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LFC Transfer Rumours Round-up: Julian Brandt, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Pedro linked again

30 минут 42 секунды назад

The transfer window may be over, but that doesn’t stop constant rumours surrounding players’ futures on a daily basis. Henry Jackson looks at which players have been linked with moves to and from Liverpool over the last few days.

Julian Brandt

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The Daily Express reports that Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is keen on acquiring the highly-rated Bayer Leverkusen star.

The 18-year-old attacking midfielder is one of the hottest young properties in both German and European football, and was terrific in the European Under-19 Championships this summer.

Chelsea are also reportedly interested in bringing Brandt to Stamford Bridge, and both the west London club and Liverpool appear likely to try and lure him to the Premier League in January. The likelihood is that he will stay in Germany and continue to develop for the foreseeable future though.

Ezequiel Lavezzi

 Would Ezequiel Lavezzi Help Take Liverpool To The Next Level?

Lavezzi was strongly linked with a move to Anfield throughout the summer, and according to the Daily Express Liverpool will reignite their interest in him in January.

The 29-year-old Argentina international is not a regular at Paris Saint-Germain, and both the Reds and Atletico Madrid see him as someone who could bolster their attacking options during the second-half of the campaign and beyond. The fact he would be cup-tied for the Champions League, however, could prove a stumbling block.

Lavezzi’s contract expires in the summer of 2016, and it would, perhaps, suit both parties to sell him. On his day he is an extremely dangerous forward, combining pace, power and a strong work ethic.

Pedro

 FC Barcelona's Pedro Rodriguez celebrates scoring the first goal against Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)Pedro celebrates scoring the first goal against Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)

Again the Daily Express are linking Liverpool with a move for a top-class attacking player.

Pedro is no longer a guaranteed starter at Camp Nou under new manager Luis Enrique, and the arrival of former Red Luis Suarez, who will start alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in a devastating front three when he returns from suspension, means his chances will be further limited.

The 27-year-old is reportedly being watched by Liverpool and a number of other top Premier League teams, including Arsenal, and his blistering pace, guaranteed goals from wide areas and winning mentality would be a great addition to the Reds’ squad.

Marco Reus

Twitter went into overdrive on Wednesday evening, when Liverpool owner John W. Henry took to his official page (@John_W_Henry) to cryptically suggest the Reds may well be back in for Marco Reus in January.

Oh and sign Reus!

— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) September 17, 2014

Whether or not Henry was simply joking around remains to be seen, but Reus, who is widely regarded as one of the finest attacking talents in world football, was often seen as the perfect signing by the club during the summer.

The 25-year-old is a genuinely world-class player, and if the club did manage to prize him away from Borussia Dortmund, and beat other big clubs to his signature, it would prove to be an audacious piece of business.

Who would you be delighted to see join Liverpool in January? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Fabio Borini: Liverpool’s determined player with a potential big role

1 час 9 минут назад

Alex Saldanha sees the merits of Fabio Borini‘s decision to stay at Liverpool and believes he fits perfectly into Brendan Rodgers‘ most effective system.

 Liverpool's Fabio Borini in action against Preston North End's Keith Keane during a preseason friendly match at Deepdale Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Summer

For much of the summer it looked like Fabio Borini was heading to Anfield’s exit door. Sunderland made Liverpool an offer of £14 million — an offer the Reds’ couldn’t refuse, but Borini could and did.

Come deadline day and Sunderland’s interest had died down – clearly frustrated by the Italian’s unwillingness to move. Enter Queens Park Rangers with a last minute offer. Borini hadn’t played any role in Liverpool’s opening three games of the season — surely now it was time for him to move on? Again Borini didn’t agree and as the transfer window slammed shut at 23.00 he remained an Liverpool player.

For this many criticised him: “Where is the ambition?” they asked, “in contending yourself with sitting in reserve all season?”

However, what Borini showed is what fans should want in all Liverpool players. He recognised the magnitude of the club and the honour that comes with playing for it.

Instead of resigning himself to mid-table mediocrity Borini instead has shown huge levels of bottle and determination in staying at Liverpool and fighting for his place. An honourable attitude — he shouldn’t need to apologise for that.

So where does he fit in this season? Whilst it is true that he is behind Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli in the strikers’ pecking order, Borini could prove to be a valuable asset.

Sunderland

First let’s consider his season on loan at Sunderland. In 40 appearances he scored 10 goals. A respectable record, but not one that sparkles.It is only when the significance of Borini’s goals is considered that his stock rises.

First up was a screamer at the Stadium of Light against Newcastle United to give his side victory in the Tyne-Wear derby (he’d later repeat the trick with a penalty at St James’ Park).

 Who would benefit Liverpool more next season?

He followed this with goals in the quarters, semis and final of Sunderland’s Capital One Cup run, before firing crucial goals at the tail end of the season (including a penalty winner at Stamford Bridge), heavily contributing towards the Black Cats great escape from relegation.

Consider this, along with the fact that for large parts of the season Borini was playing out wide for Sunderland and his tally begins to look impressive.

Sturridge was scoring at a similar ratio being played wide before coming to Liverpool. Look at his improvement.

Playing centrally for Liverpool, Borini will benefit both from being in the middle and having a better quality supply line which will create more chances for him. He may never hit the heights that Sturridge has hit but this should, naturally, see his goals to games ratio increase.

Ludogorets

Now let’s move on to his performance on Tuesday night against Ludogorets in the Champions League. After being introduced as a 67th minute substitute, Borini played a large part in turning the game in Liverpool’s favour.

Admittedly this was largely due to the introduction of a midfield diamond which brings out the best in most of Liverpool’s players, but Borini made a significant contribution too.

Almost as soon as he got on the pitch Liverpool’s tempo raised. The Reds began to create greater opportunities and would eventually score two goals to win the match. Before Borini had come on Liverpool were a bit flat. He helped inject some real pace in to the team.

But perhaps most significantly his introduction immediately began to help Balotelli. Before Fabio was on the pitch Mario was far too isolated his teammates providing him with little support.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini looks dejected as PFC Ludogorets Razgrad score a late equalising goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Balotelli’s movement was also questionable as too often he stood still wanting the ball at his feet when in fact what was required of him was a run into the box.

What Borini did was stretch the play, his movement creating space for Balotelli to exploit. It is no coincidence that Balotelli’s goal, as brilliant as the finish was, came after Borini’s introduction.

Future

After Tuesday night’s performance Reds fans should expect to see more of Borini as the season progresses. In the absence of Sturridge he deserves his chance to prove himself as partner to Balotelli.

It has so far been obvious this season that Brendan Rodgers’ side operate best with a midfield diamond. Borini’s inclusion would allow this system to be played and, judging on the Ludogorets game, help to bring out the best in Balotelli.

His movement could prove to be vital to the side and he is sure to score goals given the correct service.

When Sturridge returns Borini could prove to be just as valuable as a substitute. You only need to look at last night’s game to see the impact he can provide off the bench.

In a long season Rodgers will also have to rotate his squad so expect him to have his fair share of starts even when both Sturridge and Balotelli are available.

Whilst his Anfield career may not have kick started yet, Borini has the potential to be an important squad member for Liverpool this season.

A scorer of big goals given the chances he could play a large role for the Reds this season. It is clear he has the passion and determination to make it for Liverpool (just look at his celebration for each of the Reds’ goals against Ludogorets). It is now time for him to step up.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Suso set to join AC Milan as Liverpool exit nears – report

1 час 27 минут назад

Liverpool attacking midfielder Suso looks set to leave Anfield on a permanent basis with AC Milan reportedly agreeing terms with the Spanish Under-21 international.

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According to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio’s official website, Suso will leave Liverpool — “the only question remaining is when”.

Milan would be forced to pay a fee if they are to take the 20-year-old to the San Siro in January, but he is available on a free transfer next summer.

The report claims Suso has agreed a four-year deal with the Rossoneri worth around €1.5 million per year.

Despite much hype, Suso has only seldom broken into the Liverpool first team, making 20 appearances since his debut in a Europa League match against Young Boys in September 2012.

Suso spent last season on loan at La Liga outfit Almeria, making 33 appearances and helping the club avoid relegation.

 Liverpool's 'Suso' Jesus Joaquin Fernandez Saenz De La Torre in action against Queens Park Rangers during the final Premiership match of the 2012/13 season at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Suso did look to be set to leave Liverpool for Porto earlier in the summer, but the move never materialised.

He was quoted in the Liverpool Echo at the time as saying of his future on Merseyside, “I will only renew with Liverpool if I’m guaranteed I’ll play regularly. The option is clear if I don’t renew: let me leave. I think Liverpool thinks the same. They won’t let me leave on a free in a year if I don’t renew. Let see what happens.”

Should Liverpool be letting Suso go, or has he not made the grade at Anfield? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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5 Reasons why Liverpool are fond of Scotland

4 часа 40 минут назад

Both Liverpool and Scotland are famous for their maritime history, but there’s also plenty that links LiverpooL FC with our friends north of the border. On a historic day for Scotland, we thought it apt to pay tribute to some of the Scots who have shaped Liverpool FC’s history.

1280px-Flag_of_Scotland.svg

Whilst Liverpool’s history is decorated with more fine players and managers from Scotland (Ian St John, Billy Liddell and Graeme Souness to name but three), we’ve tried to select a variation in our five picks.

1. The Team of ‘Macs’

After the controversial split between Everton FC and its landlord and president, John Houlding, which saw the Blues leave Anfield, Houlding set about establishing a new team to occupy his stadium before it could rot into “a howling wilderness” in the words of former Blues chairman George Mahon.

John McKenna was appointed the new clubs’ manager and before long, he embarked on a scouting mission of Scotland with the objective of finding “a first class player for every position on the pitch.” The search was aided by a Scottish scout so Mckenna knew of players and teams to target upon his arrival.

With Scottish football not yet professionally legalised in contrast to England, players were keen to move south allowing the Liverpool manager to fulfil ambitions of creating a team particularly of strong Scottish flavour.

After cherry picking over a dozen players found from clubs such as Renton, Dumbarton and Cambuslang, as well as two Scottish former Everton players, the upcoming season of 1892/93 saw the so called ‘Team of Macs’ – named for their large Scottish contingent – even field a team consisting of 9 former Scottish league players and crowned Champions of the Lancashire League on goal difference ahead of Blackpool.

2. Bill Shankly

Arguably Liverpool’s most worshipped figure comes thanks to our Scottish neighbours. The adored and iconic former Reds manager spearheaded the clubs’ rise from the depths of the second division to European champions, rebuilding his teams along the way in his own image reflecting of his charismatic personality.

Many club greats joined club under Shankly who continued the tradition of recruiting talent from his homeland, with Sammy Reid of Motherwell becoming his first signing, FA Cup hero Ian St John also arriving from Motherwell as well as Ron Yeats from Dundee United and Willie Stevenson from Rangers.

In 1962, Shankly led Liverpool to the Division Two title, which was then followed by an incredible three First Division championships, two FA Cup successes, four Charity Shield victories and a UEFA Cup all in subsequent years of managerial time.

The Glenbuck born manager, who will always be remembered too for the creation of the legendary Anfield ‘Boot Room’ which provided part of the platform for an unbelievable period of sustained success, had taken Liverpool from the footballing doldrums to delirium before announcing a surprise retirement after the FA Cup final victory of 1974.

Shankly’s memory and place in hearts of the clubs’ support – whom he was so proud and honoured to represent – will last forever.

3. Kenny Dalglish

 Liverpool's manager Kenny Dalglish before the Premiership match against Everton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Still widely regarded as arguably the clubs’ best ever player today, Dalglish joined Liverpool for a British record fee of £440,000 from Celtic in 1977. He enjoyed outstanding periods leading the club both a player and manager and claimed honours that even players at the very top of the game could only dream of.

King Kenny scored the winning goal of Liverpool’s second consecutive European triumph over Club Brugges at Wembley in his first year at the club but he was made to wait until his second season before tasting league success. Collectively, world-class Dalglish won an incredible 22 honours during a 10 year playing career on Merseyside – scoring 188 goals in 355 appearances – before carrying on the boot room tradition and taking his seat in the dugout.

As a player-manager at first and then later solely the boss, Kenny guided the Reds to more title glory in 1987/88 and 1989/90, as well as delivering another FA Cup and four Charity Shields before resigning in 1991 but the club legend returned to the dug-out to add to the trophy collection once more at Anfield with the League Cup success in February 2011.

Most of all, during his time as manager and away from the club, Dalglish’s heroic dedication and support to the families of the 96, forever engraved him in the hearts of those that once watched him play.

4. Alan Hansen

Remembered for being the clubs’ last title-winning captain, Hansen signed for the Reds from Partick Thistle, again in keeping with the historic scouting of Scottish talent, in 1977 for £110,000. He played at Anfield until 1991 in many outstanding teams, forming many different but successful defensive partnerships and the Scotsman racked up 434 appearances in total for the club, scoring 8 goals from the back.

During his 14-year Anfield career, the stylish centre back, who became affectionately known as ‘Jocky’ won 22 trophies, including 8 First Division titles, 2 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 1 Super-Cup, 5 Charity Shields and 3 European Cups as Liverpool dominated both European and domestic football under a combination of Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish.

Like many of the Reds’ former players, Hansen still lives locally and his unwavering support of the 96 families, like former team-mate and manager Dalglish, including attending 12 wholly avoidable fuenrals, will always be remembered.

5. Celtic

 A Liverpool fan holds up a scarf with Liverpool and Glasgow Celtic on during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s first game following the tragic Hillsborough Disaster was an emotional benefit match organised by Celtic FC to help raise funds for the families affected and as a memorial to the 96.

The friendly fixture that saw Dalglish take his side to Parkhead was played  in front of more than 60,000 in what proved to be a desperately sad but momentous occasion, and which featured one of the best renditions of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ ever heard.

Red scarves swayed alongside green and white in the stands that memorable day, in a game that saw the home fans cheer each one of Liverpool’s four goals scored as they assisted in our hour of need.

The support offered from our Scottish counterparts and the warmth and welcome the Liverpudlians present on that day received has never and will never be forgotten.

 
Which Scotsmen stand out in Liverpool’s history to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Analysing Mario Balotelli’s Liverpool Performance vs. Ludogorets

14 часов 40 минут назад

Liverpool returned to the Champions League on Tuesday night in win against Bulgarian side Ludogorets. Here, Jack Lusby analyses the performance of Mario Balotelli.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The beginning of the Champions League Group Stage on Tuesday night ushered in a triumphant return to Europe’s elite for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, after a five year absence the Reds welcomed Bulgarian champions Ludogorets to Anfield.

Prior to the tie, Rodgers spoke of the need to “respect” the lowly opposition much in the same way Real Madrid will be treated later in the group games.

This proved an astute observation by the Reds manager, as Georgi Dermendzhiev’s side proved dangerous opposition in a fraught 2-1 victory for the home side.

It took a late Steven Gerrard penalty to earn Liverpool the three points, after Dani Abalo had equalised following Mario Balotelli’s opener.

PHOTO: #LFC line up for their official pre-match photograph pic.twitter.com/h5bBY0HZDE

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2014

The Italian forward spearheaded Rodgers’ front line, flanked by Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana in a 4-3-3 formation.

A first goal for the club will have buoyed the 24-year-old following this close victory, but how did Balotelli perform on the whole on Tuesday night?

[embedded content]

(Video courtesy of MrBoyWunder)

Well that's one way of dealing with the threat of Mario Balotelli. pic.twitter.com/oV67bcBVcX

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 13, 2014

In the same tactical layout the previous Saturday, in Liverpool’s 1-0 home loss at the hands of Aston Villa, Balotelli was the target of a bullish claret and blue defence; Philippe Senderos in particular kicked more than his fair share of lumps out of the striker.

It seemed that Ludogorets had been tasked with a similar game-plan when it came to approaching Balotelli, with the Italian on the end of some tough tackles from the off.

1 Tackle

It is a credit to the Italian, however, that no reaction was provoked.

For being perceived to have signed a firebrand in the £16 million summer move, Rodgers has seemingly acquired a matured Balotelli—in his time in the Premier League with Manchester City as a younger man, Balotelli would surely have lashed out by now.

PHOTO: @FinallyMario in action against Ludogorets #LFC pic.twitter.com/Lad01q02ho

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2014

Playing the target for Dermendzhiev’s men, Balotelli played the target man in Rodgers’ system for much of Tuesday night’s tie.

Perhaps deviating from the Reds boss’ malleable attacking system, the Ulsterman’s side relied too often on the strength of the striker as they aimed to upon the Ludogorets defence.

With Brazilian No. 10 Philippe Coutinho underperforming once more, a gulf appeared between the midfield base of Gerrard and Jordan Henderson and the forward line, forcing Balotelli to drop deeper and deeper to receive the ball.

Mario Balotelli's first half heat map has seen him dropping far too deep to collect the ball. pic.twitter.com/jNHiPEYon1

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 16, 2014

Balotelli consistently found himself in the space that Coutinho should have occupied, and this saw the striker’s attacking contribution suffer.

2 Dropping Deep

However, this outlined another important factor of Balotelli’s game under Rodgers, in the Italian’s work rate and pressing play.

4 Defensive Press

Here, Balotelli can be seen harrying the Ludogorets wide man in the Reds’ right midfield position, outlining the desire and hunger that the striker is exuding under Rodgers.

The above move saw the 24-year-old win the ball and, subsequently, another cheap foul from the Bulgarian side.

Another positive to Balotelli dropping deep into what was effectively the No. 10 role was the striker’s passing ability—and this crucial as a lone striker.

5 Pass Bent into Path of Moreno

In the first half, this could be seen as Balotelli bent a pass into the path of a rampaging Alberto Moreno, providing the Spaniard with one of few clear opportunities for the Reds in the early stages.

The former Sevilla man blazed over the bar from long range with the resulting effort.

6 Headed Pass into Path of Lallana

Into the second half, Balotelli was involved in a different sphere, with a headed knock-down in the box—for once—providing Lallana with an opening in the box; the midfielder’s attempt was unfortunately blocked, and there were claims for a penalty, too.

Balotelli’s creativity in this deeper role was apparent in the move of the game, with a ball sprayed out wide to an onrushing Javier Manquillo—arguably the Reds’ best player on the night—from a position around 30 yards out.

8 MotG Pass Wide to Manquillo

Manquillo’s cross was inch perfect, finding the run of Gerrard, with the Liverpool captain’s header testing Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

9 MotG Manquillo Cross to Gerrard

However, as highlighted, Balotelli’s position at the end of this move signals the importance of the striker performing in a position that is just that—of the striker.

It is a lot to ask of the Italian to provide the pass and then make it into the box to head at goal, but as a lone striker Balotelli should be spearheading this move; however, this is due to more deficiencies elsewhere.

 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)

The striker did have his fair share of attempts on goal, however, and was knocking on the door throughout the game.

21 mins: Balotelli does brilliantly to spin into space on the edge of the box, but his shot is blocked by a defender #LFC

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2014

An early attempt on 21 minutes saw Balotelli’s shot blocked, beginning one of the game’s motifs, as the stubborn Ludogorets defence threw themselves at the Reds attack.

3 Shot Blocked

When Balotelli’s shots weren’t being blocked, the Italian was unfortunately showing some of the wayward form in front of goal that typified his debut against Spurs.

7 Shot Skied

This could be seen as the striker skied a volleyed attempted high and wide of the goal in the second half, with the Reds still chasing an opener Balotelli’s profligacy was becoming frustrating not only for those watching, but clearly the player himself.

Finally finding the net on 82 minutes, the relief was clear to see.

12 Finally Finding the NEt

82 mins: #LFC are ahead and it's Mario Balotelli who gets it, stabbing home from close range after a scramble in the box. Get in!

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2014

For a player who supposedly doesn’t celebrate, Balotelli’s reaction was full of passion and vigour—this first goal for the club clearly meant a lot to the Italian, who will hope for many more this season.

Mario celebrates his first goal for Liverpool. So this is how postmen deliver the mail in Italy :) https://t.co/Q1w8wmXVng

— MostarLFC (@MostarLFC) September 16, 2014

Clearly a confidence player, Balotelli came close to doubling the Reds’ lead on 85 minutes, with a curled strike from the edge of the box saved by goalkeeping debutant Borjan.

13 Shot Saved

85 mins: Balotelli powers into the box and fires one at goal, but it's beaten away by Borjan #LFC

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2014

Overall Analysis

Whilst it finally fell to Gerrard to secure the spoils for the Reds, it was the cutting edge of big-game player Balotelli who truly gave Liverpool their bite against Ludogorets.

A box-office star, Balotelli is required to perform to his best on the highest stage and, whilst this wasn’t the best performance by the striker, an experienced quality shone through with the goal on 82 minutes.

With the return from injury of Daniel Sturridge imminent, hopefully Balotelli will be required to do less of the huffing and puffing between the No. 10 position and the areas traditional expected to be filled by a lone striker.

However, the creativity and work rate shown once more by the 24-year-old will be greatly encouraging, and the intelligent runs of Sturridge should complement this.

Balotelli will be crucial in this return campaign amongst Europe’s elite.

Balotelli Statistics

Mario Balotelli's game by numbers: 7 shots 88% pass accuracy 3 take-ons 2 chances created 1 goal pic.twitter.com/Y6cCgOADla

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 16, 2014

Overall performance rating: 7 out of 10.

Do you agree with Jack’s analysis? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Shine Bright Like A Diamond: Liverpool should play 4-4-2 every game

Ср, 17/09/2014 - 19:40

Mark Pearson reflects on Liverpool’s start to the season, the tactics and philosophies applied by Brendan Rodgers and sees no reason why the Reds aren’t starting every game with a 4-4-2 diamond midfield.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini looks dejected as PFC Ludogorets Razgrad score a late equalising goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Football tactics are rapidly becoming as complicated as the chemical formula for splitting the atom”
— Jimmy Greaves

Simple

I like Brendan Rodgers. I would like to make that clear right at the start. I think he has moved us onwards to unrecognisable levels from when he inherited a disjointed team and possibly disjointed club.

I admire the way in which he has enabled this Liverpool team to have a flexible approach to games, players being comfortable in a variety of positions. That can only be a good thing.

Rodgers’ Liverpool team has a style of play, we have an identity, and every successful team I can recall in my mind had a way or style of playing. So why then am I feeling a little frustrated at the start Liverpool has made this season?

It could be because Liverpool has lost two of the opening four games of the Premier League. It could be because we made an absolute mess of overcoming Champions League minnows in our return to European Top Table football.

But I am mainly frustrated because I see that Rodgers’ best teams over the last 18 months have played with a diamond formation. So why are we not doing that from the start in all our games?

We did once this season, against Spurs, and we crushed them.

Tactics

Every manager up and down the country these days seems to be talking about philosophies, so much so I have to check sometimes when watching Match Of The Day that I haven’t accidentally tuned onto the History Channel whilst they have an Ancient Greece Weekend Bonanza running on Aristotle and his chums.

Tactics are important yes, and, as I have already stated above Liverpool have a style of play. It’s usually fast paced, explosive, like a swarm of ants over a jam sandwich there is movement everywhere.

This usually comes about when Liverpool play with a diamond shaped midfield and two strikers. You see for all the philosophies and tactics and false nines’s and inverted wingers and wing backs and inside lefts and so on and so forth football is simplistic.

If you score more goals than the team you are playing you win. If football was less to do with that and more aligned with philosophies then Oxford United would probably be serial Champions of Europe.

Liverpool has consistently shown over the last season and a half that we play better in a diamond formation, so why are we not doing so?

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mario Balotelli

One of the keys to success last season was our movement of the strikers. Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez seemed everywhere in the final third of the field, just a blur of movement and cunningness. They were ably supported at the tip of the diamond by either Raheem Sterling or Philippe Countinho.

Opposition defenses were being pulled all over the place and didn’t know who to pick up, who to drop off from, frankly, no clue what to do to stop us, with the exception of Chelsea who decided to play a 9-0-1 formation.

I can only assume that Rodgers feels that Mario Balotelli doesn’t give us that same movement, and, having watched him playing its true.

Balotelli isn’t one for running into the channels, he likes the ball to feet, so he can turn his marker. It seems with his lack of movement Rodgers feels the best way of compensating is to play three wasps behind him.

Our last two games have had Lazar Markovic/Sterling, Countinho, Adam Lallana darting around behind a largely stagnant Mario and as such we have reverted to an almost Rafa Benitez style 4-2-3-1.

This raised the question of whether Balotelli was really what we needed this summer. Does his involvement compromise the style and identity we had created under Rodgers? There is certainly an argument for the prosecution on that one.

Forward

There is one piece of evidence that we can still play with a diamond whilst accommodating Balotelli’s lack of mobility and that was the display against Tottenham.

In almost every way that one performance this season reminded me of that style of play. Yes, we conceded possession as can happen when playing with two strikers but every time we came forward we looked dangerous, penetrative, exciting, like Liverpool.

These last two performances against Villa and Ludogrets looked that exact opposite. We looked forced not fluent, we looked rigid not fluid, it looked anything but the Rodgers Liverpool we are now accustomed to seeing.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the second goal after his injury time penalty sealed a 2-1 victory over PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is a problem to solve with Mario, and from what I have seen so far it’s not with his attitude but his lack of mobility. With Sturridge alongside like at Spurs and Sterling behind we can cover for that and look good.

In the absence through injury of Sturridge it might be best to have Sterling up front alongside and Countinho at the tip. Henderson on the right, Lallana on the left and Gerrard at the base.

We need to get back to what we are good at, playing simple, forget philosophies, forget overly complex tactics let’s just play the Liverpool way, let’s get our identity back or if we can’t then let’s look at the summer transfer window and ask did we buy the right player?

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Relief and expectations — How the newspapers reacted to Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets

Ср, 17/09/2014 - 13:30

It wasn’t pretty, but Liverpool returned to the Champions League after a five year hiatus with a customary dramatic victory over Ludogorets on Tuesday night. Here we round up Wednesday’s back pages.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the second goal after his injury time penalty sealed a 2-1 victory over PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Perhaps in fact it was simply fitting that an injury-time Steven Gerrard penalty would give Liverpool their first three points in UEFA’s elite competition this season. Until then the game certainly hadn’t lived up to the hype.

The pre-match entertainment was provided by the fans, pouring into the ground early to unfurl huge banners, flags and scarves, whilst the five European Cups mosaic on the Kop was particularly spectacular.

Tim Rich of the Independent described the scene:

The Champions League is football’s grand theatre and Anfield is its Old Vic. As the Tannoys played the Champions League theme, a sound that Steven Gerrard said he craved to hear, the Kop held up cards depicting the club’s five European Cups.

Like Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, Anfield is a stadium of banners as their return to the European elite was marked by a vast, traditional one, the kind that could have been unfurled against St Etienne in 1977 that said bluntly: “We are Liverpool”.

Ludogorets will leave Anfield disappointed, having put on a performance that deserved so much more from the game, whilst the Reds may feel fortunate to have stolen the rewards right at the death, as Paul Wilson of The Guardian explains:

Relief, more than anything, was detectable when the dust settled on a frantic last few minutes. The Bulgarian champions had proved capable and clever opponents and Liverpool were making such heavy weather of breaking them down that the visit of Real Madrid next month could only be imagined with dread.

Jonathan Liew of The Telegraph believed Dejan Lovren was Liverpool’s best starting player, but also had mixed praise for Mario Balotelli after the Italian international scored his first goal for the club in the 82nd minute:

[On Lovren] Safe enough. Not significantly tested either in the air or on the ground by Ludogorets’s lone striker Bezjak. Had one header at goal, which went over the bar.

[On Balotelli] Needless fouls, an unusually heavy first touch, and the work rate of a fever victim. And then he goes and scores a crucial goal. Just another night at the office.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Finally, there was a more sobering conclusion from the Daily Mirror‘s Oliver Holt:

There is so much to live up to after last season and so far Liverpool are struggling to reproduce the intensity and the quality that took them to such heights a few months ago.

What are your thoughts on Liverpool’s victory and performance? Let us know in the comments section below…

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Liverpool fans react to narrow Champions League victory over Ludogorets

Ср, 17/09/2014 - 13:09

Liverpool fans breathed a sigh of relief last night as Steven Gerrard‘s late penalty secured three points in a dramatic opening Champions League game against Ludogorets at Anfield.

 Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop make a mosaic of European Cups before the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The stage was wonderfully set by Liverpool fans — a sea of red and white engulfed the stadium and the five European Cups mosaic on the Kop looked spectacular prior to kick-off.

The match, however, did not match the sparkle and energy of the supporters as a fairly open game allowed chances for both sides to score.

However, it wasn’t until the 82nd minute when Mario Balotelli cooly slotted away his first goal for the club since his £16 million move from AC Milan this summer.

There was drama to follow though as Ludogorets substitute Dani Abalo rounded Simon Mignolet to equalise late on, but Gerrard’s injury-time penalty saved Liverpool’s blushes.

 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)

It wasn’t the prettiest of returns to the Champions League for Liverpool after almost five years away, but it was an important win and one they will carry with them to Basel on October 1st.

Nevertheless, questions were still asked of Liverpool’s ability to re-create the exciting penetrative pressure they became so synonymous with last season, whilst the leaks at the back still haven’t been fixed.

Here we round up a selection of reaction from fans on Twitter and in our Liverpool FC Forums. Let us know your thoughts on the match in the comments section below.

Wowzers!! What a Night of Emotions at #Anfield | #ChampionsLeague Those European Giants Ludogorets can Play! & You Can't Beat a Late Goal

— Mark Roberts (@marktheroberts) September 16, 2014

People need to give our CBs a chance, they need time to settle, time to get used to each other and create good communication between them.

— RobinLFC (@Robish13) September 16, 2014

Genius in the forums:

Welcome to the league of crazy season, nothing change eh? 5 years out of the Champions League, none other than Stevie G to pull a rabbit from the hat. What a befitting end to the match.

#LFC have scored 8 goals in their first 5 matches. 7 of these came when they had 2 strikers on the pitch. #ditch433 #godiamond

— Mario Aquilina (@mario_aquilina) September 16, 2014

BR saying gonna take time to get back to that dynamic football bcos of so many new names, sorry boss don't agree, your formation is problem

— L_A LFC (@Little_Andy) September 16, 2014

Everyone has an 'Agenda' anyway. Some people will blame the ref for not giving a fk, few will say sterling lost the ball, others will say

— James (@LickyRambert) September 16, 2014

AnfieldCat in the forums:

That was getting out of jail big time, those final few minutes were crazy. Very concerned about the performance going forward but for now 3 points!

Said it after Villa and I'll say it again – Joe Allen's absence at the moment is laying bare his importance to us.

— WHAT•A•HIT•SON•LFC (@whatahitsonlfc) September 16, 2014

Moreno I still think will occasionally leave us gaping if a foray forward doesnt go as planned but he'll compensate with a highlight reel.

— Loud Mexican (@shitebag_) September 16, 2014

nobluff in the forums:

It’s an absolute waste of time playing Gerrard as a third center back, get him closer to the half way line at least, the actual center backs are good enough to bring it forward.

[VIDEO] 'We wouldn't do it easy, would we?' | Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets | #LFC Fan Reactions #UCL http://t.co/L80MzvTKwv

— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) September 17, 2014

On the plus side, Moreno looks great. And a good song already!

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) September 16, 2014

Nick

Only Moreno came out of that game with any credit Sterling has to make the pass when were 1-0 up not lose the ball. Maybe Henderson was also ok but for me Moreno was streets ahead of any other LFC player tonight

Seen people tonight say that Lovren had a good game and Sakho didn't, and that Johnson needs to come back. I just can't relate to that.

— Simon (@PhantomGoal) September 16, 2014

Of everything Manquillo did tonight, the thing that impressed me most was when he had no forward passing options, he played a simple ball.

— Wayne (@__WAM_) September 16, 2014

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Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets Razgrad: Player Ratings

Ср, 17/09/2014 - 11:00

Liverpool earned a crucial three points in their Champions League opener against Ludogorets, as Steven Gerrard‘s stoppage time penalty gave them a dramatic 2-1 win. Henry Jackson looks at how each Reds player performed on the night.

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

SIMON MIGNOLET- 6 (out of 10)

The 26-year-old was largely untroubled, but he was in no man’s land for Ludogorets’ equaliser. The Belgian needs to improve his decision-making in general.

JAVIER MANQUILLO- 6.5

The young Spaniard had another solid evening, and was again better defensively than going forward. The 20-year-old could improve the consistency of his crossing, but he is offering a safer pair of hands than Glen Johnson.

DEJAN LOVREN- 5.5

There was again a shakiness about Lovren’s performance, and he was fortunate not to concede a penalty in the first-half. The 25-year-old has had a nervy start to his Liverpool career.

MAMADOU SAKHO- 6.5

The Frenchman was the better of the two Liverpool centre-backs on the night, using the ball well and reading the game impressively on the whole.

ALBERTO MORENO- 7

Moreno offered plenty of lung-busting runs forward from start to finish, and although his crossing was inconsistent, he was always a threat. The 22-year-old also made a terrific challenge late on to deny the visitors.

STEVEN GERRARD- 7.5

The skipper enjoyed a very fine evening, capping it with a nerveless match-winning penalty with almost the final kick of the game. The defensive side of his game was good in general, and he used the ball as well as anyone. The 34-year-old did tire late on though.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the second goal after his injury time penalty sealed a 2-1 victory over PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JORDAN HENDERSON- 7.5

Henderson was again narrowly Liverpool’s best player, outlining exactly why he’s been named the club’s new vice-captain. The 24-year-old was everywhere at times, showing creativity, running and good defensive work throughout.

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

PHILIPPE COUTINHO- 5

The Brazilian has had a poor start to the season, and he was out of sorts again on his Champions League debut for the Reds. He lost the ball on countless occasions, and struggled to stamp his authority on proceedings at any point.

ADAM LALLANA- 5.5

The 26-year-old is still clearly a long way from being 100 per cent fit, and he struggled. There is clearly plenty of talent there, but he was always on the periphery of things.

RAHEEM STERLING- 6.5

The 19-year-old was quiet in the first-half, but after the break he was one of Liverpool’s best players. He always looked a threat out on the left, and he was also impressed in his preferred role at the tip of the midfield diamond. Lost the ball for the equaliser.

MARIO BALOTELLI- 6.5

Balotelli often flattered to deceive, but he ended up playing a key role in the match. He produced some nice flicks and good link-up play, and he took his goal excellently. The 24-year-old will improve once he gets more playing time under his belt.

Substitutes

LUCAS LEIVA (on for Coutinho 67)- 6

Solid but unspectacular, Lucas was ponderous on the ball a few times but offered good defensive cover in midfield.

FABIO BORINI (on for Lallana 67)- 6

Had a header saved almost immediately after coming on, but was otherwise quiet.

Who was your star man? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets Razgrad: Last-gasp Gerrard Wins It For Reds

Ср, 17/09/2014 - 00:40

Liverpool got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start, with Steven Gerrard‘s late, late penalty earning the Reds all three points. Dani Abalo’s last-gasp strike had seemingly earned Ludogorets a draw, in what was an incredible end to proceedings.

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

Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets

Champions League / Anfield / Tuesday, 16th September 2014

Goals: Balotelli (82), Gerrard (90); Abalo (90)

By Henry Jackson

Champions League football returned to Anfield for the first time in five years, and a typically atmospheric home crowd made it an occasion to remember. The Reds were officially back where they belong, as their search for a sixth European Cup triumph got underway.

Brendan Rodgers made just one change from the side that lost disappointingly to Aston Villa on Saturday, with Raheem Sterling coming in for Lazar Markovic. The 20-year-old Serbian star was suspended, having picked up a red card in last season’s Europa League semi-final for Benfica against Juventus.

The game got off to a frenetic start, with Ludogorets showing that they were perfectly capable of springing a surprise. Chances were few and far between in the opening exchanges, however, with the Reds’ passing perhaps a little lacking in tempo and a few early nerves clearly having an effect on some.

After 21 minutes Liverpool almost opened the scoring. Mario Balotelli’s shot was blocked, following a terrific turn, and Adam Lallana’s deflected effort was kept out by Milan Borjan.

Dejan Lovren was slightly fortunate not to concede a penalty at the other end, as the hosts continued to show they were not remotely overawed by the occasion. Balotelli tested Borjan with a tame effort, while the lively Alberto Moreno fired over.

Shortly before the break Lallana was twice denied by Ludogorets defenders, after good work from Jordan Henderson, and from the resulting corner Lovren header over.

The two sides went into the break deadlocked, in what was a tense, intriguing battle.

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

There were no changes from either team at the interval, as a potentially pivotal second-half commenced. Coutinho and Henderson both had early long-range efforts on goal, but neither troubled Borjan.

Javier Manquillo then wasted a wonderful opportunity to make it 1-0, but he volleyed into the Kop having been found expertly by Henderson.

The Reds took control of the game, with Sterling growing more and more prominent by the minute. There was a definite lack of sharpness about Lallana and Balotelli though; perhaps understandable given their lack of football since the World Cup.

It was still 0-0 at the hour mark, and Anfield was growing increasingly restless. Ludogorets looked a threat on the break, and had a couple of decent strikes off target.

Midway through the half Lucas and Fabio Borini came on for Coutinho and Lallana, respectively, with Liverpool changing their shape to a 4-4-2 diamond. The latter almost opened the scoring immediately, but his header was tipped over by Borjan.

Roman Bezjak then had a wonderful chance to stun the hosts, but his side-footed effort came back off the post. The match was on a knife-edge with 15 minutes remaining.

With eight minutes remaining, that elusive goal finally came. Balotelli, who had struggled throughout, finished sublimely from close-range to give his side a vital lead and truly announce himself as a Liverpool player.

An unbelievable finale to the game saw Dani Abalo make it 1-1 in stoppage time, rounding Simon Mignolet and tapping into an empty net, before Manquillo won a penalty even later in time added on. Steven Gerrard nervelessly dispatched the spot-kick to earn Liverpool a massive win.

It was a truly breathless end to a nervy evening.

Man of the Match: Jordan Henderson

Tactical Overview

Despite rumours of Rodgers opting for his favoured 4-4-2 diamond formation, he went with a 4-3-3 slightly different to the one that failed to ignite against Villa at the weekend.

Coutinho dropped deeper alongside Gerrard and Henderson, with Lallana and Sterling occupying the wide roles in support of Balotelli. The switch to the diamond in the second-half improved the Reds’ performance, and should be their first-choice system in general.

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

Liverpool:Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho (Lucas 67), Sterling, Lallana (Borini 67), Balotelli.

Subs not used: Jones, Enrique, Toure, Suso, Lambert

Ludogorets starting XI:Borjan, Caicara, Moti, Alexandrov, Minev, Dyakov, Anicet, M.Alexandrov, Marcelinho, Misidjan, Bezjak

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LFC Line-up v Ludogorets: Raheem Sterling replaces Lazar Markovic

Втр, 16/09/2014 - 21:36

Brendan Rodgers makes just one change to the Liverpool side which lost 1-0 to Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday for Tuesday night’s Champions League opener against Ludogorets.

 Liverpool's Spion Kop before the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match against Arsenal at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Raheem Sterling replaces Lazar Markovic in an attacking trio with Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana. They support Mario Balotelli up front.

Liverpool are without Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan through injury.

It’s the Reds’ first Champions League game in almost five years.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Moreno, Lovren, Sakho, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Lallana, Balotelli

Substitutes: Jones, Enrique, Toure, Lucas, Suso, Borini, Lambert.

Liverpool v Ludogorets gets underway at 7.45pm and is live on ITV 1 in the UK. Follow @thisisanfield on Twitter for live photos and updates from Anfield throughout the evening.

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Champions League nights at Anfield — TIA writers share their favourite memories

Втр, 16/09/2014 - 12:02

The Champions League returns to Anfield after an almost five-year hiatus on Tuesday night with the visit of Ludogorets. We sought the inner-genius of the This Is Anfield writers to share their Anfield European Cup memories…

 Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop during the UEFA Champions League 3rd Qualifying Round 2nd Leg match against Royal Standard de Liege at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The criteria was simple. Choose one special Anfield-based Champions League (or old format European Cup) memory and explain why it was important to you, whether you were at the game, or not.

MAX MUNTON
Liverpool vs Chelsea, 2007: As Dirk Kuyt struck home his winning penalty, the upper Anfield Road End began shaking, Anfield was bouncing. An eruption of noise, joyous celebration and relief. Just two years after Istanbul, Liverpool were back in a European Cup final and the party got back into full flow. We poured out of Anfield, into town where the euphoria and a sea of red and white continued into the streets of the city for the rest of the night.

HENRY JACKSON
Liverpool vs Chelsea, 2005: I remember being sat with my Dad as an 18-year-old having never been so nervous watching a Liverpool game in my life. The noise when Luis Garcia scored was simply unforgettable; I can only imagine what it was like actually being at Anfield on the night.

The second-half went by agonisingly slowly, and when six minutes of injury time was given by the referee it was unbearable to watch. To this day, Eidur Gudjohnsen’s last-gasp miss, which somehow went wide, remains my most heart-stopping moment ever as a Reds fanatic. To beat Jose Mourinho’s arrogant side and make it through to the final was truly special. The rest, as they say, was history.


LEE COATES
Liverpool vs Barcelona, 2001: Sometimes the losses stick with you more than the wins. Liverpool one, Barcelona three. On the back of a trophy collecting 2001 season, Liverpool were back among the champions of European countries. After strolling through the first group stage, the second group stage put us in the ‘Group of Death’. First up Barcelona. Our European Footballer of the Year, Michael Owen put us one – nil up. The Kop bounced, I hugged my brother and looked over a sea of heads to find my dad who was sat elsewhere. Half of these people under my searching eye hadn’t seen anything like it – I certainly hadn’t. Liverpool couldn’t stop winning. A seemingly meteoric rise through the football elite. Moments later, a Barcelona second half masterclass told us where we were. We were now in there with the best of them. We needed to raise our game. We needed to play even better than these lot are playing. I realised that this wasn’t a holiday. Liverpool must be doing this all the time. We must be playing these teams all the time. We must keep getting better. We must hold our own with the elite.

Three and half years later, we won the thing.


JAMIE CASEY
Liverpool vs Celtic, 2003: If ever an Anfield rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone chilled the spine, this was the moment. From the Kop, the Celtic supporters over on in the Anfield Road end were barely visible due to the sheer volume of flags and scarves waved aloft among the home support, but the Bhoys were in full voice too. Forget the disputable origins on who adopted the song first, and forget the result for that matter, because together we made the most spectacular noise for two and a half solid minutes.


JEFF GOULDING
Liverpool vs Chelsea, 2005: I was hoarse by kick-off. By the time Luis Garcia drove us and Jose mad, we’d been singing about Chelsea’s lack of history, and the Fields of Anfield Road, for almost forty five minutes. At first it didn’t register that we’d scored. Some of us were shouting penalty! Then, as realisation set in, there was an eruption of noise, pandemonium and a fall. I hit my back on a plastic seat, and took a knee to the head. I didn’t care. What followed was 92 minutes of excruciating anxiety, but the sound that greeted full-time erased all of that. The ground seemed to shake, and my legs dissolved to mush. I felt euphoric and sick at the same time. John Terry was in tears, and Stevie was punching the air in sheer unadulterated joy. After two decades, Liverpool were finally back where we belong.


STE SPEED
Liverpool vs Olympiakos, 2005: Without this goal there would have been no Istanbul and possibly no more Steven Gerrard as a Liverpool player at the end of that season. I watched the game in Bangkok airport waiting for my flight home, having spent the previous two years globe trotting. I was sitting in the airport bar nursing the one drink I could afford and a plate of fries a generous fellow passenger had bought me. I was in my Liverpool shirt surrounded by American businessmen just watching ESPN. I couldn’t believe my luck when the game came on the TV.

[embedded content]

When Stevie’s belter flew in, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I jumped out of my seat and ran around the bar like a lunatic before exchanging high fives with the Americans. They ended up buying me drinks afterwards because they’d been so entertained by my antics during the game.


STEVEN HARRIS
Liverpool vs OPS Oulu, 1981: Played the night after the death of Bill Shankly, the score line was almost irrelevant. Shankly’s name rang around Anfield before kick-off, during quieter moments of an entirely one sided match, and most vociferously after the game had finished. The man who made Liverpool would have been proud of the 7-0 dispatching of the Finnish champions. His final signing for the club – Ray Kennedy – was one of those on the score sheet. High emotions and the beginning of weeks of heartfelt tributes from the fans to the man who made them happy.


NATALIE CORK
Liverpool vs Juventus, 2005: A striker’s finish from Sami Hyypia and a stunning dipping volley from Luis Garcia gave us a 2-0 lead after only 25 minutes. Our start against the Seria A giants sent Anfield into hysteria and some what disbelief on what was an emotional night. Juventus had only conceded two goals in the tournament before this showdown, making us believe that we may well get our hands on ‘old big ears’ for the 5th time…


SIMON COLLINGS
Liverpool vs Real Madrid, 2009: Although not the formidable side they are now, hammering Madrid 4-0 at any time is a special occasion. After Fernando Torres had opened the scoring, Gerrard took over – tucking away a penalty and then rounding off a tremendous move with a half volley past the hapless Iker Casillas. Andrea Dossena completed the rout late on as the Spanish giants took one hell of a beating! The result kicked off a great run of form for the reds, as the 4-1 win at Old Trafford was next, closely followed by a 5-0 drubbing of Villa (before they became our new bogey side!). Great times indeed!


DAN HOLLAND
Liverpool vs Roma, 2002: It was a March evening and a last 16 tie at Anfield, needing a two goal victory to progress the atmosphere would have been electric in any case. Throw into the mix a returning Gerard Houllier from major heart surgery and the atmosphere reached fever pitch. Pre kick off on a European night the place is always bouncing but this continued as a Limanen penalty put us ahead before Heskey netted the winner halfway into the second half. Roma were amongst the favourites to win the competition and there is no doubt Houllier’s return lifted both players and fans alike.


NEIL POOLE
Liverpool vs PSV Eindhoven, 2007: Having had plenty of stress and excitement during 27 years of going to Anfield and being present at plenty of the heart stopping moments, the dead rubber and 1 nil victory over PSV stands out as being particularly joyous. It was our third year on the bounce in the Champions League since Istanbul and we were going into the second leg of a quarter final knowing that we were effectively through. Cue party atmosphere, singing to entertain ourselves and zero tension. This Champions League malarkey was easy. We won. Another semi-final against Chelsea awaited. No biggy. It was great being that good.


And one very special non-Anfield Champions League memory thrown in for good measure…

MARCO LOPES
Liverpool vs AC Milan, 2005: For some reason, I’ve always been surrounded by Mancs at work and home, & they didn’t waste any time before & during the first half to remind me how supreme Milan’s obviously superior side was to Liverpool. I remember being somewhat defiantly bullish at halftime though. I didn’t anticipate the comeback but I reminded all the Mancs who made the effort to text me abuse that a match normally lasts more than 45 minutes.

By the end of the 2nd half, I’d caused them to switch off their phones and stop talking to me. By work the next morning – I was insufferable, and they’d learnt a valuable lesson not to underestimate the spirit of Liverpool and their magic in Europe!


What’s your abiding Champions League memory from Anfield European nights? Let us know yours in the comments section below.

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Jordan Henderson: Liverpool Vice Captaincy a Just Reward for Model Pro

Втр, 16/09/2014 - 11:19

With Jordan Henderson officially confirmed as Liverpool’s new vice-captain, Jack Lusby believes this is just reward for the important midfielder.

Football - FA Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur FC v Liverpool FC

Following the departure of Daniel Agger to Brondby last month, a vacancy opened within the Liverpool ranks in the form of the vice captaincy, a position held by the great Dane since the retirement of Jamie Carragher.

On Monday night it was announced, to no real surprise, that Liverpool’s new vice-captain was English midfielder Jordan Henderson.

The appointment of the 24-year-old former Sunderland man caps a remarkable rise within the Reds ranks following a big-money transfer in the summer of 2011.

#LFC are delighted to confirm Jordan Henderson is the club's new vice-captain pic.twitter.com/uAM02GCwDG

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2014

Henderson is now one of the most important members of Brendan Rodgers’ squad, and a model pro, making the tireless performer a no-brainer for Steven Gerrard’s understudy at Anfield.

BR: “It's another great story for Jordan in his journey as an #LFC player & it shows the great progress he has made.” pic.twitter.com/7tqDMJDlPa

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2014

Rise

Much has been made of the fateful swap deal that could have been, with Rodgers offering Henderson to Fulham as part of a deal for American forward Clint Dempsey in 2012, but the fact that the Englishman is now the club’s vice-captain makes this all the more remarkable.

From almost being swapped for Dempsey to being given the vice-captaincy, quite the journey for Henderson. Pleased for him.

— MrBoywunder (@MrBoywunder) September 15, 2014

A £16-odd million acquisition under the frivolous Kenny Dalglish, Henderson was unfortunately tarred with the same brush as ridiculous signings such as Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll.

Even at the time, however, the midfielder stood out as a young player with great potential.

#LFC confirm Jordan Henderson as new vice-captain. What a 12 months he's had – key player for club and country

— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) September 15, 2014

Things didn’t work out, and the former Mackem looked to struggle to impose himself on the Liverpool first-team following the appointment of Rodgers.

However, Henderson is now key for the Reds manager and, in recent fixtures, is also proven so for Roy Hodgson’s England side.

Delighted that Henderson has been named new #LFC vice-captain. Undoubtedly the most improved player in English football over last 2 years

— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) September 15, 2014

Once derided, the midfielder is now a hugely respected figure by all parties in English football.

This rise, as a key Liverpool player, has made Henderson the perfect leader for Liverpool in terms of output on the pitch.

 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson looks dejected as Manchester City score the third goal during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)

On the Pitch

Liverpool’s recent 1-0 home loss to Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa underlines the ebb and flow nature of the club at times—whilst under Rodgers results have generally been hugely impressive, there have been some blots in terms of consistency.

This cannot be said, however, of Henderson, and it is this consistency that makes the midfielder a true leader on the field.

Delighted for Hendo. Shown himself to be a real leader of late.

— Green Scouser (@Green_Scouser) September 15, 2014

Last season, the Englishman made 35 appearances in the Premier League, only missing out on the final three due to suspension.

During that period, Liverpool only lost five times.

With Henderson suspended, following a red card in the 3-2 win against Manchester City, the wheels fell off in the Reds’ title charge.

Delighted for Henderson, he fully deserves to be VC. Has improved so much & is integral to everything good about our game. #LFC.

— Simon Steers (@sisteers) September 15, 2014

Henderson is the lynchpin within Rodgers’ high-tempo pressing system, with the midfielder’s boundless energy vital as the Reds consistently probe the opposition off the ball.

Furthermore, the 24-year-old seems to have added an exceptional passing range to his locker since the beginning of last season.

New vice-captain Jordan Henderson has made 136 appearances for #LFC since joining in 2011, scoring 13 times #HendoLFC pic.twitter.com/OKcKLZ1mWN

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2014

So far in 2014/15, it seems that Henderson’s influence will only increase in the Liverpool midfield, as can be seen with the midfielder’s two assists so far; a long-range, threaded through-ball opening up the Southampton defence for Raheem Sterling’s opening weekend deadlock-breaker the highlight.

Jordan Henderson under Brendan Rodgers, Premier League - 69 appearances 60.9% win rate 9 goals 100 chances created pic.twitter.com/xQvkAlVjDT

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 15, 2014

Henderson still has great scope to develop under Rodgers, and this is immensely encouraging given the player’s on-field work completely merits such a vaunted role even at this juncture.

Do Liverpool truly possess a more important player at this stage?

BR: "Both he and Steven Gerrard are examples to others in how they conduct themselves on and off the pitch.” #LFC pic.twitter.com/Uy2rXj52Hk

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2014

Off the Pitch

Henderson is an exceptional influence, too, off the pitch.

Brendan Rodgers: "He is someone who represents the best values of what we are all about, as a team & as a club.” #LFC pic.twitter.com/FXiZe8mjxn

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2014

As a club, the Reds under Rodgers are more than just a footballing outfit, with the Ulsterman looking to instill a wholesale pragmatism and workmanship from top to bottom—Henderson embodies this.

Delighted to see Jordan Henderson announced new #LFC vice-captain. Always rated him + great to see him reaping the rewards of his hard work.

— Ben Twelves (@bm12s) September 15, 2014

This hard work has been apparent from a young footballing age with Henderson, who received his first England cap as a Sunderland player in 2010.

A tee total footballer, who described himself in an interview prior to this Wembley appearance as “a little bit boring, I guess,” the midfielder believes he remains grounded due to his upbringing.

“My Mum and Dad have been a good influence on me and brought me up really well. They have kept my feet on the ground and not let me get carried away.”

These quotes are reminiscent of both Gary Neville and Gareth Bale, two players who are also impeccable professionals whose game was based on years of hard graft—the latter may be a high-profile Galactico now, but his beginnings were as humble as that of Henderson.

"I try to do as much as I can to help the team – that's important," he said recently http://t.co/jGpHvfJcZY #HendoLFC pic.twitter.com/RYBVsY4u5H

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2014

This lends supremely to Henderson’s influence off the pitch, and could be seen on England duty when talking about the rise of Liverpool teammate Sterling.

“He’s a very level headed for a young lad his age. Hopefully he can continue improving and working hard…He’s got the right people around him at the club and off the field as well. If he keeps working hard, with the players and the manager he has at Liverpool he can really kick on.”

Although Sterling is five years Henderson’s junior, it is important to recognise that the midfielder is still a young player developing himself.

These quotes, however, portray an assured influence, and relieving the pressure from Sterling—who has just adopted a focal role under Hodgson—is true captain’s work.

BR: “I believe Jordan will be an important player here at #LFC for years to come." pic.twitter.com/CYm9Woib1J

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2014

Perhaps most importantly, there is great longevity to the appointment of Henderson as vice-captain under Rodgers.

The Ulsterman has overseen a dramatic development in the midfielder at Liverpool, and Henderson is the encapsulation of everything the manager is trying to do at the club, from his ideals on development, his style of play, and his foundations at the club overall.

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Henderson is a real Boot Room character, so to speak, and a model pro reaping his just rewards at Liverpool.

No doubt, the 24-year-old will succeed Gerrard as de facto captain in due course.

How do you feel about the appointment of Jordan Henderson as Liverpool vice-captain? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool 5 Years out of the Champions League spotlight — what’s changed?

Втр, 16/09/2014 - 10:30

Tuesday night marks Liverpool’s return to the Champions League after almost five years out. Four managers later and a lot of new faces, Simon Collings looks at what’s changed since the Reds’ last flourish in UEFA’s elite competition.

 Alberto Aquilani, Andrea Dossena, captain Steven Gerrard MBE, Stephen Darby, Yossi Benayoun, Javier Mascherano. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Above: Liverpool’s last Champions League XI: Cavalieri, Darby, Skrtel, Agger, Insua, Mascherano, Aquilani, Benayoun, Gerrard, Dossena, Kuyt.

December 9th 2009 was the last time Liverpool kicked a Champions League ball in anger. The game was a dour, stoppage time loss to Fiorentina at Anfield – with Rafa Benitez’s side having already been eliminated from the group.

Fast forward almost five years and Liverpool are about to end their Champions League exile and embark on another European adventure with the highest of hopes.

These five years out of Europe’s elite competition have had an effect on our standing throughout the continent. Our inability to properly compete in the transfer market, as well as being seeded in pot three in this years’ draw, were the main drawbacks. But with a favourable group that includes a glamour tie against Real Madrid, you could say it was all worth the wait.

Liverpool as a club has changed dramatically since 2009. Mangers and owners have come and gone – so too has Luis Suarez. But in these fives years, how has Europe changed? Who are the new kids on the block? Are there new kids on the block?

They say a week in football is a long time, so five years must be a lifetime. We’re certainly not in the same position as we were when our Heysel ban was lifted but is Europe’s premier competition a harder place to compete in? Have we got some catching up to do? There have been five different winners in the past five seasons so it seems more competitive, but let’s take a look.

The continued genius of Messi and Ronaldo

 EXPA/ Alterphotos/ Cesar Cebolla +++++ ATTENTION - OUT OF SPAIN / ESP +++++

Even back in 2009 Messi and Ronaldo were the two best players in the world. Five years on, with multiple awards and trophies, as well as hundreds and hundreds of goals between them, its safe to say they are still the two main stars in world football. With a goal-scoring ratio not seen before at this level, the two La Liga forwards will again be the ones to watch in this year’s competition.

We only got a glimpse of Messi’s talent at Anfield in 2007, but to watch him again up close at his peak would be special. Ronaldo is no stranger to us, but since his move to Madrid he has matured and developed considerably and is currently the best player on the planet – October 22nd can’t come soon enough!

The emergence of Dortmund and Atletico

14.05.2011, Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, GER, 1.FBL, Borussia Dortmund vs Eintracht Frankfurt, im Bild die Gelbe Wand vor dem Spiel // during the German 1.Liga Football Match, Borussia Dortmund vs Eintracht Frankfurt, at the Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, 14/05/2011 . EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ Conny Kurth ****** out of GER / SWE / CRO / BEL ******

Having the biggest, richest clubs compete year after year is not all that fun! With the rise of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid however, the competition seems more open. Seeing these two clubs do so well – whilst constantly being in the shadow of bigger, domestic rivals – is most refreshing to say the least.

With their new breed of coach in Jurgen Klopp and Diego Simeone, both teams play with a clinical, attractive brand of football much like us under Rodgers – and all without spending millions. To be drawn against either of them later on would be tough task – but a great one.

Where’s the Italian Job gone!

As a football purist, it’s sad to see the demise of Italian football. Once the constant kings of Europe, Italy’s Seri A has given us great sides, players and managers. Nowadays, the likes of Juventus and Roma have competed well domestically, but have failed to make a real impact in the Champions League.

They are the only two to qualify this time around after Napoli struggled in the playoffs, and with the financial predicament A.C. Milan are in – well, this just sums up the state of Italian football. A real shame.

The French Euro

With Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco both being taken over by billionaires, you can’t ignore these French side’s possible impact across the competition. Perhaps Monaco’s time in the spotlight has faded, but PSG can still be a real danger on their day.

With big-money forwards in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, these players are real game-changers and can turn a tie on its head in an instant. Defensively, they look all over the shop but they’ll be tricky opponents if we encounter them. To be honest though, I doubt that in another five years time French football will not have the super-rich league it so desperately craves. Which isn’t a real shame!

The fall (possibly) of Man. United

We all knew it would happen: Mr Ferguson’s retirement caused a noise from down the other end of the East Lancs road, but did we all think it would be quite so loud? Okay, so it’s still early days, but their disastrous campaign last year saw them fail to qualify for Europe this season. Surely, they can’t be as bad two years running.

Like us last year, they’ve no Euro distraction, but can you see them finishing second? Probably not. Like Milan, they’ve left a massive hole in the Champions League – to which organisers will lament – but with Di Maria, Mata, and now Falcao in their ranks, they must seek to qualify this time around. Yes? No? Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see how it all pans out!

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Jordan Henderson confirmed as Liverpool’s new vice-captain

Втр, 16/09/2014 - 02:08

Jordan Henderson is the new vice-captain of Liverpool, it was confirmed late on Monday night.

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The 24-year-old is promoted to Steven Gerrard‘s understudy following the departure of Daniel Agger this summer.

Since signing from Sunderland in 2011, Henderson has made 136 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 13 goals and established himself as a mainstay of the Reds’ midfield.

The news will come as no surprise to many supporters who have seen a solid leadership evolve from Henderson during his time on Merseyside.

“Jordan is someone who represents the best values of what we are all about, as a team and as a club,” Rodgers is quoted on the club’s official website as saying.

“Both he and Steven are examples to others in how they conduct themselves on and off the pitch. It’s how they live their lives, it’s how they train and it’s how they approach their work.

“Jordan is completely dedicated to the game and his leadership qualities come from the example he sets. It’s another great story for Jordan in his journey as a Liverpool player and it shows the great progress he has made.

“For club and country he holds himself really well, he’s got great stature and I believe he will be an important player here for years to come.”

 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson looks dejected as Manchester City score the third goal during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)

Only last month England international Henderson spoke of how “leadership comes in different ways”.

“I try to help people as much as I can,” he told LiverpoolFC.com

“Whether that is giving them confidence or instruction, I try to do as much as I can to help the team. I think that’s important sometimes.”

Henderson's rise is the exact reason why you should let players settle & grow before making judgements. Has proved many wrong. #LFC.

— Simon Steers (@sisteers) September 15, 2014

Over the moon that Henderson has been appointed vice-captain. Always get 110% and total energy. Big future. #HendoLFC

— James Edwards (@JEdwards_Jed) September 15, 2014

The news comes on the eve of Liverpool’s first Champions League game in almost five years. They face Ludogorets of Bulgairia at Anfield on Tuesday night at 7.45pm.

Are you happy with Rodgers’ decision to name Henderson vice-captain? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

How Liverpool could line up for Champions League opener against Ludogorets

Втр, 16/09/2014 - 01:00

Liverpool make their much anticipated return to the Champions League after a painful five year absence on Tuesday night, when they take on Bulgarian side Ludogorets at Anfield.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli during training at Melwood ahead of their opening UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers Reds’ will be looking to stamp their authority immediately on Group B on Tuesday night and make it known to Europe’s elite that the five time winners are not just back in the competition to make up the numbers.

BR: It’s an honour to lead such a great club in the Champions League.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) September 15, 2014

On paper, Liverpool couldn’t have wished for a kinder start to feel their way back into the tournament and Tuesday represents a game that’s simply viewed as a stonewall three points for Rodgers’ side, if they have any ambitions to progress beyond the group stage, before facing tougher fixtures against Basel and arguably the toughest of them all against the current European champions, Real Madrid.

BR: We’ve got no fear of the competition. We’ll impose our style, our way of working and playing. We’ve done that and continue to do so.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) September 15, 2014

It’s also a fixture that the Reds can ill-afford to take lightly and one that is the second in four days, but with injuries and suspension to a number of players who would have been involved including Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge and Lazar Markovic, changes will be far harder to make for the Liverpool boss.

A depleted squad alongside a tough schedule of matches that sees Liverpool play games at the weekend followed by midweek for the next three weeks, could therefore provide routes back into the set-up for fringe players at the club such as Fabio Borini and Suso, and those players will be hoping to be given the nod by Rodgers at some stage throughout that period, starting on Tuesday.

Not long to wait now… #LFC pic.twitter.com/Uk8wJZyq12

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 15, 2014

The Team

The game will come too early for both Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel who have missed the last two matches side-lined by injury, and their unavailability means that Rodgers will have to turn to Jose Enrique and Kolo Toure to provide fresh legs, if he chooses against selecting the same back four for the third consecutive game.

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana in action against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The busy calendar of games over the next few weeks would have been the perfect time to properly introduce new arrivals such as Can to the team. But his absence as well as Allen’s means either Philippe Coutinho or Adam Lallana – who should have received his first start this Tuesday rather than last Saturday – could take up a midfield role alongside Steven Gerrard’s, and the 34-year-old’s need for careful management makes Lucas Leiva a genuine option from the bench.

Lazar Markovic is suspended for the clash meaning that the Serbian is likely to be replaced in the starting team by Raheem Sterling, who was dropped to the bench on Saturday against Aston Villa.

With Markovic and Allen out then the only change from Villa could be Sterling for Markovic

— LFCTS (@LFCTS) September 15, 2014

Mario Balotelli is set to lead the Liverpool attack but it will be interesting to see if that is on his own or in a partnership – with Sterling, Borini and Rickie Lambert all options to play with the Italian.

BR: Balotelli is arguably one of the most experienced players we have at the highest level. He’s relishing the responsibility and works hard

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) September 15, 2014

The Line-up

Brendan Rodgers once again has a number of formations to choose from, with Liverpool looking strong regardless of which one the manager picks to operate with. However, a move away from a two man midfield and a return to the more successful 4-diamond midfield-2 seems the best fit for Liverpool.

For the match, the defensive line should remain the same allowing for the back four to continue to attempt to build an understanding as the uncertainty at the back remains to cause problems.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli looks dejected as Aston Villa score the only goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In midfield, Gerrard should start but be withdrawn at the earliest opportunity, and he should be joined by Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho, with Adam Lallana playing at the top of the diamond.

That would allow Balotelli to be partnered in attack – Liverpool have looked more of a threat with two strikers this season so far – and Sterling should operate as an unorthodox striker alongside the Italian ahead of both Borini and Rickie Lambert who should continue on the bench.

As a result, Liverpool should look like this for the game:

photo (17)

Subs: Jones, Enrique, Toure, Lucas, Suso, Borini, Lambert.

Alternatively, Rodgers could line his team up in a 4-3-3 formation but the personnel in the team should stay the same. If so, the Reds should look like this:

photo (18)

Subs: Jones, Enrique, Toure, Lucas, Suso, Borini, Lambert.

BR: Our overriding objective first of all is to qualify and come out of the group. We’ll take it one game at a time and aim for 3 points.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) September 15, 2014

Lovren: "I will not say we have an easy group but we can pass the group. Important to win the opening game."

— Phil Kirkbride (@philkecho) September 15, 2014

Opening the European campaign with Ludogorets at Anfield hands Liverpool the perfect chance to begin positively.  The Reds will have to bounce back to defeat once again on Tuesday night however, and Rodgers’ men will certainly have to produce an improved performance if they want to pick up their most attainable three points of the group stage.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

QUIZ: Liverpool in the Champions League

Пнд, 15/09/2014 - 23:30

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 Liverpool Steven Gerrard kisses the European Cup after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As Champions League football returns to Anfield for the first time in almost five years, test your knowledge of Liverpool in Europe’s elite competition.

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Match Preview: Liverpool v Ludogorets Razgrad — Champions League

Пнд, 15/09/2014 - 22:00

Liverpool make a long awaited return to Europe’s elite competition for the first time in five seasons at Anfield on Tuesday night, when the Reds face Bulgarian side Ludogorets.

 In safe hands... Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard MBE places the ball in the corner quadrant during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match against Arsenal at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool v Ludogorets Razgrad
Tuesday, 16th September 2014
Champions League
Anfield

Brendan Rodgers side kick off their welcome return to the Champions League against Bulgarian qualifiers Ludogorets in Group B, and the Reds will be looking to bounce back with immediate effect to the disappointing home defeat against Aston Villa on Saturday evening.

Liverpool will be looking to respond quickly and begin their European campaign in style before facing two tougher games against Swiss champions Basel and reigning Champions League winners, Real Madrid, as the big European night’s under the lights arrive back at Anfield.

Tuesday night’s clash will be the first time in both clubs’ history that the sides have met in any fixture and it will also be the first ever game in the group stage at the highest level for the Reds’ opponents.

 Alberto Aquilani, Andrea Dossena, captain Steven Gerrard MBE, Stephen Darby, Yossi Benayoun, Javier Mascherano. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The much anticipated encounter will be the first in the prestigious competition for Liverpool since they crashed out at the group stage in December 2009 when a second half comeback from Italian side Fiorentina – after Yossi Benayoun’s opener – defeated Rafael Benitez’s team 2-1 at Anfield.

Only two players who featured in the match-day squad at Anfield that disappointing night still remain at the club – Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel.

Anfield is ready for the return of Champions League football pic.twitter.com/8qpFRCG2dI

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) September 15, 2014

Team News

Rodgers made changes to his side for the visit of Villa – notably resting Raheem Sterling – and the Liverpool boss will be forced into making one change to the side that slumped to defeat at the weekend.

BR: Martin Skrtel joined the group yesterday, he’s working hard but won’t be back from injury yet. He should be back for West Ham.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) September 15, 2014

The back four could remain unchanged for the third consecutive game with Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson still out injured, but Kolo Toure and Jose Enrique – who both occupied the bench on Saturday – could receive starting berths if the Reds boss alters his defensive line as the Reds play three games in a demanding week.

Captain Steven Gerrard – who is at the stage of his career where careful management over his ageing legs is a must – is set to lead Liverpool back into the competition. However, with Emre Can ruled out and Joe Allen also set to miss the game, Lucas Leiva is likely to continue on the bench and be the player to step in for the captain during the game, should Rodgers withdraw the 34-year-old to preserve him ahead a tough fixture at West Ham next weekend.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard MBE celebrates scoring the second goal against FC Internazionale Milano during the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Adam Lallana made his debut on Saturday, receiving his first minutes of the season and he is likely to play again as he searches to regain match fitness and sharpness which is evidently not yet with the former Southampton man.

Lazar Markovic is suspended for the game as he was sent off for former club Benfica against Juventus at the semi-final stage of the Europa League last season – resulting in a two game ban – and the Serbian’s absence is likely to see Sterling recalled to the starting XI in his place.

No Lazar Markovic tomorrow as the Serbian still has 2 matches of his Euro ban from last season to serve. He also sits out Basel away. #LFC

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) September 15, 2014

Mario Balotelli is also set to continue up front for Rodgers’ team as Daniel Sturridge frustratingly misses his second game through an avoidable injury.

Opposition

Formed in 2001, Ludogorets have enjoyed a dramatic rise through the Bulgarian football pyramid and last season recorded their third successive title win in the ‘A Group’ league under former Bulgarian international Stoycho Stoev.

After defeat on the opening day of the new season however, Stoev was sacked and new manager Georgi Dermendzhiev was the man chosen to take the club forward.

BR: Ludogorets will be a tough game for us, like al games at this level. They play an open, attacking style of football.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) September 15, 2014

Ludogorets, based in the north-eastern town of Razgrad, have reached the group stage of the competition for the first time in their short 13 year history thanks to an eventful second leg in the fourth qualifying round at home against Steaua Bucharest.

A dramatic last minute equaliser forced the game to extra-time but the home side went down to 10 men with goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov receiving a second yellow card, meaning centre back Cosmin Moti had to take the gloves.

Moti performed heroics in the penalty shootout, converting the first penalty and saving two, handing the Bulgarian’s a 6-5 shootout win and firing them to the group stage for the first time at the third attempt.

BR: Ludogorets have done very well to qualify for the group stages and they’ll be excited about coming to the iconic stadium of Anfield.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) September 15, 2014

Playing at a packed Anfield in front of 45,000 will provide a unique experience for the Bulgarian side, who play their home matches at the Ludogorets Arena – their home since September 2011 that boasts a capacity of just 8000 – but the return fixture will be played in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, as ground regulations are not up to the standard required by UEFA.

The much anticipated first group game will be shown live on ITV1 with kick off at Anfield coming at 19:45.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Anfield stadium redevelopment latest

Пнд, 15/09/2014 - 21:25

Progress has been made in Liverpool’s project to redevelop Anfield with the club hoping to receive permission to be granted by city councillors by the end of September, according to The Telegraph.

mainstand_expansion2.jpg

Chris Bascombe reports that a recommendation to allow planning permission will be handed to Liverpool City Council on Tuesday, September 23rd.

However, he writes:

Liverpool are giving only a cautious welcome to the crucial document which backs their scheme, believing there are still several hurdles to overcome in what has been a prolonged process. There is still scope for residents and businesses to oppose the scheme, and for a legal challenge to any decision which could further delay building work.

The new-look Anfield will initially only effect the Main Stand, making it a three-tier stand with new hospitality features.

The first phase of developments will take the capacity of the ground to approximately 54,000 — an increase of around 9,000 seats.

The second phase of development will see proposed plans for a redeveloped Anfield Road stand, increasing general tickets capacity from 9,074 to 13,860.

The club hope construction work will start by the end of the year.

Earlier this summer, chairman Tom Werner said he hopes the redevelopments will be Fenway Sport Group’s footprint on the club.

“This will be our legacy at Liverpool, resolving the stadium issue,” he said in an interview with The Telegraph.

“I am as proud of protecting and preserving Fenway Park in Boston as I am the three World Series we have won and will feel exactly the same way about repeating this at Anfield. It will be the most exciting day at Anfield in 2016 when we can welcome the additional supporters to the stadium.”

What are your thoughts on the plans for the new stadium? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Ludogorets defender Tero Mantyla talks to This Is Anfield ahead of Liverpool Champions League tie

Пнд, 15/09/2014 - 19:30

With Liverpool beginning their 2014/15 Champions League campaign against Ludogorets on Tuesday night, Jack Lusby talks to defender Tero Mantyla.

The long wait will end on Tuesday night as Liverpool embark on their Champions League campaign after a five year absence, welcoming Ludogorets to Anfield.

Bulgarian champions Ludogorets surprised and won over many with their penalty shootout victory over Steaua Bucharest to qualify for the competition proper; stand-in goalkeeper Cosmin Moti scored one and saved two.

Fellow defender Tero Mantyla will unfortunately watch from the stands, having not been selected for the side’s Champions League squad.

The 23-year-old featured prominently during Ludogorets’ Europa League run last season, scoring one goal in eight appearances; these featured high-profile ties against Valencia and Lazio, the perfect primer for the Champions League.

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We spoke to the Finnish centre-back, about his time in England with Portsmouth, aspirations with Ludogorets and projecting his side’s success in the Champions League this season.

Hi Tero, how are you finding your time with Ludogorets since your move in 2012?

My time here in Bulgaria has been OK overall.

It was literally a step to unknown when I signed here as I didn’t know much about Bulgarian football, but everything has gone well from the first moment.

The only concern is, this season I wish I could play more games.

In the group with Real Madrid, Liverpool and FC Basel. Some great matches ahead. #UCLfi #Ludogorets #football

— Tero Mäntylä (@MantylaTero) August 28, 2014

Last season you played against teams such as Lazio and Valencia in the Europa League, who are you looking forward to facing in the Champions League this season?

Liverpool and Real Madrid, for sure.

It will be nice to play against such big teams and see how we can match them.

You spent two seasons with English club Portsmouth as a teenager, what are your experiences of English football from that time? Did you enjoy the style of play and lifestyle?

My time in Portsmouth was great, I enjoyed it very much. I think for a footballer England is the place to be and I’m hoping to play there again one day.

I’m a big fan of English football. I like how the game is more physical and you can tackle without having to worry about the referee calling a foul.

The tempo in the game is quicker and teams are tactically very well organised. Also the atmosphere in the stadiums is something unique.

(Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

What do you remember of Liverpool FC from when you were with Portsmouth?

I remember watching Pompey play against Liverpool at Fratton Park with Fernando Torres and Sami Hyypiä in the team. If I remember right Liverpool won the match.

(Note: Liverpool visited Fratton Park twice during Mantyla’s South Coast tenure, with a late Torres header sealing the three points in a 3-2 victory in 2009.)

Which Liverpool players do you see as the biggest threat to Ludogorets on Tuesday night?

I’d say that the attacking threat of Liverpool will give us a handful of work.

Raheem Sterling with his pace and technique will be a threat.

So will be Mario Balotelli, we have seen what kind of player he is and what kind of goals he can produce out of nowhere.

Daniel Sturridge is injured so that’s good for us. He is a world class player, as are the other two.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling looks dejected after missing a chance against Manchester City during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ludogorets will be playing their Champions League home games at the National Stadium Vasil Levski in Sofia, how do you anticipate the atmosphere at these games?

I’m expecting the atmosphere be something like it was last year against Valencia. It was just amazing. I’m hoping the stadium to be full and that the people will come and cheer for us.

With the hero from last night. Champions league here we come! #CosminMoti #legend #Ludogorets #UCLfi #football #futis pic.twitter.com/T9cC04OIOv

— Tero Mäntylä (@MantylaTero) August 28, 2014

Finally, what are your hopes for the Champions League and the A Group this season?

For the Champions league we have set the target to finish 3rd in the group and continue to Europa League. Hopefully we’ll do that or better.

For the Bulgarian Championship we want to be champions again. We haven’t started as well as we would have liked, but we are playing better and just few points from the top.

Hopefully by the end of the season we will be first and get the title.

Tero Mantyla is a 23-year-old centre-back, who moved to Ludogorets in 2012. This season the Finnish defender has made four appearances so far. Follow Tero on Twitter here, for his view on Tuesday night’s tie.

What are your predictions for Tuesday night’s Champions League game against Ludogorets at Anfield? Let us know in the comments below.

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