Thursday, September 30, 2010

Europa League Preview: Utrecht vs Liverpool

Liverpool travel to the Netherlands to take on FC Utrecht in the second round of fixtures in the Europa League on Thursday night, with both side's European form considerably better than their results on domestic duty.

Utrecht will have been pleased with their start to Europe League competition. Having overturned a two-goal deficit to eliminate Celtic 4-2 on aggregate in qualifying, the Dutch side started life in Group K with a resolute goalless draw against Napoli in Italy to secure a valuable away point.

Ton du Chatinier's side have not begun the new Eredivisie campaign looking like a Europa League side, losing four of their first seven games and kicking their heels in the bottom half of the table, 12th in a league of only 18 teams. They were overcome by AZ Alkmaar most recently, and also needed a penalty shootout to get the better of fellow strugglers De Graafschap in cup competition.

Utrecht made the home advantage count against Celtic however, and have proved difficult to beat at the Galgenwaard Stadium in domestic competition. They will be hoping to pile on the misery for Thursday's visitors.

The Reds have suffered an awful start to the season by their own high standards. Out of the League Cup at the hands of Northampton last week and sitting 16th in the Premier League after six games, the suggestions that manager Roy Hodgson is out of his depth have, perhaps prematurely, already begun.

Having bossed clubs around Europe, Hodgson knows his stuff on the continent, and the Reds will be hopeful of putting all their problems behind them in Holland on Thursday night, in their 300th Uefa club competition fixture.

All the omens are good for Hodgson's side, too. Having beaten Steaua Bucharest 4-1 in their opening fixture after a shaky spell, they now face a Dutch side and boast a fine record against teams from the orange nation, losing only once in 12 games, to Ajax back in 1966.



The hosts are carrying no new knocks following their loss to AZ Alkmaar, and could even opt to field a three-man attack, such is their positive outlook at home.

Possible starting XI: Vorm; Nesu, Wuytens, Schut, Cornelisse; Asare, Lensky, Silberbauer; Duplan, Van Wolfswinkel, Danso.


Hodgson will be without Paul Konchesky, who limped out of the 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Saturday, and with Fabio Aurelio still struggling for fitness, Daniel Agger is set to deputise at left-back.

The Reds boss has also suggest Raul Meireles, Dirk Kuyt and Fernando Torres could all start on Thursday, meaning David Ngog may miss out despite his goalscoring form in the competition this season.

Possible Starting XI: Reina; Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger; Poulsen, Meireles; Kuyt, Gerrard, Joe Cole; Torres.

Fernando Torres Is Fit And Ready To Fire On All Cylinders

Fernando Torres has overcome the persistent injury troubles which have plagued him for more than a year and is finally ready to return to his explosive best, according to Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson.

Two knee operations, as well as groin and abdominal injuries, hampered the Spain international last season, while his start to the current campaign has been affected by his recovery from a hamstring strain sustained just minutes after his introduction as a substitute in the World Cup final.

Though Torres has looked short of form and fitness this season, scoring just once, Hodgson has seen enough in recent weeks to convince him his totemic striker is getting his confidence back.

"Fernando is getting better and better," said the Liverpool manager. "He was behind our last four goals, two against [Manchester] United and two against Sunderland, and he will get confidence from that. I said all along it was just a matter of time and it is good to see him getting closer to his level.

"He trains every day like everyone else, he plays at the weekend like everyone else, so there is no reason now to separate him from the group. The injury problems are behind him. We have been keeping a close eye on him and we did not want to throw him in too often or too soon, but I would not dream of playing him tonight if I did not think he could play on Sunday.

"There is nothing wrong with his confidence – of course he would like a goal, because everyone knows goalscorers thrive on goals and when they dry up it affects them. But the thing with top goalscorers is you know that it will come again."

Hodgson has not yet decided whether the Spaniard will start at the compact Stadion Galgenwaard but two players he will definitely be without are Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard.

Agger is rated as a doubt for Sunday's visit of Blackpool because of a groin injury, while Gerrard has been granted a rest by his manager as he recovers from a back strain, though Hodgson dismisses concerns that his captain's age is catching up with him.

"He suffers from back pain and we did not want to exacerbate the situation," he said.

"But Gerrard is the least of my concerns. I'm not in the slightest bit worried I will have to [rest him] regularly."

The Liverpool manager admits his decision to omit the 30 year-old was made significantly easier by his side's good start to the group stage – they beat Steaua Bucharest 4-1 – but that should not suggest Hodgson is taking his opponents lightly. Far from it.

While on paper this may have the air of a mismatch – Utrecht have never won a league title in their current incarnation, while Liverpool are one of Europe's most decorated teams – Hodgson is evidently a firm believer that all history is bunk.

"There is no point talking about respective histories," he said. "We are both here on merit. There is no point saying we won the league in 1970 or whatever and Utrecht has never won one. They serve no purpose. This is Liverpool 2010 versus Utrecht 2010."

Reds Linked With Danish Trio

Liverpool are reported to be keeping tabs on three players at Danish club Lyngby.

Emil Larsen is believed to be the Reds' top target and the 19-year-old midfielder has also attracted interest in Holland.

Kim Aabech, 27, and fellow forward Lasse Rise, 24, have also been impressing Anfield scouts with the newly-promoted top-flight club.

And Aabech has admitted he would welcome a move in the January transfer window.

"I would like to move during the winter and try something new," he told

Liverpool Join Napoli In Chase For Auxerre Ace

Liverpool have joined Napoli in the race to sign Auxerre's Slovenian playmaker Valter Birsa.

The 24-year-old is the heartbeat of the Auxerre side that qualified for this season’s Champions League after eight years without playing in the competition.

And Birsa also starred at the World Cup during the summer as Slovenia caught the eye alongside England in Group C.

But with his contract at the Burgundy-based club set to expire in June, Birsa could cost potential buyers as little as £2m in January.

According to reports in France, Auxerre have confirmed that scouts have been tracking the player, who has refused to rule out a January move.

"It is normal that as professional football player I want to improve," he said.

"I do my work and if it turns out to be slightly interesting it will be in hands of the club."

Hodgson Denies Striker Link

Roy Hodgson insists Liverpool were never in the market for Utrecht striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel this summer.

The 21-year-old Holland international, who will line up against the Reds in the Europa League on Thursday night, was one of a plethora of players linked with a move to Anfield in the transfer window.

But asked about the speculation by reporters in Holland last night, Hodgson said: "There was no question of him coming this summer. You've hit me with a name that I didn't know we were linked with.

"He's doing very well now and having a wonderful time with Utrecht. But I'd be lying to you if I said he was a player we'd considered before this."

van Wolfswinkel has scored 13 goals in as many games so far this term, including a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory over Celtic.

Hodgson believes this result provides further evidence that Dutch football is on the up once again.

And the Liverpool boss is expecting a severe test in the Stadion Galgenwaard.

"I won't say Dutch football is having a renaissance but it is enjoying a very good period," said Hodgson. "I was at the Ajax game on Tuesday when they played very well against AC Milan and probably deserved to win the game.

"We've seen Twente draw at home with the European champions, and Utrecht beat Celtic 4-0. We're playing a very good team on Thursday night and we'll have to be very good if we're going to get a result in the game.

"We knew when we got to the group stage that it would be a tough group because this competition is full of good quality European teams.

"We've played five games and won all five. We've had difficult games - two matches against Trabzonspor, a game against Steaua Bucharest. These are tough opponents."

Reporters probed Hodgson on how many points he felt would be required to qualify from Group K.

He replied: "Nine or ten would be my guess but I wouldn't put a bet on it if I were you because I'm not very good at these 'How many points do you need' games."

Alberto Aquilani Reveals Inter Interest Before Making Juventus Move

Liverpool flop Alberto Aquilani has revealed Rafael Benitez wanted a reunion at Inter before he made the season-long loan switch to Juventus.

Aquilani, 26, endured a difficult debut campaign in the Premier League after moving from Roma and headed back to Serie A this summer, while ex-manager Rafael Benitez took up the reigns at the San Siro having also left Anfield.

Speaking to Mediaset Premium, Aquilani confirmed the Champions League holders were interested in his signature but never made an official bid.

Aquilani said: "Inter wanted me this summer, they tried to get me. There was something, but nothing more."

The Italy international reaffirmed his fond memories of Anfield and backed Benitez to continue Inter's imperious form.

"Last season with Liverpool has been positive for me, despite the injury, although it is not easy to adapt to a different style of football," he continued.

"I had a good relationship with the fans and I would have remained with pleasure, but some things convinced me to change and I'm very happy to have arrived at Juventus.

"I have good memories of Benitez. He allowed me to go to an important club like Liverpool.

"He's a very important coach who will do very well at Inter. To replace Mourinho would be difficult for anyone but Benitez is tough and the right man for Inter."

Sammy Lee Admits Reds' Season So Far Has Been A 'Mixed Bag'

Liverpool assistant manager Sammy Lee has acknowledged that the Reds have looked a little out of sorts so far this season, struggling to find form and consistency.

However, Lee is confident that things will turn round soon as the club adjusts the new management regime headed by Roy Hodgson.

"It's been a bit of a mixed bag so far," Lee told the club's official website.

"There are a lot of positives we can take from every game we've played and there have been some negatives, but we tend not to dwell on that.

"We know we are not 100 per cent right, but we are working very hard to try and perfect what we are trying to do.

"It is a period of transition and change. People need to embrace that change. It will take time and the boss has said that.

"The table is quite tight and only a few points separate a lot of the teams, but what we need to do is to start turning possession into goals. If we convert the chances we are creating then we will be okay.

"We can see what we are trying to get out of the players and it is very much a work in progress."

A win rather than a draw at the weekend against Sunderland would have seen Hodgson's team climb to seventh place in the Premier League table.

However, Lee admits that fine margins are crucial in the English top flight and it is up to the team to improve.

"That's what this league is all about. There's a fine line between success and mediocrity," he said.

"We are certainly working hard to make sure we are on the right side of that line.

"What we are trying to implement is difficult at this time but the fans are with us and have stayed with us. It's important for the players because once they know they have the supporters' backing them they will try to win even more for them."

Liverpool face FC Utrecht this week in the Europa League with Dirk Kuyt set to go back to the club where his professional career began.

Lee is expecting a tough test from a team that beat Celtic 4-0 on its way to the group stages of the competition.

"Utrecht are a very good side. They have pace throughout their team and are very well organized. It'll be a difficult game," he added.

"We've been well briefed on them. Any side that beats Celtic 4-0 are going to be a difficult proposition, especially at home. I think they've won five out of their last six there, so we know they are solid team.

"It will also be an emotional time for both Dirk and John Achterberg [goalkeeping coach] - whose family come from there. It will be good for them to go back there and hopefully we will come home with the right result."

Kuyt had been absent with a shoulder injury until the weekend game with Sunderland. Lee is pleased to have such an important player back in the frame for selection for the game in the Netherlands.

He explained: "You like to have all your playing staff back and to have someone like Dirk available again is important because the contribution and experience he brings to the team is vital. The work-rate he puts in is phenomenal."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pepe Reina Sure That Time And Patience Will See Liverpool Improve

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina is sure that the Reds will improve after a disappointing opening to the campaign which has seen them pick up just six points from their opening six Premier League games.

The Spaniard points to Roy Hodgson's recent arrival as manager as the cause, with the team going through a transitional phase as they restructure after last season's disappointments.

However, he is confident that things will pick up as players begin to gel in new patterns and alongside new personnel.

"Six points from our first six games is not what we wanted," Reina told LFC Weekly.

"People who criticize us about it should look at the fixtures we've had. It has been a difficult start. Arsenal at home and then going to play Manchester City, Manchester United and Birmingham away was never going to be easy.

"Not many teams will go to the City of Manchester Stadium, Old Trafford or St Andrew's and win. Those three teams have very good records at home."

Reina feels that any team would struggle to cope with the amount of recent changes at Anfield and is calling for patience from supporters as the new structures at the club begin to bed down.

"When you have so many changes moving in a new direction under a new boss, things don't happen instantly. It can take between three and six months before you see improvements. Obviously the quicker we adapt and improve as a team the better it will be for everyone," he added.

"That doesn't just happen overnight. Each of us has to adjust to working in a new way. With the passing of each day I get used to it and what the manager wants.

"It's the same for all of us. We need to be patient."

Martin Skrtel Convinced Liverpool Can Reach Next Season's Champions League

Martin Skrtel remains confident that Liverpool can seal a top four finish this season despite a disappointing start to their campaign.

The Reds have picked up six points from their first six Premier League games under the management of Roy Hodgson so far, but the centre-back feels that a little time and patience is all that's needed to see things right.

"A lot of people think that when a new manager comes in everything should be perfect but we need time," Skrtel told his club's official website.

"Our aim is to fight for a place in the top four. That won't be easy as there are a lot of good teams also going for it, but if we continue to improve as the season goes on, we can get back into the Champions League - that's our aim.

"A lot of things have changed here. We have a new manager, new players, new medical staff and some different people around the team. It's always going to be difficult when you change so much.

"People expect instant results but it doesn't work like that. We all need time - the manager and the new players who have come in - to work together.

"Every game is difficult in the Premier League, but we know we have to win our home games. We were close to beating Arsenal, we won against West Bromwich Albion, and we are all working hard to improve with each game."

Skrtel, meanwhile, has been the subject of some mistaken identity at Anfield recently because of his shaven-headed resemblence to Paul Konchesky.

He explained: "I think people get confused when we play together because we are both near the same side of the pitch. Even my girlfriend said she kept getting the two of us mixed up when she was watching a game on television."

Liverpool Target £7m Surprise French Top Scoring Wing-Wizard

Liverpool have reportedly had their scouts following the French top division’s leading scorer Dimitri Payet who is on the verge of winning his first senior international call-up. The St Etienne winger can play on either flank and has been a revelation for his club as they surprisingly lead the French top division after just seven matches.

Roy Hodgson has been linked with a number of talented wingers in recent weeks with Galatasaray’s Arda Turan and Valencia’s Juan Mata on his radar. However, Payet is a far more realistic target with his price-tag reportedly set at a modest £7m.

The 23-year-old is enjoying by far his most productive campaign with seven strikes in seven games which includes a hat-trick against Lens and a brace against Montpellier. His previous best return for the club was four league goals in 2009. Payet’s sensational start culminated in a stunning curled free-kick which enabled St Etienne to finally beat local rivals Lyon last Saturday for the first time since April 1994.

The French U21 international is being tipped to break into Laurent Blanc’s senior side ahead of the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers. Payet is renowned for his pace, trickery and long-range shooting. He is predominantly right-footed and would offer a more vibrant alternative to Maxi Rodriguez on the right-flank who has been disappointing since arriving at Anfield, scoring once in 21 league appearances for Liverpool. Hodgson may have to move swiftly to secure Payet’s signature as clubs in both Spain and Italy have also begun to register an interest.

Liverpool Rookie Set For Southampton Loan Switch

Liverpool’s rookie right-back Stephen Darby looks set to join Southampton on loan - but the 21-year-old is desperate for a return to Swindon.

Darby, a product of Liverpool's youth system, has made seven appearances for the club, with his latest coming against Rabotnicki in July's Europa League Qualifying third round.

Las season, Rafa Benitez allowed the cultured right-back to spend three months on loan at Swindon during their promotion push, which eventually ended at the hands of Millwall in the League One Play-off Final.

And, after a series of impressive performances, Darby endeared himself to the fans by scoring the decisive penalty in the Robins' play-off semi-final shoot-out victory over Charlton.

It is believed that Liverpool's new manager Roy Hodgson is willing to let Darby leave on loan again this term in a bid to gain further first-team experience.

But, although Darby is apparently very keen to rejoin Danny Wilson's Swindon, fellow League One side Southampton have emerged as the front-runners to land him.

De Gea Wants Torres To Return To Atletico Madrid

Manchester United target David De Gea hopes to one day play in the same side as Atletico Madrid hero Fernando Torres.

The promising Atletico keeper, 19, has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks.

But De Gea has revealed that he would love to team up with Liverpool striker Torres, who left his boyhood club in 2007.

At the time, De Gea was only a youth teamer but he is now firmly part of Atletico's first team and Spain's Under-21s.

"If he returns one day I hope I will be here," De Gea told Radio Marca. "I hope he comes back.

"Fernando Torres is one of the best forwards in the world - any Atletico follower would like him to return."

Daniel Agger Set To Step Back Into Emergency Left-Back Role At Liverpool FC

Daniel Agger is ready to reprise his emergency left-back role in Holland tomorrow – with Paul Konchesky ruled out of Liverpool’s Europa League trip to FC Utrecht and manager Roy Hodgson refusing to put a date on Fabio Aurelio’s return from injury.

Centre-back Agger had already made four highly effective appearances at full-back this season, and came on in that position again against Sunderland last weekend when Konchesky limped off.

It is a position the Dane is almost certain to have to continue in against Blackpool on Sunday as well.

Konchesky has targeted the Merseyside derby on October 17 for his return from injury, but Aurelio’s comeback is still clouded in uncertainty. For the latest LFC news, click here to follow our Tritter account.

The Brazilian sustained an Achilles problem during the 1-0 success over Trabzonspor last month and manager Hodgson admits he is reluctant to rush him back too early.

“Where Fabio Aurelio is concerned, caution and prudence have to be the words that we use,” he said. “He is progressing all the time and his efforts are very commendable but we can't bring him back too early.

“We took him off against Trabzonspor as a precautionary measure, as we didn't want to run the risk of him sustaining a serious problem.”

Liverpool FC Royal Bank of Scotland Debt Deadline Looms Large For American Owners

Liverpool FC’s American co-owners may have just 17 days left in control at Anfield.

The deadline for repaying their £237m debt, the majority of which is held by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), expires next month.

October 16 has long been the deadline day in many fans’ diaries for Tom Hicks and George Gillett to repay their debts. But the Daily Post understands that Friday, October 15, is the earliest date the Americans’ debt will be called in by chief creditor, RBS.

And even that provisional deadline is likely to slip a further seven days as the bank seeks to facilitate an orderly transition of power at the club.

It is understood that the bank would rather that the club is sold to a new owner by October 15.

But given the over-optimistic £600m- plus valuations that Hicks, in particular, has placed on the club, it remains likely that a sale will not be complete by that deadline.

Talks with two serious prospective bidders are thought to be at a relatively advanced stage, although formal offers are some way off. Chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow, and commercial director Ian Ayre are understood to be keen to not just accept the highest bid.

Instead the trio, who have a majority on the board, want to secure investment in the playing squad and a new stadium, as well as paying off the club’s debts.

Ultimately the bank could force the holding company which owns LFC into administration and seek to sell the club itself, but this is seen as a last resort.

The prospect of getting little or no profit from the sale of the club has led to Hicks carrying out a worldwide trawl in a bid to refinance the debt. It is feared the creation of an investment company, Hicks Acquisition II, is part of his plan to retain control.

Papers registered with the USA’s Securities and Exchange Commission, show Hicks Acquisition II is seeking to raise $230m (£145m).

Shares are being offered for $10 in the “newly organized blank cheque company formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses.”

The initial public offering papers also warn prospective investors that “investing in our securities involves a high degree of risk”.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Liverpool Set For £35m AC Milan Bid For Steven Gerrard

Ac Milan are readying a big money bid for Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard in January as the Serie A side look to wrestle domination from arch rivals Inter Milan. New San Siro boss Massimiliano Allegri is a big admirer of the Anfield skipper and is hoping that funds to make a bold move for the England international will be handed to him in January.

The 30 year old midfielder has previously been linked with moves away from the Merseyside club but has always stated his desire to land that long awaited Premier League title but under Roy Hodgson he seems no nearer to fulfilling that ambition.

The Italian giants are ready to offer up to £35m for the Whiston wonder and hope that the ability to offer a return to Champions League football and the chance of a new challenge may tempt Gerrard into pushing for an exit.

Now in his 13th season in the first team Liverpool can ill afford to lose their mercurial leader and the club will fight tooth and nail to prevent any sale, regardless of price.

Malaga Lining Up January Swoop For Liverpool Midfielder Lucas

Malaga want to take Lucas off Liverpool's hands and intend to snap up the midfielder in the New Year, according to talkSPORT.

Lucas, 23, has dropped out of the Reds' starting side after the arrivals of Christian Poulsen and Raul Meireles. The Brazil international is eager to find regular first team football and could be interested in a switch to the Primera Division.

Liverpool could also be persuaded to sell Lucas to raise funds for new players. Malaga owner Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani splashed the cash during the summer and is understood to be prepared to sanction a January bid.

Despite recently being replaced in the Liverpool team, Lucas has risen 50 places in the latest edition of the Castrol Rankings. The midfielder is currently rated as the 246th best player plying his trade in one of the top five leagues in Europe.

League One Trio In Fight To Land Liverpool Starlet

Liverpool midfielder Victor Palsson has sparked a race amongst a number of League One teams wanting to take the youngster on loan.

Southampton are understood to be leading Peterborough and Swindon in a bid to sign the 19-year-old Liverpool reserve team captain on a short-term deal.

Palsson is unlikely to make a breakthrough into the Liverpool first-team this season and will be keen to pick up experience in the lower divisions having being capped by Iceland at under-17, 18 and 19 level.

The teenager joined the club on a two-and-a-half-year deal in 2009 from Danish outfit AGF Arhus.

Roy Hodgson Confirms Week-Long Lay-Off For Paul Konchesky

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has revealed left-back Paul Konchesky is set to be sidelined for at least a week with a hamstring strain.

Konchesky, 29, left the field in the early stages of the weekend 2-2 draw with Sunderland. Subsequent tests have revealed the ex-Fulham man is likely to miss the upcoming Europa League match against FC Utrecht and Premier League meeting with Blackpool.

Speaking to the club's official website, Hodgson stated: "He's got a hamstring strain. I couldn't tell you exactly how bad it is yet.

"I don't think it's extremely bad but I certainly think it would rule him out for Thursday and next Sunday.

"Hopefully it won't be much more problematic."

Reds Slump To Chelsea Loss

Liverpool Reserves suffered their first defeat of the season as they went down 3-1 at Chelsea on Monday afternoon.

The Reds paid the price for a sluggish start as Nathaniel Chalobah and Fabio Borini put the Blues in the driving seat with two goals inside the opening half hour.

Nathan Eccleston did give John McMahon's side hope with a deflected effort just before half-time but it wasn't enough to help rescue a point as substitute Adam Phillip steered in a third 12 minutes from time.

It was all the more disappointing given that the second-string had gone into the clash full of confidence after securing their first win of the campaign at home to Wolves last time out.

However, given the calibre of opposition, McMahon would have been well aware that a showdown with the Londoners represented a big step up in class.

The sight of Portugal international, Jose Bosingwa taking his place in the starting XI was further evidence of the strength the hosts had at their disposal and it was perhaps no surprise to see them take control from the off.

Indeed, a moment of individual brilliance almost got them off to a flyer on five minutes but Martin Hansen did well to gather low at his left-hand post after Gokhan Tore had followed up a dazzling run with a venomous 25 yard strike.

It set the tone for what evolved into a very one-sided half with the lively Barini proving to be a particularly prominent thorn in Liverpool's side.

First he saw his shot from a tight angle deflect to safety before Hansen produced an instinctive one-handed save to keep out the Italian's snap shot on the turn.

Liverpool had barely set foot in the Chelsea half but they almost snatched a goal against the run of play on the quarter of an hour mark when the combative Jonjo Shelvey sent a searching cross to the far post for Wilson, who could only nod his free header over the top.

It would prove to be a costly miss as the home side poured forward and after Wilson almost turned the ball into his own net they finally did take the lead on 19 minutes.

A corner from the left was whipped to the far post, allowing Chalobah to rise above two defenders and guide a header that bounced up off the turf and in off the crossbar.

It was no more than the hosts deserved and McMahon's afternoon took another turn for the worse on 29 minutes when Chelsea doubled their advantage.

A lightning break saw Jacopo Sala surge at the Reds' backline before slipping a beautifully weighted pass into the channel for Borini, who raced through and despatched a low shot beyond Hansen and into the bottom corner.

At this point it was looking like being a rout but in timely fashion the visitors grabbed a lifeline with a rare attack on 43 minutes.

Suso wreaked havoc down the left wing and sent in a low cross that was only half-cleared by the Chelsea defence, providing Eccleston with the chance to smash home via a deflection.

McMahon would no doubt have had a few choice words with his players at the interval and they should have levelled on 54 minutes when David Amoo contrived to head wide after Blues stopper Jan Sebek completely misjudged a corner.

The visitors appeared to have stepped up a gear and a delightful move involving Eccleston and Suso resulted in a free-kick that Dani Pacheco fizzed into the arms of Sebek.

With Liverpool pushing for the equaliser it was inevitable gaps would appear at the back and Hansen had to be at his best again on 65 minutes when he denied substitute Aliu Djalo following a fine run and cross from Borini.

The game clearly had another goal in it but unfortunately for McMahon and co it went the way of the home side, who sealed the points on 78 minutes when Philipp guided in from close range following more great play by Borini.

Kenwright Open To Ground Share With Liverpool

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright says he would consider a possible ground share opportunity with Liverpool after Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish claimed the two clubs should ''look at every possibility''.

English football has so far shied away from ground sharing between the biggest Premier League clubs and Liverpool have always been opposed to the possibility of ground sharing with their Merseyside rivals. But with both now desperate to build new stadia, sharing a newly constructed Stanley Park could be a solution that would suit both parties.

Dalglish opened the door to the idea this week with comments in his Mail on Sunday column and Kenwright responded in a positive way when asked about the proposals.

"In the past Liverpool have always been opposed so I am intrigued about what Kenny Dalglish has had to say about ground sharing,'' Kenwright told ESPNsoccernet. "It is more than likely we would sit down and have a descent discussion about ground sharing in Stanley Park with Liverpool."

Dalglish had claimed that a ground share would not be the ''ideal'' situation for either club, but maintained that in the current financial climate, it would be something that would be ''worth looking at''.

"It's probably true that more people are becoming sympathetic to a ground-share with Everton if a third party came forward able to build it, with the two clubs renting,'' he wrote in the Mail on Sunday. ''Again, it is not the ideal situation: that would be to keep the two clubs in two separate stadiums with vibrant atmospheres of their own.

"But this is not an ideal time for either club and I'm sure they would sit down and have a conversation with each other about it if there was a feeling it would be beneficial. It's not anyone's personal views that is important - it is about what is best thing for the club.

''I don't know if it will ever happen but maybe you need a few people to sit down and say that, although it's not what they want in a perfect world, it's worth looking at.

''Whoever is in a position of responsibility at Liverpool and Everton are only custodians for the next generation of supporter. They owe it to the fans to look at every possibility to help their respective clubs."

Restaurant To Open At Anfield

While football fans around the country have to be content with Bovril and a pie, Kopites will soon be enjoying a whole new culinary experience when the club opens a family-friendly restaurant at Anfield.

The Boot Room Sports Cafe will serve top quality steaks, salads, pasta, pizza and much more at competitive prices from 11am until 11pm seven days a week.

Diners will also be able to enjoy hot and cold drinks, cocktails and big-screen TVs when the restaurant opens for business above the club shop on October 14.

Head chef Chris McDowell has been signed from Gusto on the Albert Dock - but kids are allowed to snub our talented cook and prepare their own pizza!

There will be lots more to keep children entertained, including the chance to visit a state-of-the-art ice-cream machine.

Vegetarians are also well catered for - and we're happy to accommodate all other dietary needs as well as parties.

To make things even easier, the club is providing secure parking outside the Centenary Stand.

Christian Grall, Executive Head Chef at LFC, said: "The Boot Room restaurant will provide the local community and visitors to the stadium with a unique, fun and family-orientated experience.

"The food and service will be of the highest standards with some unique twists that will hopefully add a little theatre to guests' dining experience."

Christian has worked at the club for 10 years and has always been keen to open a restaurant within the stadium.

He added: "There has long been a demand from fans for us to provide a restaurant facility open outside of match days at the ground and along with my newly recruited team I am very excited about the upcoming opening."

The Boot Room Sports Cafe can meet the demand for up to 230 diners, so booking isn't essential.

However, we highly recommend you do so during our opening week due to the anticipated interest.

Online booking will soon be up and running but in the meantime call 0151 906 1892 to secure a table.

Credit Where It's Due As Liverpool Fans Save For A Stake In Anfield

The Liverpool fans' group Spirit of Shankly-ShareLiverpoolFC has taken its first step towards setting up a financial foundation for supporter-led investment in the club.

The society has teamed up with the Merseyside-based Partners Credit Union to provide a safe house for supporters to save towards the goal of taking up a stake in Liverpool. The Liverpool Supporters' Credit Union scheme was launched on Saturday with the aim of making investing in Liverpool more affordable.

Fans will now be able to save towards having a stake in their club, something that the current sums involved put out of the reach of all but investment institutions and the super‑rich. "If you have 100,000 people all contributing £500, you can have £50m," said Partners Credit Union's chief executive, Tracy Fletcher. "Some credit unions have 15,000 to 20,000 members, this could be much bigger."

One obstacle to the success of the union is that regulations restrict membership to people living and working on Merseyside.

However, the credit union movement hopes that legislation which may come into effect next year will permit wider membership – a development that would open the door to the Spirit of Shankly group's tens of thousands of members worldwide.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kuyt: Torres Is Focused On Winning With Liverpool

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt has dismissed speculation about Fernando Torres' state of mind and insisted the striker has an important role to play even if he is not scoring.

Torres has provided the assists for the Reds' last four goals; winning the penalty and free-kick against Manchester United which allowed Steven Gerrard to hit a double and then setting up Kuyt and the captain again in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Sunderland.

However, he has scored only once for Liverpool so far this season - the winner against West Brom - and has started to show signs of frustration on the pitch. Reports regularly claim the Spain international is unhappy and is considering leaving Anfield, as happened in the summer, but Kuyt said Torres' quality would see him through.

"Everyone is expecting goals from Fernando but he offers a lot more. Against Sunderland he was responsible for setting up the two goals,'' said the Holland international, who returned to action against the Black Cats earlier than expected after a shoulder injury earlier this month.

"He is very important for the team even if he is not scoring goals. I'm sure his goals will come. His mood has never changed. If you are a striker, and the type of striker Fernando is, you want to be involved in goals. But everyone could see how happy he was to have set up two goals.

"When you are one of the world's best strikers everyone is watching you so if they get a moment to blame him they will. And if you are not winning games he is not happy, I am not happy and the team is not happy. But we all know next week he could score a hat-trick and then everything changes.''

Kuyt, who is hoping to be picked to face his former club in Europe on Thursday, admits Liverpool have yet to get into gear after their worst start to a top-flight season for 18 years, with just six points from as many games.

"We are not at our level yet because if we were in our best shape we would win these games,'' he said. "Every day everyone is working very hard to get there, unfortunately against Sunderland it didn't happen but we can't wait for the next opportunity to change it.

"We as players want to win every game and challenge for trophies but the situation at the club we have to be patient. If you are at Liverpool expectations are always high and you are expected to win every game. If you lose or draw people are not happy and we are not happy and that is what we are at the moment.

"Things will come because we know we have quality and it just takes time. We all want to win and challenge for things and I am sure it will happen if we keep working. But we have to make sure we get some points in (against Blackpool) before we go away for the international break.''

Liverpool Interested In £8m Rated Newcastle United Attacker

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is considering a January move for Newcastle United winger Wayne Routledge and hopes that he is given sufficient funds by the club’s board to make an offer that might tempt the St James’ Park side into accepting.

The former Tottenham and Crystal Palace wide man was instrumental in helping Chris Hughton’s side to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt as his incisive running helped the Toon Army to the Championship title and the 25 year old has continued to impress this term.

Hodgson is known to be looking for some natural width to help balance his side and provide ammunition for his strikers and he hopes he can persuade the London born former England Under 21 international into making a move to the Merseyside club.

The pint sized speed merchant arrived at Newcastle United in January and is valued at around £8m but could prove tricky to land given that he is just over six months into a three and a half year contract.

Referees' Body Backs Stuart Attwell Over Liverpool FC Goal Against Sunderland

Refereeing chiefs said Stuart Attwell was right to award Liverpool FC their controversial opening goal in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Sunderland.

The Professional Game Match Officials body, which provides match officials for all matches in the Premier League and Football League, issued a statement after Attwell faced criticism.

Attwell allowed Dirk Kuyt’s opening strike to count after ruling Michael Turner had taken a free-kick when he appeared to roll it back to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Fernando Torres nipped in, raced through on goal and played in Kuyt to score.

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said at his press conference: "I’ve been in enough trouble so I don’t want to talk about it but you all witnessed it and he got it wrong."

However PGMO released a statement clarifying their view of the goal.

The statement read: "PGMO has reviewed the first goal scored between Liverpool and Sunderland and believe that the correct decisions were made.

"According to the Laws of the Game, having stopped the game for any infringement the referee is required to ’indicate the restart of the match’.

"In practice, in the majority of cases, referees indicate for the re-start by gesturing to players to take the kick. These gestures can be minimal. For the more important ’ceremonial’ free-kicks, which also involve control of the defensive wall, referees can indicate by using the whistle. However, there is no requirement by Law to use the whistle to make the indication.

"The ball is then in play when it is kicked and moves. So, in this case, the ball was in play as soon as it is kicked by a Sunderland player.

"Also, the Laws state that the free-kick must be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. Again, in this case, the referee correctly determined that the free-kick was played from the right place."

Pique Urges Torres To Leave

Gerard Pique claims Fernando Torres will be embarrassed having to play in the Europa League for Liverpool and has urged him to leave the club.

The Barcelona defender, who won the World Cup with the Reds striker, believes he needs to be winning trophies rather than settling for second best.

The former Manchester United player says the 26-year-old will have to leave the Anfield giants and seek success elsewhere.

Pique told the Daily Star Sunday: "There is no way this can go on for Nando. It's just impossible.

"I spoke with him before he committed to Liverpool and he told me he wanted to win things with Liverpool - but if the club didn't invest and show real intent, he would be forced to leave.

"It's really embarrassing for Nando to play in a team of that quality.

"You would not see Messi or Rooney playing in the Europa League - so there is no reason why Nando should be playing there.

"Along with David Villa, he is the best striker in the world.

"He needs to be winning things domestically like he does with Spain."

Pique completed a domestic treble with Barcelona last year and was a World Cup winner with Spain in South Africa this summer.

The defender claims Liverpool are not capable of winning trophies at the current time and has urged the striker to come and join him at Barcelona next season.

"Liverpool has shown already this season they are not capable of winning things - and that's it for him now," said Pique.

"Liverpool are really testing Nando's loyalty.

"For the last two seasons they have promised him they will challenge.

"They haven't delivered on it at all. The ownership of the club looks completely unstable.

"It doesn't look like the manager or the players have any faith in the club.

"There can be no questions when Nando leaves in the summer.

"Players of less quality would have left last summer.

"But he is a decent guy and believed it when they told him they would invest.

"I am not just saying this because I want him to join Barcelona.

"The truth is I don't know if he will.

"It might be Chelsea, it might be Real Madrid, it might be Barcelona.

"But I know he wants to join a club where he can win league titles and European Cups. I would love us to sign Nando in the summer."