Thursday, December 04, 2008

Torres: I Will Prove I'm The World's Best

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has vowed to top last season's heroics and prove he is the best player in the world.

The Spanish hitman, who scored 33 goals in his debut season in England, came third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi in the Ballon d'Or award this week but says there is more to come this season.

The striker is out until Christmas with a hamstring injury but he believes that when he returns he can help Rafa Benitez's side to their first league title in 19 years.

He said: "My goal has been to improve every year. I do not think about the past and I will continue to work to do better in 2009 so I can be among the nominees and climb another rung on the ladder.

"I am very proud to be considered. 2008 has been extraordinary for me, both individually and with my teams.

"I have to thank my team-mates for this fantastic moment. It was easier than I expected to adapt to English football.

"I knew that my style of play would work well in the Premier League and we can be satisfied with how things turned out. It was a pity we did not make it to the Champions League final in Moscow, so we will work to improve on that.

"But with Spain, what can you say? The European Championship title has moved us all to fight for the individual awards."

Liverpool's Torres Seeks Cure In Spain

Fernando Torres has returned to his homeland to try to find a cure for his persistent hamstring problems.

Liverpool's striking sensation Fernando Torres has flown back to Spain to see a specialist about his ongoing hamstring injuries, reports the Liverpool Echo.

More specifically, he's visited Catalunya, flying to Barcelona to see one of Europe's top muscle experts as his club leave no stone unturned in a desperate bid to get to the root of the problem.

The player suffered his third hamstring injury of the season against Marseille in the Champions League last week, and it was initially expected that he would be fit to return within two to three weeks.

That hasn't been the case, however, and now manager Rafa Benitez is refusing to put a time-scale on his comeback. Torres suffered similar injuries twice last season whilst playing for Spain and pulled up again in just the third league game of this campaign.

The player has now missed five league games as well as the two Champions League ties against his former club Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool are taking a thorough approach as they seek to find a solution. Even the smallest details of the Spaniard's life are being looked at in an effort to find clues, with his footwear and manner of walking coming under the specialist's spotlight.

Liverpool fans will hope that it is worth the effort, as without Torres it looks like Liverpool's attack is severely blunted. Without him, it will be difficult to sustain a title challenge as Manchester United steadily collect points and climb the table.

Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard Flattens Lucas Leiva During Melwood Training Session

Steven Gerrard’s commitment to the Liverpool cause has never been in doubt, but he nearly added to the club’s injury list with a clattering tackle on Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva.

Just 24 hours after telling Telegraph Sport of his desperation to lift the Premier League trophy, the Liverpool captain certainly showed his team-mates how much he meant what he had said.

"I know I have had a decent career, and done well so far, but I still have so many ambitions. When I see Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and John Terry lifting the Premier League trophy over their head, and I haven't got it, I want it bad.

“And when I get the title, I know what my reaction will be. Simple. I will want another title.''

The two players challenged for a 50-50 ball on a frost-covered pitch at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground, but Lucas fell heavily and clutched his shoulder in agony as manager Rafael Benitez and his medical team ran over to assist him.

Play was briefly halted as the Spanish manager helped Lucas walk to the treatment room.

The Premier league leaders can ill afford any more injuries. Striker Fernando Torres is sidelined for a fortnight with a hamstring strain and defender Martin Skrtel is working towards a return to fitness following the knee injury he suffered against Manchester City in early October.

Fabio Aurelio is also sidelined after picking up a calf muscle strain during his side’s Champions League 1-0 defeat of Marseille at Anfield last week.

Argentine Starlet Staying Put

Argentine starlet Franco Zuculini has insisted he has no intentions of moving to Europe in the near future.

The 18-year-old, who has already been lumbered with the tag of the 'new Javier Mascherano' has emerged on the radar of European scouts over the past six months.

Zuculini only made his first-team debut for Racing Club in April, but he is already established in the starting XI.

Now Liverpool and Manchester United are said to be considering bids - although the Italian media suggests Juventus are close to sealing a deal.

However, the player himself insists he is happy and is not yet ready to move.

"There is always going to be talk," he said when asked about Juventus' interest.

"But I want to continue here for three or four more big competitions.

"I want to know what it is to play for Racing and enjoy the love from the fans."

TOMMY SMITH: Liverpool Are Showing Too Much Patience

When the Reds beat Manchester United early on in the season, they played with tenacity, belief and real purpose.

That really had the fans believing we can challenge for the title this season.

Fast forward to Monday night. We go top – yet it’s another goalless draw at Anfield against a side we should be beating – and people are unhappy and unconvinced at the performance.

It’s a strange situation of course. But there is no doubt the team’s confidence seems a bit low at the moment.

For me, we are now trying to play too slowly and patiently. You can see it in the way the lads are passing the ball to each other, it’s often laboured and predictable.

We’re not getting right into the heart of opposition territory the way we were – and too much of the build up play is cumbersome.

I want to see us getting back into the opposition’s faces a bit more with our passing and moving. We need a return of that strong belief and purpose out there.

Few of the Liverpool players had a good game against West Ham, apart from one or two like Sami Hyypia, who was magnificent.

Robbie Keane again struggled to make an impact and frankly I think it’s time he changed the way he approaches matches.

I’d actually like him to be a good bit lazier.

I know that sounds daft but I mean it. He is constantly running around here, there and everywhere, closing people down, when with Torres out in particular I would prefer to see him hanging in and around the box and lurking more like a predator.

I’d also tell Albert Riera to really get out wide much more often – and tell the other Liverpool players to keep away from him.

Riera is much more effective when he’s in a one on one situation out wide and can bamboozle his man and get his crosses in.

Other top teams are giving us big chances to establish a gap and while we’re failing to take them, there are games next against Blackburn and Hull when we can put things right.

I want to see the lads get mean, tough and even a bit selfish.

Steven Gerrard Is To Have An Apartment Block Named After Him In Dubai

Liverpool star Steven Gerrard is to have a £150million apartment block named after him.

He will get £1million and a £1.2million apartment from Azizi Investments building the tower on Palm Jebel Ali in Dubai.

Steven, 28, said: "It's a real privilege to be part of such a pioneering project."

The Liverpool and England player is the first footballer to sign up with the development firm.

Michael Schumacher and Boris Becker have apartments named after them on the man-made islands off the Dubai coast.

An Aziz spokesman said: "Steven Gerrard is one of the biggest sporting stars in the world and it gives us great pleasure to work with him.

"For Steven to endorse one of our most prestigious projects is a real honour.

"It will be an iconic piece of architecture."

Benitez Concedes There’s Room For Improvement Despite ‘Fantastic Position’

Rafael Benitez is convinced his Liverpool team are in a “fantastic position” despite admitting there was still much room for improvement from his players.

The Anfield outfit moved a point clear at the top of the Premier League with a goalless draw at home to West Ham United on Monday night. Liverpool were disappointed not to have taken more from the game and the final whistle was greeted with jeers from sections of the ground.

This time last year, Benitez’s side were in fourth place in the table behind leaders Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

And while accepting his players can do better than their recent form suggests, the Anfield manager reckons there is no reason for supporters to be downhearted.

“After watching the video it is clear we had more chances than them, everybody was disappointed – we could have won,” said Benitez. “But we have one more point and are at the top of the table, so things are still really positive.

“We were talking at the start of the season about being contenders in December, and this time last season we were nine points behind Arsenal, but now we are one point clear of Chelsea, so we are in a fantastic position and really pleased to be here.

“It’s really important to know we are in a good position – some games we are playing really well, some games not so well, there is still plenty of room for improvement because everybody knows Fabio Aurelio and Fernando Torres are both injured. We also have Skrtel and Degen to come back, so we have enough depth in the squad to improve for our next games.”

Meanwhile, Pepe Reina reckons Xabi Alonso’s impressive start to the season has made him “one of the world’s most complete midfielders”.

With Liverpool chasing Gareth Barry over the summer, Alonso came close to joining Juventus and was also linked with a possible move to Arsenal.

But the Spaniard stayed put at Anfield and has become an integral part of Benitez’s table-toppers.

And Reina said: “He has been amazing for these past four months. The character he has shown has been really good.

“He is a quiet person and a lovely guy; a good teammate. I don’t need to talk about him as a player – people know how good he is.

“He has got everything – class, great passing, good in the air. He is one of the most complete midfielders in the world.”

Reina has helped Liverpool keep 14 clean sheets this season, and has conceded only 11 goals in 22 appearances.

“We’ve been very strong at the back up until now and everyone knows that’s one of the reasons why we do well,” said the 26-year-old. “If you keep a clean sheet you have many possibilities for victory.

“But there is always room for improvement and that’s what we try to do in every training session.”