s first and second goals.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Crystal Palace score the third goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His touch, too, is an increasing issue, again evident when he clumsily bundled over the ball in the second half, leading to another dangerous counter-attack.

In truth, it always has been to an extent, whether as the deepest-lying midfielder, or the furthest forward one, because the heaviness and inconsistency of it makes him easier to shut down.

That happened in the 3-1 home defeat in the Champions League to Chelsea in 2009, which set the blueprint for a frustrating following season, both on a personal and collective level. Subsequently, he moved deeper in ensuing seasons, where he felt he could influence the side more positively.

The reversal occurred this season, with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Stewart Downing’s stifling jobs leading Rodgers to adhere to the cries to move him back into his old second-striker role against QPR.

Those demands were, and are, misguided, at least as a starter.

Precisely where he features isn’t as clear anymore, which is precisely why the midfield should no longer be built around him.

As Neville implored: rest him. Reintegrate him around Lucas, Can, Henderson, Allen, Coutinho, Lallana; whichever options Rodgers chooses to lean on.

Give them a chance to dictate where Gerrard, a fantastic option himself, plays (and play he will). Not vice versa.

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Rickie Lambert: Blame players for Liverpool’s poor form

Ср, 26/11/2014 - 02:00

Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert insists the players have to stand up and be counted as manager Brendan Rodgers cannot shoulder all the blame for their dismal season so far.

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert in action against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat at Crystal Palace – a fourth in succession – the Reds boss said he accepted his job is on the line if things do not turn around.

However, Lambert insisted the players owed it to their manager to start taking responsibility.

“Most of the players know what the gaffer said. It is full credit that Brendan said that but it was totally down to the players,” he said ahead of a crucial Champions League tie against Ludogorets in Bulgaria.

“They are desperate to get the game under way and try to rectify our performance at the weekend.

“First and foremost we are focusing on our performance. Win or lose we have to put in a performance of the standard of a Liverpool team.”

In the wake of the loss at Selhurst Park former defender Jamie Carragher criticised the side for a lack of mental and physical toughness.

“You look at the time and there are no men in the team. Sometimes you’ve got to grind results out,” Carragher told Sky Sports. “There’s no leadership on the pitch. Liverpool aren’t getting beat by quality – they’re getting bullied.”

Lambert found it difficult to argue with that. “We lost the individual battles and it wasn’t good enough,” said the £4 million summer signing from Southampton, who is likely to start in Sofia in the absence of the injured Mario Balotelli, having finally got off the mark for his new club against Palace.

“There wasn’t anyone in a Liverpool shirt who was good enough and it was wholly down to the players on the pitch.

“I do believe it is a lack of confidence at the minute but that will come back.

“We will get back up the league and performing to the way we know.

“It is not going ideally but it is up to the players on the pitch to ‘dog’ the performances out.

“Whatever the result in any game, we have to perform better than we did at the weekend.”

Lambert is expected to retain his place up front for the Champions League Group B game. Changes are expected from Sunday’s defeat at Crystal Palace with Alberto Moreno likely to come in at left-back.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has a decision to make over captain Steven Gerrard after admitting he cannot play three games in a week at the required level and fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson is back after illness.

Provisional squad: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Can, Henderson, Allen, Sterling, Lambert, Lallana, Jones, Manquillo, Toure, Enrique, Lucas, Markovic, Coutinho, Borini.

PA

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Brendan Rodgers: FSG are supportive, my focus is on winning games

Ср, 26/11/2014 - 00:23

Brendan Rodgers discussed Steven Gerrard‘s role and Liverpool’s recent struggles at his pre-match press conference ahead of his side’s Champions League match against Ludogorets in Sofia on Wednesday night.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Martin Skrtel during a training session at Melwood Training Grounds ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In Bulgaria the Liverpool boss is trying to arrest a four-match losing streak which has put his own position under scrutiny, with his side well off the pace domestically and in danger of not making the knockout stages in their first time back in the Champions League for five years.

For the time being the Northern Irishman has the backing of owners Fenway Sports Group, but if things go awry in Bulgaria and Basle happen to get a result at home to already-qualified Real Madrid, Liverpool could be out with a match still to play and then the pressure will really increase.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone (at FSG) as of yet. I’ve had a few messages but they have always been supportive of me,” Rodgers added.

“My focus is on getting Liverpool to win games and I know that is what will make them most happy.

“I always believe losing can be the making of you as a player and a manager in terms of how you learn from it and move on from it.

“When you don’t have so much coaching time on the field it is mostly psychological what you want to achieve.

“You never dwell too much on the past – anyone can make mistakes – but for us it is about being in the present and focusing on the next game.

“If we dwell too much on the weekend (a 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace) there is no way we could go out and play.

“It is about getting confidence into players, talking with players, ensuring the environment at the training ground is still a happy place to be.

“My job as the leader of the team and the club is vital. We will always experience disappointment but no matter how you feel you are one of the pillars of the football club.

“The players are looking to you for that response and ability to motivate and that is very important in my role.”

Liverpool have lost their last three Champions League games – they have never lost four in succession in the same season and never been defeated in all three away games in a European group stage.

Goals have been a problem with the two they scored against Ludogorets on match day one back on September 16 their only efforts so far – and one of those was an added-time penalty winner from Gerrard.

PA

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Gerrard criticism unfair, he’s judged on merit not sentiment – Rodgers

Ср, 26/11/2014 - 00:18

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers accepts captain Steven Gerrard is no longer the driving force he was but insists it is wrong to write him off entirely.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during a press conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And despite Gerrard’s former team-mate Jamie Carragher suggesting it was time for the 34-year-old to be released from the defensive role which he believes he is unsuitable for, Rodgers has no intention of doing so.

Gerrard’s performances have drawn much criticism this season but the Liverpool boss defended himself against accusations he has continued to select the ex-England midfielder on reputation alone.

“I judge Steven on merit. I think the spotlight he has been under is incredible. Everything for us is based around being a team,” said Rodgers.

“If people are expecting Steven Gerrard to be the type of player he was 10 years ago that is sadly not the case.

“He has slowly been adapting to a position I felt he could benefit the team but a player who was scoring 15 goals a season and making 13 or 14 assists…..he is not that type of player (any more).

“It is hugely unfair he is judged at that level. He is a wonderful player and I can quite safely say he is the best player I have worked with in terms of footballing mentality and the loyalty he has shown to this club is without question.

“I don’t deal so much in (being) sentimental. There is nothing sentimental in me picking Steven Gerrard.

“He is coming towards the latter part of his career but he still has a valuable contribution to make.

“He can play three games in a week but he won’t be able to play it to the level he would like or I would like and it is my job to manage that.”

That last comment suggests Rodgers is prepared to rest his captain against Ludogorets in Sofia on Wednesday, which would be a second successive Champions League benching for the midfielder having come on for the final 20 minutes against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu last time out.

PA

Provisional squad: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Can, Henderson, Allen, Sterling, Lambert, Lallana, Jones, Manquillo, Toure, Enrique, Lucas, Markovic, Coutinho, Borini.

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Liverpool fans respond to Lambert’s defence of Steven Gerrard

Втр, 25/11/2014 - 22:30

Steven Gerrard‘s role in the Liverpool team is a hotly debated topic at present – with most supporters now beginning to see a huge problem with playing him every game as the side’s holding midfielder. Even Jamie Carragher has now said as much.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Crystal Palace score the third goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But, speaking at Liverpool’s pre-match press conference in Sofia on Tuesday evening – ahead of the Champions League tie with Ludogorets – Rickie Lambert has said that criticism of Gerrard is “shocking” given “what he has done for the club”.

“If he has a bad game it’s up to others to stand up,” claimed Lambert.

While it’s admirable that Lambert defends his captain – arguably Liverpool’s greatest ever player – but to suggest that any player should not be criticised for their performances now, based upon their performances in the past, shows exactly what the problem is.

Lambert’s comments were posted on twitter by reporters at the press conference and immediately responded to by supporters; most baffled by the absurd logic that a player’s past performances make them immune from criticism now.

.@JamesPearceEcho The main problem with Liverpool Football Club in 2014 summed up in one tweet.

— John (@JohnCullTLW) November 25, 2014

@JamesPearceEcho attitudes like that are part of the problem. No-one should be exempt from criticism.

— JFT96 (@LFCTikiTaka) November 25, 2014

@JamesPearceEcho Rodgers is shortening Stevies career , not prolonging it … by playing him at CDM , exposing his weaknesses

— Its the Norm (@Norm_Nesbitt) November 25, 2014

@JamesPearceEcho Rodgers is shortening Stevies career , not prolonging it … by playing him at CDM , exposing his weaknesses

— Its the Norm (@Norm_Nesbitt) November 25, 2014

@JamesPearceEcho even Kenny suffered some criticism near the end

— LFC (@mainstandred) November 25, 2014

@JamesPearceEcho I'm not sure any player anywhere is exempt from criticism if not playing well

— rob (@spioen_kop) November 25, 2014

Criticism of Gerrard is perfectly valid & he's continually had bad games since the manager refused to rotate him once Sturridge was injured.

— Hari Sethi (@Hari_Sethi) November 25, 2014

Rodgers has put the weight of the club back on a man's shoulders who should be entering the end of his playing career, enjoying football.

— Ryan (@RyanMcTrippy) November 25, 2014

Last RT. That is part of the problem, just because Gerrard has done so much for the club doesn't mean he should be spared criticism.

— Sam Drury (@SamDrury11) November 25, 2014

He is no means the only problem but he is becoming a major one & his brilliance over the past 15 years doesn't change that. #LFC

— Sam Drury (@SamDrury11) November 25, 2014

Just because a player has done a lot for a club in the past, shouldn't mean they are forever immune from criticism, Rickie.

— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) November 25, 2014

Rodgers then went on to claim that he is not picking Gerrard based on sentiment:

Rodgers: I've shown in my time here as manager I don't deal on sentiment. Nothing sentimental about me picking Steven Gerrard. #LFC .

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) November 25, 2014

That despite Gerrard playing 90 minutes of every single Premier League game this season, and despite the clear problems he is having at age 34 as teams tactically target and expose his weaknesses.

Gerrard played the full game at Palace on Sunday, with Emre Can instead replacing the far more effective Joe Allen in the second half.

Is criticism of Gerrard’s recent performances “shocking”? Should he be immune from criticism based on previous performances?

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Double injury boost as Sakho and Suso return to Liverpool training

Втр, 25/11/2014 - 20:48

Liverpool have received some positive news with the returns from injury of defender Mamadou Sakho and midfielder Suso.

The pair were spotted training at Melwood on Tuesday, before the rest of the squad flew out to Bulgaria ahead of the Champions League match with Ludogorets Razgrad on Wednesday night.

Sakho hasn’t featured for Brendan Rodgers‘ side since the League Cup match against Middlesbrough in September – he walked out of Anfield days after that before the Merseyside derby after being dropped for Dejan Lovren.

He then picked up an injury in training the following Monday, which was expected to only keep him out for a couple of weeks. Assistant boss Colin Pascoe then explained in October that he had picked up a similar injury on his return to training. Pascoe, speaking a month ago said then that Sakho would be out for another couple of weeks, which has turned into what will be over a month.

The Frenchman, 24, would be many fans’ choice to start ahead of Lovren in Liverpool’s defence.

Suso – who suffered a pelvic injury almost two months ago – has been linked with a move away to AC Milan while he’s been sidelined.

His last appearance was also against Middlesbrough, when he scored his first competitive goal for the club as a substitute.

Meanwhile, Mario Balotelli did not take part in training on Tuesday and will not be fit to face Ludogorets. Jordan Henderson does return to the squad.

Should Sakho or Suso be in the Reds’ side when they’re back fit? Let us know in the comments below.

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Balotelli out, but Henderson back as Rodgers issues Liverpool rallying call

Втр, 25/11/2014 - 18:17

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has called on his players to be more tenacious and aggressive in the wake of criticism his side is too soft.

 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson is substituted by manager Brendan Rodgers during the UEFA Champions League Group B match against Real Madrid CF at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After the 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on Sunday, a match in which they took an early lead, former Reds vice-captain Jamie Carragher said they were bullied and mentally weak.

Liverpool have travelled to Sofia to play Ludogorets looking to end a four-match losing run and ensure their interest in the Champions League is extended to their final match at home to Basle next month.

Ahead of that trip Rodgers issued a rallying call to players he admits are low on confidence.

"We need to be more tenacious, more aggressive and have a greater capacity to defend better as a team," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"When there are moments to defend, you have to defend better – and that's something that we'll look to do."

On Sunday Carragher laid into his former side for not showing enough heart for a battle.

"They are getting bullied out of games. Last year when they came here (to Selhurst Park) we said they were mentally and physically weak. Same again – nothing's changed," he told Sky Sports.

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"You look at the time and there are no men in the team. Sometimes you've got to grind results out.

"There's no leadership on the pitch. Liverpool aren't getting beat by quality – they're getting bullied."

Liverpool trained at their Melwood base on Tuesday morning before flying out to Bulgaria with midfielder Jordan Henderson back after illness ruled him out at the weekend but striker Mario Balotelli, who missed the game through injury, was not present at the morning work-out.

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Carragher: Time for Rodgers to change Steven Gerrard’s role at Liverpool

Втр, 25/11/2014 - 17:06

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has echoed what most Liverpool supporters have been saying for weeks – that Brendan Rodgers needs to change Steven Gerrard‘s position.

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Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Carragher said “Over the years he’s had fantastic relationships with Owen, Torres, Suarez and Sturridge. He knows where they are where the balls going. He hasn’t got that at the moment with any of the strikers, Balotelli, Lambert, Borini.

“He’s not giving that creativity going forward, he’s getting man-marked. I think they’d be better off putting someone else there. This team needs protection. Stevie’s not a great protector of the defence. He’s in that position for diff reasons really.

“He’s not a Mascherano, he’s not going to give you much going forward (as it is), put a defensive player there, someone who will support the back four, keep a clean sheet.”

“Put Stevie further forward. There’s a lack of creativity in the team, Coutinho, Sterling, it’s not there.”

Do you agree with Carragher? Is it time Gerrard was played in a different role and Liverpool had a proper defensive midfielder?

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