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Brendan Rodgers’ post-match interview after Liverpool 0-0 Hull

8 часов 50 минут назад

Brendan Rodgers looked to find the positives in Liverpool’s disappointing goalless draw at home to Hull City on Saturday afternoon.

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“Performance wise we were excellent, particularly in the second half where we were outstanding,” the Reds manager told BBC Sport.

“After a tough game in midweek it was a great effort from the players and we deserved to win the game. I thought it was just a matter of time until we scored, we created some opportunities and had 19 shots at goal. I can’t ask for any more from the players, they’ve given everything.”

It was another frustrating afternoon for striker Mario Balotelli, still looking for his first Premier League goal for Liverpool. An afternoon of arguably improved performance ended excruciatingly as he failed to connect with the ball from just yards out — a chance that would have won the Reds the game had he connected.

Rodgers added, “He will be disappointed with that. The cross came in, it was a perfect ball, he just opened his foot up too far and the chance was gone.”

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Brendan Rodgers defends Mario Balotelli despite Liverpool’s goalless draw against Hull

9 часов 52 секунды назад

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers vowed to stick with Mario Balotelli after another goalless but encouraging display against Hull.

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Balotelli is still to score in the Barclays Premier League since moving to Anfield after the Reds were shut out by the Tigers in a 0-0 home draw.

But after some underwhelming performances, and controversy in midweek after exchanging shirts at half-time in the loss to Real Madrid, Balotelli produced a much-improved effort.

He had one of Liverpool's best chances in the first half, forcing a fine save from Eldin Jakupovic, and was again thwarted by the Hull goalkeeper with almost the last kick of the game.

It's finished #LFC 0 – 0 #HCAFC A missed chance with the final kick by Balotelli – who else? Here are the stats: pic.twitter.com/6FdOQYuHZj

— BBC Radio 5 live (@bbc5live) October 25, 2014

His work rate and body language were also positive and Rodgers is convinced the controversial Italian will come good.

Rodgers said: "I thought he worked very well, very hard. He maybe thought he wasn't going to play today but you have got to stay with it. He is working hard and he is doing his best.

"Unfortunately it is that wee bit of confidence sometimes, when you don't get the goal. He kept going, kept getting into the areas.

"Sometimes with players if it's not going so well they have a day where they don't train or don't work, but he puts himself out to train every single day. He is out there wanting to be better, wanting to improve.

"Goalscorers will tell you they get their energy from the ball hitting the back of the net and it is just not happening for him in terms of that, but all I will ask is they do their best. You saw today's reaction. It was unlucky he didn't get the goal."

Liverpool showed urgency only sporadically but still created a number of chances and finished the match strongly.

Bruce: 'I have to be fair to Balotelli. He was their best player. The kid is a talent. It seems he is the whipping boy at the minute'

— Dominic King (@DominicKing_DM) October 25, 2014

Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho both went close in the closing minutes before Balotelli was denied at point-blank range by Jakupovic.

Rodgers said: "It was a big chance. We had one or two of those but we couldn't quite put the ball in the net.

"He will be disappointed he hasn't scored but, for the team, it was a big effort on the back of playing against a good team in midweek.

"We were a bit slow in the first half but in the second half I thought we were outstanding in the energy and effort we put into the game. It was a game we should have had three points from."

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool fans react to 0-0 draw with Hull City at Anfield

Сб, 25/10/2014 - 20:56

Liverpool and Hull City played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Saturday, The Reds securing only their second clean sheet of the campaign but failing to break down the resolute visitors.

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

Brendan Rodgers‘ side looked far better for the last half an hour, once he brought on Rickie Lambert alongside Mario Balotelli and introduced Philippe Coutinho to provide some spark to the midfield.

It was Coutinho who provide the two best chances for the home side, both in stoppage time, forcing a superb save from Hull’s third-choice keeper, then a dazzling run set up Balotelli who was denied from six yards out.

The result, with Arsenal winning, drops The Reds down to sixth. After three games in six days, they do again on Tuesday night at Anfield, this time in the League Cup against Swansea.

Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling both look like they are in need of a rest for that match but Rodgers may be tempted to pair Balotelli and Lambert together as they look to gain form and confidence.

Here are the reactions of Liverpool fans and media after the match; there’s praise for Coutinho, frustrations at the slow first half and positives from a clean sheet at last!

Big improvement in @LFC play after Rickie Lambert came on. Credit to @HullCity, though. Defend stoically, keeper got a deserved ovation.

— Dominic King (@DominicKing_DM) October 25, 2014

Watched the Mighty Reds….gave it a go at the end but just couldn't find that goal! Clean sheet is a positive.

— Paul Dalglish (@pauldalglish) October 25, 2014

Signs of attacking play getting better today particularly in second half. Frustrating result but at least some signs of progress.

— Paul Grech (@paul_grech) October 25, 2014

Balo did well. Not *great*, but good 1st half shot, chance created for Lovren, should have had penalty, some nice link play. + some faults

— Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins) October 25, 2014

How very frustrating, a solid performance. Thought we'd grab that all important goal. So unlucky. Credit to Hull, defended brilliantly.

— Steven Halliwell (@Ste_Halliwell11) October 25, 2014

I actually felt so much better watching that with two strikers than any of the scrappy wins we've had recently

— Rebecca Parry (@beccaparry10) October 25, 2014

5 home league games this season, and #LFC have created a total of 4 big chances. QPR had 5 against us last week! pic.twitter.com/PPN7TxQOoL

— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) October 25, 2014

Vintage 2011/12 performance that, complete with a striker who's ponderous and out of his depth.

— Tom McMahon (@TomMc_Sports) October 25, 2014

Main worry today is that we didn't look like we really wanted to win. Coutinho should be an automatic starter on current form.

— Michael Sweeting (@M_Sweeting) October 25, 2014

Absolutely no reason why they couldn't have attacked like this from minute 1. The creativity came on with Coutinho & the 2nd striker.

— Marco Lopes (@Footy_MarcoL) October 25, 2014

And finally….

So this exists. pic.twitter.com/M4AKgfuP5K

— Kop 305 (@Kop305) October 25, 2014

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool 0-0 Hull City: Reds Frustrated By The Tigers

Сб, 25/10/2014 - 19:54

Liverpool endured another disappointing day at Anfield, as Brendan Rodgers‘ side had to settle for a goalless draw against Steve Bruce’s Hull City side.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Hull City FC

Liverpool 0-0 Hull City

Premier League / Anfield / Saturday, 25th October 2014

By Henry Jackson

Liverpool needed a good response following Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, and Brendan Rodgers made three changes to his side. Emre Can came in for the rested Jordan Henderson, while Javier Manquillo and Adam Lallana replaced Glen Johnson and Philippe Coutinho, respectively.

Hull made a confident start to the game, with Dejan Lovren forced into a good clearance inside his own six-yard box. There was a nervousness about the Anfield crowd.

Lovren almost opened the scoring after nine minutes, but his header was cleared off the line by Ahmed Elmohamady. The Croatian then saw his second attempt blocked and his third effort sail into the Anfield Road end.

The much-maligned Mario Balotelli then showed good movement before testing Eldin Jakupovic with a good strike from a tight angle. The Reds began to dominate proceedings.

The game went a little quiet midway through the first-half, with Rodgers’ side struggling to break down the visitors. Their general play once again lacked the tempo of last season, and barring a tame effort from Joe Allen, they were creating very little.

Lallana produced some good work down the left, and he could easily have had a penalty after being scythed down in the box. The 26-year-old struggled to impose himself on the game, however.

Jake Livermore forced Simon Mignolet into a comfortable save, Mohamed Diame shot wide and Tom Huddlestone’s effort deflected just past the post, as Hull ended the half well.

At the break it was goalless, and an improved performance was needed by Liverpool.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Hull City FC

There were no changes to either side at the interval, as the Reds tried to break down Steve Bruce’s stubborn team. The second-half started with a very similar pattern as the first though.

Although Balotelli was far from poor, he was once again failing to add true class in attack. Raheem Sterling was also far from his best.

Abel Hernandez saw his fine long-range effort caught by Mignolet, while Steven Gerrard fired just wide at the other end. Philippe Coutinho and Rickie Lambert replaced Allen and Lallana on the hour mark.

Balotelli somehow didn’t divert a header in from a corner after 63 minutes, and Sterling’s shot from the edge of the box was saved by Jakupovic.

The Reds were all over Hull following the substitutions, with Coutinho making a big difference. It was still 0-0 with just 20 minutes remaining though, and the frustration among the fans began to build.

With 17 minutes left Lovren failed to connect with Balotelli’s square pass, and it just continued to feel like one of those days. Henderson was introduced, as Liverpool tried desperately to earn an ugly three points.

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

Gerrard almost bundled the ball home, Coutinho forced Jakupovic into a good save and Balotelli somehow didn’t win it, all in stoppage-tme, but Liverpool had to settle for a hugely frustrating draw. It was yet another below-par performance.

Man of the Match: Emre Can

Tactical Overview

Rodgers opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Lallana to the left of the front three and Sterling to the right. Can and Allen showed fluency in the midfield, with Gerrard sat in his deep-lying role.

There wasn’t great fluency throughout though, and although things improved when Coutinho and Lambert came on, the return of Daniel Sturridge, allowing them to return to a 4-4-2 diamond, remains pivotal to Liverpool’s hopes.

Liverpool:Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Can (Henderson 75), Allen (Coutinho 61), Lallana (Lambert 61), Sterling, Balotelli

Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Johnson, Markovic,

Hull City starting XI:Jakupovic, Bruce, Davies, Chester, Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Diame, Livermore, Brady, Ben Arfa, Hernandez.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Former Man United favourite backs Simon Mignolet – condemns Gary Neville

Сб, 25/10/2014 - 17:16

Peter Schmeichel has criticised his former Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville for questioning Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

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

Siding with his fellow shot-stopper rather than his one-time Old Trafford colleague, Schmeichel said Neville was guilty of a “character assassination” after claiming the Belgian should have kept out Phil Jagielka’s long-range late equaliser for Everton in the Merseyside derby.

In the wake of the September 27 match, which finished 1-1, Sky Sports pundit Neville made his feelings clear in a five-minute critique of Mignolet.

While Neville acknowledged the “amazing strike” from England defender Jagielka, he argued a “top-level goalkeeper” should save such a shot, and questioned Mignolet’s positioning, suggesting he crouched too low to give himself a chance of reaching a ball that went in just beneath the crossbar.

Neville acknowledged he was a “harsh” judge, but also picked out further examples from last season before returning to the Jagielka goal and saying: “I think he should save that and I think he’s got a technical problem.”

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was also critical, but less forcefully so. Schmeichel, the former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper, took issue with both.

“I was shocked a couple of weeks back when it was a character assassination that Gary Neville did to Simon Mignolet,” Schmeichel said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I have to say I don’t think the boy has done too bad since that night where he was taken apart by Carragher and Neville.

“It’s very difficult to go on the pitch, everyone will be watching him, and everyone will be saying ‘Oh this is what Neville’s said, and this is what Carragher’s said’.”

Schmeichel added: “I’m looking at the goals and I’m thinking, ‘What do you expect? Do you really honestly expect him to save everything?’.

“I just think what was done on Monday Night Football was out of order because it was a really, really good shot, and it was demonstrated how low he was, but by someone who’s played right-back all his life.”

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v Hull Teams: Manquillo and Can start, Henderson and Coutinho out

Сб, 25/10/2014 - 17:00

Javier Manquillo, Adam Lallana and Emre Can come into the Liverpool side to face Hull City at Anfield today (3pm kick off).

Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho the three replaced from Wednesday’s defeat to Real Madrid.

Liverpool won this fixture 2-0 last season, beating Steve Bruce’s side on New Years Day thanks to goals from the now departed Daniel Agger and Luis Suarez.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Can, Allen, Lallana, Balotelli, Sterling.

Substitutes: Jones, Toure, Johnson, Henderson, Coutinho, Markovic, Lambert.

Hull City: Jakupovic, Bruce, Chester, Davies, Huddlestone, Hernandez, Brady, Livermore, Diame, Elmohamady, Ben Arfa.

Substitutes: Watson, Rosenior, Meyler, McShane, Aluko, Ramierez, Quinn.

Liverpool v Hull City gets underway at 3pm and is not on TV in the UK. Follow us on Twitter @thisisanfield for updates throughout the afternoon and post-match reaction.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Is Dejan Lovren a victim of his own hype at Liverpool?

Сб, 25/10/2014 - 12:11

Aaron Cutler analyses Dejan Lovren‘s difficult start to life at Anfield and asks whether the Croat was over-hyped.

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

We need to talk about Dejan.

Sometimes a designated leader is found wanting. Sometimes the obvious choice is not always the correct one. Take Iain Duncan Smith, Tony Hayward and David Moyes – three men parachuted into positions of authority only to come up painfully short.

Dejan Lovren was billed as Liverpool’s leader in waiting, a man destined to bring organisation, physicality and command to a backline as penetrable as Jodie Marsh. 11 games in he’s failing badly.

Indeed the Croatian centre back’s early season form has mirrored that of his team. Suffering somewhat of an identity crisis Lovren’s performances are a cause for major concern. The circus that engulfs Mario Balotelli has perhaps spared our £20m signing from serious interrogation.

In fairness charging one player with the task of sorting a backline as shambolic as ours is a big ask. A quite embarrassing defensive record has plagued the Rodgers era outright, suggesting systematic flaws. That said Lovren is hardly helping himself.

Described as a front foot defender he has taken that tag a little too literally. Keen to attack everything such enthusiasm is readily misplaced and can lead to mass panic. Take the chaos of last Sunday as a case in point. A remarkable screen grab has circled social media platforms depicting Lovren in the D – this while the ball is headed back across his own six yard box, behind him. If Get Up! is the cry you need to make damn sure your teammates follow, whilst clearing their lines – obviously.

That image encapsulates a difficult start to life on Merseyside. His (pre-season) debut aside Lovren has faltered, regressing into a nervous wreck.

The slide began at Eastlands, where a loss of bearings allowed Sergio Aguero to race clear and kill the game. It continued at White Hart Lane where both a collision with Mamadou Sakho and a misplaced pass should have been punished. From there the decline has hastened.

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

Outmuscled at home to Villa, his error led to a winning goal. Though harshly penalised for a foul outside the box, his rashness conceded a penalty and resulting equaliser against West Brom. Then came QPR before the collective blunder that led to Madrid’s third on Wednesday.

Of the 17 goals Liverpool have shipped (with Lovren in the side) our number six has been directly linked to 9. You could argue a centre back will always feature prominently in such inquests but Liverpool are on course to concede 57 goals this term and the elected saviour seems powerless to prevent that ignominy.

Supposedly a self-assured, commanding type those traits have certainly deserted the Croatian international. Erratic in possession, his positioning is often suspect, while absolutely no aerial authority has been evidenced. Heck Bobby Zamora was made to look like the first coming of Didier Drogba, bullying Lovren in a manner that cost Daniel Agger his Liverpool career.

The aforementioned West Brom victory meanwhile provided a snapshot of the individual state of mind. Midway through the second half he received the ball on the edge of the area before being swiftly shut down. Rather than clear upfield he attempted to play a suicidal exchange of passes with the nearby Steven Gerrard. Foolish, it wreaked of indecision and inferiority in equal measure. It also underlined this theory of an identity crisis.

Lovren has been bullishly promoted as this ball playing, aerially dominant, commanding beast – the answer to our inherent defensive woes. Have such superlatives robbed him of his natural game? Is he trying too hard to fit the bill, thus forgoing any settling in period?

It is easy to forget at just 24 he is a relatively inexperienced player himself, certainly on the big stage. Like Rickie Lambert he is perhaps too eager to impress, over exuberant to the detriment of his all round performance.

Signed on the back of an impressive season at Southampton he would be better served relaxing and channeling such form, forgetting the fact this is his dream move, this is Liverpool.

Of course laying the blame for a calamitous rearguard solely at Lovren’s door is harsh and simplistic. He has hardly been aided by the havoc surrounding him.

Firstly there is Martin Skrtel – a decent defender whose form tends to hinge on that of his defensive partner. Rash and all too concerned with wrestling target men he is, regrettably, an accident waiting to happen.

Behind that duo is a goalkeeper suffering his own crisis of confidence. The Simon Mignolet debate is recycled as often as a Bond film on itv4. The fact is he is an incredible shot stopper with little else to his armoury. The Belgian’s distribution is horrendous while those rare occasions he does come for a ball invariably lead to garish hysteria. Put simply you have a defence encouraged to play a high line hindered by a goalkeeper who refuses to leave his.

The ensuing horror is worsened further still when the stopper attempts what simply does not come naturally. Big problem.

Then there is the lack of an obvious defensive shield. At St Mary’s Lovren had not only Morgan Schneiderlin but Victor Wanywama providing athletic and combative protection. For all his majesty Steven Gerrard is not and never will be that type of player. He is more Andrea Pirlo than Javier Mascherano meaning we are far too penetrable through midfield. Big problem.

Finally our defending of set pieces is nothing short of disgraceful. Analyse it all you want but the truth is no tactics, form of marking or game plan can explain away such amateur, abject and appalling ‘efforts’.

Fans would like to know what – if any – drills are rehearsed at Melwood to cure this cancer. You would be forgiven for thinking the problem is arrogantly ignored, such is the blatant decline. A crisis approaching three years Lovren cannot be blamed, even if he has done little to remedy the deficiencies.

So in short Lovren has been thrust into an asylum and sadly caught the disease. Perhaps unfairly he is nevertheless the face of this defence going forward, given Rodgers’s lengthy pursuit and subsequent soundbites. The ostracism (injury or not) of Mamadou Sakho simply confirms that fact.

As supporters we need to accept this is Brendan’s man and he will be afforded time to find his feet. The great worry is the longer that takes, the uglier things will get. Brace yourself.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

How Liverpool Could Line Up Against Hull — Will Brendan Rodgers rest Steven Gerrard?

Пт, 24/10/2014 - 19:00

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool take on Hull City at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, with the Reds manager facing the prospect of having to rotate his team after a busy week of fixtures. Ben Twelves discusses possible options for Rodgers for the clash.

 Mario Balotelli, captain Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool welcome Hull City to Anfield on Saturday afternoon for their ninth game of the league campaign, as Brendan Rodgers’ side go in search of recording three straight league wins for the first time this season.

Last Sunday saw the Reds produce a woeful display in west London against QPR, where two own-goals from the home side ensured that Liverpool escaped from Loftus Road with an underserved three points, and voices of discontent within the fan base over the abject displays are starting to emerge.

The Reds will have to bounce back from Wednesday night’s European defeat with immediate effect,  but a tough challenge awaits for Liverpool against a Hull team who arrive on Merseyside off the back of a draw away at Arsenal and have lost only twice in their first eight league games so far.

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

The Tigers are a threat going forward with £10 million man Abel Hernadez already scoring three goals in five appearances and the Liverpool back line will have to improve immeasurably to avoid slipping to defeat in a tricky but very winnable fixture.

Rodgers: "We need to be better as a team, not just the defence. We all pride ourselves on clean sheets. Large number of goals conceded soft.

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 23, 2014

With the game being the third in six days for Liverpool, manager Rodgers has to consider changes and freshen up his side for the visit of an underrated Hull team who are more than capable of winning for the first time at Anfield if the Reds underperform.

The Team

The on-going embarrassment that has become Liverpool’s defensive set-up desperately requires change, but with Mamadou Sakho and Jon Flanagan out and Kolo Toure and Jose Enrique primarily back up options, only Javier Manquillo is a genuine contender to come into the team.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Southampton FC

Good news is that Alberto Moreno – who missed both Spain under 21s last fixture of the international break and the win over QPR last Sunday – looks fresh and fit to continue at the weekend.

In midfield, Steven Gerrard’s ageing legs could be of concern to Rodgers, who has a fit again Emre Can to choose from as well as Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho all for the middle of the park positions.

Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana both came on against Real Madrid as substitutes and despite having little impact in the game with the tie already over, they’ll be hoping to receive recalls to the starting XI.

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

Mario Balotelli continues his poor start to his Liverpool career after being taken off at half time, and with pressure increasing on the Italian striker, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini will be desperate to take advantage of being handed a chance to play having been severely restricted in their game time this season so far.

The Line Up

Simon Mignolet – who made some excellent saves against the European champions on Wednesday – picks himself in goal but there should be a change to the Liverpool back four, with Manquillo coming back into the team ahead of Glen Johnson, who causes more problems for the Reds back line than he does good.

Glen Johnson's game by numbers: 29% tackles won 2 clearances 0 aerial duels 0 chances created pic.twitter.com/IPEP89xrcQ

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 22, 2014

It’s unlikely Rodgers will rest Gerrard for the weekend and instead will choose to do that on Tuesday night against Swansea in the Capital One Cup, so with Allen looking tired and Henderson afforded an early night on Wednesday, the fit and fresh German midfielder, Can, should come into the team replacing the Welshman.

In attack, Balotelli’s midweek display – which was marginally better than others in recent games – may have done enough to keep him on the team-sheet but his shirt swapping incident and resulting punishment is likely to see him included amongst the substitutes.

BR: I will consider using Raheem Sterling as a striker in the future. And Adam Lallana did well when he came on.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) October 23, 2014

With his shirt up for grabs therefore, quite literally, Raheem Sterling should start as the central figure in a three man attack ahead of utilising Lambert or Borini, with Lallana coming in to the team to the left of Sterling, and Coutinho to the right.

Those changes mean Liverpool should line-up against Hull looking like this on Saturday afternoon:

hull 4-3-3 first choice

If the Liverpool boss chooses a diamond formation, he should start his team like so:

hull diamond 1

Alternatively, if Rodgers decides to hand the underperforming Balotelli a life line, Liverpool should start like this:

hull diamond 2

Saturday represents a dangerous fixture for Liverpool as they look to build on the back-to-back wins recorded in the last two league games with a third straight victory, but one thing that’s for certain, is that the performance level must improve dramatically in order for that to happen.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool name provisional squad for Hull clash — Mario Balotelli set to keep starting place

Пт, 24/10/2014 - 13:48

Misfiring striker Mario Balotelli is likely to keep his place for the visit of Hull as manager Brendan Rodgers has limited options up front.

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

The 24-year-old has scored just once in 10 appearances but with Daniel Sturridge still sidelined by a calf problem the Italy international will probably start ahead of Rickie Lambert.

Midfielder Adam Lallana is pushing for a starting place after impressing as a substitute in the midweek defeat to Real Madrid.

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

Rodgers has told under-fire striker Balotelli and the rest of his side to accept recent criticism and move on.

While the Italy international has come in for the most negative attention after scoring just once in 10 matches and then swapping shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe at half-time of a 3-0 loss on Wednesday, the rest of the players are not without blame for a number of poor performances.

"It is something which if you do not score or when the team isn't playing well – whether the criticism is deserved or not – it is a part of the game and you have to accept it," said the Reds boss of the growing discontent with his striker and players in general.

"No-one likes it, however way it comes, but as an individual, team and manager you have to accept it."

While Rodgers continues to defend Balotelli he admits the 24-year-old has plenty of work to do to prove he is good enough to be at the club.

 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)

And the Reds boss believes it will be difficult for the forward to achieve if he cannot find a way to adapt his individuality into the team ethos.

"We have an image of a team here, of how we play and work and how we represent the club," he added.

"I like players that are different. I like individual personality in people with hair and coloured boots but as long as they don't see themselves as an individual that is what is important.

"They have to fit into the parameters of the team and if those players over the longer term don't it can be difficult for them to work here.

"But in terms of that he is genuinely working hard and doing his best at Liverpool.

"Longer term we will see how that works out for him but he is trying hard on the training field to improve his opportunities to score goals.

"As long as he is doing his best that is all I can ask as a coach: whether that best is going to be good enough that remains to be seen – but that is the same for every player not just Mario."

One thing to say about Balotelli, he wasn't looking to swap shirts. Pepe sought him out. Story shouldn't detract from #LFC deficiencies

— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) October 23, 2014

Balotelli was disciplined for the shirt incident and Rodgers has now drawn a line under the matter.

"Any action will be kept between ourselves," added the Reds boss.

"We just had a conversation about the culture in this country and in particular Liverpool and that is it, matter closed."

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v Hull City: Team News & Opposition Preview – Lallana to return for Reds?

Пт, 24/10/2014 - 12:00

Liverpool welcome Hull City to Anfield for their second home game in three days on Saturday afternoon, as the Reds return to Premier League action. Ben Twelves previews the clash.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Hull City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool play their third game in six days on Saturday afternoon when they take on Hull at Anfield, looking to bounce back from Wednesday night’s defeat by recording three straight league wins for the first time this season.

The Reds are yet to reproduce anywhere near the kind of form of last season, but despite the poor performances, Rodgers’ men find themselves outside of the Champions League places only on goal difference, level on 13 points with West Ham and ahead of top four rivals Arsenal, Man United and Tottenham in the Premier League table.

PHOTO: Brendan Rodgers oversees training at Melwood on Thursday morning ahead of the weekend clash with Hull #LFC pic.twitter.com/NfOsblc619

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 23, 2014

Defensive issues continue to hamper Rodgers’ side, who got away with an abysmal display against QPR last Sunday thanks to two comical own-goals from the home side, and Rodgers and his team need to rectify the problems urgently before their luck runs out.

Rodgers on set-pieces: "Simple balls into the box we're not defending. We need to reinforce those key principles."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 23, 2014

Last season’s corresponding fixture saw Liverpool record a 2-0 victory against The Tigers at Anfield on New Year’s Day thanks to a goal in either half, from Daniel Agger and Luis Suarez.

 Liverpool's Daniel Agger celebrates scoring the first goal against Hull City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Agger put the Reds ahead when he nodded in from Philippe Coutinho’s corner before Luis Suarez – who earlier had a goal disallowed for offside – then whipped a fantastic free-kick into the top left corner of the Kop goal to double Liverpool’s lead in the second half and help Rodgers’ team record a seventh straight home win.

Team News

Liverpool are still without Daniel Sturridge who will miss his 10th game of the season for Hull’s visit, due to his calf injury picked up training, and he’s not the only absentee with Mamadou Sakho and Jon Flanagan also injured with thigh and knee problems respectively.

Rodgers may have some big decisions to make ahead of the clash as to where to freshen up his side for the match at Anfield, after a busy week of three matches and with Tuesday’s Capital One Cup tie with Swansea to come.

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

Powerful German midfielder, Emre Can, who came on as a second half substitute on Wednesday for Jordan Henderson, will be one of those hoping to benefit from potential squad rotation, as will Javier Manquillo who sat out his second game in a row with Glen Johnson preferred at right back to the young Spaniard against Real Madrid.

20-year-old Serbian, Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana are also in contention for starting berths after both players entered proceedings as second half substitutes against Madrid, replacing Philippe Coutinho and Mario Balotelli.

Rodgers: "Mario is working hard on the training field. As long as he;s doing his best that;s all I can ask for…."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 23, 2014

Big question marks hang over Balotelli’s selection for the game, after the Italian striker was hauled off at half time on Wednesday night, and both Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini will be hopeful of benefitting from the former AC Milan mans’ uninspiring start to life at Anfield.

Rodgers: "Rickie Lambert knew he wouldn't be a starter but that there would be times when he was needed. He recognises that role."

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) October 23, 2014

Opposition

 Hull City's David Meyler celebrates scoring the second goal against Liverpool during the Premiership match at the KC Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hull arrive on Merseyside off the back of battling to an impressive draw against Arsenal last weekend which effects this weekend’s odds. They currently sit 11th in the table after an inconsistent first eight games, which has seen them win and lose twice, with four draws to show.

Steve Bruce’s sides’ – who have won once so far away from home in the league – goals for and against column is almost identical to Liverpool’s, with both teams having scored 13 goals, but City have conceded the same amount at the other end whereas the Reds have conceded one goal less, resulting in a positive goal difference in contrast.

BR: Steve Bruce has done an excellent job at Hull, they’ve got real depth to their squad. They come here on the back of a good result.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) October 23, 2014

Hull enjoyed a productive summer transfer window, adding some real quality to their ranks, including the loan signings of once reported Liverpool target Gaston Ramirez from Southampton and the gifted Hatem Ben-Arfa from Newcastle.

Alongside their arrivals, Bruce swooped to bring in Mohammed Diame from West Ham, Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore all from Tottenham as well as former Red Tom Ince from Blackpool.

BR: Hull have shown they can call a threat against Arsenal and Newcastle. Steve Bruce has done an outstanding job there.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) October 23, 2014

After selling George Boyd to Burnley for £3million and Shane Long to Southampton for a record received fee of £12 million, Bruce replaced the Irishman with a club record signing Abel Hernandez from Palermo – who has notched three goals in five games since arriving at the KC Stadium.

City have never tasted victory at Anfield but Bruce’s side will be looking to improve on their last two visits of 2-0 and 6-1 defeats, and break that duck on Saturday as Rodgers’ Reds face up to their third game in quick succession.

Worryingly, Hull boast the best conversion record from set-pieces this season in the Premier League.

 David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For only the second time this season Liverpool enjoy the feat of a traditional 3pm kick-off.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool Desperately In Need Of A Midfield Enforcer

Пт, 24/10/2014 - 10:00

Liverpool showed plenty of flaws in their defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday, and a lack of tenacity in midfield was one of them. They need a hatchet man, writes Henry Jackson.

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

Waking up this morning and remembering Liverpool had been outclassed in every aspect of their game by Real Madrid was not the most positive start to the day. Although many of us predicted a long night for the Reds- a 3-0 defeat against Europe’s best side is not the end of the world- it doesn’t make it much easier to accept.

Of all the numerous flaws on display against Carlo Ancelotti’s European champions, from the continued defensive woes to the increasingly ineffective Mario Balotelli, the lack of a midfield enforcer was hugely evident.

Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson were actually probably three of Liverpool’s more solid players on the night, but none of them are gritty, hard-tackling players who revel in the defensive side of things.

None of them are willing to play ugly, and sometimes you need that. Lucas Leiva showed signs of being this man for the Reds prior to serious injury, but sadly he is well past his best these days.

Although the aforementioned midfield trio are all neat and tidy in possession, and can all offer something going forward, in matches against sides of Madrid’s brilliance you need a hatchet man; someone who loves ruining the oppositions flow.

Liverpool's midfield five of Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Sterling & Coutinho won just 33% of their tackles in the first half.

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 22, 2014

Javier Mascherano used to do it to devastating effect during his time at Anfield, and he was a key reason why Liverpool were so hard to beat during that part of Rafa Benitez’s reign. He was one of the World Cup’s best players in that role too this summer.

Manchester City have both Fernandinho and Fernando to do that job, and although the likes of Nemanja Matic and Daley Blind are slightly more classy in the way they go about their business, they are also very effective there.

Brendan Rodgers has been seemingly attempting to solve this issue since arriving as manager in the summer of 2012, but as Matt Ladson eludes to for Bleacher Report, he has failed to date. They have never replaced Mascherano, and should have done their utmost to bring him back to Anfield when he was deemed surplus to requirements at Barcelona two years ago.

The one player who could potentially be that enforcer is Emre Can. The 20-year-old has the physical stature, dynamism and defensive ability to shine in a defensive midfield role- he is not dissimilar in style to Matic- but he is still very young and raw. Pinning our hopes on him being a success there immediately would be a little desperate. In time, he could be that man though.

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

In terms of players across Europe who could come in and do the job there are few that both stand out and are attainable.

Morgan Schneiderlin is one of Southampton’s most important players, and would be a very fine acquisition. Arsenal are keeping an eye on him, and like Liverpool, the France international is exactly what Arsene Wenger’s talented but physically weak midfield lacks.

Yann M’Vila, currently on loan at Inter Milan from Rubin Kazan is another who ticks the boxes. He is feisty in the tackle and reads the game very well. Javi Martinez would be perfect, but he is both out injured and unlikely to be sold by Bayern Munich.

With the January transfer window on the horizon, a midfield enforcer is very much needed. It is one of several issues affecting Rodgers’ struggling Liverpool team right now.

Do you think Liverpool need a midfield enforcer? Let us know in the comments section.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid: Modric and Kroos Teach Liverpool the Need for Composure

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 21:00

A pair of powerfully composed displays by Real Madrid midfield duo Luka Modric and Toni Kroos emphasised Liverpool’s lack of composure, writes Jack Lusby.

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

At the conclusion of the Coen brothers’ show-stopping 2013 film Inside Llewyn Davis, the titular troubadour is subject to the same vitriolic abuse that he suffered at its beginning, a brutal beating bookending a meander from New York to Chicago and back.

Midway through Davis is posed the eternal question ‘What are you doing?’ and he has no response—his exploits are devoid of purpose.

Inside Llewyn Davis lasts about the same length as Liverpool’s dismal defeat at the hands of Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid did on Wednesday night, and the Anfield clash was just as cyclical.

Mario Balotelli wrongfully grabbed the headlines, Steven Gerrard showed endeavour but ultimately faltered, Simon Mignolet infuriatingly flapped, and the Reds defence shamefully floundered.

Despite these factors, Brendan Rodgers’ side were never truly fated to defeat the current holders of the Champions League, and a gulf in class between two of Madrid’s more nuanced performers, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and their Liverpool counterparts underlined this.

An ever-assured backbone, Modric and Kroos provided Madrid with a composure desperately lacking in Rodgers’ Liverpool of late.

Our starting XI against Liverpool exclusively on Twitter! #LIVvsRealMadrid #RMLive pic.twitter.com/A4wer0M6gE

— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) October 22, 2014

Tactical Layout

All of Madrid’s attacking talents shone at Anfield: Isco perhaps the brightest, Karim Benzema at his clinical best, Cristiano Ronaldo somehow eluded the efforts of Glen Johnson, and James Rodriguez grew into the game with verve.

However, deployed behind this four-pronged charge were Modric and Kroos, and the pair were as integral to Ancelotti’s success as their glittering colleagues.

Madrid lined up in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation, with Benzema as lone striker supported by Isco coming inside from the left flank, Rodriguez from the right, and Ronaldo in a free role.

Kroos, Modric and Isco have the freedom of Anfield to dictate play in the centre.

— Matt Ladson (@mattladson) October 22, 2014

Less advanced sat Modric and Kroos, able to dictate play whilst their fellow Galacticos busied the Reds.

.@ToniKroos , the best passer in La Liga! http://t.co/Lw0k6fWYH8 #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/8rQ44gd4mf

— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) October 7, 2014

How Modric and Kroos Tore Liverpool Apart

Liverpool began well, with Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Coutinho in particular combining well and creating chances around the Madrid box; even Dejan Lovren looked impressive in the opening stages.

This was hallmarked by an incessant energy, but nevertheless Modric and Kroos started comfortably, gradually moving through the gears in their well-oiled passing game.

Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have completed 100% of their passes as a pair. pic.twitter.com/kPCDuSrFQw

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 22, 2014

Liverpool’s energy swiftly diminished, and the sharp work of Modric and Kroos allowed Madrid the platform to manifest Ronaldo’s spectacular opener.

As Madrid pushed the Reds further and further back, the influence of the pair in the final third increased, as the latter’s assist for the side’s second goal—a remarkable header from Benzema—outlined.

Karim Benzema's superb header makes it 2-0 for Real Madrid https://t.co/uIU1p8dvu3

— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) October 22, 2014

Along with this, Modric typically serves as the link between the pair and the Madrid forward line.

The frequency within which the Croat found Colombian playmaker Rodriguez—and vice versa—showed how the former Spurs man paired his and Kroos’ balanced possession with a decisive incision that consistently tore the Reds apart.

#lfc's top four pass combos all featured Coutinho pic.twitter.com/3W2vqSuU1d

— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) October 22, 2014

Liverpool’s eagerness to adapt to the encounter, with Coutinho and Raheem Sterling pushing wider following Ronaldo’s opener, allowed Ancelotti’s midfield pairing to flourish further.

There was no surprise when, withdrawn on 80 minutes, the entire stadium afforded a departing Kroos with applause—this was a stand-out performance.

Toni Kroos applauded off the field by everyone inside Anfield.

— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) October 22, 2014

Not sure I've ever seen a player make the game look so simple! Toni kroos ????????????

— Jermaine Jenas (@jjenas8) October 22, 2014

Together, Modric and Kroos finished the game with a combined passing accuracy of 95.75 per cent from a total of 185 passes, according to WhoScored.

However, with the final passing totals standing at Liverpool 510-597 Madrid, per Squawka, it’s was more the midfielders’ intelligence and composure on the ball that destroyed Rodgers’ side.

"Well what can we do?" pic.twitter.com/OvUAn9JptA

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 22, 2014

Inspired Reds?

Rodgers will be incredibly humbled by this defeat, but it was no surprise: Madrid are playing at a higher level than Liverpool at this moment in time.

Hopefully this result, and his side’s waning performance, will give the manager food for thought.

Previously Liverpool boasted the personnel capable of aping this system, with Xabi Alonso effectively Kroos’ predecessor in that role at Madrid, and Javier Mascherano one of the best passers at this year’s World Cup.

Javier Mascherano has played the most accurate passes (460) at the 2014 World Cup. Toni Kroos (454) second #arg #ger

— Ben McAleer (@BenMcAleer1) July 10, 2014

Before the forlorn nostalgia begins however, there is very little chance of either of the pair returning to Anfield under Rodgers and, arguably, rightly so. But the manager should look to emulate their powers in looking forward to games such as this.

Against QPR in the recent, abysmal Premier League victory, the Liverpool midfield engine lacked composure and were overrun by an inspired Loftus Road side.

In order to dominate games again, let alone challenges of the calibre of Madrid, Rodgers’ side will need to muster this composure once more.

The midfield pivot of Modric and Kroos provides Madrid with the steady platform with which to launch their attacks, their teammates confident in their abilities.

Liverpool’s enthusiastic pressing of the first 20 minutes was admirable, but swiftly drained and the side suffered thereon.

Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are the best midfield partnership in the world. They've an amazing understanding. Absolute joy to watch.

— DM (@DavidMeyler7) October 22, 2014

Although far from the Madrid pairs’ talents, Liverpool are not bereft of players eager to collect the ball and continue possession (see: Joe Allen, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson), and as a former advocate of ‘death by football,’ Rodgers will be well aware of its benefits.

This is a concept currently buried in the Ulsterman’s boldness.

However, the masterful talents of Modric and Kroos will have taught Rodgers a vital lesson on the grandest occasion: Behind his side’s enthusiasm must lay some composure.

What are your thoughts on Liverpool’s Champions League loss to Real Madrid? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

How Liverpool’s Kop choir lit up Anfield despite defeat to Real Madrid

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 17:40

Ben Twelves provides a view from The Kop on Wednesday night’s defeat at the hands of the European champions.

Liverpool v Real Madrid, Champions League, October 2014

LIVERPOOL 0-3 REAL MADRID
Champions League, Group B; Wednesday, 22nd October 2014

It promised to be such a special European night at a wet and windy Anfield on Wednesday. The floodlights were on, the Kop was standing in anticipation with not a single spare seat to be had and the big name opposition had arrived. All that needed to happen now was for Brendan Rodgers and his men to produce another memorable occasion.

Travelling to Anfield I have to admit I expected little from the match – with our form and their team almost handpicked from the world’s best talent, it just seemed like the impossible job. Nonetheless, I clung onto the performances and results of yesteryear in hope that we could nick something against what now is the strongest team in Europe.

Walking up to the ground there seemed to a be a glow around Anfield, which too was evidently felt by the Real Madrid under 19s side – who lost 3-2 against the young Reds earlier in the day – as they walked slowly in their eye-catching white coats, soaking up the atmosphere, taking and posing for snaps of and with the Anfield crowd and stadium designs.

As the rain started to come to down, and with shelter outside Anfield in short supply, I dashed to the turnstile to head into the Kop 50 minutes before kick off with my fingers crossed, behind a fellow Red who blessed himself as he walked in. It was that kind of night.

Mignolet was already out warming up – as was Iker Casillas down the other end – as I stood in row 19 and watched the rest of the Liverpool team follow to a deafening cheer and applause, with a huge feeling of pride that we’re competing with the best. These are nights the club lives for.

Liverpool v Madrid, October 2014 Pre-Match.

The clock ticked down, the Kop filled and 15 minutes before the first whistle, I headed up an eternity of stairs to row 72 – just four rows from the back – of a packed block 304 where my seat for the night was.

“Fields of Anfield Road” played, but it didn’t take long until I couldn’t hear it due to the screaming Reds singing it over it. A few chants for “Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool” followed as the noise ratcheted up before You’ll Never Walk Alone kicked in.

As I stood and sung, I couldn’t help but notice the respect from the away fans who also looked to be stood, scarves aloft, singing along and videoing the memorable experience.

[embedded content]

The music stopped but the Kop didn’t as the Champions League theme tune was drowned out, before the players dispersed to rapturous applause and a wall of noise from all four sides of Anfield. Madrid switched us around, and Casillas received a fantastic ovation as he took his position in the Kop goal – respectfully clapping back.

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The whistle blew and the game began at an even quicker pace than the Kop moved through its song-list for the night, and an open start to the game lead to Anfield urging the team forward with Raheem Sterling almost racing in behind only to be hit by Alvaro Arbeloa who somehow went unpunished.

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

Liverpool were in the game, with Rodgers encouraging from the touchline, but he watched his side become increasingly open as Madrid displayed some mesmerising one and two touch play – much to the admiration of the knowledgeable Kopites – before Cristiano Ronaldo fired Real ahead with an excellent finish.

In a second, the noise and passion of the crowd was quashed and the silence was deafening.

Immediately the songs re-started as the crowd attempted to lift the players, but there was a realisation from that moment that the dream wasn’t going to be lived, and when Karim Benzema added a second seven minutes later with a free header looped over Mignolet, it was game over.

 Real Madrid CF's Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the third goal against Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The French striker added his second four minutes before half time after Liverpool inexplicably defended yet another set-piece abysmally allowing Benzema to knock the ball home. Frustration followed at conceding from yet another set-piece before Philippe Coutinho almost reduced the deficit straight after but his excellent strike smashed the post in the Reds’ best effort all night.

Coutinho hits the post from 25 yards. Needed that to go in.

— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) October 22, 2014

Word began to spread that Mario Balotelli – who produced a few bright moments first half – had swapped his shirt leaving the pitch at half time and when he failed to reappear for the second half, discussions over his Liverpool future started, but only after conversations over the ‘defence’ had finished.

Adam Lallana took the Italians’ place as Liverpool tried to force their way back into the game but Carlo Ancelotti’s side took their foot off the pedal, and in truth only fantastic saves from Mignolet prevented Ronaldo making the score line look brutal, before the Portugal captain was then taken off and respectfully applauded upon his exit.

 Real Madrid CF's Cristiano Ronaldo is applauded off the pitch by Liverpool supporters during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In between renditions from a cathartic Kop of “Poor Scouser Tommy” and “A Liverbird Upon My Chest”, similar treatment followed for fellow substitutes Toni Kroos and Marcelo – who clearly had one eye on this weekends’ EL Clasico – as the Kop accepted they’d been beaten by the better team.

RMA fans chanting – LIVERPOOL! LIVERPOOL! LIVERPOOL! Reds fans clapping back. Plenty of atmosphere tonight. RMA simply miles better.

— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) October 22, 2014

Nicola Rizzoli blew his whistle for one last time as the match ended in a deserved 3-0 defeat. Madrid’s travelling faithful and the Reds’ support exchanged applause with the Spaniards finishing the evening singing the name of our beloved club.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Brendan Rodgers’ pre Hull City press conference – Boss on Balotelli and Set-Piece defending

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 17:21

Less than 24 hours after his side lost 3-0 to Real Madrid in the Champions League, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was facing the media again ahead of Saturday’s visit of Hull City to Anfield.

rodgers_hull_presser

On Balotelli

There was predictably questions over Mario Balotelli, with the first asking what action had been taken over his half time shirt swap with Pepe. Rodgers responded: “Any action I would take with Mario would be kept within ourselves. Of course, we had a conversation on the culture of this club.”

Commenting on speculation regarding the striker’s long-term future at the club, Rodgers said that it was “inevitable” given the nature of the game.

“You have to accept that criticism is part of the game, but the boy [Balotelli] is trying very, very hard,” said Rodgers. “We’ll see how that turns out.”

“As long as he’s doing his best, that’s all I can ask. But that’s the same for every player, not just Mario.”

Rodgers was then asked about Balotelli again, looking increasingly irked he asked “What is this, the Mario Balotelli press conference?”

Later, a journalist reminded him of a previous quote when Rodgers claimed it would not become “the Mario Balotelli show” after the player arrived in August.

“The Mario Balotelli Show – he’s treated no differently, he’s treated like every other player,” said Rodgers. “For me as a manager it’s been no problem.”

“I like players are different,” he added. “I like that individual personality in people. But as long as they fit in within the parameters of a team, that’s fine.”

On Sterling

Asked whether he will consider playing Raheem Sterling as a forward again in future, Rodgers said: “I felt Raheem’s mobility and speed could help us up front last night. He understands the position well. It was purely tactical.

“I will consider using Raheem Sterling as a striker in the future. And Adam Lallana did well when he came on.”

On Hull City

“Steve Bruce has done an excellent job at Hull, they’ve got real depth to their squad. They come here on the back of a good result.

“They caused Arsenal problems, but Anfield is a special place for us to play and we go into home games to win with confidence.

“They make it really difficult for opponents and they’ve got players who can win games.”

On conceding goals

“Our performance needs to be better as a team, not just the defence. We need to be more competitive and aggressive.

“A large number of goals we’ve conceded have been soft and that’s something we need to improve on, but as a team.”

On defeat to Madrid

“We’ve been a victim in terms of how well we’ve done. Last night was disappointing, but we’ve come a long way and got a long way to go.”

On Rickie Lambert

“Rickie Lambert knew he wasn’t going to be a regular starter. He recognises the role he had to come in.

“He [Lambert] didn’t play last night because we needed something different last night – speed and mobility – so we put Raheem up front.”

“He has been training outstandingly well.”

And finally, Rodgers was asked for a timescale on Daniel Sturridge‘s injury but said there wasn’t one.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Zanetti and the best European players to grace Anfield

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 15:42

Liverpool fans respectfully showed their appreciation for one of the world’s best, despite his connections to arch rivals Man United. Simon Collings recalls some other memorable Anfield performances from the Europe’s elite.

 Real Madrid CF's Cristiano Ronaldo is applauded off the pitch by Liverpool supporters during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)Cristiano Ronaldo is applauded off the pitch by Liverpool supporters at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As Cristiano Ronaldo helped put Liverpool to the sword at Anfield on Wednesday night, it was clear to see that one of the world’s greatest players was gracing our hallowed turf.

As much as we loathed him during his Manchester United days, we can’t help but appreciate his ability on the pitch. The Portuguese attacker’s skill, power and technique are phenomenal – right up there with some of the best ever to have played the game.

Such is our illustrious history in Europe, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing some of the world’s most talented player’s line up at Anfield. Back in 1966, a young Johan Cruyff hit a brace for his emerging Ajax side in a 2-2 draw, Franz Beckenbauer showed why he was a colossus in 1971 with Bayern Munich, and more recently, Lionel Messi showed glimpses of his genius in 2007.

Some haven’t always impressed; Zlatan Ibrahimovic always seemed to have had shockers whenever he was in town (2005 for Juventus and 2008 for Inter Milan), and the great Raul and Iker Casillas didn’t stand a chance for Madrid in 2009.

However, since the turn of the century, which stars have graced the Anfield stage and justified the price of a match day ticket? Let’s take a look…

Rivaldo, Barcelona – 2001, UEFA Cup, semi-final

As the Brazilian star took to the field on this memorable night at Anfield, we all knew we were in for a treat. As a former world player of the year, the dynamic No.10 was a threat all night – unleashing a forty-yard strike only just tipped over by Sander Westerveld. Due to Ronaldo’s injury at the time, Rivaldo was the vocal point of the Brazilian setup, and went on to play a vital role in their World Cup success a year later.

Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus – 2005, Champions League, quarterfinal

Still going strong at the age of 36, the Italian ‘keeper is one of the all-time greats between the sticks. When Liverpool and Juve met on this emotional night, he was already considered the best in the world. The Old Lady paid a handsome £32million for his services in 2001 – a record for a ‘keeper that still stands today.

Ronaldinho, Barcelona – 2007, Champions League, round of 16

 Liverpool's Daniel Agger and Xabi Alonso chase FC Barcelona's Ronaldinho during the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 2nd Leg at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another Brazilian genius graced our presence here on a nervy night at Anfield. At the time, he had pretty much won everything in the game, and dazzled the world with his flicks, tricks, and goals. His run and effort that hit the post showed just what he was capable of but thankfully his gift for scoring outrageous goals never fully shone during his time in front of the kop.

Javier Zanetti, Inter Milan – 2008, Champions League, round of 16

In an Inter side that included an aging Luis Figo and Hernan Crespo, Javier Zanetti was the player many of us wanted to see. Despite going down 2-0, the Argentine legend kept his cool as all those around him seemed fazed by the atmosphere. As the record appearance holder for his country, Zanetti was a model professional and could play in a number of positions. A true football legend often overlooked.

Didier Drogba, Chelsea – 2005 to 2009, Champions League

Another star who we loved to hate. We got a taste of things to come when Drogba tormented us for Marseille in 2004. However, it was during the many occasions playing for the Chelsea between 2005 and 2009 that he was at the peak of his powers. He was one of the most feared forwards in the world: pace and power combined with a lethal scoring record. Jamie Carragher always maintained he, and Thierry Henry, were his most difficult opponents.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Jordan Henderson on Real defeat, Ronaldo, Champions League chances and Balotelli shirt swap

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 13:30

Liverpool vice-captain Jordan Henderson admits the lesson they were taught by Real Madrid shows just how much they have to improve to compete with Europe’s elite.

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

A 3-0 defeat – with all the goals coming in an 18-minute first-half spell after the visitors had weathered the early storm – hardly told the full story. The defending champions, with one eye on Saturday’s El Clasico at home to Barcelona, took their foot off the gas after the break which did Liverpool a favour but still could have added to their tally.

“This Real Madrid team is top class with the best players in the world but that’s who you want to be playing against and testing yourself, always trying to improve ourselves as a team,” said the England midfielder.

“That’s where we want to get to – to be a top team like Madrid playing at the highest level and I think we can do that.

“The first 20 minutes I felt as though we had a right good go and got in behind them a couple of times. We had a couple of half-chances to get a goal and then you never know but we just need to be a bit more ruthless in the final third.

“When you are on top you need to put your chances away. Hopefully we can keep improving and work on the things we didn’t do quite so well.”

Cristiano Ronaldo’s sublime finish – his first goal at Anfield and Real’s first against Liverpool in their fourth meeting – kicked things off with Karim Benzema benefiting from the Reds’ aerial vulnerability to score a header and then convert from close range at a corner.

“For me, Ronaldo is the best player in the world. Big players in big games do big things,” added Henderson. “For the first goal it was an outstanding finish. From then on we struggled to really get going again until the second half, when we increased it and were a little bit better.

“We were playing for a bit of pride. We knew if we got a goal we could try to get back in the game.”

Despite the defeat Liverpool remain third in Group B as Ludogorets’ win over Basel means all the three teams who have lost to Real so far are level on three points. Brendan Rodgers‘ side now have to go to the Bernabeu in a fortnight where they will face an even tougher task although Henderson insists they should not be written off in the return fixture.

“We always believe we can get a result, no matter who we play,” he said. “We just need to concentrate on winning our games. We’ve got Madrid away next and we need to go there and hopefully get something.

“After that we then just have to win our games.”

Much of the post-match comment centred on misfiring striker Mario Balotelli – who was replaced at the break – swapping shirts with Real defender Pepe as they walked down the tunnel at half-time. It was not a topic for conversation among the squad though.

“It hasn’t been discussed in the dressing room,” said Henderson. “I don’t think anyone knew he had even done it. It’s certainly the first I’ve heard of it.”

Fellow midfielder Joe Allen felt they could take some positives from their second half display, despite Real playing at probably 70 per cent.

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

“It was very difficult. We are playing the reigning champions and they certainly proved why they are that,” said the Wales international.

“The first goal from Ronaldo was clinical and it almost came out of nowhere. Then they punish you on the counter-attack when we were trying to get back in the game and then they scored again and it made it almost impossible to.

“There are plenty of aspects we need to work on but I think to have been three down at half-time the way we came out in the second half we still threw everything at them and everyone gave 100 per cent and in that respect I think everyone can be proud of themselves.

“We will still give everything to progress. We will look forward to the return fixture at the Bernabeu and let’s see what happens.”

PA

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Balotelli shirt swap the least of Rodgers’ problems – Media react to Real Madrid defeat

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 13:03

Liverpool were blown away by three first half goals from Real Madrid and after a promising opening 20 minutes found themselves out of the game long before half time.

madrid_papers1

Thursday’s sports pages are filled with reaction from the match, with Mario Balotelli‘s decision to swap shirts with Pepe at half time filling many column inches – but that masks the issue of Liverpool’s failing defence and Balotelli’s actual performance.

We round up the reactions of the back pages.

BALOTELLI

The Liverpool Echo, somewhat bizarrely, lead with a headline of “Apologise” – referencing Mario Balotelli’s half time shirt swap. Yes, we’d rather he didn’t do it but to lead with that over Liverpool’s woeful set-piece defending or Real Madrid’s impressive display, seems to be clouding the picture.

That doesn’t mean Balotelli shouldn’t be without criticism, as Paul Hayward correctly states in The Telegraph:

Against Real Madrid (against QPR for that matter), a striker simply cannot afford to stand around like Mr Micawber, hoping something will turn up.

SHAMBOLIC DEFENDING

The headlines today surrounding Balotelli are, as BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty correctly states, a sideshow. He writes:

Balotelli’s gesture was ill-advised, badly-timed with Liverpool 3-0 down at half-time and an affront to former players who recognise the unique bond the shirt has between players and fans at this club.

It can, though, be filed under the least of Rodgers’ worries after Real almost did their opponents a kindness by easing up and looking towards this weekend’s ‘El Clasico’ with Barcelona.

Neil Jones of The Echo writes pertinently:

If Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora can cause you problems, then Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are enough to give you sleepless nights for a month.

 Real Madrid CF's Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the third goal against Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Swapping shirts at half-time is worthy of derision, but it's the least of the problems where Balotelli is concerned.

— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) October 22, 2014

Henry Winter notes in The Telegraph, Liverpool “defended wretchedly, particularly against balls played in from wide”. He was particularly scathing of Glen Johnson:

Glen Johnson is into his second decade as a defender in the professional game, has more than a half-century of England caps, has moved for almost £30? million in deals, and has still not acquired an appreciation of the importance of marking. ‘Help yourself, Karim, I’ll look the other way. Merci.’

On the subject of Liverpool’s defending, Martin Lipton writes in The Mirror, that Liverpool turned “schoolboy defending into an art-form, once again”. Can’t argue that. Benzema’s second goal, a scrappy finish from a corner, was reminiscent of the shambolic defending in Basel and against QPR on Sunday.

RONALDO AND THE ANFIELD CROWD

Daniel Taylor in The Guardian writes of the sportsmanship displayed by the Anfield crowd:

When Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted a crowd who once regarded him as a sworn enemy applauded him off the pitch. It was a wonderful show of appreciation and the same followed shortly afterwards when Toni Kroos and Marcelo were withdrawn. Liverpool had been beaten in a manner that had left the crowd marvelling at the opposition’s gifts with great sportsmanship.

McNulty too recognises the impressive Liverpool support, both before the match and upon Ronaldo’s departure:

It takes something special for a player so closely associated with the old enemy Manchester United to be applauded off at Anfield

On the same subject, Winter writes:

Liverpool supporters [..] also saluted the departing Kroos and Marcelo.

Anfield appreciates class. It wore white on Wednesday night.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid: Player Ratings

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 11:00

Liverpool were outclassed by Real Madrid in their Champions League showdown on Wednesday evening, as they succumbed to a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Anfield. Henry Jackson rates each Reds player on the night.

 Mario Balotelli, captain Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

You can vote for your Liverpool Man of the Match on each player’s slide and share your own player ratings at the end of the slideshow.

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Ex-Reds criticise Balotelli as Carragher labels Mario a “panic buy”

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 03:20

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher does not believe Mario Balotelli will remain with the club next season, and has labelled the controversial forward a panic buy.

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

Balotelli joined the Reds from AC Milan for £16million over the summer but has offered little thus far to suggest he can make a lasting impression at Anfield.

He was hauled off at the interval during the Merseysiders’ 3-0 humbling defeat to Real Madrid, suggesting manager Brendan Rodgers‘ patience is already wearing thin at the Italian’s lacklustre displays.

Balotelli earned further ire by swapping shirts with Real defender Pepe at half-time and Carragher, who thinks Liverpool rushed in to sign the 24-year-old as a replacement for Luis Suarez, has suggested the striker could soon find himself surplus to requirements.

“I’d be surprised to see him here next season,” said the former centre-half, who made over 500 appearances for Liverpool in 17 years.

Carragher added: “It was just a panic; they needed someone. They left it too late and they’ve bought different players in different positions instead of maybe going out, not spending the whole Suarez money on one player, but buying two or three big players.

“A lot of the players have come in and done a decent job here and there, but nobody’s really done anything.

“They bring in Balotelli late on – it’s obviously a panic.”

Other former Liverpool players in Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness have questioned why Balotelli was signed at all, given his track record of falling out with high-profile managers at his other clubs.

“I don’t blame Mario Balotelli – I blame Brendan Rodgers for bringing him here,” Redknapp said on Sky Sports 5.

“How he thought he could turn around a player that (Jose) Mourinho, (Roberto) Mancini, (Cesare) Prandelli have all washed their hands of…

“There’s a reason when you go to the supermarket and things are half price. Why on earth they went for him, I’ll never know.

“They should have just left him alone. The fact he went and got him, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Souness, a former player and manager of Liverpool, backed up his fellow pundits, adding: “It was a really, really brave decision to take him into that football club, given the quality of managers and the quality of clubs that have said ‘thanks but no thanks’.”

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Категории: LFC NEWS

“It is not something I stand for” – Brendan Rodgers responds to Mario Balotelli’s half-time shirt swap

Чт, 23/10/2014 - 03:18

As if Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers did not have enough to worry about after being out-classed by Real Madrid he also found himself having to deal with another Mario Balotelli problem.

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The 3-0 loss to the reigning European champions thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s first goal at Anfield – edging him within one of equalling Raul’s Champions League record of 71 – and two from striker Karim Benzema displayed a gulf in class in the first half.

What was not classy was Balotelli, who was replaced at the interval, swapping shirts with Pepe as they headed down the tunnel.

The misfiring Italy striker is giving his manager enough headaches with his disinterested displays and poor return of one goal in 10 appearances so the last thing the Northern Irishman needed was an additional workload of reprimanding the 24-year-old.

“We had an incident with a player last year (Mamadou Sakho swapped shirts with Samuel Eto’o during the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea last December) and that was something we dealt with internally,” said Rodgers.

“It is not something I stand for. If you want to do that you do it at the end of the game. It is something I will deal with tomorrow.”

On his decision to substitute Balotelli at half-time Rodgers added: “It was purely tactical. I felt we needed a bit more movement centrally to occupy the centre-halves and Raheem’s speed and movement would give us that.

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

“Adam Lallana came on and he was tireless. In the second half every single player was pressing and working wanting to get something from the game and for us the minimum here.

“Adam came on and did that very well. In fairness to Raheem playing in a position that was a bit alien to him he worked tirelessly all the way through and showed quality.”

Despite Real’s obvious brilliance after riding out a spell of Liverpool pressure for the first 20 minutes Rodgers felt the half-time scoreline was harsh on his side.

“I thought we started very well. We were aggressive in our pressing and our passing and we were coping very well until that period after they got the first goal until half-time,” he said.

“We conceded a disappointing first goal and the other two were sloppy and loose and nowhere near to what we would want. ”

“At 3-0 against a team that score so many goals and can be so dangerous it is a dangerous game.

“That first period we were very good but we conceded poor goals against a top side. “Second half we were technically much better, kept possession much better and were a threat.

“Overall I thought it was a bit harsh to be 3-0 down at half-time but the quality and speed of their game is at another level.”

Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti was more laid back about the shirt-swapping – but his side had just coasted to a third successive victory in Group B which puts them on the verge of qualifying with plenty spare.

“I think it is normal in football to change the shirt at the end,” he said. “I think it is nothing new. Sometimes the players change their shirt at half-time with the opponent. I don’t see a problem.”

Even less of an issue was their performance, as having the match wrapped up by half-time was ideal preparation for El Clasico against Barcelona on Saturday as he was able to substitute Ronaldo with 15 minutes to go.

“It was not something we agreed before. I noticed the impact he had on the game, he worked very hard, put in a lot of sprinting up and down the wing, so I just thought it was time to give him a rest,” he said.

“I think it has been a very important win and am happy we played very well. “We played some excellent football in a good atmosphere. We played a team that did its best to cause problems for us but we managed to prevail and play good football throughout.”

PA

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