Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Liverpool Look To End Away Day Blues At Spurs

Midfielder Christian Poulsen knows Liverpool have to address their problems away from home - starting at Tottenham this weekend - if they are to mount a sustained challenge to get back into the top four.

Their record on the road is woeful, having taken just five points from a possible 21 away in the Barclays Premier League this season. However, it is a problem which has affected the team for some time as they have won only twice outside Anfield in the league since December 29.

"Tottenham will be a completely different game," said Poulsen. "We watched them against Arsenal (when they came from behind to win 3-2) and they played really well.

"The league is a little bit crazy at the moment and everyone is beating each other. We have to be 110% for the game in London to get something. I really hope that we can be better away, starting at Tottenham, but we have got to keep working on that. It will be a big test."

He added: "It's not only Liverpool who have had problems away, a lot of the teams are picking up their points at home."

Poulsen, who admits he has struggled to adjust to the Barclays Premier League after his summer move from Juventus, believes the team are improving after their early difficulties.

"As a team, we need to know where we are going," he said.

"It is a long season and I'm pretty sure that we are going to have to get better and better from game to game.

"I hope that we will end up in a higher position than we are now.

"The more I think about the team performance (against West Ham on Saturday) the more I think we are still in that developing stage.

"We know ourselves that we have got to be better and better."

Glen Johnson Pleased To Be Back In The Running For Champions League Spot

Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson has expressed his delight that his side has seemingly come through their sticky start to the season and are now in contention for European places in the Premier League.

After one win in their first eight games, it looked bleak for the Merseysiders, but a sharp increase in form, sparked by Fernando Torres, has seen them shoot up the league and is now just six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.

Johnson told Sky Sports News: "We are still quite close to the top and, if we can keep going, then I'm sure we can be close to where we want to be.

"It surprises me that we are within sight of fourth place when you consider some of the points we have dropped."

Liverpool Want To Offload Ryan Babel To Tottenham If Ashley Young Deal Fails

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is reportedly determined to sell Ryan Babel in order to increase his purchasing power with Tottenham earmarked as a possible destination for him.

Although the Anfield club is finally under new ownership, it remains unclear as to how much money Hodgson will have to spend on strengthening his squad. He may be forced to sell fringe players and Ryan Babel is apparently the first name on the list.

The 23-year-old Dutchman has never been a regular first eleven player at Anfield since moving to Liverpool in 2007. He looked to be on his way out last season, but performed well during the second half of the campaign. Under Roy Hodgson though, Babel has made only five brief appearances for the Reds as a substitute in the Premier League.

There has already been speculation that Liverpool will look to use Babel as a makeweight in order to bring Aston Villa winger Ashley Young to Anfield. However, Villa boss Gerard Houllier appears adamant that Young will stay.

In the meantime, Dutch publication Elf Voetbal reports that if Babel cannot be used in a deal for Young, then Liverpool will approach Tottenham about taking the Dutchman to White Hart Lane. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is reported to have previously made an enquiry about Babel's availability.

Liverpool's Wing Wizard Target Admits Desire To Move

Liverpool target Charles N’Zogbia has revealed he sees current club Wigan only as a ‘stepping stone’ and expects to move on soon.

N’Zogbia was linked with Birmingham during the summer but the Blues baulked at Wigan’s asking price and the Frenchman has gone on to become the Latics’ best player this season.

Liverpool has identified the left wing position as a priority for the January transfer window, with new signing Milan Jovanovic not pulling up any trees so far.

And, with Damian Comolli being appointing as Liverpool’s director of football strategy, it seems likely a number of French players will be moving to Anfield.

Liverpool will be boosted after the comments by N’Zogbia but Marseille will provide competition for Hodgson’s men.

“Wigan’s just a stepping stone. They know very well I’m not a player who is going to stay at the club,” N’Zogbia told the Daily Star.

“I give 100 per cent on the pitch, but, if there’s a bigger club that wants me, the manager and the president have always told me the door is open for discussion.”

Asked about a move back to France with Marseille, N’Zogbia stated it was “not something you refuse.”

Liverpool Set To Swoop For England International Defender

Ryan Shawcross could be leaving Stoke for Liverpool after it emerged manager Tony Pulis is keen on Uruguay World Cup defender Mauricio Victorino.

The 28-year-old currently plays for Universidad de Chile in South America but is keen on a move to the Premier League.

And while Potters fans will be excited by the prospect of a World Cup semi-finalist at their club, supporters’ groups may not be so enamoured with losing star man Shawcross as a result.

The centre-back, 23, has been linked with Liverpool for several months, as well as Spurs and even a return to former club Manchester United, but it seems Roy Hodgson is heading the current queue.

However, Shawcross’ move depends on Pulis being able to draft in Victorino – or an alternative central defender – as cover in January.

The Uruguyan is highly-rated by several Premier League scouts and his price-tag is unlikely to be a stumbling block, given the finances available to the Stoke boss next year.

The club are desperate to retain their top-flight status and would be more than willing to sanction a £2million move for Victorino.

The only concern is Victorino’s stature – he’s 5ft 9in, which is considered to be very much on the short side for a defender in England.

Jamie Redknapp Urges Liverpool Bosses To Sign Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema reportedly wants out of Real Madrird and Jamie Redknapp is urging Anfield owners to purchase the 22-year-old Frenchman.

Benzema wowed the English crowd last week when he scored for France against England at Wembley last week. Such a performance has prompted Redknapp to urge the Reds to go after the young striker.

"Liverpool needs a striker and they should look no further than Karim Benzema," the former Liverpool midfielder wrote in the Daily Mail. "He played this game like it was his personal audition. He's started only one league game for Real Madrid this season and we could all see that he is better than that. Benzema enjoyed his night and put on a bit of a show.

"The new Anfield owners have their first challenge: sign him," he added.

Benzema joined Real for around $47 million (€30 million) but could reportedly be available to Liverpool at closer to $19 million (€12 million).

Pacheco Nets In Derby Draw

Liverpool Reserves maintained their three-point lead over Everton at the top of the Barclays Premier Reserve League after the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the mini derby on Tuesday night.

Dani Pacheco's wonderful solo effort capped an impressive start by the Reds on 21 minutes, but the Blues quickly drew level through Victor Anichebe's close-range finish in an end-to-end encounter.

The contest remained open in the second half, but chances proved much more difficult to come by and both sides were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

Liverpool had lost just one of their opening eight league matches - at home to West Ham last month - to ensure they found themselves perched at the top of the table heading into the clash.

And boss John McMahon named a strong starting XI as they endeavored to build on their impressive opening to 2010-11.

A week on from making a goalscoring debut for Scotland, Danny Wilson was deployed in the centre of defence, while there were also starts for Pacheco and Nathan Eccleston.

But the Blues also fielded several players with first-team experience, including Anichebe, Shane Duffy and Jose Baxter, ensuring an intriguing encounter awaited those gathered inside the Stobart Stadium.

The hosts made a strong start to the contest and Martin Hansen was tested twice inside the opening 90 seconds, first through Kieran Agard and then Jose Baxter, but the Reds' stopper was equal to the efforts on both occasions.

It was certainly a frenetic beginning to the evening in Widnes and only a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Jake Bidwell prevented Eccleston from a clear strike on goal after Pacheco's fine through-ball had sent the forward bounding down on Iain Turner.

Liverpool had seemingly weathered Everton's early onslaught and, with Pacheco pulling the strings in a central role, set about taking the game to their neighbours.

It was no surprise, therefore, that it should be the diminutive Spaniard who opened the scoring on 21 minutes.

Collecting Gerardo Bruna's quick-thinking free-kick just inside the box, Pacheco danced around Duffy before delightfully scooping the ball over Turner from a tight angle.

With Reds fans still sounding their appreciation, Eccleston then unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty after being sent crashing to the turf by the Blues 'keeper when play re-started.

But Everton drew level against the run of play after Agard punished a moment of hesitancy from Emmanuel Mendy on the left by supplying a low cross for Anichebe to turn over the line on the slide.

The Blues almost took the lead just shy of the half-hour mark when Hansen initially flapped at Magaye Gueye's corner, but recovered well to thwart Agard when a goal appeared inevitable.

The Danish custodian was needed to push the ball around the post moments later after Wilson had inadvertently deflected Nathan Craig's cross towards his own goal following a speedy Everton counter-attack.

Momentum was now back with the home side, and Anichebe's stinging low drive required Hansen to execute a flying one-handed stop as half-time loomed.

There had barely been time to draw breath in a pulsating first 45 in Widnes, and the second half started with a similar intensity as Gueye headed Luke Garbutt's cross straight at Hansen when unmarked.

Mendy spurned a headed opportunity of his own when the defender nodded Pacheco's dangerous corner wide, but Everton hit back and Gueye's stinging drive brought a flying stop out of the Reds' 'keeper.

McMahon was forced into a change on 55 minutes as Michael Ngoo replaced the injured Amoo - and the U18s striker almost made an immediate impact as he cannoned Eccleston's pass against the outside of the post.

Anichebe clipped a free-kick inches wide with time beginning to ebb away, but opportunities were beginning to prove more and more elusive - though substitute Conor McAleny was millimetres away from netting for the Blues when he steered wide from close quarters.

With five minutes left on the clock, Pacheco danced his way into the box before curling the wrong side of the upright prior to Wilson heading off target from a corner.

The Scot then pulled off a fantastic block to frustrate Agard after the Everton striker had found a yard of space inside the box following a rare slip by the Liverpool defender, meaning the two teams would have to make do with a point apiece.