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Coutinho Cameo Against QPR Demands Real Madrid Start

16 часов 47 минут назад

A decisive cameo by Philippe Coutinho against QPR shows why the Brazilian No. 10 should start against Real Madrid on Wednesday, writes Jack Lusby.

 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)

Having struggled to find form so far this season, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho made an emphatic return to form for the Reds in their 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers in Sunday’s Premier League clash.

The 22-year-old was brought into the fold, after an impressive international break with Dunga’s Brazil, on 66 minutes.

66 mins: A double change for #LFC as Coutinho and Allen come on for Lallana and Can

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 19, 2014

The introduction of Coutinho and Joe Allen provided Brendan Rodgers’ side with the impetus required to force their way to three points against the R’s; Liverpool’s defence remained abysmal, but forward play improved immeasurably.

Coutinho is the catalyst to our attacking play, everything good went through him when he came on. Huge win that in context of season. #LFC.

— Simon Steers (@sisteers) October 19, 2014

With the Reds welcoming European giants Real Madrid to Anfield on Wednesday night, Coutinho provided Rodgers with a timely reminder of his supreme talents, and this should demand a starting role against Carlo Ancelotti’s Galacticos.

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Coutinho vs. QPR

Against QPR, from his first move, taking the ball on the left flank before charging into the centre before laying the ball off to right-sider Raheem Sterling, every time Coutinho touched the ball Liverpool looked more threatening.

Always happy to receive the ball and, most importantly, make something in the attacking third, Coutinho lifted his teammates in timely fashion.

What’s more, the midfielder provided a rare glimpse of his talents in front of goal, with the goal to put the Reds 2-1 up, on 90 minutes.

Coutinho. 2-1 Liverpool. Superb breakaway led by the untouchable Sterling, who has had an excellent second half

— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) October 19, 2014

Coutinho's goal vs QPR was his first shot on target in the Premier League this season.

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 19, 2014

A determined, bursting run typified Coutinho’s short display, and Liverpool looked somewhat like the immense attacking prospect of last season on the counter attack.

The 22-year-old turned provider with a sleek through-ball pass to the onrushing Raheem Sterling, whose cross was helped into the net by Steven Caulker, sealing the three points for Rodgers’ side.

Coutinho finished the game, having played around 25 minutes, with, according to WhoScored, a passing accuracy of 81.8 per cent, with two successful dribbles and a goal, making a fair claim for Man of the Match.

Another Madrid record: No side in history had scored 17 goals in the first four away games!

— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) October 19, 2014

Real Madrid

Clearly, an impressive showing at Loftus Road is a different matter entirely to the visit of Madrid to Anfield; Los Meringues are one of Europe’s leading forces, with a phenomenal array of stars.

Gloss over the attacking talents of Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema, Ancelotti’s side could arguably nullify Liverpool from elsewhere on the pitch.

This is where Coutinho will find his challenge.

Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have completed 100% of their passes for Real Madrid vs Levante – 99 passes in total.

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 18, 2014

Finding space and time on the ball in between the possessive talents of Isco, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will test the playmaker’s ingenuity, and if Ancelotti is to field a specialist defensive midfielder such as Sami Khedira or Asier Illarramendi would limit this possibility further.

However, Coutinho is a player of European and international experience, and no stranger to this type of competition, or in fact, Spanish opposition, having spent a season on loan in La Liga with Espanyol.

Having played for European giants Inter Milan, as well as Liverpool, the 22-year-old is well-steeped in the history of the Champions League, and is looking to emulate “Ronaldinho, who is one of my heroes,” this season.

Philippe Coutinho's assist for Neymar's second Brazil goal is class:

— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) October 14, 2014

An exquisite assist for Brazil captain Neymar in the recent 4-0 victory over Japan saw Coutinho make another step towards the former Barcelona and PSQ phenom.

On the form that Coutinho is in, and based on his determined, incisive display against QPR, the Brazilian could be the player that shatters the Madrid stability.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli in action against Queens Park Rangers' Yun Suk-Young during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Support for Balotelli

The main talking point, dreadful defence aside, post-QPR is the continued struggles of Italian forward Mario Balotelli, who extended his barren Premier League run to six games; 431 minutes, 30 attempted shots.

It is clear that Balotelli, who shone against Spurs on his debut, is finding it difficult to function as a lone striker—the prolonged injury to Daniel Sturridge has dictated this.

This is becoming a drain on Rodgers’ system, with the longer Balotelli fails to find the net, the more desperate his profligacy becomes—see his miss-of-the-season contender at Loftus Road for the perfect example.

The striker himself recently declared that “I have never been a real, out-and-out striker…If it was my choice, I would always go with two strikers,” highlighting the need to provide support for Balotelli.

Continuing to force Balotelli into the lone striker role is a detriment to his talents, and should end against Madrid.

MNF – Jamie Carragher's Team vs Real Madrid: via @YouTube

— MrBoywunder (@MrBoywunder) October 20, 2014

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher suggested dropping the Italian completely for Wednesday night’s tie, with 19-year-old forward Raheem Sterling operating as a false nine in his stead.

This is a potent option for the Reds, but perhaps not a worthy experiment at such a high level.

Instead, Sterling should partner Balotelli up front, with the Englishman’s intelligent, off-the-shoulder runs complementing the £16 million man’s deep-lying creativity and work rate.

Bringing Coutinho into the side would allow Rodgers to experiment with this idea.

Carra's line-up v Real Madrid, no Balotelli

— LFCTS (@LFCTS) October 20, 2014

In Carragher’s line-up the playmaker is featured on the right flank, but Coutinho’s best role for this tie would be behind the strikers in the No. 10 role.

His creativity would flourish behind Sterling, and the exceptional through ball for Sterling to set up Liverpool’s third on Sunday underlines this.

That pass from Coutinho for the third was ridiculous. Welcome signs of the little Brazilian getting back to his best.

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 19, 2014

The form of Philippe Coutinho seems to work in cycles, with a particular peak impending—Brendan Rodgers should capitalise on this and unleash the Brazilian against Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

Should Philippe Coutinho start against Real Madrid? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

How Liverpool Are Expected To Line Up Against Real Madrid

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 23:00

Two giants of European Football meet on Wednesday night at Anfield for their third game in Group B of the Champions League. Ben Twelves discusses how Brendan Rodgers should shape his team for the clash.

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

Liverpool return to Champions League action on Wednesday night when they host the current European champions in as big a clash as they come at Anfield, in a game that the Reds will be looking to get their European adventure back on track.

Brendan Rodgers’ side slumped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Swiss champions Basel almost three weeks ago, tightening the group and denting the their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage in the process.

Two wins from two league games so far this month for Rodgers’ men has improved Liverpool’s Premier League position and the Reds will be looking to carry the positive results, but not performances, onto the European stage starting against Carlo Ancelotti’s fantasy football-like team on Wednesday.

Rodgers: "The good thing about this group is that we really lift ourselves for the big games."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 21, 2014

The glamorous encounter will be the second match in just four days for Rodgers and his team, and the Liverpool boss is going to have to use the full depth of his squad over what will be a testing period for Liverpool who play six games in just 18 days in a hectic schedule of games – finishing with Chelsea arriving at Anfield.

Gerrard: "We're new back in the CL so I'm not sure Real will be coming here with any fear but for us it's a fantastic challenge."

— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) October 21, 2014

The Team

Liverpool welcomed back Joe Allen and Emre Can to the match day fold in Sunday’s abysmal display against QPR, but Rodgers is still without top striker Daniel Sturridge, who it was revealed late on Friday night is frustratingly out for a further month after picking up a calf muscle injury in training.

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

The England striker’s presence is sorely missed in the starting XI, with Mario Balotelli desperately struggling to replicate anything like his promising performance when played alongside Sturridge in a two man partnership.

Mamadou Sakho is still unavailable for selection and with Kolo Toure being a last resort, Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel should continue their ‘work in progress’ partnership against one of the most frightening strike forces in world football on Wednesday.

 Liverpool's Alberto Moreno celebrates scoring the third goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alberto Moreno is set to be welcomed back into the squad and he along with fellow Spaniard, Javier Manquillo, should both come straight back into the starting XI for the clash in place of Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique who filled their shirts at Loftus Road.

Allen and Philippe Coutinho – who both helped rescue the Reds as second half substitutes on Sunday – will be hopeful of playing from the beginning this time and they should both be involved from the start, in place of Adam Lallana and Emre Can, who looked off the pace against QPR on Sunday in his first game back from injury.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against Real Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mario Balotelli’s continued poor has led to frustration within the fan base with calls for the Italian to be dropped to the bench in place of a pacey, hungry and direct approach against Madrid, but it seems more likely that he may receive the partner in attack that he claims he needs to be able to perform.

The Line Up

Rodgers must move away from the rigid 4-2-3-1 formation for the match to avoid a complete demolition job from the away side and that leaves the Liverpool boss with two genuine options the first of which is a return to the diamond shaped midfield set up.

The back four will see Moreno returning on the left, Rodgers will have to decide whether to bring Manquillo back in or stick with Glen Johnson for his experience.

In the midfield, Steven Gerrard in the deeper position should be partnered by Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen with Philippe Coutinho at the tip, allowing Raheem Sterling to partner Mario Balotelli up front, giving the Italian the strike partner he says he needs.

Those changes to system and personnel would see Liverpool line up like this against the European champions:

madrid diamond

The other alternative for Rodgers is to play a highly energetic and aggressive 4-3-3 system as pointed out by Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football.

This would allow Liverpool to play with a mobile pressing midfield and attack and thus dropping the underperforming Balotelli to the bench – utilising Sterling as a ‘false 9’ and central attacking figure.

If Rodgers chooses to shape his side up in a 4-3-3 formation, this is how the starting XI should look:

madrid 4-3-3

With the reverse fixture to come before crunch clashes against Basel and Ludogorets, a result on Wednesday night would be a massive boost to Liverpool’s qualification hopes.

Rodgers says "character and spirit" needed as well as quality, tomorrow night. "That's what's enabled us to win games during this season"

— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) October 21, 2014

Gerrard: "When the calibre of Real Madrid come to town everyone knows you have to perform to the max to get an kind of result.

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 21, 2014

It proposes to be a monumental challenge for Brendan Rodgers’ struggling Liverpool and the Reds will have to improve immeasurably if they want to pick up anything other than a crushing defeat against arguably the best team in world football currently.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

“Anfield crowd will make us suffer” says Arbeloa, as Ronaldo says it’s the toughest ground in Premier League

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 22:45

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insists it is impossible for Cristiano Ronaldo to play better than he currently is.

 Heavy rain, the remnants of Hurricane Gonzola, pours down as Liverpool players train ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B match against Real Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Portugal international broke a 71-year-old La Liga record at the weekend by taking his tally to 15 goals in eight league matches and he has now scored a staggering 271 goals in 258 club appearances. He is just two goals away from equalling club icon Raul’s Champions League record of 71 and Ancelotti believes the forward cannot do much more at present.

“Ronaldo is in a fantastic moment and is doing really well, it is impossible to do better,” said the Italian, who said he was honoured to have matched “fantastic” former Liverpool manager Bob Paisley’s record of winning three European Cups.

“He is really focused and wants to try to do the best so this moment will continue.”

Team-mate Alvaro Arbeloa, a former Liverpool defender, said playing alongside Ronaldo for the last six years he has noticed a significant upturn in the last couple of seasons.

“It is a question which keeps recurring and we can only use superlatives all the time,” Arbeloa said. “Even if you compared to what he was like two years ago, you wouldn’t believe the numbers he is now achieving. “Confidence-wise he is at the most confident he has been in his career.”

Ronaldo may be high on confidence but he will run out against Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday for their Champions League Group B encounter knowing he has not scored at the ground in five previous attempts as a Manchester United player.

Arbeloa knows exactly what to expect on Wednesday night but he has told his team-mates to enjoy it.

 Liverpool fans on the Spion Kop create another magical European night atmosphere before the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 2nd Leg match against Real Madrid at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)The Kop the last time the two sides met at Anfield. Photo: David Rawcliffe/Propaganda

“It is not a case of warning them but I have told them about the tremendous atmosphere which will await them,” he added. “It is a very special game for Liverpool, not because they are receiving a team like Real Madrid.

“Even Ronaldo has mentioned in the past this is the most difficult away ground he knew in his time playing in the Premier League.

“We know they will put us under pressure with this crowd, they will make us suffer. It is tough to put into words, it is something you have to experience for yourself.

“These big nights in the Champions League, even league games during the day, are special occasions – you only have to listen to that special sound of the fans singing You’ll Never Walk Alone.

“I would almost say it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something you have to experience once in your career.

“But you have to put that to one side. It is a very important game and once the whistle goes we are out there to get three points.”

Real arrived on Merseyside without Wales international Gareth Bale, whose abdominal injury has ruled him out of this match and the weekend’s game against Barcelona.

“We are working hard to get him fit but he is not available for tomorrow and Saturday but we are trying to get him recuperated as quickly as possible,” added Ancelotti, who was not happy to field a number of questions about this weekend’s El Clasico. “It would be strange to come here thinking about Saturday and our thoughts are not with the next league game.

“I find it incredible that you are asking me about injuries and who is going to play on Saturday. It is very important we have some key players who can play in different positions.

“At the weekend in the absence of Bale we had James (Rodriguez) playing in that position – we have the quality to interchange players in different positions.”

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Recalling The Night Liverpool Destroyed Real Madrid 4-0

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 22:00

Back in 2008/09, Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool enjoyed one of their most memorable Champions League victories in history, dispatching of Real Madrid in their last-16 clash. Henry Jackson looks back at that incredible night at Anfield.

 Liverpool players line-up for a team group photo before the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 2nd Leg match against Real Madrid at Anfield. Back row (L-R) goalkeeper Pepe Reina, Dirk Kuyt, Martin Skrtel, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres. Front Row (L-R) Alvaro Arbeloa, Fabio Aurelio, captain Steven Gerrard MBE, Jamie Carragher, Ryan Babel and Javier Mascherano. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)The Liverpool team that night. Not forgetting subs Dossena and Spearing! (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid

10th March 2009


Liverpool took a 1-0 lead to Anfield for the second-leg of this Champions League last-16 tie in March 2009, with Yossi Benayoun’s priceless late header the difference between the two sides at Santiago Bernabeu.

Fernando Torres, arguably the world’s most devastating striker at the time, returned to the side having missed the first-leg through injury, while the Reds’ imperious midfield trio of Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard all started proceedings.

Juande Ramos’ Real Madrid side had plenty of quality throughout their side, whether it be Iker Casillas, Fabio Cannavaro and Sergio Ramos at the back or Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Raul in attack. Former Reds hero Jerzy Dudek was on the bench for the visitors.

Rafa Benitez’s side were much-fancied to progress- the Spaniard had turned them into one of Europe’s most formidable sides- but the tie was still very much alive.

Electrifying Start

 Liverpool fans on the Spion Kop create another magical European night atmosphere before the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 2nd Leg match against Real Madrid at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A fervent Anfield crowd was at its unrivalled best, and they played a big part in Liverpool’s blistering start. The passing was incisive and inventive, and Benitez’s men were producing some absolutely wonderful stuff.

A magical turn by Torres on Cannavaro early on eventually saw the Spaniard denied by his international teammate Iker Casillas, and Madrid’s legendary goalkeeper then made a stunning save from Mascherano from the resulting corner.

Liverpool finally took a deserved after 16 minutes, and it was inevitable that Torres, the former Atletico Madrid hero, got the goal. ‘El Nino’ exchanged passes with Dirk Kuyt, having wrestled himself away from Pepe, before firing into the Anfield Road net.

12 minutes later the lead was doubled. Former Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze was penalised for handball in the penalty area, and Gerrard sent Casillas the wrong way to put the home faithful in dreamland. The tie was effectively over as a contest.

Los Blancos barely threatened at any point during the opening 45 minutes, but when they did Pepe Reina was on-hand to thwart Robben and Gonzalo Higuain.

Rampant Reds

Liverpool’s dominance continued after the break, and Gerrard brilliantly made it 3-0 in front of the Kop after 47 minutes. Good work from Ryan Babel saw his cross find the skipper, who caressed a wonderful half-volley past Casillas. It was Gerrard’s 100th appearance in Europe, and was one of his finest displays in a Reds shirt.

A rampant Reds side were demolishing the world’s most powerful club, and if it hadn’t been for an outstanding individual performance by Casillas, it is no exaggeration to say Benitez’s men could have scored six or seven.

[embedded content]

The icing on the cake was delivered by Andrea Dossena, who finished off a typically flowing move with just two minutes remaining (four days later the Italian would also score late on to secure an epic 4-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford).

It had been an unbelievable performance, and one that reverberated across Europe. The Reds were through to the quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by Chelsea following a titanic second-leg showdown at Stamford Bridge.

Nothing could be taken away from that amazing night against the 10-time Champions League winners though. What are the odds of the same thing happening on Wednesday night? Just imagine……

Real Madrid's biggest UEFA Champions League defeat was against Liverpool 4-0 (5-0 agg).

— BlancoStats (@BlancoStats) October 18, 2014

Goals: Torres 16, Gerrard pen 28 & 47, Dossena 88.

Attendance: 42,550

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Alonso (Lucas 60), Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard (Spearing 74), Babel, Torres (Dossena 83).

Subs not used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Ngog, Kelly.

Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro (Van der Vaart 64), Pepe, Heinze, Robben (Marcelo 46), Lassana Diarra, Gago (Guti 77), Sneijder, Raul, Higuain.

Subs not used: Dudek, Saviola, Metzelder, Miguel Torres.

Let us know your memories from that incredible night in the comments section below. Where were you watching?

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Brendan Rodgers’ pre-Madrid press conference: Gareth Bale absence won’t help us

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 21:17

Gareth Bale will be a notable absentee from the mouthwatering clash between Real Madrid and Liverpool, but Reds manager Brendan Rodgers admits the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo means that may be of little advantage to his side.

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

Bale is out with a muscle injury but Rodgers said the phenomenal form of Ronaldo, plus the threat of Bale’s likely replacement Isco, means Liverpool will have to be at the top of their game against the reigning European champions on Wednesday night.

Ronaldo never scored at Anfield during his time at Manchester United, but the Portuguese international has scored 15 times in his last seven La Liga outings, breaking a 71-year-old record, and has scored in five of his six appearances against Premier League teams in Europe.

Rodgers told a news conference at Anfield: “Gareth Bale is a world-class player with fantastic speed and fantastic talent, but with the squad Real Madrid have they can bring in players like Isco so I don’t think really it’s an advantage if he doesn’t play.

“It’s still going to be a very difficult game for us, they have a squad full of top-class players.

“Of course there is a special talent in Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world at the moment, and his evolution from being a soloist who scores goals to a goalscorer is there to see and his record is incredible.

“But we have to make a plan for our team first to ensure we cause Real Madrid problems and then prepare yourself for the quality players they have, but that will be as a team.”

Liverpool have potential problems up front, with Mario Balotelli yet to get off the mark in the Premier League – the Italian appeared dejected after failing to score against QPR at the weekend – and Daniel Sturridge out injured. R

odgers has tried to boost Balotelli’s confidence by telling his striker that he is at least getting into the right positions but there are suggestions he may leave the 24-year-old on the bench.

“He’s been fine, of course he was disappointed after the weekend – he’s a goalscorer so he wants to score goals,” added Rodgers. “But I highlighted to him he was in the positions to miss, he was arriving in the areas, so I think it’s only a matter of time before he gets his goals.

“He’s a good kid, he’s working hard and he has scored goals in big games and I’m sure he will go into the game tomorrow night – if selected – focused on getting off the mark again, and as long as he is in there getting into the positions I’m sure he can score.”

Raheem Sterling may hold the key to Liverpool’s chances up front after he excelled against QPR, and Rodgers brushed off questions about the player having told England manager Roy Hodgson he was tired. Rodgers said there was no issue with Sterling being able to produce the goods again three days after his last match.

“I think he’s shown over the last couple of years he has that quality and ability to do that,” said the Liverpool boss. “Probably a lot more was made about what happened when he was away with England.

“It was no surprise to me [against QPR], he was a real catalyst for us – wonderful speed, technique and hard work so I’ve no doubt he can arrive into the game and produce the same quality.”

Rodgers was asked by a TV crew to answer a question in Spanish and he demonstrated impressive linguistic skills in reply, saying in Spanish: “One day if I get a chance to work in Spain I will happily answer questions in Spanish but that day is not for now.”

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v Real Madrid: Team News – Moreno returns for Reds; Ramos and Bale out for Real

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 20:44

Brendan Rodgers’ Reds welcome Real Madrid to Anfield on Wednesday night as they take on the current European champions in a mouth-watering clash and third Group B game.

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

Liverpool’s burning desire to return to Europe’s elite competition was all about the big nights against the giants of European football, and they don’t come much more glamorous than hosting the Champions League holders at Anfield.

Rodgers’ men take on Carlo Ancelotti’s incredibly talented team that could pass for a World XI such is the strength of the side – in a game that they will be looking to bounce back from the 1-0 defeat against Swiss side Basel last time out and to get their European campaign back on track.

Rodgers: "You look at home games as opportunities to get the points in this competition"

— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) October 21, 2014

Wednesday’s giant clash will be the second match in just four days for Rodgers’ men, who will unquestionably have to improve on their performance against QPR on Sunday if they want to get anything from what will be an extremely tough fixture.

A quiet spell away from Europe’s top table means it will be the first time the two clubs have commenced battle in five years – since the last 16 second leg meeting at Anfield in March 2009, which turned out to be another unforgettable night.

 Liverpool and Real Madrid players walk-out before the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 2nd Leg match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After securing a 1-0 win in Madrid, the Reds welcomed Juande Ramos’ team to Merseyside before proceeding to batter them 4-0 thanks to first half goals from Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. The captain then added a third just after the break and Andrea Dossena sealed the win with his second memorable goal in a week.

Team News

Heading into Sunday’s abysmal match in London, there were question marks over Dejan Lovren’s fitness but the Croatian appeared to come through the fixture unscathed, meaning he looks set to continue at centre back with Martin Skrtel as Mamadou Sakho is still injured and Kolo Toure fourth choice.

 Liverpool's Alberto Moreno in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alberto Moreno could return to the starting XI in place of the woeful Jose Enrique after being rested for Sunday’s visit to the capital, and Javier Manquillo too will be hopeful of a recall ahead of Glen Johnson, after dropping to the bench following a busy international break with Spain under 21s.

Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho will also both be hoping to return to the starting team on Wednesday, after they came on as second half substitutes to help rescue Sunday’s dramatic match at Loftus Road.

Rodgers: "It's only a matter of time before Mario gets his goals. He's getting himself in the right areas. He's a good kid."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 21, 2014

Mario Balotelli has come in for criticism for another abject display and game without a goal in the Premier League, but he could keep his place in the Liverpool attack where he’ll be hoping to this time be partnered rather than playing a lone role.


Carlo Ancelotti has begun his second season in charge of the Spanish giants after enjoying a successful debut campaign – winning the Copa Del Rey as well as the Champions League beating city rivals Atletico in the final.

The Italian manager will be looking to improve on a disappointing league campaign however, which saw Madrid finish in third place behind Barcelona and their local rivals, as well as looking to defend their European crown which so far has started strongly recording two wins from two games.

Bale and Ramos not travelling to Liverpool but Benzema/Varane are. Young Medran/Llorente also part of squad #realmadrid #liverpool #UCL

— Nicholas Rigg (@nicholasrigg) October 21, 2014

Big news ahead of the clash is that Madrid’s world record signing Gareth Bale and defender Sergio Ramos are both ruled out of the match – despite the Welshman being rested last Saturday in hope of him making Wednesday’s game – due to injury and haven’t travelled with the squad to Merseyside as a result.

Even with Bale and Ramos absent, the Spanish side arrive in Liverpool with a squad full to the brim of world class talent which is likely to include summer signings and World Cup stars Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, along with Luka Modric, Raphael Varane, Sami Khedira and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo to name a few.

Gerrard on Ronaldo: "His game as gone to another level. Now he's arguably the best player in the world. He's taken the game to a new level."

— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) October 21, 2014

Anfield is set to welcome the return of a familiar face in consistent right back Alvaro Arbeloa, who left Liverpool to move to the Spanish club in summer 2009 after only two-and-a-half years on Merseyside.

 Real Madrid Club de Futbol's Alvaro Arbeloa celebrates scoring a goal against Club Atletico de Madrid during the La Liga Primera Division Madrid Derby match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by Hoch Zwei/Sprimont Press/Propaganda)

The match is big for both sides with Madrid looking to continue their straightforward route into the next round and Liverpool in need of a result to keep their ambitions of progressing from the group alive, and the mammoth encounter will be shown live on Sky Sports 2 with kick off at Anfield coming at 19:45pm.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

“I may regret not moving to Madrid, but leaving Liverpool would have been a bigger regret” – Gerrard

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 19:54

Tuesday’s pre-Real Madrid press conference at Anfield saw Steven Gerrard field questions from English and Spanish press. The Liverpool captain was asked about previous links to the Spanish giants.

 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 was linked with Real Madrid several times in the past and was asked by a Spanish journalist about those links. “It’s flattering. I’ve had a couple of offers to go to Real Madrid during my career,” explained the 34-year-old.

“I’ve resisted temptation because of connection to home town club.”

“It may be something I regret in the future,” Gerrard admitted. “But it would have been a bigger regret if I had left the club I love, my hometown club, Liverpool.”

Asked earlier about the match on Wednesday, Gerrard said “This is almost like a bonus game for us. We’re hoping that we surprise and shock a few people tomorrow night.”

On the threat of Cristiano Ronaldo, the skipper said “His game’s gone to another level (since joining Madrid) and he’s arguably the best player in the world.

“It’s very important we don’t just go into this game worrying about Cristiano [Ronaldo]. It would be disrespectful to rest of team.”

Speaking about the Reds’ current form, Gerrard said he had faith in the current squad hitting the heights of last season eventually.

“It’s only natural that we’re going to have some teething problems but I have huge confidence we can get back to form of last season.”


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Kopblog: Resetting the Thermostat

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 18:48

Joseph Cousins pens the latest Kopblog, challenging Brendan Rodgers and FSG on their transfer policy.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Dejan Lovren during a press conference at Anfield ahead of their opening UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

About three years into my first proper job after graduating from university I got fed up of the mundane office environment and average wages and decided I wanted more.

I bought several self-improvement books, one of them being Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. One of the stand outs was a reference to the financial thermostat. The theory is that if as a person you have a financial thermostat set to ‘poor’ then no matter how much money you get, in not too long you will go back to being poor. An example of this are lottery winners.

Apparently most of them end up with as much money as they had before their jackpot win. They are not used to having a vast amount of money so they waste it and over a certain amount of time the money is gone.

There are many examples of sports stars who were paid millions during a short career and ended up broke.

The reverse is also true. People who have built wealth tend to make back their money when/if they lose it. An example is Donald Trump who went bankrupt in the early 1990s and regained his wealth to now have a net worth of around $4bn.

The thermostat affects other parts of life as well. Think of it as an automatic control system. A subconscious auto pilot that can hold an individual back or propel them forward.

If an individual’s internal thermostat is set to mediocre it can affect relationships, career, creativity, exercise, diet, fun activities, motivation, everything.

Many times a person who is overweight will get motivated to lose weight and get healthier. Only to eventually put the weight back on and go back to an unhealthy lifestyle.

In some relationships an unhappy wife will moan to her husband that he never makes the effort to be romantic. After a while he is nagged into feeling guilty and vows to make the effort. For the next few weeks he makes the effort and everything is great but eventually he drifts back into what he was like before.

The best example I can think of relating to football is Roy Hodgson. The former Liverpool manager is mediocre personified. Everywhere Roy he either brings a team up or drags it down to his level.

 Liverpool's manager Roy Hodgson during the Premiership match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Hodge took over at Fulham on the 30th December 2007. The club were in 18th place, 2 points from safety and only 2 wins in the league that season. They managed to escape relegation on goal difference. The following season they finished 7th and qualified for the Europa League – an excellent achievement for them. They followed that up with a 12th place finish in the league and a trip to the Europa League final, where they beat Basel twice, Shakhtar, Juventus over 2 legs and Wolfsburg along the way. Roy’s win rate at Fulham in the League was 33.7%. Very decent for a club who’s ambition is to remain in the Premier League and enjoy the occasional cup run.

At West Brom Roy took over in February 2011 with them in 17th place and only out of the relegation zone on goal difference. They went on to finish 11th and in the following season finished 10th. Roy’s win rate was 35%. Again, very good for a team that is happy to merely survive comfortably in the Premier League.

Sandwiched in between Roy’s time at Fulham and West Brom was his time with us. I know, you remember it well. Roy managed Liverpool for 20 league games and won 7 of them. That’s a win rate of 35%. Good for Fulham and West Brom, not good for Liverpool hence his sacking.

A quick glance at Roy’s record at other top clubs: At Inter Roy guided the team to 7th and 3rd in 1995-96 and 1996-97 respectively. His win percentage was 44%. When he took over at Blackburn in 1997 they were a club spending a lot of money with ambitions of challenging for the title again. He ended up with a win rate of 34% and was sacked.

Hodgson can make small teams hard to beat but he can’t turn big teams into winners. If his past career is anything to go by he’d likely guide QPR to mid table and Man City to 5th.

Another example although less obvious is Arsene Wenger who in the last 9 years has finished 4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 4th and in that time his record against other top teams has been poor. In the last 2 seasons Arsenal have spent over £80m net (£124m gross) but still finished only 4th last season and don’t look much better so far this season. Wenger seems to have lost the ability to get his team to exceed expectations. He isn’t really making a difference and as a result Arsenal have been stuck in relative mediocrity (champions league qualification sounds great but not for a club who had been winning or competing for league titles most years in the 10 years previously).

Imagine the likes of Bayern, Dortmund, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Man United, Man City and Juventus never finishing above 3rd for 9 straight years. There’s no way they’d embrace it and keep the same manager. The mentality of a Guardiola for example is that 4th isn’t good enough whereas Wenger will tell us that Arsenal can’t compete financially with the big boys and therefore 4th is an achievement.

The self-help books such as Secrets of The Millionaire Mind advise you that in order to be successful you must reset your internal thermostat.

General ways to reset thermostat usually fall into the following categories:

Ignite a burning desire
Get rid of the fear and self-doubt
Substitute old limiting beliefs to new empowering, positive affirmations
Associate with positive, successful people, do not spend time with negative people
Expand your comfort zone
Think big and visualise your goals
Create plan of action
Commit to the plan of your desire

The stories I have read about Liverpool FC pre-Shankly is that we were a side languishing in the old 2nd division for a few years not really going anywhere. Just looking at the stats it looks like we were a club going downhill since winning the league in 1946-47. You’d imagine the club hired Shankly in order to kick start things to get the club promoted and then established in the top division again. All very normal, every club that has spent a few years in the 2nd tier want the same thing.

The difference with Shankly however is that he seemed to have genuine belief that the club should (not could but should) be challenging for and winning titles. He may not have been a winner in terms of medals to his name at that point in his career but what he had was a winning mentality. I’ve read stories and I’m sure you have as well of Shankly dragging the club forward – sometimes he’d demand things that would make the ownership uncomfortable.


One of those things could have been convincing the club to buy Ian St John for double their previous transfer record. While in division 2. St John tells a funny story of how he couldn’t believe how confident Shanks was in trying to sign him. A full Scottish international who had offers from first division teams. It’s this confidence or sheer belief and force of will that transformed Liverpool from ordinary 2nd division team to the best in England and one of the best in Europe. The LFC thermostat was well and truly reset by Bill Shankly.

We have now gone 24 years since our last league title win which is the longest we have gone without winning the league in our history. In that time we have won the FA Cup 3 times, League Cup 4 times, 1 Champions league and 1 UEFA cup so it’s not been all doom and gloom but we are no longer the club built up by Shankly.

That era began to erode when Souness got the manager’s job in 1991which was also the year when David Moores became chairman. Since then the club has had its thermostat set to mediocre and it has stayed there ever since. There has been some flashes, brilliant seasons every 5 years or so where we’ve all thought we are ‘back’ only for it to be proved a false dawn, and we go back to our level again, our 40-degree day.

“Ain’t nobody got nuttin to say about a 40-degree day. Fifty? Bring a smile to your face. Sixty? Sh*t, n****s are damn near barbecuing that motherf**ka. Go down to 20? N****s get they bitch on. Get they blood complainin’ … but 40? Nobody give a f**k about 40. Nobody remember 40, and y’all n****s is giving me way too many 40-degree days.”

Stringer Bell, The Wire (Or any of us fans talking to the Liverpool hierarchy).

It has been such a long time since we won the league that most of us see it as a bit of a pipe dream. An unrealistic expectation. Even after missing out by only 2 points last season.

Just think, there was a premier league trophy somewhere at Anfield on the last day of last season, with red ribbons tied on it, waiting to be presented out on the pitch just in case Man City slipped up.
The champion songs playlist would have been prepared and so to a parade.

That is how close we got. However after selling one player – admittedly our best player. A large part of the fan base would have been happy just consolidating a top 4 place this season.

It appears this feeling was shared by those in charge at the club as well. Brendan Rodgers said the objective was to finish top 4 and win a trophy. The player recruitment suggested consolidation was the objective as well.

A lot of money was spent but mostly on players who might be top class in 2 or 3 years. None of them are top class right now. If the club had ambitions to win the title after selling Suarez I’m sure there would have been more of an emphasis to buy players that can make the difference this season.

Brendan Rodgers made a recent comment that worried me. Saying we may have peaked early last season and this season would see a bit of a transition period.

How many clubs, big clubs with our level of resources challenge for the title, go as close as we did and then follow it up with a transitional season?

I think the mediocrity is set deep into the core of LFC and is embraced by fans, staff and players. We have a subconscious auto pilot holding us back. Our big club mentality is conspicuous by its absence. It is no surprise as to why this is the case though, you only have to look at the points gap we have had behind the league champions over recent years.

 A general view of Liverpool's Anfield stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Over the last 20 seasons we have finished on average 18 points behind the champions. Over the last 10 seasons it’s a 19 points gap. Since FSG took over the club we’ve averaged 22 points behind the league winners. Looking at this nobody can be blamed for being happy with a top 4 finish this season because we are not used to getting much better. Even some of our own fans thought last season was a flash in the pan and wouldn’t be repeated especially with Suarez gone. The bookies, journalists and pundits certainly thought so.

The approach at the moment appears to be to sign players before they reach the stage in their career where they are sought after by the biggest/richest clubs. It is a very sensible approach for clubs who can’t compete financially but can it ever be successful in England? Arsenal tried this approach for 9 years and it didn’t work. Spurs have gone down this route as well. Unsuccessfully. What has tended to happen is these clubs build decent sides but end up losing their best players before completing the project or winning anything. Arsenal lost Fabregas, Adebayor, Nasri, Van Persie. Spurs lost Berbatov, Carrick, Modric, Bale. We lost Alonso, Macherano, Torres, Suarez.

If we didn’t have any money to spend I’d say our transfer approach is sensible but having spent £120m I think our approach – buying only youngsters with potential or journeymen that ‘can do a job’ is a bit small time. It doesn’t reflect a team with serious ambitions to win the Premier League. I think a better strategy is to buy potential as well as established quality.

I think FSG have done a very good job sorting out the club’s finances and putting us in a position where we can challenge for a Champions League place again but I’m not sure if they have the desire or the strategy to see us become the best club in the country or in Europe.

 Liverpool's owner John W. Henry during the Premiership match against Chelsea at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last January we were near the top of the league and the manager wanted 1 or 2 players to help push the team on in the second half of the season. Above all else Brendan wanted a left winger/attacker and we fannied about with Salah and Konoplyanka, eventually signing nobody. Maybe the added quality would have helped us beat Chelsea or maybe the open goal in stoppage time at Selhurst Park falls to a quality new signing and not Victor Moses, who fresh aired it.

I think it is going to take a Shanklyesque figure to change our limited beliefs and have us all believing that we should be competing for the title year in year out. Someone with the balls to drag FSG out of their comfort zone and have them sanction a deal or deals that could make a real difference. And similarly someone who has the ability to attract a top class player and execute a deal. Quickly and efficiently.

When I say a Shanklyesque figure I just mean someone with some balls, vision and authority. Someone who knows the game and has experience within it. One of our weaknesses is having novices in key decision making positions. Brendan as manager – inexperienced at the highest level. Ayre as Chief Exec – inexperienced at recruiting players or hiring coaches/scouts. FSG – inexperienced in football.

The Shanklyesque figure I speak of may get Brendan to think a bit bigger in terms of transfer targets. Just looking at some of the players we know he has coveted for Liverpool paints a picture of a man who either over estimates his ability to coach a player into being a winner at the highest level or someone who doesn’t understand how much quality Liverpool required to win the big prizes.

Players like Ashley Williams, Clint Dempsey and Ryan Bertrand for fuck sake.

Obviously we have to operate within our means, we all remember the financial trouble we got into under Hicks and Gillett and there is of course FFP to abide by. However the point still remains. If we want to be a big club it’s time to start acting like it.

We have four strikers. One of them very good but injury prone – he cannot be relied upon to play any more than 60% of the games. The other three strikers are as much use as Specsavers vouchers are to a blind man. So what will we do in January?

a. Cross our fingers and hope Sturridge stays fit in the second half of the season?
b. Hope Balotelli/Lambert/Borini come good?
c. Try to bring in a stop gap loan signing because we have Origi coming next summer?
d. Sign another 20 year old that might come good in 2018?
e. Buy a proper established striker with quality?

I would quite like option E. Most fans will probably go for a combination of A and C. The club will probably explore all options apart from E. What happens in reality will be revealing.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v Real Madrid: The Golden Sky at the End of a Storm?

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 18:31

Jeff Goulding looks ahead to Wednesday’s visit of Real Madrid to Anfield.

 Liverpool and Real Madrid players walk-out before the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 2nd Leg match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If you’re scraping around for a pre Real Madrid match metaphor on which to hang your article, an impending storm, with a Spanish sounding name, isn’t a bad one. So I have to thank the weather demons for delivering Hurricane Gonazalo just before Real Madrid blow into town. Let’s hope our back four can cope better with the ‘Galacticos’ than my fence panels have with the wind currently battering Liverpool.

It’s fair to say that on current form the omens are not good. We are hardly going into this game in confident mood. Things just haven’t clicked for us yet. There are some mitigating factors of course. Any team would struggle to replace Luis Suarez goals and creativity, let alone deal with losing his strike partner to injury too.

With Champions League qualification delivered, the recruitment team were always going to buy in bulk. The squad was desperately thin last season and couldn’t have coped without significant additions. This has meant a relatively large number of recruits having to adapt to Brendan’s way of working and each other.

However, we don’t seem to have learned the lessons of last season in terms of our defence. It is fair to point to the fact that this is virtually a brand new back four. There is bound to be a period of adjustment, but for me these are all quality players, and they all cost a premium. If they’re not the most expensive back four assembled, then they are certainly up there.

The problem seems obvious to me. Many will disagree with me, but we don’t lack quality in our back four. What is badly needed is leadership and organisation. You don’t need Alan Shearer and ‘Match of the Day’ to tell you that, you can see it every time we concede a set piece near our goal. That strong vocal leader was what we lacked last year, and we haven’t found him yet on current evidence.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Dejan Lovren during a press conference at Anfield ahead of their opening UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was suggested that Dejan Lovren would be the answer, but so far he has struggled to deliver. The keeper also has to carry some of the responsibility. On Sunday his shot stopping was exemplary, but his decision making is poor at times, and he appears passive at times when he should be organising the players in front of him. This is particularly apparent at corners and free kicks.

In addition our decision making in terms of striker recruitment seems suspect with hindsight. I’m not knocking Mario Balotelli here; I would still like to see him paired with someone else. We are not getting the best out of him as a lone striker. That’s never been his game as far as I can see.

For me it’s just surprising that we haven’t added another quality forward, and the loss of Sturridge to injury highlights that. I know the club tried to get Sanchez, but it all seemed too little too late. If it was true that they knew Luis was going as far back as last Christmas, then why didn’t we have a plan B and a Plan C in place. You wonder how much of an impact the collapse of the Borini to Sunderland deal actually had on our striker recruitment.

So it is against this back drop that we go into arguably the biggest game of the season. Failure to get a result against Madrid will leave are hopes of qualification hanging in the balance. In reality we could end up scrapping it out with Ludogorets for a Europa League spot. Wednesday’s game is that big, in my opinion.

For Liverpool to prevail we will need to see a complete turnaround. As Brendan himself said post QPR, “Everything needs to improve.”

In total contrast to the Reds, Real Madrid looks a team at the peak of their powers. After a shaky start, which saw them fall to two defeats in three, they appear to have got their acts together.

ESP, Supercup 2011, FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid

They currently sit third in La Liga, having won their last five games, which include three five-nil results and an 8-2. Their goal difference stands at plus 21 after 8 games. Given the way our back line struggled against Zamora I feel like going the toilet every time I think about Ronaldo and Rodriguez up against Skrtel and Lovren.

Fortunately for us, football doesn’t always pan out the way the form book tells us it should. Paul Tomkins hit the nail on the head recently when he pointed to the peculiar football law, that teams often play ten times better against teams that are ten times better than them (if that makes sense). There can certainly be no complacency against Madrid, and I feel there won’t be.

If we are to upset the form book we are going to have to battle for our lives. We just didn’t seem to give a damn against Basel, we were similarly lacklustre against Ludogeorets and against QPR on Sunday we were out-muscled and bullied by a team that looked like they wanted to get off the bottom of the table.

That will need to change, and we will instead need to see the same team that harried and pressed so well last season. The key will then be what we do with the limited possession we have. Against QPR there were few positives, aside from the pace and sharpness of Coutinho and Sterling. Liverpool will need to break quickly and in these two we have speed in abundance. Both have also shown they can finish off opportunities.

I have been concerned about the pair lately. They have each suffered dips in form and consistency, but on Sunday both looked like they were getting back to their best. I can only imagine how they are both feeling today. They must be buzzing with anticipation. Wednesday’s game is exactly the type of world stage these two will relish. I can’t imagine there will be any fear, both have shown they can be big game players already. They are young; they have the world at their feet. They just need to go out and steal the show.

There is a storm coming, but we all know what usually follows. We have been there so many times before. The crowd will rise to the occasion; we just need every man in Red to do their bit and maybe, just maybe we will see in that golden sky together.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Xabi Alonso gutted to miss Liverpool reunion

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 16:27

The day after Liverpool and Real Madrid were drawn together in Champions League group B, former Reds’ midfielder and fans favourite Xabi Alonso left Madrid for Bayern Munich.

 Liverpool's Xabi Alonso in action against Arsenal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alonso was in the Liverpool starting 11 that beat Madrid 4-0 at Anfield back in 2009, but left the club later that summer, joining the Spanish side for £30 million.

In those intervening years, Liverpool have only been in the Champions League for one season, meaning Alonso has yet to return to play against his former side.

He was joined in Madrid by full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, another who played in that memorable 4-0 win back in March 2009, and his Spanish team mate has explained how Alonso bemoaned his luck after the draw this August.

“I spoke to him after the draw and he was fuming, “How bad is my luck? I can’t believe it” or words to that effect,” explained Arbeloa in an interview with The Daily Mail.

“He was a marvellous player who won the European Cup with them. People loved him there and I think they would have paid him a wonderful tribute.”

MORE - Arbeloa: “Champions League nights and big games like this one at Anfield are very special.”

Arbeloa also recalled how close the Reds came to winning the league that year, “We would have won the league had it not been for [Federico] Macheda,” he recalled. Liverpool fans still have nightmares about that goal against Villa now.

“We were so close. There were a lot of games where we kicked-off before Manchester United and we would board our flight home and they were losing and we would get off the plane to the news that they had staged a comeback.”

MORE MADRID BUILD-UP – Real and Liverpool Combined XI (2004 – 2014)

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Brendan Rodgers should start Raheem Sterling as a ‘False Nine’ against Real Madrid?

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 15:54

Mario Balotelli‘s poor form should see him dropped for Liverpool’s vital Champions League clash with Real Madrid, with Raheem Sterling occupying a ‘False Nine’ role and Philippe Coutinho starting, writes Henry Jackson.

 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)

Let’s be honest, although Wednesday’s Champions League showdown with Real Madrid is a mouthwatering prospect, if Liverpool perform in the insipid way they did against QPR on Sunday it could end up being a rather embarrassing evening.

Mario Balotelli is the player who has come in for the most criticism following his hugely ineffective performance against Harry Redknapp’s side, and Brendan Rodgers should drop him for the visit of the European champions in order to give his side the best chance of victory.

Rather than bring in Rickie Lambert instead, which would be a fatal decision against such a top side, Rodgers should deploy Raheem Sterling in a ‘False Nine’ role- a term given for a deep-lying forward- with Philippe Coutinho, who changed the game when he came on on Sunday, the man coming in for Balotelli.

How LFC should line-up against Madrid.How LFC should line-up against Madrid.

This role would allow Sterling to drop deep, both adding numbers in the midfield to deal with the metronomic brilliance of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, and giving centre-backs Pepe and Sergio Ramos the headache of whether to track the 19-year-old into midfield or stand off him and allow him space.

The likes of Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Francesco Totti have all thrived in this position over the years, and although obviously not yet in their league, there’s absolutely no reason why Liverpool’s brilliant youngster can’t be a success there.

If the Reds are to get under the skins of Carlo Ancelotti’s side they need to press them relentlessly and work their socks off all evening, which is another reason why Balotelli shouldn’t play.

With Sterling occupying the central attacking role, Coutinho and Adam Lallana either side of him and Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen pushing on ahead of Steven Gerrard in midfield, those are five players who all press well and who will cause the visitors problems with their attacking threat.

As Jamie Carragher explained on on Sky’s ‘Monday Night Football’, Liverpool cannot carry any passengers on Wednesday. Balotelli is too unpredictable in that respect, and on current form he is too likely to be a hindrance to the team rather than an asset.

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The tempo of the Reds’ general play has to return to what is was last season, when they were simply blowing teams away. These weren’t second-rate sides either, with Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton, among others, all torn to shreds at Anfield. Even eventual Premier League champions Manchester City were for 45 minutes.

Real Madrid can be got at- they have never been a side who look particularly commanding at the back- but for that to happen the pace, intensity and fluency must be better than of late. The Anfield crowd also need to play a big part.

It is completely understandable why some Liverpool fans are going into the game with great trepidation. Even without the injured Gareth Bale, in Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez, Kroos and Modric they have five genuinely world-class attack-minded players in their starting XI.

There can be no escaping the fact that they will probably create plenty of goalscoring opportunities, especially if the likes of Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel perform like they did against QPR, but if Rodgers deploys Sterling as a ‘False Nine’, dropping the increasingly frustrating Balotelli in the process, it will give Liverpool their best chance of producing a memorable victory.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

‘Dear God, We Really Need to Talk’ – ‘We Are Liverpool’ Issue 4

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 13:21

Issue 4 of We Are Liverpool fanzine is on sale NOW and outside Anfield for the upcoming games against Real Madrid and Hull City this week.


Strict instructions were given to We Are Liverpool’s writers when putting together issue 4: Be as critical as you want of our less than convincing start to the season. However, it would be good if people didn’t want to slit their wrists after reading. This would affect sales of issue 5.

In the spirit of free speech you’ll be glad to know I was largely ignored and some of the content remains quite scathing. Not least, This is Anfield’s very own Max Munton’s take on players’ wages and how they contribute to extortionate ticket prices.

The extended feature looks at why Daniel Sturridge’s latest injury setback has hit Liverpool fans so hard. The in-depth look at his impact so far and his importance to the team going forward make a really interesting read and drives home how invaluable he is to the team.

When possible we always like to get a big hitter from the LFC writing world to contribute. This issue see Times Sports Editor, Tony Evans, arguing the case for the best midfield in the world. Simply put, it is superb and I doubt many will disagree.

If it’s variety you’re after then pieces covering, Reasons to be Cheerful; LFC Mythology; Schadenfreude; Julian Dicks; Rogers giving Hodgson short shrift; Club vs Country; #Anti-Social Behaviour and the grim diary entries of someone watching the Basel defeat at four in the morning, will leave you satisfied.

Throw in Gerrard, Balotelli, Sakho and Sterling, Real Madrid and Talking Tactics and your boat will well and truly be floated. You’ll feel ashamed that you only paid £1.50 for all this. But we’ll still love you.


BUY AT THE FOLLOWING GAMES: Madrid, Hull, Swansea and Chelsea

From sellers outside the Kop, in Home Baked opposite Flagpole Corner, and now in Hat, Scarf or a Badge next to the Flat Iron pub.


UK – We Are Liverpool Issue 4 inc P&P
Europe – We Are Liverpool Issue 4 inc P&P
Worldwide – We Are Liverpool Issue 4 inc P&P

Even better take out a 4 issue subscription and you’re sorted for the rest of the season.

UK – We Are Liverpool – 4 Issue Subscription inc P&P
Europe – We Are Liverpool – 4 Issue Subscription inc P&P
Worldwide – We Are Liverpool – 4 Issue Subscription inc P&P


If you’re all 21st Century, you’re catered for too. Get a 4 issue digital subscription for just £3.99. We’ll throw in a free issue on top and if you want to sack it off within 14 days you can and we’ll refund you the difference on the remaining copies. To date, no one has taken us up on this and feedback has been great.

We Are Liverpool – 4 Issue Digital Subscription (Click here to see the digital taster of issue #1) 


Finally, if you like it…tell people! Help us the get word out.

ISSUE 4 Team Sheet

Chuck Dozie  @chuckdozie; Jack Lusby  @LusbyLatest; Jagdesh Singh @jagdesh; James Nalton  @JDNalton; Jeff Goulding  @ShanklysBoys1; Jim Fishlock @JimFish286; Johnny Milburn @JohnnyMilburn; John Ritchie @JohnRitchie84; Max Munton; Neil Collins  @NeilCollins86; Neil Poole (Editor) @WeAre_Liverpool; Neil Scott  @66zimbo; Phil Casey  @Phil_LFCDT; Sam McGuire  @SamMcGuire90; Scott Murphy  @Liverpoolscribe; Tony Evans  @TonyEvansTimes; Trevor Downey @downeytrev

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool Loan Watch: Wisdom & Assaidi Assist, Ibe Scores and Teixeira Injured

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 12:23

Ben Twelves takes a look at how Liverpool’s group of loaned players performed for their temporary clubs in the first matches back after the international break.

 Liverpool's Andre Wisdom in action against Brondby IF during a preseason friendly match at Brøndby Stadion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Andre Wisdom

Loaned defender Wisdom played all 90 minutes of West Brom’s Monday Night Football 2-2 draw with Manchester United and produced an excellent performance for his temporary club.

Also like to mention Andre Wisdom. A controversial selection- he nullified Di Maria and created the 1st goal. Highly impressive tonight

— The Baggies' Way (@TheBaggiesWay) October 20, 2014

The 21-year-old came straight back into the team at right back after missing Albion’s last match against Liverpool due to being ineligible to play against his parent club, but it didn’t take Wisdom long to get back into the swing of things as he defended strongly and claimed an assist – his first for the club – setting up the first goal of the night.

Stéphane Sessegnon with his first goal of the season, and what a hit. Andre Wisdom with his first assist for West Brom. #WBAFC

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 20, 2014

After the ball was helped on by Graham Dorrans into space, Wisdom burst on to the loose ball, powering forward leaving Angel Di Maria trailing, and fizzed a low pass into the path of the oncoming Stephan Sessegnon who rifled into the top corner with an outstanding finish.

Jordon Ibe

Highly rated teenager Ibe scored his second goal for loan club Derby on Saturday, as his side strolled to an excellent 3-0 win against Reading in the Championship.

Great goal from Ibe, who skinned his man on the edge of the box before curling a low shot into the far corner from 12 yards #dcfc

— Chris Watson (@CWatsonDerbyTel) October 18, 2014

The 18-year-old doubled his teams’ lead to make it 2-0 before half time after embarking on a mazy run into the box, breezing past his man cutting in on his right foot, and slotting the ball into the far corner of the net receiving praise from the opposition in the process.

If you haven't seen it Jordon Ibe scored great goal vs Reading yesterday

— MostarLFC (@MostarLFC) October 19, 2014

GOAL. That's a fantastic individual strike from Jordan Ibe to make it 2-0. Superb skill and finish.

— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) October 18, 2014

Ibe continues to impress staff and fans alike at the Championship club, who will be hoping they can keep hold of him for the whole duration of the season-long loan he joined on.

Oussama Assaidi

Walters' Winner Stuns Swansea. Read the match report from our 2-1 win #scfc

— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) October 19, 2014

Loaned Moroccan winger Assaidi began Stoke’s 2-1 victory over Swansea as a substitute but came on in the second half to set up the winning goal for his side in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday afternoon.

GOAL Stoke 2-1 Swansea (76 mins). The substitutes combine as Jon Walters heads in Oussama Assaidi's cross #STKSWA

— Premier League (@premierleague) October 19, 2014

The 27-year-old entered proceedings after 73 minutes – replacing former Liverpool loanee Victor Moses – and played on the left side of a ‘3’ behind ex-Reds striker Peter Crouch.

1 – Oussama Assaidi provided his first Premier League assist in 27 appearances for Stoke and Liverpool combined. Timely.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 19, 2014

Only three minutes after coming on, Assaidi assisted the winning goal as his pin-point cross from the left – after cutting back on his right foot – found fellow substitute Jonathan Walters who headed home the perfect ball in from the Reds loaned man for what proved to be the match winner.

Joao Carlos Teixeira

The Reds’ Portuguese playmaker played only half an hour for loan side Brighton on Saturday in their 2-1 home defeat against Middlesbrough, due to being withdrawn after just 30 minutes with concerns over his playing state and potential concussion.

That early knock to the head clearly affected Teixeira and worried the medical staff. #bhafc

— Andy Naylor (@AndyNaylorArgus) October 18, 2014

Confirmation Teixeira was subbed due to concussion concerns. Couldn't remember anything about the early collision with Friend. #bhafc

— Andy Naylor (@AndyNaylorArgus) October 18, 2014

Teixeira was on the end of some robust defending from the away side early on, and took a whack to the head which caused concern on Sami Hyppia’s bench, with the former Reds captain choosing to take the Portugal under 21 international off to prevent any further injury.

Agricultural stuff from #boro though who have kicked Teixeira out of the game.

— North Stand Chat (@NorthStandChat) October 18, 2014

Divock Origi

Belgium international striker Origi started for Lille in their disappointing 2-1 home defeat to bottom side Guingamp on Saturday evening.

Lille had the ball in the net, but Origi is centimetres offside. Very very close. Could have been their chance.

— FFW (@FrenchFtWeekly) October 18, 2014

After beginning the match up front, Liverpool’s loaned star did have the ball in the net but his effort was ruled out for offside with the Belgian straying just fractionally the wrong side of the away teams’ defence.

Divock Origi: Has scored or assisted as many Ligue 1 goals (4) in his 7 apps this season as he had in his previous 37 apps #LOSC

— (@WhoScored) October 16, 2014


Brad Smith

BREAKING: Defender Brad Smith has been recalled from his loan spell at SN1 by parent club, Liverpool. #STFC

— Swindon Town FC (@Official_STFC) October 20, 2014

Liverpool’s Australian international has returned to Anfield prematurely from his loan spell at Swindon Town after three months at the League One club, with reports indicating that Smith’s return is to allow him to receive treatment on a knee injury picked up which is said to be expected to keep him out for around a month.

Luis Alberto

22-year-old Alberto was left out of the match day squad due to injury by Malaga boss Javi Gracia, who watched his side record a 2-1 away win against Cordoba on Saturday night.

 Liverpool's Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto before the Premiership match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Iago Aspas

Spanish loaned man Aspas was absent from the Sevilla squad on Sunday evening, as they played out a win away to Elche.

Sebastian Coates

The Uruguayan centre back will be counting himself slightly lucky as he was once again left out of the squad for Sunderland on Saturday – this time missing their embarrassing 8-0 loss against Southampton.

Tiago Ilori

Portuguese centre back Ilori was left out of the Bordeaux squad who played out a 1-1 draw against Caen on Sunday afternoon, as he continues to recover from a thigh injury picked up before the international break.

Getting treatment today #Ilori #recoverymode #treatment #ChâteauHaillan #FCGB #Girondins

— Tiago Ilori (@TiagoIlori4) October 7, 2014

Rafa Paez

Liverpool’s Spanish under centre 21 back missed Bologna’s comfortable 3-0 Serie B victory over Varese on Saturday afternoon, due to still recovering from an abdominal injury.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool – Real Madrid: Combined XI (2004-2014)

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 10:00

Liverpool face Real Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday evening, in what could be a memorable Champions League clash. Henry Jackson selects his combined XI between the two great clubs over the last decade.

 Liverpool players walk out before the UEFA Champions League First Knock-Out Round against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)


[embedded content]

This is a very tough call between Casillas and Pepe Reina, but for pure longevity and influence the Real Madrid goalkeeper edges it in my opinion. The 33-year-old has been one of the best ‘keepers of his generation, winning an incredible 158 caps for Spain. He has won everything there is to win in the game.

Reina was a superb servant to Liverpool for nearly a decade, but he just doesn’t quite have his Spanish teammates’ ability. Casillas’ performance against the Reds in 2009, albeit in a losing cause, was exceptional.


Although admittedly now predominantly a centre-back, Ramos has played at right-back plenty of times too. He is far from everyone’s favourite player, but you can’t argue with his leadership, quality and consistency over the years. He has over 100 caps for Spain and is still just 28.

Alvaro Arbeloa has been a very solid player for both clubs, while Steve Finnan was also criminally underrated. Ramos is a level above them though. Michel Salgado was becoming less effective by 2004 too.


 Liverpool's captain Jamie Carragher making his 737th and last appearance for Liverpool during the final Premiership match of the 2012/13 season against Queens Park Rangers at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Carragher is undoubtedly one of the Reds’ best ever defenders, and he was one of Europe’s best centre halves for several years. His displays in the 2004/05 Champions League winning season were legendary, and he went on to play more than 700 times for the club.

Pepe is too inconsistent, and although Raphael Varane has the ability to be the best centre-back in the world one day, he has not yet played nearly enough to merit being in the side. Fabio Cannavaro was poor when he joined them, despite having just inspired Italy to World Cup glory.

Centre-Back- SAMI HYYPIA

 David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hyypia was one of Liverpool’s greatest ever bargain buys, costing just £2.5m from Willem II in 1999, and he is a genuine club legend.

His reading of the game was exemplary, he oozed class on the ball and he was a great captain. He is exactly the kind of player Los Blancos have craved over the past decade.

Left-Back- MARCELO

Marcelo might not be the most perfect left-back around- he can be very erratic defensively- but he’s still been the best in his position at either club since 2004.

Roberto Carlos was past his best a decade ago, while John Arne Riise was a great servant to Liverpool but never in that world-class bracket. Fabio Coentrao is more solid than Marcelo, but the Brazilian’s attacking brilliance just gives him the edge.

Centre Midfield- XABI ALONSO

 Liverpool's Xabi Alonso in action against Arsenal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alonso walks into this side, having been a wonderful player for both clubs. He is one of Liverpool’s best ever Premier League players, bossing the midfield for five years at Anfield, while at Santiago Bernabeu he won every major honour before joining Bayern Munich this summer.

The 32-year-old has wonderful creativity, good defensive work and an eye for the spectacular. Javier Mascherano and Luka Modric come close, but Alonso is on another level.

Centre Midfield- ZINEDINE ZIDANE

 Manchester United's David Beckham and Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Zidane’s unbelievable talent may have been on the wane a little by 2004, but he was still a fantastic player up until his retirement two years later. You simply cannot leave him out.

The Frenchman is one of the greatest footballers of all time, and there has been no midfielder close to having his balance, control and genius over the last 20 or 30 years.

Attacking Midfield- STEVEN GERRARD

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

Gerrard is another certainty in this team. He is the greatest player ever to wear a Liverpool shirt in the eyes of many, and he is one of the best midfielders of the last 20 years.

His influence at Anfield has been unrivalled for so long, and his ability to produce at the biggest moments separates him from many. A truly world-class footballer, and the only player ever to score in the final of the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.


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

Regardless of whether you like him or not, there can be absolutely no denying that Ronaldo is a phenomenon of a footballer, and one of the greatest to have ever played the game.

The former Manchester United star is the complete attacking player, combining speed, skill, physical stature and a, quite frankly, ridiculous scoring record. 271 goals in 258 games is astounding.

Raheem Sterling could be somewhere near this team in a few years time, presuming he keeps improving at the rate he is, while Arjen Robben blew hot and cold during his time in Spain.

Left Forward- LUIS SUAREZ

 Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the second goal against Norwich City during the Premiership match at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Suarez may well be the most naturally talented Liverpool player ever. Although the 27-year-old was only at the club for three and a half years, he produced endless moments of genius and scored at a stunning rate. Now at Barcelona, he may even go up another notch.

Fernando Torres was world-class for a few years but he lacked the Uruguayan’s all-round game, while former Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain and current man Karim Benzmea are not at his level.

Striker- RAUL

Raul is one of Real Madrid’s most iconic players of all time, and was an unbelievable servant between 1994 and 2010. He scored 323 goals in 741 appearances, and was one of the most intelligent strikers on the planet throughout that time.

Although the former Spain captain was possibly a tiny bit past his best by 2004- he hit his absolute peak very early, like Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler- he was still world-class a decade ago. He won six La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns during his unforgettable time at the club.

Some may say Brazilian Ronaldo should make the cut, but in my opinion, and as someone who rates him as perhaps the most devastating striker in history in his prime, he was considerably past his best a decade ago.

XI: Casillas, Ramos, Carragher, Hyypia, Marcelo, Alonso, Gerrard, Zidane, Ronaldo, Suarez, Raul.

What is your Liverpool and Real Madrid Combined XI between 2004 and 2014? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

QPR 2-3 Liverpool: Is This Liverpool’s Worst Ever Premier League Defence?

Втр, 21/10/2014 - 01:51

Despite scraping victory at QPR, Jack Lusby asks whether this current Liverpool defence is the club’s worst in Premier League history.

 Liverpool's Martin Skrtel clears the ball off the line against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

From Abel Xavier, to Christian Ziege, Gregory Vignal and Jan Kromkamp, to Djimi Traore and the much-loved Paul Konchesky, Liverpool Football Club has boasted its fair share of defensive catastrophes since the Premier League began.

But as Brendan Rodgers’ current side fortunately edged a 3-2 victory away to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road on Sunday, the back four of Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Jose Enrique staked their claim for the mantle of the club’s worst in the modern English top flight.

Coming up against Real Madrid on Wednesday night, this is far from encouraging.

Don't want to sleep for a couple of nights?? Replace these QPR players with Real Madrid ones …

— Dave Boon (@dave_boon) October 20, 2014

Jesus. You can't even joke about it. We have the worst defence I've ever seen in a Liverpool team. Worse than under Souness.

— Bob Sacamano (@JosephPepper) October 19, 2014

Rodgers’ side are currently on course to concede 57 Premier League goals this season, and that stat, based on an average of goals conceded per game so far this season, would leave Liverpool with their worst ever rate of goals against in any Premier League campaign.

A far cry from the phenomenal spell between 2005/06 and 2009/10 under Rafa Benitez, wherein which the Reds conceded an average of 28 goals per season.

Benitez’s back four throughout most of that period would regularly feature defensive titans Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia and John Arne Riise.

Arguably, in Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo, Rodgers has found his new Finnan and Riise, but against QPR the Ulsterman’s back line may well feature as one of the most risible in the club’s Premier League history.

Centre-Backs and Possession

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

Signing Lovren this summer was supposed to bring leadership, tact and a quality in possession to the Liverpool back four. So far this has been a farce.

Despite an impressive display in his pre-season debut against Borussia Dortmund, Lovren has so far struggled under Rodgers after his £20 million move.

Deployed alongside Skrtel at Loftus Road, the duo looked to lack cohesion and composure, with Harry Redknapp’s side benefitting from numerous mistakes, although the R’s failed to capitalise in the first half, resulting in their eventual downfall.

For the second time today Gerrard looks at Lovren after a poor pass out. Not impressed. #QPRLIV

— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) October 19, 2014

These errors mainly came with the pair’s failure in possession, often given the ball to an opponent.

Skrtel finished the game with a total of two defensive errors according to Squawka, with both leading to an attempt on goal by a QPR player, whilst Lovren is attributed by Squawka as having made one defensive error, with his failed headed clearance leading to Eduardo Vargas’ first goal.

Elsewhere, for a pair of physically capable centre-backs, Skrtel and Lovren were consistently dominated by a surprise attacking inclusion by Harry Redknapp on the day: A 33-year-old Bobby Zamora.

Bobby Zamora had a decent half; he created 3 chances in the first half, more than any other player on the pitch.

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 19, 2014

HR "they couldn't play Bobby Zamora. drop it off him and it worked."

— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) October 19, 2014

The bulky centre-forward, making only his first Premier League start of the season, dominated Liverpool’s centre-backs with his ability to hold up the ball and bring his teammates into the attacking third.

Zamora presence also underlined Lovren’s bizarre approach to defending high balls, with the Croat launching himself in front of the England international with complete disregard for the ball on several occasions.

At this point, it seems that Lovren is trying too much to impress at his new club, and his partnership and lack of cohesion alongside Skrtel isn’t helping.

Rodgers would do well to perhaps give Lovren and his defensive flailing a rest against Madrid, and bringing Mamadou Sakho in from the cold may be the solution—the aggressive Frenchman wouldn’t have pandered to Zamora’s strength, that’s for sure.

Jose Enrique

 Liverpool's Jose Enrique in action against Stoke City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Standing head, shoulders and a possible hair transplant above his teammates in terms of defensive recklessness, however, is Spanish left-back Enrique.

Fresh from an international break spent preening and selfieing in Dubai, Enrique was drafted into the starting line-up at the expense of Alberto Moreno, who was presumably being rested for the Champions League on Wednesday.

Not very good performance by the team but we will improve from it.the most important thing we got the 3 points.

— José enrique (@Jesanchez3) October 19, 2014

Perhaps due to this being only his second Premier League appearance of the campaign, the former Newcastle United man struggled immeasurably; in contrast, however, Johnson managed to perform fairly ably on only his third start of 2014/15.

Much like his central counterparts, much of the disappointment surrounding Enrique’s display came with his frustrating failure in possession.

Jose Enrique has completed just 52% of his passes so far vs QPR; 1 of them was a glorious Hollywood pass, so it's OK.

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 19, 2014

Enrique continually ran himself into corners on the left flank, either by attempting to be too flashy or by failing to spot an easy pass; the 28-year-old finished the game with a passing accuracy of just 58 per cent, according to Squawka.

Moreover, when it came to the defensive side of the game, the left-back was equally as inept and for Vargas’ first goal, Enrique was particularly witless.

Defending: making mistakes and learning from them. #ignoreyourman

— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) October 20, 2014

Failing to track the run of the Chilean international, with the QPR man intelligently following up on his initial delivery, Enrique watched on as Vargas got on the end of a well-worked move to head in past Simon Mignolet.

A bizarre lapse in concentration that has become a hallmark of Enrique’s game.

Such was the poor performance of the Spaniard, Rodgers has seemingly seen fit to recall Australian youngster Brad Smith from a loan spell at Swindon Town.

Brad Smith has been recalled to #LFC from his loan spell at @Official_STFC.

— The Bib Theorists (@TheBibTheorists) October 20, 2014

The “technical reasons” behind Moreno’s omission from Spanish U21s duty may also be an underlying factor within this decision.

Enrique’s failures encapsulate all that is wrong with Rodgers’ defence, arguably since his appointment as Liverpool manager, and much work is to be done following this lucky victory at Loftus Road.

Would rather see a back four of Kromkamp, Biscan, Traore, Vignal than have those four in a game again.

— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) October 19, 2014

To be honest, I'd rather see a complete change of back 4: Manquillo, Kolo, Sakho and Moreno #lfc

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) October 19, 2014

The returning Johnson did not perform as poorly as his colleagues, but perhaps all change is required to provide the defensive impetus against Madrid on Wednesday.

Is this truly Liverpool’s worst ever Premier League defence? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Alvaro Arbeloa ready for “special” Anfield return in Liverpool-Real Madrid Champions League clash

Пнд, 20/10/2014 - 18:25

Defender Alvaro Arbeloa watched from the bench as Real Madrid were crowned European champions for a 10th time in May but admits his toughest moment in the competition came as a Liverpool player.

 Real Madrid Club de Futbol's Alvaro Arbeloa celebrates scoring a goal against Club Atletico de Madrid during the La Liga Primera Division Madrid Derby match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by Hoch Zwei/Sprimont Press/Propaganda)

The full-back returns to Anfield this week five years after he left to return to his native Spain and admits the place has fond memories for him.

However, the crushing disappointment of losing the 2007 Champions League final to AC Milan, when he came on as a late substitute, remains his lowest point.

"Suffering injuries is hard but one of the most difficult moments for me was the defeat in the final in Athens with Liverpool," said the 31-year-old, who was allowed to move to the Bernabeu for just B£3.5million in 2009 despite becoming Real's first-choice right-back for a number of subsequent seasons.

"I've lost in the semi-finals four times but I always thought about the missed opportunity in Athens.

"Going back to Liverpool after five years will be very special. I spent two wonderful years there and I got used to a new culture.

"I grew a lot, both as a player and as a person. It will be great but not just for me: I have told my team-mates to enjoy the match at Anfield as much as possible.

"Champions League nights and big games like this one at Anfield are very special.

"We're going to be up against a team that will come out to fight to the last and will give everything, because they need to win too."

 Liverpool's Alvaro Arbeloa and FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 1st Leg match at the Nou Camp. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arbeloa's Liverpool debut came in the famous 2-1 Champions League win against Barcelona in the Nou Camp in 2007, when he was played out of position at left-back to negate Lionel Messi.

"It was my first game in the starting line-up and my debut in the Champions League," he told

"What more can you ask, having come up through the ranks of the Real Madrid youth system, than to make your debut at the Camp Nou and win there?

"It was a magic, special night, playing for a great club and wearing the shirt of the European champions. We played a fantastic match."

Real go into Wednesday's game top of Group B, after winning their first two matches, with the pressure on their hosts after a disappointing defeat in Basel last time out.

Real are likely to be without Gareth Bale because of a buttock muscle injury.

A statement on the club's website read: "After tests carried out on Gareth Bale by the Real Madrid Sanitas medical services he has been diagnosed with a muscular injury in the right pyramidalis muscle. His progress will be monitored."

However, his absence will not lesson Real's attacking potency with the free-scoring Cristiano Ronaldo set to take centre stage.

"There's no doubt that Cristiano is the best player in the world at the moment," said Arbeloa.

"He is a great professional and a player who improves every day. No-one can imagine what he does.

"Training and playing with him helps you to grow and improve. For us, it's a privilege to have Cristiano with us."

How big a game is Liverpool v Real Madrid on Wednesday night? Let us know your pre-match thoughts and predictions in the comments section below.


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Категории: LFC NEWS

Why Brendan Rodgers Must End His 4-2-3-1 Persistence

Пнд, 20/10/2014 - 16:30

After scraping past QPR with a dreadful and disjointed performance in London on Sunday afternoon, Ben Twelves calls for Brendan Rodgers to drop the unsuited formation and switch to a more comfortable set up.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers, assistant manager Colin Pascoe and first team coach Mike Marsh on the bench during the Premier League match against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool defied all reasonable logic to somehow escape from Loftus Road with a 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon – a result that we all would have taken at the start of the game but with a performance that we most certainly wouldn’t.

Sunday’s showing was the worst display from a Liverpool team in recent seasons despite heading back to Merseyside with the three points, with everyone except Simon Mignolet under performing and struggling to get to grips with both settling personnel and the system – of which is currently the strangely preferred 4-2-3-1 shape.

Rodgers: "I like to win, and win in a way that reflects how we work on a daily basis. That was nowhere near what I expect." #LFC

— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) October 19, 2014

Defensive cluelessness continues to plague the Reds regardless of the back four selection but equally alarming is the increasingly disjointed nature of the teams’ performances in the final third, in the rigid formation that Rodgers had to abandon at half time on Sunday such was its hindrance.

When a team is struggling for form and results, usually the first thing is to go back to basics, reproduce what you’re good at and once again move forward but this doesn’t seem to be happening at Anfield currently and it has to be questioned as to why with such sluggish performances.

What Liverpool have proven to be good at, is playing with a compact diamond shaped midfield and two forwards but the Liverpool boss is yet to revert to what works best, choosing to stick with a formation that doesn’t suit any of his key players.

 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)

Yes, injuries have played a part in being slow to revert – especially with the absence of Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen – but there’s enough options within the squad now to have revisited what’s most effective, with Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert in the squad for exactly that reason.

So why has the Northern Irishman continued to persist with a shape that fails to maximise the potential of the squad?

Unsuitable System

4-2-3-1 has been deployed too many times already this season, but its continued use must simply come as a result of having a wealth of options who can all operate between the opposition lines of midfield and defence.

However, of the attacking midfield options – Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and even Jordan Henderson – not one is a natural pick to play in a wider position which the formation entails.

The subsequent uncomfortable performances that have followed from new recruits Lallana and Markovic – who have been asked to play either side of the ‘3’ more than anyone since arriving – should come as no surprise with both of the summer arrivals more comfortable when operating centrally.

Gerrard behind Balotelli for LFC. @br_uk

— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) October 19, 2014

Also, the two man midfield helps no one either – completely sacrificing control of middle of the park. Jordan Henderson’ energy and penetrative running is restricted, and Steven Gerrard’s position in front of the midfield is by no means something that should be utilised from the beginning of games.

An already dreadful defensive set up receives even less protection from the flat midfield – once Gerrard moved deeper, supply to Bobby Zamora was stifled – as more space between the Liverpool lines opens and there’s even less pressure on the ball as a result.

In attack, the immobile Mario Balotelli has to operate on his own despite looking better with a strike partner and admitting to preferring that himself.

Balotelli says lone striker role at #LFC has not suited him and Gerrard at same level as Pirlo

— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) October 16, 2014

Diamond Switch

The current shape benefits no one, but with Rodgers having a wealth of options to be able to play between lines, it’s logical to assume that’s why reverting to the diamond has yet to suffice – as the shape restricts to just one player to operate between midfield and defence.

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

With only room for one of these players, new arrivals brought to the club in order to improve squad strength and the first XI will end up sitting on the bench, perhaps explaining the managers’ desire to stick with the unfavourable system to keep them in the starting XI.

However, performances don’t have to continue to be so frighteningly dreadful and the way to address that is by using the midfield controllers and within the squad, combined with the more intricate attackers in a selection that won’t see forwards starved of service – in the diamond shape.

Philippe Coutinho – who looks to be returning to form after a slow start – fits nicely into the midfield three, creating room for Lallana or Markovic to play at the tip of the diamond and thus still factoring in a new arrival.

Coutinho's pass for Sterling (for third goal) was reminiscent of the Arsenal game last season. Need them 2 linking more. Key to LFC.

— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) October 19, 2014

Sterling can then partner Balotelli – but play with a freer role to roam and pick up the positions Sturridge would drift into – and also with his raw pace to run in behind opposition defences to latch on to Coutinho’s through passes.


It’s understandable as to why Rodgers is continuing to display patience over the 4-2-3-1 system, but such a set up completely wastes a lot of the control, explosiveness and intricacy from central areas within the Liverpool team.

Considering how bad the Reds have been at times, only a wonder goal has prevented us from sitting in the top four, but before we do start to get caught and our luck runs out, Rodgers must revert back to the shape that suits his team best, starting on Wednesday night against the European champions.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool recall left-back Brad Smith as Alberto Moreno questions raised

Пнд, 20/10/2014 - 15:02

With Alberto Moreno left out of the squad at QPR, and Jose Enrique putting in a far from impressive performance, Liverpool have recalled Brad Smith from loan at Swindon Town.

 Liverpool's Brad Smith in action against Chelsea during the Premiership match at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The news of the 20-year-old Australian being recalled is confirmed on Swindon’s official website on Monday morning.

Smith made 10 appearances for the League One side, although hasn’t featured this month for the Wiltshire side – he did play for Australia against Qatar though last week, his fourth cap for his country.

“Brad Smith has been recalled by Liverpool so Brad is no longer with us,” Swindon boss Mark Cooper explained.

“He started to look as though he was going to produce. It took him a while to get used to the way we played but he started to show glimpses of what we brought him in for.

“But it’s one of those things, Liverpool have recalled him and we can’t do anything about it.

“He’s very quick, he’s a great lad and I’m sure he will go on to have a fantastic career in the game.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll have the opportunity to bring him back.

“When there is that recall clause in the loan you always know it can happen. That’s football.”

Smith’s recall, combined with Moreno not being in the squad against QPR and being dropped from the Spain under-21s last week for “technical reasons”, according to boss Albert Celades, will lead to speculation surrounding the reasons for such.

Smith made his debut for Liverpool last December as a sub against Chelsea, playing as left midfielder. His regular position, for the under-21s, is as a left-back.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

“He’s not going to be what Suarez was” – Rodgers urges Reds to give Balotelli time

Пнд, 20/10/2014 - 14:48

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted summer signing Mario Balotelli will never match Luis Suarez‘s Anfield impact.

 Liverpool's Mario Balotelli in action against Queens Park Rangers' Yun Suk-Young during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers backed the Italy striker to shrug off “unfair” criticism and end his six-game Premier League drought however, despite Balotelli missing another glorious chance in Sunday’s 3-2 win at QPR.

The Liverpool boss said Balotelli’s early Reds career has been blighted by comparisons with Uruguay forward Suarez, who completed a summer transfer to Barcelona.

The former Swansea manager bristled at suggestions Balotelli could have missed another sitter if Steven Caulker had not scored the decisive own goal.

“Wow, that’s being very unfair: an open goal, from six yards?” said Rodgers when quizzed if Balotelli would have converted the tap-in from Raheem Sterling‘s cross. “Well okay, that’s harsh. It’ll drop for the boy.

“The most important thing for me is his work, the guy’s doing his best; he’s working really hard.

“It’s just not dropping for him at the moment, but I would have said he would have finished that, if young Steven Caulker had not turned it in.

“The criticism of him has been unfair, yes.

“And that’s because he’s probably seen as the direct replacement for Luis, and as I said before, Luis was irreplaceable and a real world-class talent.

“And that’s not what’s being asked of Mario. He’s not going to be what Luis was.

“Mario’s come into here, everyone knows him and they’ve seen him over his career, he’s a great boy, and I’ve really enjoyed working with him.

“He wants to improve and be better, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers, assistant manager Colin Pascoe and first team coach Mike Marsh on the bench during the Premier League match against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool sneaked to victory in west London courtesy of own goals from Caulker and Richard Dunne, plus a deflected effort from Philippe Coutinho. Eduardo Vargas twice equalised at the death for the impressive hosts, only for Sterling to force Caulker’s own goal and keep QPR at the bottom of the Premier League.

Suarez’s 31 goals propelled Liverpool’s title challenge last term, before the controversial forward bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. The lengthy ban that followed allowed him to push through his craved Barcelona move, and the 27-year-old is only now gearing up for his club debut against chief rivals Real Madrid this weekend.

Rodgers admitted Liverpool built their entire game plan around Suarez’s talents, and with Daniel Sturridge sidelined for another month, that has to change. Rodgers backed £16million AC Milan recruit Balotelli to emerge stronger after his slump, once Liverpool successfully shift their team “dynamic”.

“He’s not going to be what Suarez was: he’s a totally different type of player,” said Rodgers.

“Luis played on the shoulder, we freed up the team for him for a couple of years to exploit his qualities.

“Now we have to have a different dynamic and type of game, but (Balotelli) has got qualities, and he’s really focused on making sure that he’s concentrating on preparing himself to train and play.

“And then eventually the goals will come for him.”


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Категории: LFC NEWS

LFC Transfer Rumour Roundup: Spanish Stopper Casilla and Teenage Sensation Odegaard Linked

Пнд, 20/10/2014 - 13:49

As the January transfer window begins to edge ever closer, we bring you the latest rumours surrounding Liverpool over last few days.


We may be halfway between the end of the summer and January transfer windows, but that doesn’t stop a constant stream of rumours regarding ins and outs at Anfield.

There are numerous players being linked with a switch to help improve the Reds in January after a less than fluid start. Some rumours are feasible, while others, quite frankly, appear as likely as Ian Rush coming out of retirement to show Mario Balotelli how it’s done.

Here are the transfer stories that have emerged over the weekend.


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According to Spanish publication AS, Espanyol goalkeeper Casilla has edged closer to joining the Reds, having admitted he could be sold in January.

The La Liga side are currently in financial disarray, and the 27-year-old Spaniard realises his £8 million fee could help out his current employers.

“I’ve not had a call from anyone at Liverpool yet,” he’s quoted.

“Espanyol are like most Spanish clubs – they need money – and if my departure happens, it’s because Espanyol needs the money. When the bids happen, if it happens, we will value it and decide what happens.”

Meanwhile, Victor Valdes appears unlikely to move to Merseyside, after Spanish journalist Guillem Balague was told by Rodgers in an interview with AS that the Reds were not interested in the 32-year-old.

Mind you, Rodgers denied interest in Balotelli too.


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Odegaard is one of the most exciting young talents in world football, and recently became the youngest ever international to play in a European Championship qualifier. According to the Sunday People, Liverpool are set to beat Manchester United and Manchester City to the Norwegian’s signature.

Both Odegaard and his father are Liverpool fanatics, which is reportedly playing a big part in his decision. You can’t help but feel that, if someone like Real Madrid or Barcelona made a bid for him, that would all be irrelevant though. Money talks, and sadly we can’t compete with Europe’s heavyweights.

The Stromsgodset attacking midfielder is an unbelievable prospect, but then so was Freddy Adu at that age. Remember him?


 SSC Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi in action against Liverpool during the UEFA Europa League Group K Matchday 4 match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having been linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain star Lavezzi throughout the summer, the Express now claims Brendan Rodgers could be back in for him in January. The old adage of football journalism ‘if in need of a rumour, bring up an old one’ certainly being used here.

The 29-year-old has struggled to hold down a regular starting berth for the French giants, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Lucas Moura often the preferred options in attack.

It does appear unlikely that the Argentinian will make the move to Merseyside, however. The fact he is approaching 30 means he does not adhere to Rodgers’ philosophy in bringing in young players – he is bordering on a pensioner in comparison to recent signings Emre Can, Javier Manquillo and Divock Origi – and Liverpool are already fairly strong in attacking wide areas.


Andre Ayew could be a bargain buy for Liverpool

The Daily Star are another who follow that aforementioned journalist adage, linking Liverpool again with Marseille forward Ayew.

The 24-year-old’s contract with the Ligue 1 club will expire at the end of the season so the Reds would be able to sign him on a free transfer.

With Balotelli currently hapless in front of goal, perhaps Rodgers is already concerned about his lack of depth up front.


It’s 2014, you don’t think a week can by without Liverpool being linked with Reus do you?

There’s always plenty of scope for the ridiculous when it comes to transfer rumours, and Reus’ continual link with a move to Anfield fits the bill. This time it’s the Daily Star who still claim the Reds could sign the brilliant German.

Although it would be wonderful to feel otherwise, there is no way the 25-year-old will be signing for Liverpool. He is one of the world’s top players and, as the article eludes to, there is every chance he will end up at Bayern Munich with former teammate Robert Lewandowski.


 Liverpool's Glen Johnson in action against Borussia Dortmund during a preseason friendly match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Johnson’s future looks very up in the air, with the Daily Mail reporting on Saturday that the 30-year-old is unsure about his future.

His form has been patchy for a while now, and the addition of Manquillo and return of Jon Flanagan from injury makes his Anfield future look very cloudy.

When interest from other clubs suddenly appear, Johnson’s form can often seem to be curiously improve drastically. The cynics among us would claim he’s putting himself in the shop window.

Let us know your thoughts on the current transfer situation in the comments section.

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Категории: LFC NEWS