Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Glen Johnson Says Liverpool Will Keep Chipping Away

Glen Johnson insists Liverpool are only concerned with themselves as the race for fourth place hot ups.

Sunday's 3-0 win over Sunderland saw the Reds leapfrog Manchester City into fifth place to move within four points of fourth placed Tottenham who have a game in hand on Liverpool.

However, City can go two points ahead of Liverpool if they beat Wigan on Monday in what is one of their two games in hand on Rafa Benitez's side.

Liverpool have the kindest run-in of the clubs challenging for fourth, but Johnson says nobody at Anfield is concerning themselves with the fixure list.

"It's not something we've been thinking about," said the England international. "We're trying to take each game as it comes and trying to pick up three points in every one.

"We also know goal difference could be vital for us at the end of the season, so we're looking to keep as many clean sheets as we can and keep chipping in with goals."

Aston Villa's 7-1 defeat at Chelsea has hit their goal difference hard. Liverpool are on plus 21, seven goals behind Spurs and five ahead of City.

Johnson's third goal of the season gave the Reds a two-goal cushion at half-time against Sunderland. His left-footed shot from outside the area took a deflection off defender Michael Turner to beat Black Cats keeper Craig Gordon.

"It's something I've always been comfortable doing, coming inside and shooting on my left," he said. "I'm happy with the way it came off here."

With six league games remaining Johnson is confident everyone is pulling in the right direction to try and claim fourth place. "The belief is there," he said. "If it wasn't it'd be pointless playing.

"The lads are sticking close together with the staff, everyone's pulling together. I think we can do it."

Kuyt Delight At Torres Return

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt admits that the return to goalscoring form of Fernando Torres has given all at Anfield a huge lift in the battle for a top-four place.

The Reds have experienced a terrible season and qualification for the UEFA Champions League via a fourth-placed finish in the Premier League would now be viewed as a significant achievement.

Liverpool, who are also hopeful of winning the Europa League, have been boosted in their quest by the return of superstar striker Fernando Torres after a knee operation.

A top-four spot is still far from certain, but the Spain international scored twice in his club's 3-0 win over Sunderland on Sunday to record his seventh goal in his last four matches and raise morale among his team-mates.

"Not only against Sunderland but since he has been back from his injury he has done a great job for the team," said Kuyt.

"He has scored some great goals and has played really well. It makes things a lot easier for the team.

"Every player in this team has bad moments but we are all trying to leave this behind us.

"We need to keep going. We have struggled a bit during the season but we don't have time to worry about these things as we have to look forward.

"With Fernando in this form, and also with the team playing a lot better, hopefully we have a chance."

Kuyt also played down suggestions unhappiness within the squad had contributed to some poor results.

"Always during a season during games you have arguments with players but I've never had this feeling towards me or other players," he added.

Lee Chung-Yong Is Not Leaving Bolton Wanderers For Liverpool - Agent

Bolton Wanderers winger Lee Chung-Yong will not be swapping the Trotters for Liverpool in the summer, according to his agent.

The South Korean has been linked with the Reds in reports in his homeland, with the Merseysiders said to be keen to exploit the commercial potential of signing such a well-known Asian player.

Dong-A Ilbo claimed that the player was being linked with Liverpool in the wake of the Merseysiders having concluded a sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered Bank, as they look to boost revenue streams in the Far East.

However, a spokesperson from TI Sports, Lee's representatives, quelled talk of a possible switch.

"I never received the offer from Liverpool, there was absolutely no contact. Speculation about the future is not helpful," he told reporters.

"[The link is] in a word, absurd. Liverpool did not have any discussion.

"Next season will be a lot easier [for Lee], but there is still much to learn in terms of player development.

"Lee wants to be a regular at Bolton next season, this is important [for him]. It is important that Bolton stay in the Premier League, that is the biggest objective."

TI Sports also confirmed that talks are in the pipeline at Bolton about a new contract for the winger following a steady season at the Reebok for him.

Lee joined Bolton from FC Seoul for a reported £2.2 million in summer 2009 and has hit five goals so far this season.

Milan Want Liverpool Hitman Fernando Torres - Report

Milan are ready to make an audacious move for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, reports Il Giorno.

Torres, who has been a Milan objective for some time, is being monitored by club chiefs who are looking at making a serious move for him in the summer.

The report suggests Torres has become less than satisfied with the lack of silverware at Anfield, and he has already expressed his desire to play for Milan.

Furthermore, he is allegedly ready to take a pay-cut so he can complete a future switch to Italy.

Il Giorno's claims have not been verified by Milan, Liverpool or Torres.

Wolfsburg's Edin Dzeko continues to be linked with a move to the Rossoneri, but his €40 million price tag is standing in the way of progress.

Rafa Benitez Hits Back At Redknapp Criticism

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has hit back at the continued criticism aimed at him mostly by ex-players who are now pundits.

Plenty of former Reds stars have secured work in the media and Benitez has had to listen to them giving their opinion on what has been a disappointing season.

However, he felt the need to respond to the comments of former Liverpool captain Jamie Redknapp after the 2-1 defeat at Manchester United.

Redknapp, a close friend of Steven Gerrard, criticised Benitez for moving the England midfielder to different positions as they chased an equaliser late on.

To back up his assertion that Liverpool were a weaker team than the previous season he referenced the influence of Xabi Alonso, sold to Real Madrid in the summer, in the 4-1 win at Old Trafford last March. That finally prompted Benitez into a response.

"I was surprised to see some comments by some experts talking about how they could see Alonso playing in the 4-1 win against United - he didn't play,'' Benitez said, referring to the fact the Spain midfielder was injured.

"This expert said he (Gerrard) cannot play on the left but he is playing with the national team on the left. He was playing here on the right and scoring 23 goals so Gerrard can play everywhere. It depends on the team.

"I told him before the Sunderland game he was playing in the middle and he was happy. He can help the team and that is the main thing.''

Despite the praise for their first-half performance in the 3-0 win over Sunderland Benitez said his tactics had not changed much. Playing Gerrard in a more orthodox central midfield position is something he has done before this season but Sunday was just one of those days when all the players hit top form.

"With the same tactics we scored more goals than anyone in the Premier League last year and more goals than anyone in England two years ago,'' Benitez said. "It is a question sometimes of accuracy, pass completion or just a little bit of luck.''

Fernando Torres: Liverpool Must Improve Away Form

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has claimed that there is a new spirit in the Reds' dressing room after Sunday's convincing 3-0 win over Sunderland at Anfield.

Rafael Benitez's men have stumbled through a disappointing campaign so far which has seen them exit the Champions League early and drop well out of the race for the Premier League title.

But Torres, who notched a further two goals against the Black Cats, claims that the enjoyment is back in the Reds' football now.

"The main thing is I got my goals because the team is playing really well, giving me good assists," he told his club's official website.

"The second goal by Glen [Johnson] was amazing. We'll keep enjoying and keep scoring - that's my job.

"We have been much better in this last part of the season and now we have six games to play. We have to keep playing like this and make sure we're as strong away as we are at home.

"From the first minute you could see the team was different from the first part of the season."

Liverpool Announce Appointment Of Leading Australian Sports Physician Peter Brukner

Liverpool have announced the appointment of leading Australian sports physician Peter Brukner as head of sports medicine and sports science.

Dr Brukner, who is the current Australian football team doctor, will take up the full-time position after this summer’s World Cup in South Africa.

Managing director Christian Purslow said: "Dr Brukner is recognised across the globe as one of the leading figures in this field.

"He will play a vital, strategic, role in adding a new dimension to our sports medicine and sports science services."

Dr Brukner is the founding partner of Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre in Melbourne, the largest sports medicine clinic in Australia.

He was instrumental in the development and recognition of sports medicine as a specialty in Australia, which culminated in the recent announcement of specialty status by the Minister for Health.

Formerly an Australian Football League (AFL) club doctor with Melbourne and Collingwood, Dr Brukner looked after various Australian national teams including swimming, athletics and hockey.

He has been Australian team doctor at Olympic and Commonwealth Games as well as numerous World Championships.

He is the co-author of the best selling sports medicine text book, Clinical Sports Medicine.

"The appointment is an indication of the high regard in which Australian sports medicine is held throughout the world", said Dr Brukner, who will spend the next month at Liverpool observing the set up before returning to Melbourne in May to help prepare the Socceroos for the World Cup.

"The prospect of working at one of the world’s great sporting clubs is very exciting and once the World Cup is over I will be devoting all my energies to improving the performance of the team."

Cascarino: Torres Wasted In Mediocre Liverpool Side

Former Chelsea FC and Aston Villa star Tony Cascarino believes Fernando Torres is wasted in the current Liverpool FC side and suggests the Spaniard could well leave Anfield in the summer.

The prolific Spaniard scored his 40th goal in 41 Anfield appearances for Liverpool FC during their 3-0 win over Sunderland on Sunday, and the ex-Aston Villa and Chelsea FC forward believes Rafa Benitez must sign a host of big-name players in the summer or Torres should leave the club.

Liverpool FC are currently embroiled in a four-way fight for a position in the top four this season alongside Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, and Cascarino claims Torres is too good to spend another season at Anfield without new recruits.

In his Times column, this week titled ‘Torres wasted in mediocre Liverpool side’ the former Aston Villa and Chelsea striker writes: “Fernando Torres says he’s staying at Liverpool next season? I’m sceptical.”

“Anyway, I don’t think he should unless the club signs a number of big players in the summer.”

“He’s too good to spend another season wasted in an average Liverpool team.”

“At least playing Dirk Kuyt up front with Torres and sacrificing Lucas Leiva was a step in the right direction on Sunday.”