Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fernando Torres Injury Boost Ahead Of West Ham Trip

Liverpool are set to welcome back two of their international stars for Saturday's crunch Premier League clash at West Ham.

Fernando Torres, who missed Sunday's win over Newcastle with a hamstring niggle, and Javier Mascherano, who was substituted with an ankle problem, are both in line for a return at Upton Park where the Reds will be looking for three points to maintain pressure Manchester United at the top of the league table.

Fernando Torres' season continues to be marred by a series of niggling injuries, but Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez could have the option of fielding the prolific striker as early as this weekend. Torres seems to have shaken off his hamstring problem.

Benitez is also hopeful Fernando Torres will have the chance to add to his 16 goals this season against the Hammers.

Liverpool FC's Xabi Alonso Ruled Out Of West Ham Game

Liverpool’s title ambitions have been rocked by the news influential midfielder Xabi Alonso is a doubt for Saturday’s match at West Ham United.

The 28-year-old Spaniard was stretchered off in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United following a challenge by Joey Barton – a foul which earned the midfielder a red card.

However the Reds’ disappointment over Alonso will be tempered by the news fellow midfielder Javier Mascherano and star striker Fernando Torres could return for the Upton Park fixture.

Argentina player Mascherano twisted his ankle in the routine victory over relegation threatened United, while Torres missed the game with a hamstring problem with manager Rafa Benitez hoping he will be allowed sufficient rest over the summer.

Benitez said: “Xabi is the main doubt for the weekend. He has been working and hopefully he will be better in a few days. He is improving but we have to wait.

“We’ll have to check him for the weekend because it is more serious than Mascherano’s injury.”

“He is training with the physios and maybe tomorrow he will start training with the rest of the team.

“I think he will make the weekend.

“We have to work together with the fitness coaches and also the doctors of Spain during the summer and hopefully it will be okay for him (Torres).”

With the Anfield club still very much in the hunt for the Premier League title, all thoughts are pinned on this weekend and a vital three points in London.

With leaders and defending champions Manchester United needing just seven points from their remaining four fixtures to secure the championship, Liverpool must beat Gianfranco Zola’s side to keep the race alive in the day’s late kick-off.

Gerrard: Reds Will Win Title

Steven Gerrard claims the current Liverpool side is too good not to claim the Premier League title in the near future.

The Reds captain still believes they can 'nick' the title this season, but more realistically reckons he will not have to wait long to lift the trophy.

"I honestly believe that this team will win the Premier League," Gerrard told the Daily Mail.

"I believe I'll get my hands on it. If I said, 'I don't think we're going to win it' what would be the point of carrying on?

"We're so close to doing it this season I believe we can still nick it.

"If we don't and United close it out, then we're going to have a right good go at it over the next three, four or five years and I believe we're too good not to win it.

"Winning the title with Liverpool would mean the world to me."

Steven Gerrard Lavishes Praise On Rafael Benitez's Winning Mentality'

Steven Gerrard has praised Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez's "winning mentality" and man-management which the England international insists makes playing for the side "a pleasure".

Gerrard and Benitez have not always enjoyed the smoothest of relationships, the Liverpool captain revealing in his autobiography that he longed for "a 'well done' off Rafa" amid reports of disputes over where and how the former Valencia coach was deploying the talismanic midfielder.

But relations have since improved markedly, Benitez suggesting his captain has matured as a player and as a person and the 28-year-old reciprocating by extolling the virtues of all aspects of his manager's regime, including his controversial rotation policy.

Gerrard said: "There are no stars in this team, or anyone with airs or graces. We are one unit, we work hard for each other and we all pull in the same direction. We've got some world class players and have turned in some fantastic attacking displays and some really solid, defensive performances. For that, I must pay tribute to the manager.

"Keeping the lads on the bench and those have missed out on the squad in the frame of mind to make a significant contribution is a difficult task, but Rafa's been able to do that."

Liverpool: Cavalieri Going Nowhere

Pepe Reina's understudy Diego Cavalieri has been linked with a move to Benfica but the goalkeeper isn't interested in going anywhere.

Quique Sanchez Flores (Benfica's coach) has confirmed an interested in loaning Cavalieri next season but his agent insists that he's happy with Liverpool and Rafa Benitez isn't looking to let him leave, as Juninho Parmigiaini explained to the Portuguese press:

'I have held a meeting in Liverpool with the coach and Rafa Benitez is not thinking of letting Diego go.

'Benitez told me that he is satisfied with the work of Cavalieri and also has plans for the player next season.

'Benfica asked me to find out about the chances of a possible loan and for this reason I have travelled to Liverpool.

'On a personal aspect Diego is happy at Liverpool.'

The Brazilian is firmly behind Pepe, but as the Spaniard is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe that is understandable as it's going to take someone special to dislodge him, but another key to this is having patience.

Cavalieri will get his chance in Cup ties again next season, he just has to make sure that he takes them to keep the pressure on Pepe, and if his chance was to come along in the Premier League he must take it.

All in all though I can’t see anyone dislodging Pepe for some time though, and unless the Spanish goalkeeper decided to leave (and I hope he doesn't) this isn't going to be for a long time, but you need a reliable understudy that you can call on and Cavalieri looks to be the best one we have had for a while.

Torres Taken To Task By Atletico Supremo

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has been criticized by the Sporting Director at former club Atletico Madrid after walking out on the Primera Division side to fulfill his potential in the Premier League.

The 25-year-old spent six years at the Vicente Calderon stadium and earned heroic status amongst the fans before departing for Merseyside in 2007 in a deal worth around £20m.

Nevertheless, despite reaping financial reward and the player’s repeated public statements about one day returning to boyhood club, Atletico’s Jesus Garcia Pitarch has taken Torres to task.

“It seems to be a tremendous injustice when we talk about Torres after losing two games or when he says that he left because he wanted to win things, because with Liverpool he has still not won anything.

“I hoped that he would win something or would have a future with Atletico," he told Telemadrid.

"I believe in those who take on the challenges and take part in obtaining them, those who work to win them, but when someone says that he is not here, has not won anything, and then goes to another team, he does not form part of the success and is not part of the club.

“When we beat Schalke 4-0 or reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League, nobody said anything."

Fulham Eye Reds Starlet

Fulham are lining up a move for Liverpool starlet Gary MacKay-Steven, understands.

MacKay-Steven is set to leave Liverpool in the summer when his contract expires.

The news has alerted a host of clubs to the availability of the highly-rated winger.

Liverpool beat a number of top clubs to MacKay-Steven's signature in 2007 from Ross County after he impressed on trial at Anfield.

The 18-year-old has seen his time on Merseyside disrupted by injuries which have hampered his chances of breaking into the first-team pciture.

The skilful wide-man has been a regular in the reserves and he has also played for Scotland at all youth levels.

Fulham are ready to steal a march on their rivals for MacKay-Steven by inviting him down to West London to train with them.

The player's agent David Threlfall confirmed Fulham are keen to have a look at the young Scot and that a number of clubs are monitoring MacKay-Steven's situation.

"Fulham have shown an interest in Gary and they have invited him down to London next week to have a look at him," Threlfall told

"I believe a number of other clubs are keeping tabs on Gary and we will see how things go at Fulham."

Liverpool FC Confirm Pre-Season Games In Switzerland, Thailand, Singapore, Spain And Norway

Liverpool have confirmed some of their pre-season commitments ahead of the 2009/10 campaign.

The Reds will kick off with a match against FC St Gallen in Switzerland on July 15, before crossing the border into Austria to take on Rapid Vienna on July 19.

Rafael Benitez's squad will then embark on their Asian tour which will take in two matches, against Thailand in Bangkok on July 22 and against Singapore at the Singapore national stadium on July 26.

A game in Spain against Espanyol has been confirmed for August 2 as part of the deal which saw Albert Riera move to Anfield last summer, while the Reds will again play a match in Norway with FC Lyn providing the opposition on August 5.

A further game at Anfield could also be added to the schedule.

Liverpool Could Lose Seven Stars In Summer

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is set to face another summer without some of his top players with Spain and Brazil set to take part in the Confederations Cup in June.

Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, Albert Riera and Pepe Reina are expected to be selected by Vincente del Bosque while Lucas Leiva and Fabio Aurelio are possible candidates for Dunga’s Brazil.

Arsenal are also likely to lose captain Cesc Fabregas for the South Africa based tournament which acts as a build up to the World Cup in 2010.

Egypt, New Zealand, Iraq, South Africa, Italy and the USA will also take part in the tournament which is scheduled for June.

Arranged every four years, the Confederations Cup is organised by FIFA and features the winners of each of the six FIFA confederation championships (CAF, CONMEBOL, UEFA, AFC, OFC, CONCACAF), along with the FIFA World Cup winner and the host country, to bring the number of teams up to eight.