Saturday, August 22, 2009

Davies Wary Of Torres Threat

Curtis Davies has hailed Fernando Torres as "one of the best strikers in the world" and warned that Aston Villa will have to be at their best to contain the Liverpool star in Monday's Premier League clash at Anfield.

Central defender Davies is looking for Villa to erase the memory of last season's 5-0 drubbing in the corresponding fixture, and bounce back quickly from last night's single goal reversal by Rapid Vienna in the Europa League first leg qualifier.

Davies is battling to overcome a shoulder injury in time to face the Reds, but is aware whoever is in action faces a demanding test of their abilities if they are to shackle Torres.

The former West Brom skipper said: "You can't have special plans for a player like Torres because he's one of the best strikers in the world.

"If you make a plan for him he'll do something different. He's that good a player. Last year we didn't do well against Liverpool - but at least he was quiet - and the year before we did well when we drew 2-2.

"We play against top players every week but they don't get any bigger than Torres.

"We'll have to be on our game and hopefully it'll be more like the scoreline of two years ago than of last season."

Davies is aware of the need for Villa to chalk up their first win of the campaign after being being beaten at home by Wigan in the opening league encounter last weekend, when they were booed off the pitch.

But the former England Under-21 player knows the doom and gloom can be quickly lifted with a couple of positive results.

He said: "It's very important to get our first points on the board because Fulham at home the Sunday after next will be a tough game as well.

"If we can get a point against Liverpool, and go into the return with Rapid Vienna and Fulham game positively, then we can hopefully go into the international break with a decent standing in the table."

Davies has been dogged by shoulder problems in recent years and it had previously flared up in pre-season during the Peace Cup tournament in Spain.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill is hoping Davies can avoid surgery in the immediate future, particularly as he has only two experienced centre-backs in the ex-Luton player and Carlos Cuellar at his disposal at present.

Davies said: ""I don't know about Monday. It's one of those situations where I'll try and give it a go but I'll have to see what the doctors say.

"It came out [the shoulder] against Porto in the Peace Cup and I was back playing two days later against Juventus so we'll wait and see."

I Will Play Anywhere To Play Regularly For Liverpool - Yossi Benayoun

Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun has revealed he is happy to play wherever his manager ask him, if it means starting regularly.

The Israel captain has made several appearances off the bench for the Anfield club but is hopeful that his versatility can finally secure a starting spot.

Benayoun told Liverpool's official website, "Every player wants to start every game but it is the manager's decision to decide who is to start and who will not, so every time that I get my chance I just try to do my best.

"Even if I only get to come on for 10 or 20 minutes or, like on Wednesday night, when I get to start I always give my all. I always try my best to impress."

The twenty-nine-year old has won many fans with his attitude towards the game, both at club and national level.

In the Euro 2008 qualification round Benayoun received several injections in order to be available for Israel's match against Croatia.

Benayoun played through the pain barrier with an effort that ruled him out of action for his then club side, West Ham United, for several weeks.

The versatile midfielder admits he wants to play more but believes the best way to do that is to work hard and impress his manager.

"Of course I want to start more and more games but my job is to work hard and try to prove myself and this is what I try to do," he added.

"I like to play from the left. A few years ago for the national team in Israel I always played on the left and I enjoy it.

"I am able to cut inside to the middle and get plenty of the ball, which makes it a bit easier. But I will be happy to play anywhere."

Benayoun has made 91 appearances for Liverpool since his move from West Ham in 2007, scoring 20 goals.

Hibernian's Sol Bamba Claims Liverpool Interest

Souleymane 'Sol' Bamba appears to see his future away from Hibernian's Easter Road ground, and claims interest from some interesting names: French outfits Lorient and Grenoble, and also Premier League big guns Liverpool.

The 24-year-old former Paris Saint-Germain youngster first came to Scottish football with Dunfermline, before moving on to Hibs.

Liverpool have moved for Sotirios Kyrgiakos - who previously played in Scotland for Rangers - in terms of boosting their options in the centre of defence, yet the Ivory Coast international is adamant.

"I've been told by my agent there has been a lot of interest in me in the summer," Bamba told The Daily Record.

"Liverpool, Lorient and Grenoble are all following me, and obviously it's flattering.

"Any player would be attracted to a club of Liverpool's size, but I can't think too much about that until there is a concrete offer from them."

Hibernian appointed John Hughes as their new manager this summer, and the gaffer is unlikely to be thrilled to see the stopper looking outside of the green half of Edinburgh.

Diakhate Coy On Reds Link

Pape Diakhate has admitted that he is flattered to be a reported target of Premier League giants Liverpool.

The Reds are believed to be keen to strengthen their defensive options before the end of the transfer window, and have been linked with a number of potential targets.

Dynamo Kiev ace Diakhate is the latest name to be thrown into the rumour mill, with the Reds reported to have had the Senegal international watched on several occasions.

The 25-year-old insists no official approach has been made as yet from any of the clubs chasing his signature, but he accepts that anything could happen before the end of the month.

"I am wanted by several clubs," Diakhate told

"I am not saying anything about Liverpool, Bordeaux or anyone at the moment.

"I am happy the way things are, I have a contract until 2011, and everything will be sorted out by 31st August.

"To be linked with a huge club like Liverpool does make you feel valued, though, and makes you dream of what could be."

Daniel Agger Set To Go Under The Knife As Liverpool Boss Benitez Faces More Defensive Worry

Daniel Agger faces up to two months on the sidelines after being booked in for surgery on his back injury.

The Liverpool centre-back will have an operation in France on Tuesday and has pencilled in Denmark's World Cup qualifiers with Sweden and Hungary in the middle of October for his comeback.

Rafa Benitez is short of cover after he missed out on his main defensive target Matthew Upson.

Benitez realised the extent of his cash restraints when the bank blocked a proposed £17million bid for West Ham centre-back Upson, though he did succeed with a near-£2m move for AEK Athens defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

Rafael Benitez Hits Out Lucas Leiva's Critics

Rafael Benitez has hit out at Lucas Leiva's critics following the Liverpool midfielder's call-up for Brazil's forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

The Liverpool manager has become increasingly annoyed at the criticism of the 22-year-old, and has suggested he is an easy target compared to more established stars.

"Lucas has a very good mentality. But for someone of his age to suffer such criticism from the experts on TV is wrong," he said.

"He is so good but still he was criticised. I do not understand why they do not criticise other players, more senior players, when they do not play well. He is an easy target and maybe they are not brave enough to criticise the bigger players here."

He added: "But he will have a big season. He was the best player in pre-season and at Spurs, when we did not play well, he was still one of the best alongside Glen Johnson and Pepe Reina.

"Against Stoke he again showed his quality. He has a very good mentality. He can tackle, win headers and pass the ball. He will make mistakes like anyone, but he is and will be a very good player. I was really pleased for Lucas, in particular, after the win against Stoke and his performance.

"I have been really surprised at the amount of criticism he has had to cope with from the pundits, the so-called experts. Lucas is still a young player but he has experience. And after the display against Stoke everyone can see, even the so-called experts on TV pundit panels, can see he is a very good player.

"Hopefully they will now stop using him as a target. He is a very good lad, an excellent professional. I find it hard to understand that if you are an expert on TV, you cannot see these things."

Lucas will be in Liverpool's midfield on Monday for the home game with Aston Villa, and he has earned a call-up for Brazil for their crucial World Cup ties against Argentina and Chile next month.

Everything Was Easier In Brazil - Liverpool's Lucas Leiva

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has admitted that he found adjusting to life in England a challenge.

The Brazilian international has been handed the tough task of replacing Spanish international Xabi Alonso at anfield this season and admits he found the game much easier back in Brazil.

He told Liverpool's official website, "Back in Brazil everything seemed to progress perfectly from when I was a kid. I played well, scored goals and won titles - it was easy.

"When I moved to Liverpool it was suddenly different and I've had some difficult moments. However, these experiences can help me. They have made me stronger."

The twenty-two-year-old is confident he can help Liverpool push on towards an historic Premier league title and is hopeful of adjusting his game to become more of an attacking influence for the club.

"I realised I had to be stronger. I've done plenty of work in pre-season so I'm better able to cope with the physical side of the game here," he added.

"I feel stronger. I'm playing well and I'm enjoying it here. I hope that continues.

"Now, I think I'll be able to get forward more and believe I can have a good year and help us challenge for the title again."

Liverpool's Lucas Leiva Weary Of Media Attention

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has revealed that he is beginning to feel weary of the spotlight after taking centre-stage following Xabi Alonso's transfer to Real Madrid.

"Every time I speak to anyone they always ask me to try to find out how I am playing," Lucas told the Liverpool Daily Post.

"But when the team play well it helps everyone.

"I’m just trying to do my best for the team. I want to do well for myself, but the first thing is to help the team win.

"I’m playing well and training well, doing things in the right way, so now I just have to keep going."

The 22-year-old reiterated that Alonso's departure to Spain does not mean that he will fill the role of the pass-master.

"Some people have said ‘Lucas might fill Xabi’s boots’," he continued.

"But his departure doesn’t mean that. It is an opportunity for a few players.

"The boss has options. He can use Stevie [Steven Gerrard] in midfield or [Alberto] Aquilani when he’s fit, or maybe me or Jay Spearing. Nothing is guaranteed."

The rising star then went on to speak of the game against Stoke City at Anfield, where the hosts ran out 4-0 victors.

"We knew they would defend a lot and Rafa [Rafael Benitez] said to me to play a little bit higher, so that Javier [Mascherano] can get the ball and I can get forward more often," he said.

"Playing higher up is the key to beating the smaller teams, who just come to defend."

The 1-0 defeat suffered by Manchester United at Turf Moor against Burnley suggested that this year could see the Premier League title being a tightly fought contest.

"I am sure United, Chelsea and Arsenal will be strong at home and we have to be too," remarked the former Gremio player.

"It will again be a difficult competition to win but we know we have the quality to do that [win the Premier League]."