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Liverpool legend opens up to relate to Mario Balotelli’s sense of belonging

7 часов 13 минут назад

Liverpool legend Mark Wright has drawn upon his own experience in fostering and adoption to discuss the mindset of Mario Balotelli as the Italian forward continues to settle into life at Anfield.

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

Balotelli scored only his second goal for the club in Tuesday’s League Cup win over Swansea City. The 24-year-old has been battling against the critics in the early stages of his career on Merseyside following his £16 million move from AC Milan in the summer.

Speaking on the latest 5 Times podcast, former Liverpool defender Mark Wright told fellow club legends Jason McAteer and Ian St John whilst discussing the latest Reds matters, “Not talking about any one individual, but when you are paid to be a professional footballer — and what a privilege that is. Every one of us can forgive someone having a bad game as long as they have the enthusiasm on the pitch.

“But what you can’t forgive sometimes is if they don’t put themselves on the front line, if they give every single piece of effort they can give, or energy they’ve got in their locker into their game, then I don’t understand it, and I don’t think anyone else understands it.

“If he just shows he’s willing, I think he’s a fantastic talent. I’ve got time for him, but you just want that little bit more.”

Referring to his own experience with fostering and adoption, Wright continued, “With Mario given up at two years of age, the belonging and feeling part of something is major in his early years and if that isn’t there, then to recreate that sense of belonging is very difficult. I can tell you that from my own experience, my education and something that is very dear to me.

“When I look at Mario I wonder whether he is searching for his own place of belonging and wanting to be somewhere. He wants to be loved and wants to be liked.”

Listen to the latest 5 Times Podcast below and make sure you’ve got your tickets to the 10 year anniversary night of the 2005 European Cup Final win in Istanbul. More details can be found here.

For Australian fans, there’s the chance to spend the evening with Robbie Fowler, Didi Hamann and McAteer in the new year — in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool continue to be linked with Marco Reus – But Reus Says He isn’t Thinking About It

Пт, 31/10/2014 - 22:16

If you type “Marco Reus, Liverpool” into Google News, you get dozens of articles this week ‘linking’ the German forward with a move to Anfield.

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“Marco Reus rumours resurface” is one headline from The Liverpool Echo‘s rumour mill round-up.

Anybody clicking that link would be a little disappointed to see that they are merely citing a rather tenuous Metro report from earlier this week which claimed “Marco Reus closer to £32m Liverpool transfer as Borussia Dortmund finally end contract talks.”

And if you follow The Metro’s link, they actually cite The Express’s report which quotes sporting director Michael Zorc actually saying that they still intend to keep the 25-year-old:

“Nothing has changed about our intentions to continue our collaboration with Marco.

“But the current situation demands full focus from everybody at the club.

“Our biggest priority at the moment is to get out of this difficult situation. Everything else comes after that for now.”

Somehow, The Express manage to contrive those pretty innocuous quotes into a headline that claims “Dortmund END Marco Reus contract talks with Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal interested.”

Seemingly they stopped reading their own quotes before Zorc said “for now”. You see, “for now” does not mean “END” does it.

Meanwhile, The Metro‘s article claims “bid of £32million would be enough to get Reus, who wants a contract worth £180,000-a-week” but actually cite an old report of their own, which in turn cites a report from German paper Bild.

Which contradicts a ‘report’ in The Mirror earlier this month which claimed The Metro had said “Liverpool will offer Marco Reus a £200,000-a-week deal in January.”

Amidst all the sensationalist claims, citing of each other and rumour mill merry-go-rounding, there is actually something concrete from the player himself, who is quoted in a statement explaining that actually the media are more obsessed about his future than he is:

“At the moment there are a lot of people talking about my future. There is a lot of speculation and a lot is being written.

“So I would like to take this opportunity to say that other people are thinking more about my future than me.”

The skeptics among us may ponder that Reus not really being too worried about his future is because he knows he’s following the route of Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski in recent years by ditching Dortmund for Munich at the end of the season.

Next time you see a Marco Reus to Liverpool headline, don’t get too exited.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Adam Lallana: We’ve not gelled, but we’re grinding out results and there’s more to come

Пт, 31/10/2014 - 17:12

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is confident there is plenty more to come from him and the team this term.

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana during a press conference at the St. Jakob Stadium ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against FC Basel. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Following his summer move from Southampton, England international Lallana had to wait until September 13 to make his competitive debut for his new club due to a knee injury he sustained in pre-season.

He now has 11 appearances and one goal to his name for a Liverpool outfit struggling for consistency so far after the highs of 2013-14. Second in the table last season, the Reds go into Saturday’s away Barclays Premier League game against Newcastle lying seventh.

Lallana admits he is not yet firing on all cylinders individually but is optimistic his “best form is not too far away”, and has also emphasised the entire squad’s commitment to improving results.

The 26-year-old told liverpoolfc.com: “There’s still more to come. I feel it’s going to be a gradual process. There are lots of games coming, so hopefully my best form is not too far away.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy joining Liverpool, but it’s an opportunity I am delighted to have. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“I’ll always give it my all and work my hardest, whether I’m playing well or not.

“That’s an attitude that filters through the squad. It’s an honest group here and I can assure you we’re working hard in training day in, day out to put it right and get good results.”

Two late goals saw Liverpool pull off their first win in three games on Tuesday, a 2-1 Capital One Cup victory over Swansea. And Lallana added: “We’re still in all competitions and we haven’t been at our best yet.

“We may not have gelled or found the right thing to trigger our performances, but we’re still grinding out results when we need to.

“We’ve been scoring late goals and that shows we keep going until the last minute. We’ve got a fit group of lads and we may not be performing as well as we know we can, but that grit, determination and character is what you need.

“(The Swansea win) has given us a lift. Hopefully it triggers a good performance at the weekend.”

Liverpool will once again be without striker Daniel Sturridge for Saturday’s contest. Sturridge was ruled out for two to four weeks earlier this month with a calf problem having only just recovered from a thigh injury sustained on England duty.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers indicated to the Liverpool Echo that the 25-year-old would also miss the Merseysiders’ Champions League game at Real Madrid on Tuesday and the home top-flight clash with his old club Chelsea a week on Saturday, plus England’s encounters with Slovenia and Scotland on November 15 and 18.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge in action against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool also still have Mamadou Sakho (thigh) and Jon Flanagan (knee) unavailable for selection, along with ex-Newcastle man Jose Enrique, another sidelined by a knee issue.

In Sturridge’s absence, Rodgers will once again make a call on the best option in attack from Fabio Borini, Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli, who is the only one of the trio to have scored this season and broke an eight-match goal drought in the Swansea tie.

Meanwhile, Rodgers has praised the Newcastle hierarchy for keeping faith in manager Alan Pardew. Pardew was under severe scrutiny earlier this season during a poor run of results for his side, but the 14th-placed Magpies have won their last three games in all competitions.

And Rodgers said: “It is great credit to the directors there at Newcastle, because I know Alan is a top-class manager, but we all know the pressures of being a manager if you’re not winning games.

“We’ve seen already this season the number of boards and owners that change their manager.”

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v Newcastle: The Reds’ Best St. James’ Park Victories

Пт, 31/10/2014 - 15:06

Liverpool travel to the North East on Saturday to face Newcastle, and we look back at the Reds’ best victories at St James’ Park in the Premier League era.

 It's all over now... Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard MBE celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Newcastle United during the Premiership match at St James' Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have had plenty of success at St James’ Park since the Premier League’s inception in 1992. It has been a ground where they have enjoyed numerous thumping wins, particularly in the last decade.

They will be hoping for more of the same on Saturday when they face the Magpies, as Brendan Rodgers and his side look to spring their slightly disappointing season so far into life.

Here are five of the most memorable wins at Newcastle in the Premier League era.

Newcastle 0-6 Liverpool- 27th April 2013

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Rodgers was nearing the end of his first season in charge at Anfield, and Liverpool were starting to find some impressive form.

The signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho three months earlier had given them far more firepower, and the Reds simply blew away Alan Pardew’s side on the day.

Daniel Agger headed them in front very early on, and Jordan Henderson finished clinically after 17 minutes, following good work from the two new signings. Sturridge then scored twice in six second-half minutes, both from close-range, as Rodgers’ men ran riot.

There was still time for Fabio Borini to score his first Premier League goal for the club, while Henderson’s free-kick from out wide curled straight in. It was an emphatic win, and gave a glimpse of what was to come in 2013/14.

LFC Starting XI: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Coutinho, Sturridge.

Newcastle 1-5 Liverpool- 28th December 2008

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Rafa Benitez‘s side were flying at this point in the 2008/09 season, and this magnificent display tightened their grip at the top of the Premier League table.

The Reds were almost embarrassingly dominant from start to finish, and by the time Steven Gerrard fired them in front after 31 minutes, it’s no exaggeration to say it could have been 4-0. Sami Hyypia powered home a header soon after, and although David Edgar pulled one back just before half-time, Liverpool were still in complete control.

Ryan Babel bundled the ball home to make it 3-1, before a fabulous pass from Lucas Leiva allowed Gerrard to race through and clinically score a fourth. Substitute Xabi Alonso put the icing on the cake, scoring a late penalty to complete the scoring.

Benitez’s men would eventually finish second in the league, but they pushed Manchester United all the way.

LFC Starting XI: Reina, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Insua, Mascherano, Lucas, Gerrard, Benayoun, Babel, Kuyt.

Newcastle 0-3 Liverpool- 24th November 2007

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Despite growing friction between Benitez and Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool produced a terrific performance to dispatch of Sam Allardyce’s side back in the 2007/08 campaign.

Gerrard, who had been booed by the home fans due to England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008 a few days earlier, fired home a sensational 30-yard free-kick in the 28th minute to give his side the lead. Shay Given should have been sent-off before the break for handling the ball outside his area, and Fernando Torres hit the post in the process.

The Reds scored almost immediately after the interval, with Dirk Kuyt shinning the ball home following Hyypia’s flick-on. Babel added a third midway through the second-half with an excellent finish, and they saw out the rest of the game with ease.

LFC Starting XI: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Arbeloa, Lucas, Sissoko, Gerrard, Kewell, Kuyt, Torres.

Newcastle 1-3 Liverpool- 19th March 2006

Benitez was beginning to take Liverpool’s formidable Champions League form into the Premier League, and they enjoyed another comfortable St James’ Park victory back in 2005/06.

Peter Crouch, who had endured such a tough start to life at Anfield, headed the Reds in front after just 10 minutes before Gerrard, so often a thorn in Newcastle’s side down the years, fired home a crisp effort after good link-up play with Crouch.

Shola Ameobi made it 2-1 before half-time with a header, but their momentum was completely lost early in the second-half when Jean-Alain Boumsong when sent-off was hauling down Crouch in the area. Djibril Cisse dispatched the spot-kick, as Liverpool kept the pressure on United at the top. They would eventually finish third that season.

LFC Starting XI: Reina, Kromkamp, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Warnock, Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell, Cisse.

Newcastle 1-4 Liverpool- 30th August 1998

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Michael Owen had become a superstar at the 1998 World Cup in France, and this was another afternoon in which his reputation increased hugely. Ruud Gullit had just become Newcastle manager, but it was a day to forget for the Dutch legend.

Owen put Liverpool in front after 17 minutes, scoring from a tight angle to make it 1-0. Just a minute later he finished clinically past Given, and the Magpies’ defence simply couldn’t live with him.

Although Stephane Guivarc’h scored a 28th-minute goal against the run of play, Owen completed his hat-trick soon after. The then 18-year-old raced past two defenders before flicking a nonchalant effort with the outside of his foot into the corner of the net.

Patrik Berger emphatically made it 4-1 on the stroke of half-time, with Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool side rampant. There were no more goals after the break, as the Reds continued their unbeaten start to the season.

LFC Starting XI: Friedel, Heggem, Babb, Carragher, Staunton, McManaman, Ince, Redknapp, Berger, Riedle, Owen.

Let us know your greatest memories from visits to St James’ Park in the comments section below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Accommodating Gerrard: Where has Liverpool’s midfield energy gone?

Пт, 31/10/2014 - 14:50

With performance levels struggling to reach the heady heights of last season, Brendan Rodgers needs to address the defensive midfield area or think of a new vision to accommodate Steven Gerrard, writes Marty Stewart.

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

The move of Gerrard to a deeper role in midfield was seen as a gamble at the time, but proved to be just one of the master strokes that was Liverpool’s 2013/14 domestic campaign. Not since the departures of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano has The Reds had a natural holding midfield player whom was capable of starting counter attacks and the use of one was integral to Rodgers’ system.

Due to the age he had become and the qualities he possesses it was a sensible choice to use him as a ‘deep lying playmaker’. What aided this change was that there was nobody else capable of playing the role and Rodgers convinced Steven that the move would extend his career. This shift in positioning brought about immediate success and it had looked like Gerrard had been given a new lease on life.

However, this success was permitted by only competing on one front last season and allowing the now 34-year-old to have adequate rest between games. Couple that with teams having to focus on the attacking threat from Suarez, Sterling and Sturridge – and Rodgers had mixed up a remedy that provided the most exciting brand of football many of us have seen played by Liverpool.

2014/15

A number of contributing factors have been evident in Liverpool’s decline so far this year.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Real Madrid CF score the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Pairing Gerrard in midfield with an engine (Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen) to do the grunt work has seemingly ceased to work. Paul Lambert exposed the weakness when he tasked Gabriel Agbonlahor to sit on Gerrard when Aston Villa visited and left Anfield with all three points last month. Since then, teams have followed that mantra, nullifying Gerrard’s impetus in the game and snuffing out the considerable threat Liverpool showed last season.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, in an interview published today, Gerrard explained:

“A couple of teams have set up to man-mark me and stifle me. Against Villa (Gabriel) Agbonlahor wasn’t remotely interested in the ball or the game, only in following me. The other one was at West Ham, but Sam Allardyce has always done that with me.

“In those two games I found it hard to influence things so I’ve had loads of chats with Brendan about how to counter that if it happens, whether it’s by moving out of position or moving further forward into a ‘10’ position.

“We did that in a recent game and it worked really well and my form has actually been a lot better since people started to try and stifle me.

“I think you will see changes in my game. Brendan and I have worked some things out.’

It is too harsh to say that Gerrard is at the root of our problems this year, but it brings to the fore the problem Liverpool and Rodgers have with the defensive midfield position – a position so crucial to the system employed by the Northern Irishman. Without the goals of Suarez and Sturridge to compensate for the distinct lack of midfield energy The Reds are considerably distant from the peaks hit for the majority of last campaign.

One question that I wish to raise is why can’t Gerrard be used as in impact substitute? He’s currently started and played every minute of every Premier League game and Champions League game this season.

I respect the man greatly and he can still perform for ninety minutes on most occasions, but we also know what sort of football he can create in the front third – notably a late cameo at the number 10 position against West Brom – so what’s to say he cannot be an effective second half substitute? The only problem is that a move as substantial as I am proposing will be seen as both risky and disrespectful to a player and man who bleeds Liverpool Football Club.

It is just a thought and a suggestion. I’m under no illusion that many readers of this may render it sacrilegious but I believe it to be food for thought. The appearance of a club captain starting on the substitute bench is perilous (this being my only significant objection to the theory), however, embroiled within a campaign whereby 7-8 clubs can finish in European positions a bold move needs to be made.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Gerrard: I’ll play beyond this season

Пт, 31/10/2014 - 14:05

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is keen to continue his career beyond this season and admits he may be forced to move away from Anfield if the club fails to offer him a new deal.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard during a press conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against Real Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Gerrard, who joined the Liverpool Academy at the age of nine and is approaching 700 appearances in all competitions, is out of contract at his boyhood club at the end of the current campaign.

While the 34-year-old remains a pivotal player having played in all nine Premier League matches for Liverpool this season, he has cast doubt on whether he will remain with the club beyond next summer.

“I can only worry about this season because I’m only contracted until May,” Gerrard said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“As it stands at the moment, I’m here until the end of the season and want to make the most of it. I certainly won’t be retiring this summer. I will play beyond this season.

“We will have to wait and see if that’s at Liverpool or somewhere else. That’s Liverpool’s decision. If they don’t come then I will see what’s out there.”

Gerrard also came to the defence of controversial striker Mario Balotelli, who has made an indifferent start to life at Liverpool with just two goals in 12 appearances and none in seven Premier League matches following his summer move from AC Milan.

Among those to have questioned the Italian’s credentials is Gerrard’s old friend and team-mate Jamie Carragher, who labelled Balotelli as a “panic” buy following the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona over the summer.

Yet Gerrard said: “You have to respect Jamie’s opinion. He knows football but it’s too early to get on Mario’s back.

“He just needs time to score the goals he needs to prove to people he is worthy of staying here. I am not going to judge him after 10 games. To come in after Suarez was always going to be a big ask and he’s not feeling sorry for himself. He is working hard, doing extra shooting sessions.

“I’ve actually been impressed (with) the way he goes about his work. You hear all kinds of stories and rumours before you meet him, but he does all the work. I like the guy.”

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

How Liverpool Are Expected to Line-Up Against Newcastle on Saturday

Пт, 31/10/2014 - 02:14

Brendan Rodgers‘ Liverpool face Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday ahead of a huge encounter with Real Madrid in the Champions League just three days later. Ben Twelves takes a look at the numerous team selection options available to the Reds boss.

 A general view of St James' Park before the Premiership match between Newcastle United and Liverpool. (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Liverpool head north to take on an improving Newcastle team in their tenth game of the Premier League season, and the Reds arrive with a much needed boost of confidence off the back of a dramatic League Cup turnaround on Tuesday night.

It’s been an indifferent opening start to the campaign for Rodgers’ side, with Liverpool still searching for the next level of performance and any form of consistency within the displays continuing to evade them, but the Liverpool manager will be hoping that the last-gasp victory against Swansea provides the platform for his team to build on.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the first goal against Swansea City during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds travel to St James’ Park unbeaten in their last four league games, but having commanded only two wins. Such is the random nature of the Premier League, Liverpool still currently lay just two points outside of the Champions League places despite a largely frustrating start to the season.

A quick upturn in results and the Reds would find themselves leading the chasing pack for that all important top four finish, and a positive result Saturday to back up the win in midweek would be a good place to start.

With the small matter of Real Madrid away on Tuesday night however, Rodgers faces some interesting decisions over the team selection for the match.

The Team

Jose Enrique has joined Daniel Sturridge, Mamadou Sakho, Jon Flanagan and Suso in the treatment room as the Spaniard has a problem with his knee.

Steven Gerrard is set to recommence his duties in the Liverpool midfield after being rested in midweek for the Capital One Cup fixture against Swansea, and the Reds captain could be joined by any of Joe Allen, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho.

Henderson captained the Reds on a difficult but morale-boosting night and he will be hoping to keep his place in the starting team on Saturday afternoon having dropped to the bench for the goalless draw with Hull.

 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring the second goal against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coutinho was the Rodgers’ brightest spark in midweek, and the Brazilian, who was also benched last Saturday, certainly staked his claim for a starting berth at St James’ Park.

Mario Balotelli finally grabbed his second goal in a Red shirt – hopefully providing the Italian with a desire to score more goals to his game – and he’s likely to come back into the starting XI after being named amongst the substitutes for the cup clash.

Rodgers now has a genuine chance to hand Balotelli the mobile strike partner he needs by showing faith in Fabio Borini, who produced a tireless display and provided the assist for his fellow-countryman’s equaliser.

Rodgers: "With Daniel Sturridge out, it's a miss but it gives opportunities to others. Fabio Borini was outstanding the other night."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 30, 2014

The Line Up

Simon Mignolet looks set to replace Brad Jones, despite the Australian keeper doing little wrong in the game, and a changed back four could also return to a familiar look.

Javier Manquillo’s recent flurry of action should see him relegated to the bench after he looked tired at the end of the match on Tuesday, therefore Glen Johnson – who continues to raise eyebrows with decent performances on his unnatural side – will likely move to right back, allowing Alberto Moreno to come back into the team at left back.

Dejan Lovren will hopefully be boosted by scoring his first goal for the club on Tuesday, but there’s a case for Kolo Toure to continue next to the Croatian after the Ivorian marshalled the back four well alongside Lovren in midweek.

Rodgers has a wealth of options in midfield to choose from, but the Liverpool manager needs to move away from the 4-2-3-1 formation in order to utilise the strength in depth available, and maximise the potential at his disposal.

Doing this should see a diamond midfield of Gerrard at the bottom with Henderson and Can ahead. Coutinho’s 90 minutes in midweek could see the Liverpool manager choose to play Raheem Sterling from the start and that would allow the Brazilian to impact from the bench.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling in action against Hull City's Robbie Brady during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As a result of the change in shape, the Reds can play two up front – something that seems to suit almost everyone – and Balotelli should be joined by Borini, who’s performance in midweek warrants a chance in the Premier League.

Available Options

Those changes would allow Liverpool to introduce fresh legs to the side, rest players ahead of Tuesday and it would see them line up like this:

NUFC Diamond Shape

Alternatively, the Liverpool boss should play a 4-3-3 system like so:

NUFC 4-3-3 Shape

However, I expect Rodgers to continue with the 4-2-3-1 shape and line the Reds up like so:

NUFC 4-2-3-1 Formation

Saturday’s game hands Liverpool with the chance to take confidence from the midweek comeback and make it three wins from four league games after a slow start to the season.

The fixtures keep coming thick and fast for Rodgers’ side – with Saturday being the 5th in a hectic three week period – and though it will be a tough game ahead of a mammoth encounter in Madrid on Tuesday, it’s one that presents Liverpool with a chance to begin a surge up the Premier League table.

THEMED XI: Players to have played for both Liverpool and Newcastle

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Brendan Rodgers’ pre-Newcastle press conference: On Sturridge, Balotelli and Lambert

Чт, 30/10/2014 - 20:36

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists he has “no concern” about Mario Balotelli and that the controversial Reds striker does not need any kind of protection from provocation.

rodgers_hull_presser

Rodgers will have been delighted to see Balotelli get on the scoresheet in Tuesday’s 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Swansea, the Italy international making the desired impact as a late substitute by prodding home an 86th-minute equaliser to break his eight-match goal drought.

But Balotelli was also involved in two other notable incidents, the first coming pre-match when he was sent away from a warm-up exercise by Liverpool coach Mike Marsh – which assistant boss Colin Pascoe, amid reports it had been due to the player messing around, stressed was only because he had sustained a minor knee problem.

Then, after his goal, Balotelli was caught up in an off-the-ball confrontation with Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey, and further words were exchanged between the pair after the final whistle as they headed off the pitch.

Asked on Thursday for his view of what had happened with Balotelli that evening, Rodgers was in no mood for elaboration. The manager said: “I don’t know, but there is no problem, so we move on.”

Then asked about opposition players possibly targeting the 24-year-old, Rodgers added: “I don’t have to protect Mario, he is fine. There is no concern.”

Rodgers was speaking at his press conference to preview Saturday’s Premier League trip to Newcastle, and while Balotelli is set to be available, Liverpool will once again be without fellow frontman Daniel Sturridge.

Sturridge was ruled out for two to four weeks earlier this month with a calf problem having only just recovered from a thigh injury sustained on England duty, and Rodgers has admitted the 25-year-old needs to get a consistent run of games if he is to become one of Europe’s top strikers.

Meanwhile, Sturridge himself has suggested in an interview with talkSPORT that his injury problems may be hereditary – something Rodgers felt unable to comment on when it was raised on Thursday.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and manager Brendan Rodgers as he is substituted against Sunderland during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I can only concentrate on his injury now and what my medical team here, who are fantastic, are telling me,” Rodgers said. “He is just in the middle of recovering and we will see the length of time it takes.

“I’m not an expert on genetics or medicine, so I can’t comment. All we know is that he had a calf strain on the back of his last injury, and he is working to recover from that.”

Liverpool – who, along with Sturridge, are of course also minus the services of last season’s top-scorer Luis Suarez following his summer sale to Barcelona – have had an inconsistent campaign so far, and Tuesday was the first time they had netted in three games.

Rodgers admits the responsibility lies with him to find solutions to the Reds’ problems. And in terms of goals, he remains confident that another England striker on Liverpool’s books, Rickie Lambert, will soon start scoring after Tuesday’s match extended his wait for a first goal for the Merseysiders to 10 appearances.

“It is up to myself to find the solution,” Rodgers said. “The players who are available are working very hard, and we are still learning about each other.

“I think this is something that sometimes is missed – you get new players in and with not as much preparation time, you are learning about them in the games.

“But I can see each day relationships growing between the players and the connection in the team.

“Whenever you have players out it makes it a bit more difficult, but you need to find the solutions in different ways and that is what we have been trying to do.

“Gradually as each day goes by I sense we are getting better. “With Daniel out, of course it is a miss, but it is also an opportunity, as we saw the other night.

Fabio Borini was excellent, a real threat, and put in a wonderful cross for the (Balotelli) goal. “And Rickie Lambert, who hasn’t had many opportunities – his goals will come.

“He is working tirelessly every day, he had some nice touches and his goals will come.”

Rodgers also confirmed full-back Jose Enrique is sidelined by a knee issue.

PA

LIVERPOOL v NEWCASTLE: Team news and match preview

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Newcastle United v Liverpool – Team News: Midfield Options for Rodgers Against Resurgent Magpies

Чт, 30/10/2014 - 20:10

Liverpool travel to Newcastle on Saturday looking to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to five games. Ben Twelves looks ahead to the clash.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Newcastle United's manager Alan Pardew during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Newcastle United v Liverpool
Premier League; Saturday, 1st November 2014; 12:45pm kick-off

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool head to the North East to take on a rejuvenated Newcastle in their 10th game of the Premier League season on Saturday, with both teams having enjoyed success in the League Cup this week.

The Reds will arrive at St James’ Park off the back of a morale boosting 2-1 comeback against Swansea in midweek, but they face a far stiffer challenge now, with the Magpies resurgent having recorded fantastic back-to-back away wins against Tottenham in the Premier League and Manchester City in the League Cup.

Rodgers: "We will go into the game with big confidence. The other night we played as well as we have done all season."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 30, 2014

Last 5

In the last five visits to Tyneside, the Reds have lost twice, drawn once and won twice – the last of which was two seasons ago when Rodgers’ side – without a banned Luis Suarez – thrashed the Geordies 6-0, thanks to a brace each from Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge and a goal apiece from Fabio Borini and Daniel Agger.

Last season, the two teams battled out a 2-2 draw on a day Rodgers chose to operate with a 3-5-2 formation on the spacious St James’ Park pitch.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard is mobbed by team-mates after scoring the first equalising goal against Newcastle United during the Premiership match at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds fell behind to Yohan Cabaye’s long range strike before Steven Gerrard’s penalty – which resulted in the home side being reduced to 10 men – pulled Liverpool back on level terms. Paul Dummett put Newcastle back in front despite being a man down, only for Daniel Sturridge to once again level the match for Liverpool as he headed in Luis Suarez’s cross at the near post.

Team News

Jose Enrique has been added to the injury list due to suffering from a knee problem, and the Spaniard is therefore unavailable for the return to his former club. Mamadou Sakho, Jon Flanagan, Suso and Daniel Sturridge all remain out, with the England striker frustratingly set to miss his twelfth game of the season to date.

Rodgers: "Enrique has an issue with his knee and won't be available." Sakho, Sturridge, Suso, Flanagan also still missing.

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 30, 2014

Ahead of a huge clash in Madrid on Tuesday night, Rodgers is likely to freshen up his side from the team that played in midweek and he could make a number of changes, with Simon Mignolet, Martin Skrtel, Alberto Moreno, Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard all expected to return to the starting XI.

Joe Allen and Emre Can were also rested in midweek, and the midfield duo will be hopeful of recalls to the team, as will Adam Lallana and Mario Balotelli who did feature in the cup match, but only as second half substitutes.

Fabio Borini – who impressed in the cup tie and was a large factor behind the turnaround – will also be hoping his tenacious performance is rewarded with more match-day involvement whether from the bench or in the starting team, starting on Saturday.

Opposition

After a woeful start to the season saw Newcastle in the relegation zone, the Magpies, typically, have found some form which looks to have turned their season around, having gone unbeaten in the month of October.

Rodgers: "Newcastle had a very good result at home to Leicester and then 2 away wins. Tottenham result was excellent for them."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 30, 2014

That form saw Alan Pardew’s side win three out of four fixtures, picking up two league wins and progressing to the quarter final stage of the Capital One Cup – knocking out the current holders, and a very strong Man City team on their own turf on Wednesday night.

Pardew made wholesale changes to his team for the cup clash, and the Newcastle manager could recall a number of the players he chose to rest back to the starting team such as, Tim Krul, Vernon Anita, Moussa Sissoko, Yoann Gouffran, Remy Cabellia and Ayoze Perez.

Pardew revealed that striker @CissePapiss is "touch and go" for Saturday's @premierleague fixture with @LFC. #nufc

— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 30, 2014

However, one player the Newcastle boss may not be able to call upon, is Pappis Cisse, who, Pardew revealed in his pre-match press conference, is rated “touch-and-go” and the Senegalese international is set to be monitored closely ahead of the match.

Midfielder Cheick Tiote has been ruled out for the home side.

AP: "We want to improve on our league position by beating Liverpool. It's always a great fixture and is set up to be a cracking game." #nufc

— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 30, 2014

The Geordies will be looking to turn three successive wins in all competitions into four on Saturday, but they’ll have to record their first win over Liverpool since the 2011/12 season, when they overcame Kenny Daglish’s side 2-0 in a game that saw Jose Enrique end up in goal for the Reds after Pepe Reina was sent off with ten minutes remaining.

Saturday’s fixture is the early kick-off, meaning the match will be shown live on BT Sport 1 with kick-off from St James’ Park coming at 12:45pm.

THEMED XI: Players to have played for both Liverpool and Newcastle

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Bournemouth v Liverpool Capital One Cup quarter final to be shown live on Sky

Чт, 30/10/2014 - 18:43

Liverpool’s Capital One Cup (League Cup) quarter final against Championship side Bournemouth is to be shown live on Sky Sports on Wednesday, 17 December (7.45pm kick off).

 Liverpool's Victor Moses scores the first goal against Bournemouth during the FA Cup 4th Round match at Dean Court. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds and The Cherries were drawn against each other on Wednesday night, with Bournemouth having seen off West Brom in the fourth round on Tuesday night.

Eddie Howe’s side are going strong in the Championship, currently in fourth place, just two points off the top. They won every game they played in October, including a 8-0 hammering off Birmingham City.

The sides met in the FA Cup third round last season, with Liverpool winning 2-0 at The Goldsands Stadium courtesy of goals from Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge.

The match takes place following a trip to Old Trafford on the Sunday and before The Reds’ welcome Arsenal to Anfield the Sunday following.

League Cup Quarter Finals

Derby County v Chelsea (Sky, Tuesday, 16 December)
Tottenham v Newcastle (Tuesday, 16 December)
Sheffield United v Southampton (Tuesday, 16 December)
Bournemouth v Liverpool (Sky, Wednesday, 17 December)

.

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Liverpool Ladies Season Review: 5 Key Games That Won The WSL Title

Чт, 30/10/2014 - 16:53

Heather Carroll continues her look back at the Liverpool Ladies’ triumphant 2014 WSL season by describing the games on their title winning season.

 Liverpool's women side parade the Women's Super League Trophy before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Hull City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)Ladies

On Sunday 12th October, Liverpool Ladies FC claimed their second Women’s Super League title in astonishing fashion.

Starting the day in 3rd place between both Chelsea Ladies and Birmingham City, the scores in each game somehow all going Liverpool’s way and leading to winning the title on goal difference. The delay in the WSL trophy being couriered from Manchester to Liverpool making the victory all the more sweeter as the players celebrated in disbelief.

The reigning champions had suffered a tough start to their title defence, with key first-team player Nicole Rolser and new signing Lucy Staniforth both suffering ACL injuries on the eve of the campaign. At one point Liverpool had no less than 8 first-team players out through injury. Full credit to Matt Beard, the coaching staff at the club, the remaining players and the youth players who stepped up and dragged Liverpool over the finish line in first place.

In the second part of my Season Review, I take a look back at 5 key games that helped Liverpool retain their status as champions of the Women’s Super League.

 Key Games

Chelsea Ladies 0 – 0 Liverpool Ladies, Sunday 20th April

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Liverpool’s first away game of the season came just 3 days after beating league newcomers Manchester City 1-0.

Chelsea Ladies had strengthened considerably during the off-season, adding South Korean international Ji So-Yun and Arsenal Ladies duo Katie Chapman and Gilly Flaherty to an already talented squad.

Prior to the game Liverpool had 3 players out injured – Martha Harris joining Lucy Staniforth and Nicole Rolser on the sidelines. During the game the reds also lost Kate Longhurst and then goalkeeper Libby Stout.

Although the game finished 0-0, it was not through a lack of trying from either side – Gemma Davison hitting the post for the visitors in the first-half with the rebound going just behind Natasha Dowie.

The home side almost nicked the 3 points minutes from time when Eni Aluko broke through the Liverpool defence, the England striker putting her shot wide of substitute keeper Danielle Gibbons’ post.

Lucy Bronze was excellent throughout the game at centre-back, making a number of crucial interceptions to ensure Liverpool continued a run of 3 games with no goals conceded.

Come the final day of the season the vitality of these interceptions become all the more transparent, as did Chelsea’s inability to score past Liverpool in both league games.

Liverpool Ladies 1 – 0 Everton Ladies, Wednesday 16th July 

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With 4 league games in the first half of the season and 10 in the second, the majority of Liverpool’s key games fall in the latter half of the campaign.

The third Merseyside derby of the year came after 2 good cups wins for Liverpool, a resounding 7-1 victory at Durham and beating a tough Doncaster Belles side 3-2.

Liverpool had so far failed to beat Everton in 2014, the toffees having knocked the reds out of The FA Cup and holding them to a goalless draw in the Continental Cup back in April.

Despite Everton failing to win a single league game thus far they yet again proved hard to break down, with 10 players behind the ball and attempting to catch Liverpool on the break with Nikita Parris on her own up front.

It took a touch of class from Corina Schroder by the left corner flag to hold off a couple of blue shirts and put the ball into the box – eventually falling to Kate Longhurst who finished past Rachael Brown-Finnis to score her first goal of the season.

Liverpool held on for the win, while Everton continued their run of no wins until the end of the season and eventually being relegated to the Women’s Super League 2.

Birmingham City 1 – 2 Liverpool Ladies, Sunday 21st September 

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Out of the 3 teams battling it out for the league title, it was Liverpool Ladies who had arguably the toughest of run-ins out of themselves, Birmingham City and Chelsea Ladies.

It was a tough start to the game for Liverpool who initially seemed to struggle in the centre of the pitch, Fara Williams’ presence was paramount to regaining their composure and helping the reds to find their rhythm.

Once Liverpool were on top Martha Harris had a good first-half attacking down the left, her resilience at the edge of the box leading to Amanda Da Costa tapping home from yards out.

Leading 1-0 and looking to be comfortably seeing out the win, Libby Stout made a rare mistake – her mis-hit clearance landing at the feet of ex-Liverpool striker Hannah Keryakoplis, who finished well into the empty net.

As Gemma Bonner picked up the devastated Stout, Fara Williams spotted Becky Spency off her line from the restart, taking just one touch before expertly lobbing the ball past the unsuspecting blues keeper.

Birmingham were livid, claiming that the referee had no signalled for the restart however their protests were in vain, the goal stood and Williams’ flash of genius gave Liverpool a deserved 3 points.

Arsenal Ladies 3 – 3 Liverpool Ladies, Sunday 5th October

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Liverpool Ladies penultimate game of the season was a perfect display of the reds never-say-die team spirit.

2-0 down within 10 minutes and looking as though the title was slipping further and further away, Matt Beard made a half-time substitution bringing on Gemma Davison for Martha Harris and changing the formation.

The reds began to look more cohesive as a unit, Davison linking well with Kate Longhurst in attack and Fara Williams sitting further back in front of the defence from where she was easily able to dictate the pace of the game.

It was Williams who pulled a goal back just before half-time, a wonderful free-kick swung around past Emma Byrne to make the scoreline 2-1 at the break.

Despite Liverpool starting the second-half well it was Arsenal who would be next to score. Casey Stoney re-extending their lead from a corner, her second goal against Liverpool this season.

Becky Easton put in a towering performance at centre-back, keeping Liverpool in the game as Arsenal looked buoyed by their goal and were looking for a 4th.

The introduction of Nicole Rolser was a welcome sight for supporters of Liverpool – the German winger making her first appearance since suffering an ACL tear. It didn’t take long for Rolser to relight her partnership with Natasha Dowie, the striker teeing her up to score in her return and make the score line 3-2.

Into the 93rd minutes and looking like all hopes of retaining the title were over, Gemma Davison burst through the central defenders and slotted the ball low past former team mate Byrne. In doing so probably scoring the most important goal of Liverpool’s season and giving the club the slimmest of chances as the league entered it’s final day.

Liverpool Ladies 3 – 0 Bristol Academy, Sunday 12th October

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On the final day of the league season Liverpool Ladies began the day in 3rd, 3 points behind Chelsea Ladies who were away at Manchester City and 1 behind Birmingham City who were entertaining Notts County. Therefore to be crowned champions Liverpool needed Chelsea to lose, Birmingham to lose or draw and for themselves to win by 2 or more goals.

Going into the game Liverpool knew to rely on results elsewhere they first had to take care of their own and score a few goals.

How the game remained goalless at half-time is a mystery, Katrin Omarsdottir having a shot blocked off the line and Lucy Bronze hitting the crossbar amongst a whole host of other opportunities.

Up at the other end despite Bristol not particularly threatening the Liverpool goal, Nina Frausing played her best game in a red shirt snuffing out no less than 6 Bristol attacks in the first-half. Any time Bristol attempted to cross the halfway line, Frausing was there in the way.

At half-time as news filtered through that Chelsea were 2-0 down at City and Birmingham were losing to Notts having seen a penalty saved, what seemed to be an impossible dream at the beginning of the day began to look like a real possibility.

Out fighting for the second-half and knowing that they were still very much title contenders, Liverpool maintained a high level of attack with Gemma Davison and Lucy Bronze surging forward and into the box at any given opportunity.

It was Davison who pulled the ball back to Natasha Dowie, who made no mistakes 15-yards out to finally open the scoring. A second soon followed after Lucy Bronze produced her signature move with a run down the right wing, cutting into the box along the touchline and scoring from a tight angle to double the reds lead.

Soon it was 3, top scorer Dowie winning a penalty which there was never any doubt of Fara Williams scoring from the spot.

Liverpool had now done their bit and as the referee blew the final whistle the reds faced an agonising wait for the other 2 games to finish, Birmingham had drew level with Notts and Chelsea had pulled a goal back – one more goal in either game would see the title headed to a new home.

Jubilant celebrations soon erupted from one of the boxes, the word spreading across the crowd and onto the pitch that Liverpool Ladies were indeed once again Champions of England following a surreal final day of league action.

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Liverpool-Newcastle Themed XI: Players To Have Played For Both

Чт, 30/10/2014 - 16:21

Liverpool face Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday lunchtime, and Henry Jackson selects the best XI to have played for both clubs.

 A general view of St James' Park before the Premiership match between Newcastle United and Liverpool. (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Over the years, there have been some outstanding players to have represented the Reds and the Magpies (and some not so outstanding), contributing greatly to the success of both.

This combined XI is made up of players who did something of note for both teams – Ian Rush, for example, scored just two goals for Newcastle so doesn’t make the cut. Danny Guthrie is another who can’t force his way into the side despite a modest four years on Tyneside after leaving Liverpool.

This XI is desperately short of defenders so we’ve gone for a (very) attacking 3-4-3 shape – don’t worry that midfield and attack will make up for any problems at the back!

Goalkeeper and Defence

MIKE HOOPER

Hooper joined Liverpool from Wrexham in 1985, and in his eight years spent at Anfield he was a very able deputy to Bruce Grobbelaar in goal. He won six trophies at the club.

He signed for Newcastle from the Reds in 1993, having fallen further down the pecking order because of David James’ arrival, and spent two years at St James’ Park as an understudy to Pavel Srnicek.

BARRY VENISON

Kenny Dalglish took Venison to Anfield from Sunderland in the summer of 1986. The right-back was a solid squad player as Liverpool won the 1988 and 1990 First Division title, as well as the 1989 FA Cup. He eventually left for Newcastle in 1992.

Venison spent three years in the North East under Kevin Keegan, where he won the Division One title in 1992/93.

ALAN KENNEDY

Kennedy started his career at Newcastle, and was a member of the side that lost 3-0 to Liverpool in the 1974 FA Cup Final. The attacking left-back’s performances for the Magpies impressed Bob Paisley greatly over the years, and he joined the Reds in 1978.

He spent eight terrific years on Merseyside, cementing his place as one of the club’s greatest ever full-backs. He scored the winning goal in the 1981 European Cup Final against Real Madrid, and the decisive spot-kick against Roma three years later. Kennedy won five league titles at Liverpool, and made 359 appearances in total.

JOSE ENRIQUE

 Liverpool's Jose Enrique in action against Manchester City during the International Champions Cup Group B match at the Yankee Stadium on day ten of the club's USA Tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Enrique joined Newcastle from Villarreal in 2007, for a fee of £6.3m, and it was rumoured that they had beaten Liverpool to his signature. He spent four years there, and became a crowd favourite because of his decision to stay at the club despite relegation in 2008/09.

Dalglish signed him for Liverpool in 2011 but after a bright start to his Anfield career he’s now second choice to fellow Spaniard Alberto Moreno.

Midfield

DIDI HAMANN

 Liverpool's Dietmar Hamann in action against Birmingham during the Premiership match at St. Andrews (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having spent five years at Bayern Munich, Hamann joined Newcastle for £5.5m in 1998. He impressed hugely in the centre of the Magpies’ midfield, and a year later Gerard Houllier bought him to Liverpool for £8m.

The German was one of the Reds’ most important players for many years, playing the defensive midfield role to perfection. He spent seven seasons there, winning a cup treble in 2000/01 and the 2005 Champions League. His influential dipslay in Istanbul, in which he was introduced at half-time with Liverpool 3-0 down, will forever go down in legend.

TERRY MCDERMOTT

 Newcastle United's assistant coach Terry McDermott during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

McDermott spent a year at Newcastle in 1973/74, and like Kennedy, had to witness Liverpool tear them to shreds in the 1974 FA Cup Final. Paisley liked the look of him though, and he joined the Reds in November of that year.

In his eight years spent at Anfield, McDermott became one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players. He won three European Cups, scoring in the 1977 final against Borussia Monchengladbach, and five league titles.

The goalscoring midfielder rejoined Newcastle in 1982, and he spent two years there.

JOHN BARNES

Barnes is definitely an all-time Liverpool legend, and the stuff he could do on a football pitch was majestic. The brilliant winger was a key player in arguably the Reds’ most entertaining team in history, during the late 1980s, and he two First Division titles, two FA Cups and a League Cup in total at the club.

The former England star remained at Anfield until 1997, but was well past his best when Dalglish, by that point Newcastle manager, signed him for Newcastle. He spent two seasons there, before joining Charlton Athletic in 1999.

PETER BEARDSLEY

Beardsley is adored by both Liverpool and Newcastle fans alike. He was one of the trickiest, most inventive English players of the last 30 years.

He moved to Newcastle from Vancouver Whitecaps in 1983, and spent four excellent years there, forming a great partnership in attack with an ageing Keegan.

Dalglish took him to Liverpool in 1987, and he was superb. He had technical brilliance, creativity and goals in abundance, and he won two league titles in his four years.

Having spent two seasons at Everton, Beardsley re-signed for Newcastle in 1993, at the age of 32. He was still terrific though, scoring 25 times in his first season back- his partnership with a young Andy Cole was lethal- and almost captaining them to Premier League glory in 1995/96. He’s now a coach at The Magpies’ Academy.

Attack

KEVIN KEEGAN

Keegan was signed from Scunthrope by Bill Shankly in 1971, and he went on to become a Liverpool legend. The diminutive striker scored 100 goals for the Reds, many of which were in big games, and he won the 1977 European Cup and three First Division titles before joining Hamburg in 1977.

With his career starting to wind down, Keegan joined Newcastle in 1982. He scored at an impressive rate there, and helped get them gain promotion from the Second Division in 1984.

He was a hero at both clubs, and is actually criminally underrated by some.

ANDY CARROLL

 Liverpool's new siginging Andy Carroll during a photo-call at Anfield. Carroll arrived from Newcastle United for a club record fee of £35m. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having come through Newcastle’s youth system, Carroll became something of a cult figure at St James’ Park. His robust style was very old-school, but he was a talented player. 33 goals in 91 games was an impressive return for a player barely out of his teens.

Dalglish made the decision to bring him to Liverpool in January 2011, but the £35m paid for him remains utterly baffling to this day. Carroll never lived up to the hype, and barring an FA Cup semi-final winner against Everton, he was a huge disappointment. Injuries didn’t help, in fairness.

MICHAEL OWEN

Owen was the star of Liverpool’s team during the late 1990s, and he was widely seen as the most exciting prospect in English football. Having scored on his Reds debut, he went on to find the back of the net 158 times in just 297 matches, including a memorable late double against Arsenal in the 2001 FA Cup Final. He won the Ballon d’Or that year too.

Having moved to Real Madrid in 2004, Newcastle snapped him up a year later. His time in the North East was a disaster, however, with serious injury problems restricting him to just 79 appearances in four years. 30 goals was far from a poor return though.

Manager- KENNY DALGLISH

The legendary Scot enjoyed a superb period as Liverpool boss between 1985 and 1991, winning three league titles and two FA Cups.

He had a short, if unsuccessful reign in charge of Newcastle in 1997-98, before returning to the Anfield hot-seat following the sacking of Roy Hodgson in January 2011.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 12.16.41

What would your combined XI be? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Liverpool’s October Review and Player of the Month Vote

Чт, 30/10/2014 - 13:36

Have your say in this month’s Liverpool Player of the Month vote, with Jack Lusby presenting your five options.

 Liverpool players celebrate the first goal against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool October Form Guide: L – W – W – L – D – W

Liverpool are apparently in crisis. Looking at the form guide above perhaps tells a different story, particularly given the only two losses for Brendan Rodgers’ side came in the Champions League — unknown territory for many of this young side — and one of those against the defending champions.

A disappointing 1-0 loss away to Paolo Sousa’s FC Basel kicked off October, and Liverpool’s performances have followed suit ever since.

Limp and uninspired, the Reds have struggled through this past month.

However, back-to-back victories in the Premier League, 2-1 at home to West Bromwich Albion and 3-2 away to Queen Park Rangers, along with a further 0-0 stalemate at home to Hull City, have bookended the unsurprising 3-0 decimation at the hands of Real Madrid at Anfield.

Rounding off the month with a late 2-1 win over Swansea City saw Rodgers’ side add the gloss to October’s form guide.

It may be easier to select players for criticism, with Liverpool’s four of Liverpool’s back five arguably warranting a place of their own on any shame list, but who has made our nominations for Liverpool Player of the Month for October?

Take a look back at the top performers of the of the last month, and have your say—who gets your vote?

Philippe Coutinho

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the second goal against Queens Park Rangers with team-mate captain Steven Gerrard during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho was in and out of Rodgers’ first team throughout October but, whenever utilised, made his mark with a series of effervescent displays.

The midfielder made the difference between a win and a draw against QPR, was the best player on the park before the Reds fell to Madrid’s might, was Man of the Match against Hull despite playing only 30 minutes, and inspired the Capital One Cup win over Swansea.

What more can you ask?

Amazingly, Coutinho started just half of Liverpool’s games in October, with the No. 10’s attacking and creative talents outstanding throughout.

It is often argued that the Brazilian is best-used as an impact player—but a series of enduring performances from kick-off should demand a starting spot for Coutinho moving forward this season.

Adam Lallana

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana scores the first goal against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After returning from injury sustained in pre-season in September, Adam Lallana fell just short of our inaugural 2014/15 Player of the Month vote, but continuing his impressive start on Merseyside in October has made the Englishman a no-brainer this time around.

Particularly impressive was Lallana’s decisive contribution against West Brom, with a well-taken finish capping some great skill for the former Southampton man’s first goal in a Liverpool shirt.

Enjoying the freedom of a fluid forward line, Lallana grew in confidence at Anfield.

More effective in a central role, the England midfielder has struggled sometimes when deployed wide, but Lallana has shown enough throughout October to make him one of Rodgers’ top summer signings.

Javier Manquillo

 Liverpool's Javier Manquillo in action against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Finishing in fifth in September’s Player of the Month vote, Liverpool’s Mr. Dependable Javier Manquillo once more makes the grade after another run of consistent performances on the right-hand side of Rodgers’ back line.

Alongside the currently-farcical central defensive partnership of Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel, it could be expected to see Manquillo dragged into the widespread criticism of Liverpool’s defence, but the Spaniard holds his head high.

A no-fuss right-back, Manquillo prefers to ensure his defensive duties are fulfilled—a refreshing prospect.

A shuttling display in the clean-sheet performance against Hull was the Spaniard’s highlight for October. It was just a shame his attacking counterparts couldn’t produce the decisive quality in the final third.

Raheem Sterling

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the third winning goal against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

October unfortunately presented Raheem Sterling with a miserable tete-a-tete with England manager Roy Hodgson, with the latter claiming the Liverpool forward had complained of feeling “tired” on international duty.

The 19-year-old has looked jaded at points throughout this early Autumn, but his performances have remained key for this Liverpool side.

Interestingly deployed alongside Mario Balotelli as an off-the-shoulder striker against Madrid, the teenager displayed a nuanced adaptability belying his young years.

Not his best month, but Sterling’s so-so is better than most on Merseyside.

Jordan Henderson

 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring the second goal against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool vice-captain Jordan Henderson’s form tailed off towards the end of October, but the Englishman began the month in fine fettle. Not least this came with the 24-year-old’s dominant performance in the home victory over West Brom.

Central to Liverpool’s fortunes in what is perhaps the only convincing win of October, Henderson’s box-to-box qualities cut through a well-organised Albion side.

The midfielder scored one and set up another, with his astute piece of skill combining well with the movement of Lallana, and Henderson’s intelligent follow-through play saw him set up by Sterling to score the winner on that Saturday afternoon.

He was your Player of the Month in September’s vote, at a landslide 41 per cent of the vote, but will the No. 14 continue his reign?

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Who gets your vote for Liverpool Player of the Month for October? Let us know in the comments below.

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Keeping patience as the scaffolding of transition looms over Anfield

Чт, 30/10/2014 - 13:00

Naturally, after the nauseous heights of 2013/14, there may well be a hangover period for Liverpool, writes Danny Gallagher.

 The view from the Spion Kop at Liverpool's Anfield home before the Premiership match against Arsenal. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It does not require the hawk-eyed among you to notice that building work is well underway on the Lothair Road wing of Anfield, as the stadium finally goes about receiving much needed rejuvenation to bigger and better things.

It is inside the stadium however, on the hallowed Anfield turf, that the real construction project is underway. Albeit a metaphorical one, the Liverpool squad is currently a building site with which a Northern Irishman at the helm has to tinker and refine into a smoothly running machine once again.

Brendan Rodgers is a manager by profession – a tactician, a planner and an architect by character; in short, he builds things.

Evidence is aplenty both during his early Chelsea youth days and his commanding rise with Swansea City, where he embedded a successful philosophy and established solid Premier League status for the South Wales club.

Presently, after Liverpool’s faltering start to the current campaign, what Rodgers now has on his hands is an assignment of complete reconstruction, a need to breathe life back into a team which caused such artistic destruction during the previous campaign.

Mario and the media circus

People often like to break things down into simplistic lists when determining where issues occur in life. Said list for Liverpool would read; injuries, consistency, loss of Luis Suárez – all rather predictable, and perhaps in reverse order.

The latter holds no reason to be dwelled upon however, as the Uruguayan has finally embarked upon his Barcelona career following infamous bite-gate take 3. His ‘replacement’, a certain Mario Balotelli, is currently the catalyst of a whole media circus which surrounds the club.

 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)

It appears that the jury is still out on Mario, yet as the Italian has only just breached the two-month mark of his Anfield tenancy, voices of concern are incredibly premature.

Following last weekend’s disappointing 0-0 home draw against Hull City, the back pages of the national newspapers were ablaze with headlines condemning Mario’s missed opportunities and emphasising a lack of input towards an already lacklustre Liverpool side.

The reality however, was that following a reasonably quiet Saturday of football – with only West Ham’s impressive victory over Manchester City getting chins wagging – the media were in need of a protagonist to spice up the print and provide an additional talking point.

Arise Mario Balotelli, the old-reliable who, even if he were to remain in an empty house all day, would still be allocated column space in some form or another.

Balotelli is the sporting media’s dream.

Of course, it is perfectly true that his baron goal-scoring return to the Premier League has not aided his cause, yet constant scolding in the public eye serves no positive purpose.

Fans with a passion for the game only had to observe the vocal support that Kopites produced for Mario on Saturday, to realise the media’s berating doesn’t penetrate the walls of Anfield.

‘You’ve done a Spurs!’

An average phrase, with which copious ‘pundits’ are taking considerable pleasure in recycling this season when discussing Liverpool.

How Andre Villas Boas must wince when realising that he was essentially the culprit behind the coining of the expression.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Tottenham Hotspur's manager Andre Villas-Boas during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

What is being referred to here, for those who aren’t familiar, is the action of Tottenham Hotspurs spending upwards of £100 million during last summer’s transfer window – the entirety of the Gareth Bale transfer fee – on a vast array of potential-laden talent which thus far has not borne fruit.

Comparisons were immediately draw after Liverpool sanctioned the sale of Luis Suárez and began to attack the transfer market at a ferocious pace.

Now, less than 10 games in to the current campaign, some individuals are questioning the calibre of Rodgers’ summer acquisitions, eager to place them upon the same scrapheap as Spurs’ motley crew of purchases.

The notion of course is nonsense. When the situation that Brendan Rodgers has upon his plate is fully appreciated, the magnitude of the enterprise that is the 2014/15 season becomes very apparent.

Grandiose expectations

Following the juggling act of accommodating eight new signings, keeping a sober ignorance of the Balotelli-infatuated media and dealing with the untimely (and completely avoidable… though that is another article in itself) injury of star striker Daniel Sturridge – Rodgers then somehow has to maintain the kind of blistering form and fluidity that saw Liverpool set alight the Premier League last season.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the winning third goal against Manchester City with team-mates captain Steven Gerrard and Jon Flanagan during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It may have been unfathomable and even slightly delirious at times, but Liverpool’s form in the previous campaign, taking the title decision down to the wire, unavoidably gives birth to overbearing levels of expectation.

It is in the nature of the sport to want more, and to see your team advance upon their previous labours.

But when, as Rodgers frankly put it last year, your team is performing at a level ‘a couple of seasons ahead’ of where they should be – how do you then supersede that with any level of logic and rationality?

That isn’t to say that fans should be happy with the Reds faltering back to a sixth or seventh placed finish. On the contrary, performance should still endeavour to gather pace.
Being realistic however, the only way Liverpool could improve upon last season, domestically, is by winning the league.

Is something like that possible following the sale of the controversial, enigmatic yet disbelievingly talented striker that propelled you to within an inch of silverware? Perhaps not – or at least not in the immediate aftermath.

But, with 29 domestic games still to run, passing critical judgement on the Reds and the transitional structuring of Rodgers appears very ill-timed.

Naturally, after the nauseous heights of 2013/14, this may well be the hangover period for Liverpool.

But with heavy building projects simultaneously occurring both inside and outside of Anfield right now, don your hard-hats and take patience as a virtue. The next domestic exploit comes in the shape of trip to Tyneside – we go from there.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Sturridge on “likeable” and “misunderstood” Balotelli

Ср, 29/10/2014 - 22:38

Daniel Sturridge is hoping to form a successful partnership with Mario Balotelli after the Italian scored just his second Liverpool goal against Swansea on Tuesday night.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the second goal against Tottenham Hotspur from the penalty spot with team-mates Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Balotelli helped his side secure a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory in the Capital One Cup fourth-round tie at Anfield, notching their equaliser in the 86th minute – only seven minutes after his introduction as a substitute.

The goal will ease some of the pressure on the striker who had come under scrutiny after scoring just once in his first 11 games for the club since a £16million summer switch from AC Milan. And Sturridge, who has not featured since September due to a calf injury but is nearing a return, cannot wait to work in tandem with his team-mate.

“We get on well off the field and in the changing rooms,” he told talkSPORT. “We’re always laughing and joking.

“It’s not hugely important to be friends to have a great (football) relationship with somebody, and if you’re not friends you can still have a great partnership, but you can also be friends and have a great partnership.

“Once I get back fit I’m hoping we can strike up a partnership.

“Last season with Luis (Suarez) we had a great relationship up front and scored a lot of goals. Hopefully this season it will be the same.”

Balotelli developed a reputation as a larger than life character during his two-and-a-half year spell with Manchester City but Sturridge insists he is “misunderstood” and launched a robust defence of the 24-year-old.

“Mario has been under the microscope,” he added. “That will always be the case when you play for a big club. You are going to have a lot of eyes on you.

“Mario’s a great guy, and he’s misunderstood sometimes. A lot of people are harsh on him. I get on really with him though. I have nothing but good words to say about him.

“He’s working hard on the training field. People have told me he’s working tirelessly to play the way we play.

“It’s difficult moving to a new club and having new team-mates, it doesn’t (always) just click straight away.

“Everybody is helping him and he’s playing well. Sometimes you don’t get the breaks in terms of scoring goals. Every striker goes through times when they don’t score.

“A lot of stories have been put out about him in the past which aren’t true. For him, it’s difficult to shake off the celebrity (tag).

“He’s a likeable person. I don’t have any bad words to say about him. People don’t realise what he’s been through in his life to get where he is today.”

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Toure backs his mate Balotelli to bang ‘em in on a regular basis for Liverpool

Ср, 29/10/2014 - 20:12

Liverpool defender Kolo Toure has no doubt team-mate Mario Balotelli is one of the best players in the world and is backing the striker to go on a scoring run following his goal in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup win over Swansea.

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring the second goal against Swansea City in injury time during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On an eventful evening for the maverick frontman, Balotelli helped his side secure a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory in the fourth-round tie at Anfield, notching their equaliser in the 86th minute – only seven minutes after his introduction as a substitute.

With it being just his second goal in 12 games since his move to Liverpool and first in nine, the close-range finish was a welcome boost for Balotelli, although he was also involved in a couple of moments of controversy.

One was an off-the-ball confrontation with Swans midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and there were further words exchanged between the pair after the final whistle as they headed off the pitch.

Another came pre-match, when Balotelli was sent away from a warm-up exercise by Reds coach Mike Marsh, something Liverpool assistant boss Colin Pascoe later stressed had happened because of no issue other than the player having suffered a minor knee problem.

As for the man himself, Balotelli expressed his relief at finding the net again with a message on his official Twitter account simply reading: “Finally!”

And Toure, who also played with the 24-year-old at Manchester City, has every confidence Balotelli will soon be celebrating more goals.

“For strikers, goals are like food,” said Toure, quoted by the Liverpool Echo.

“Mario needs to feed himself by scoring goals. Now he’s got that one he will do that now, definitely.

“Getting that goal will be fantastic for his confidence. He is a great player, he has just been lacking goals.

“Mario is my mate and I’ve tried to help him like (Liverpool captain) Stevie (Gerrard), the manager (Brendan Rodgers) and everyone else in the dressing room.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the first goal against Swansea City during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We all know he’s a top player. I always tell him ‘you need to get out there and show you are one of the best players in the world’.

“He is one of the best. He has just been missing goals but they will come now.”

In a hectic finale to the tie, Balotelli’s goal was followed by a red card for Swansea defender Federico Fernandez in stoppage time – the latest in a series of refereeing decisions that has left the Welsh outfit’s boss Garry Monk fuming – and then a 95th-minute headed winner from Dejan Lovren.

The visitors had earlier taken the lead in the 65th minute through a fine volleyed effort by Marvin Emnes. The Dutch striker, who joined Swansea permanently over the summer after spending the second half of 2013-14 on loan with them from Middlesbrough, was making his first start of the season and netting his second goal of the campaign – the first having come in the previous round of the competition. And Emnes is delighted to be making an impression.

“I was in the right place and I hit it right into the corner,” the 26-year-old told www.swanseacity.net. “It was a good goal and I’m delighted to have scored.

“Every time you have a chance to impress the manager you have to take it. That was my first chance of the night and I took it, which was very pleasing. “But the game is 90 minutes long and everything changed within a few moments.

“They got their equaliser, then the red card is shown and they get a winner with virtually the last kick. We had worked so hard and to lose like that is very disappointing, particularly for our fans.”

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool 2-1 Swansea: Good Game, Bad Game – Jones, Borini, Coutinho; Markovic, Lambert, Hendo

Ср, 29/10/2014 - 20:02

After Liverpool stunned Swansea City with a late 2-1 victory at Anfield in the League Cup, Jack Lusby rates which Reds impressed and who disappointed.

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring the second goal against Swansea City in injury time during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool 2-1 Swansea City, League Cup Fourth Round, Tuesday 28 October.

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool surprised everyone as a late surge ensured their progress to the Capital One Cup Quarter Finals at the expense of the manager’s former club Swansea City.

Goals from Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren cancelled out Marvin Emnes’ exquisite second-half volley to give the Reds a rare positive with a 2-1 victory at Anfield.

Now Rodgers will be looking to capitalise on this win as Liverpool’s congested fixture list continues.

Having deployed a handful of fringe players, and given others a bigger responsibility, the performances of some Reds on Tuesday night may have an impact on Rodgers’ first-team selection in the coming weeks.

So let’s play Good Game, Bad Game. Who impressed and who failed to impress for Liverpool against Swansea?

A good game for Brad Jones

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Brad Jones in action against Swansea City during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Replacing the shaky Simon Mignolet on Tuesday night was Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones, and the Liverpool No. 1 gave a good account of himself in the absence of the Belgian.

With little to do for large portions of the match, Jones’ quality was palpable in the confidence instilled in his back four—Javier Manquillo, Kolo Toure, Lovren and Glen Johnson often actually performing as a unit.

Furthermore, the shot-stopper outlined some qualities that Mignolet seems bereft of.

96th minute last night: Brad Jones kick lands at Coutinho's feet on the opposite 18 yard box. No way Mignolet does that.

— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) October 29, 2014

This, naturally however, came on a night where Swansea rarely troubled the Reds’ goal; it remains to be seen whether Jones can truly challenge Mignolet during his run of poor form.

A bad game for Lazar Markovic

 Liverpool's new signing Lazar Markovic during a preseason friendly match against Preston North End at Deepdale Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lazar Markovic, the £20 million summer signing from Benfica, continued to struggle after starting for Liverpool on Tuesday night—it is early days, but the youngster is looking out-of-sorts so far this season.

Deployed on the left-hand side of the forward line, Markovic struggled from the start.

This was encapsulated in a horrific miss on 27 minutes after some fine work by Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho, but it was Markovic’s overall play that flew wide of the mark.

Yer Lazar needs recalibrating lad.

— Dan Shepherd (@liverpooldeep) October 28, 2014

Taking a very wide position on the left flank, it can be argued that this tactical layout did not suit the forward’s qualities best, but Markovic is yet to show the requisite quality to be entrusted with his favoured central role.

At just 20 years old, the jury is still out on Markovic, but the Serbian has so far failed to show even a glimpse of the incredible potential touted on his move from Portugal.

A good game for Philippe Coutinho

PHOTO: The lively @Phil_Coutinho takes the game to Swansea #LFC pic.twitter.com/3hMyanMHOC

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 28, 2014

As a handful of the Liverpool squad continue to at odds with the challenge ahead, Brazilian playmaker Coutinho stands out head and shoulders above the rest. Against Swansea, this was no different.

The 22-year-old ran things from the No. 10 position, creating chance after chance—it was Coutinho’s lofted free-kick that found Dejan Lovren at the far post for Liverpool’s late, late winner.

#Coutinho running the show for #LFC.

— LFCZA (@LFCZA) October 28, 2014

Coutinho touch vs Swansea https://t.co/HCgbaSpVsJ

— MostarLFC (@MostarLFC) October 28, 2014

Oozing confidence, Coutinho’s creative might seemed on a completely different level with that of his teammates at times.

Bizarrely benched against Hull City last weekend, Coutinho’s excellent form should make him a shoe-in to start against both Newcastle United and Real Madrid in Liverpool’s next two fixtures.

A bad game for Rickie Lambert

PHOTO: Rickie Lambert attempts to break down the visiting defence #LFC pic.twitter.com/d97jZ96VXk

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 28, 2014

Hometown hero Rickie Lambert has yet to make his mark following his return to Merseyside and, given the opportunity to lead the line against Swansea, failed to shake this albatross on Tuesday night.

Some intelligent hold-up play aside, Lambert struggled to impose himself on the Swansea defence, although this could be said to be partly down to Rodgers’ utilising the 4-2-3-1 formation once more.

The England striker would be more effective as part of a front two.

With Balotelli once more grabbing the headlines with his second goal for the club, Lambert may be forced once more into the periphery, where his desperation to impress will develop dangerously.

A good game for Fabio Borini

Unlike Lambert, when Italian outcast Fabio Borini was given his opportunity to impress as part of the forward line on Tuesday night, he took it.

Lining up on the right-hand side of the attack, Borini often found himself coming inside to support the floundering Lambert, and the majority of Liverpool’s best chances came through the 23-year-old.

The striker persevered despite the Reds’ woes, and eventually set up Balotelli’s equaliser with a fine cross.

Borini has often spoken of his intention to break into the first-team picture at Anfield, even snubbing both Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland in the summer transfer window in order to stay, and this display clearly meant a lot to the former Swansea striker.

So happy for tonight performance and result! ???????????? and of course assist! ????????????????

— Fabio Borini (@borinifabio29) October 28, 2014

Showing the gut-busting determination of Dirk Kuyt, and some true quality in the final third, Borini may have gone some length to forcing his way back in to Rodgers’ first-team plans for the coming weeks.

A bad game for Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson captains #LFC against Swansea City this evening pic.twitter.com/XkmaFyfZmj

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 28, 2014

Unfortunately for Jordan Henderson, being named captain for the night did not stimulate quite the performance that was hoped from the Englishman; although this is at a stretch, as every average Henderson display still offers flashes of quality.

The 24-year-old is enduring a rare rough patch on Merseyside, and he shrank as the game went on.

However, Liverpool’s victory in the absence of Steven Gerrard, and in turn with Henderson stewarding, may be significant in showing Rodgers and his charges that gutsy victories such as that of Tuesday night can be achieved without their Captain Fantastic.

PLAYER RATINGS: Read ours and submit yours here

Who impressed you the most for Liverpool on Tuesday night? And who could have done more? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Fabio Borini Deserves Chance For More Regular Liverpool Action

Ср, 29/10/2014 - 16:01

Fabio Borini produced a positive performance in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup success over Swansea, claiming an assist in the process for the Reds’ all-important equaliser. Ben Twelves says the Italian now deserves his chance to build on his display as a result.

 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)

Liverpool’s late comeback win against Swansea on Tuesday night, thanks to goals from Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren, will hopefully provide the squad with the confidence and morale boost that it has so desperately needed.

The turnaround could prove to be a season-changing moment for Brendan Rodgers’ side and it came with thanks in no small part to an Italian striker; no not Balotelli, but instead Fabio Borini – who produced a tenacious and wholehearted display under the Anfield floodlights.

#LFC record this season when conceding first before tonight: W0 D0 L5 Should be a nice little confidence booster all round.

— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) October 28, 2014

Positive Performance

The 23-year-old was the brightest player of those looking to impress on the night – despite being deployed out of position on the right side of a ‘3’ behind Rickie Lambert – and his positive attitude and desire to make something happen in the game was refreshing to see in amongst certain players who froze under the occasion.

In the first half, Borini hounded, chased and harried opposition, while also looking to carry the fight by picking up the ball, driving forward at the Swansea back line and firing two shots at goal – both that went close to breaking the deadlock.

Borini on Swansea: "We showed that we're a very strong team, mentally. I was pleased with my own performance, too." pic.twitter.com/ulwiL4L7Nl

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 29, 2014

He looked to get in between defenders, and in behind the Swansea back line – a feature Liverpool’s static attacking play has been missing so desperately since Daniel Sturridge’s absence.

The returned loaned man certainly wanted to take his chance after being shown the exit door in the summer transfer window, and that he did. It was far from an outstanding display but it was one that showed that Italian international wants to be a success and is prepared to battle and scrap in order to give himself the best opportunity to do so.

So happy for tonight performance and result! ???????????? and of course assist! ????????????????

— Fabio Borini (@borinifabio29) October 28, 2014

His second half performance – while restricted to seeing less of the ball – continued with the same tenacity and work rate despite not much falling his way. When he did have possession however, his first thought was to carry it forward and try to breathe life into a deflated Liverpool attacking system. His bravery in doing so was commendable.

Borini’s positivity and endless commitment was finally rewarded five minutes from time, when it was from his outstanding cross that Balotelli arrived in the six yard box to poke the Liverpool equaliser into the Kop net. Not only did Fabio set up the goal to drag his side level, but his pin-point assist provided the catalyst for a delightful and desperately needed comeback.

86 mins: #LFC are level as Borini's superb cross from the right is turned over the line by Balotelli from six yards 1-1 at Anfield now

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 28, 2014

Increased Involement

The former Sunderland loanee – who was Rodgers’ first signing when he took over – has certainly given the man who paid £9.7million to bring him to Anfield  a reason to give him another go.

Rickie Lambert continues to look completely lost and devoid of any goal threat while Balotelli has started his Liverpool career extremely inconstantly. But while some struggled to impose themselves, Borini tonight successfully did two jobs, in producing a solid performance himself and doing his best to spark Balotelli into life.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the first goal against Swansea City during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The former Roma man has featured as part of the squad only four times this season – failing to even make the bench in most games – but with Borini last night outperforming Lambert, who has been a substitute ahead of him this season, it could be time to switch their roles around if accommodating both can’t work.

It would be a huge shame and even a waste, for Fabio to have found some confidence from a tireless display on Tuesday, only to be cast aside again and left out of the squad for the weekend, thus undoing all the good work the Italian put in to the game.

Borini’s persistence and work rate has been Kuyt-esque at times tonight.

— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) October 28, 2014

If Rodgers left him out, it could even be argued that it would set a real negative tone to the rest of the squad and those battling for their Liverpool careers. It risks demoralising players and flicking their work rate switches the other way, if a player knows that despite training and trying hard to impress he wasn’t going to be rewarded.

Battling Back

Credit must go to Fabio Borini for the way he’s trying to respond from being told he can leave in the summer, and now it’s time to show a little bit more faith in him, which in turn could create that little more confidence and transform his Liverpool career the way he had hoped after turning down a move away in order to fight for his place.

The Italian isn’t a starting option currently, but he should absolutely be included in the squad for the trip to Newcastle on Saturday, and named at least as a substitute at St James’ Park – a ground in which he has come off the bench to score at before for Liverpool.

Repeating that feat again on Saturday would be extremely welcome, Fabio.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Win 2 tickets for Miracle of Istanbul 10-year Reunion Night at the Echo Arena

Ср, 29/10/2014 - 13:05

We’ve teamed up with the former Liverpool players association, 5Times, to offer you the chance to win tickets to the Istanbul Reunion night on May 25th, 2015.

5times_reunion

To be in with a chance of winning two tickets to the event, simply answer the following question by November 6th, 2014.

* More information about the event, and for full ticket details, click here

.

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Plans announced to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of The Miracle of Istanbul

Ср, 29/10/2014 - 13:00

Plans have been announced to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the greatest night in Liverpool’s history with the men that made it happen.

5times_reunion

Ask any Liverpool fan to name the greatest match in the club’s illustrious history and the chances are they’ll say ‘Istanbul’.

Well Istanbul comes to the Echo Arena Liverpool for an incredible night on 25 May 2015, marking the 10th anniversary of that incredible night in the Ataturk Stadium where red-shirted heroes carved their names with pride to see Liverpool claim their fifth European Cup crown.

And a decade to the day, Monday 25 May 2015, those same Liverpool players will be gathering to celebrate that anniversary at the Echo Arena – and you can be there to join them for an exclusive one-night only event, The Istanbul Reunion Night..

For those in Istanbul, the game is permanently seared on their memories. For those who watched on television, it will surely go down as one the most amazing nights of their lives. For those too young to remember but who’ve heard all about it from family and friends, this is a chance to finally savour the experience.

We’ll be reliving the game with comments and commentary from those at the heart of the Miracle of Istanbul. They’ll take you through the build-up, the nerves, the tortured emotions as Milan went 3-0 up.

But they’ll also talk about the sheer enormity of the comeback, the tension of the penalty shoot-out and, finally, the euphoria of seeing Steven Gerrard hoist the cup above his head as Liverpool sealed their place in history.

Jamie Carragher Liverpool’s vice-captain on the night said: “If the fans who were in Istanbul on the night come and create that same atmosphere, the roof will come off the Arena.”

Jared Ayres, CEO of the IPP group who is helping put the night together says: “It’s a privilege and honour to be involved in re uniting the squad that achieved Liverpool’s most famous and greatest night of modern times and to be able to do this in our home city is pretty special. This is one night not to be missed.”

TICKET DETAILS

Tickets go on pre-sale at 9am on Thursday 9am October, to register for pre-sale go to www.5times.co/istanbul.

Tickets go on general sale at 9am on Friday 31 October.

To book tickets log on to www.echoarena.com, or call the Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 8000 400
Tickets priced £29.70 (incl. booking fee)

*Plus £2.25 handling fee per order

Or call in to Ticket Quarter in Queens Square (Liverpool City Centre, located within the Mersey Travel office), where tickets are available over the counter for all Echo Arena events and many other venues across the region.

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Категории: LFC NEWS