Sunday, December 26, 2010

Premier League Preview: Blackpool vs Liverpool

Blackpool are looking to do a league double over Liverpool this season, and if they are successful it will be the first time they have achieved such a feat since 1947. Holloway’s men beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in October with Charlie Adam and Luke Varney getting themselves on the score sheet to seal a momentous victory.

This will be the Reds’ first visit to Bloomfield Road for 30 years but they will be lifted by the history they have in this fixture, they have met 42 times with Liverpool just edging the battles with 19 wins compared to Blackpool’s 14.

Last weekend Blackpool’s home clash against Tottenham was postponed due to the adverse weather conditions, as was Liverpool’s home clash with Fulham, so neither side have played for a fortnight and they will be desperate that this match survives the arctic temperatures.

Bloomfield Road has suffered with the conditions already this season and the Spurs match was the second postponement of the season. The club has no undersoil heating at the ground so unless the wintry weather abates this game could be another victim of the big freeze.

Team News


Blackpool have no new injury worries for the visit of Liverpool, however Ian Holloway is still without first choice goalkeeper Matt Gilks with a knee injury, and joint leading goal scorer Marlon Harewood with a hamstring problem.

Fringe players Louis Almond (shoulder), Chris Basham (broken leg) and Billy Clarke (ACL Knee) are all long term absentees but Malaury Martin should be ready to return from his knee injury in the New Year. Ian Holloway could be tempted to call on midfielder Keith Southern to add a bit of bite to his midfield for this match, with David Vaughan potentially making way.

Potential Starting XI: Kingson; Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Taylor-Fletcher, Grandin, Southern, Adam, Varney; Campbell


Liverpool hope to welcome back captain Steven Gerrard after a month out with a hamstring injury he sustained on international duty. And after being rested for their Europa League clash with FC Utrecht Fernando Torres should also return to the starting line-up as The Reds go in search of only their second away win of the season.

Roy Hodgson will again be without Jamie Carragher who is a long term absentee after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the defeat against Tottenham at the end of November. So, Greek defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos is expected to partner Martin Skrtel at the heart of the Liverpool defence.

Potential Starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky; Lucas, Meireles; Kuyt, Gerrard, Maxi; Torres

Hodgson Hopes Fernando Torres Can Improve Liverpool's Away Form

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is hoping that striker Fernando Torres can help the team set right their travel sickness.

The Reds have been woeful on their trips away from Merseyside this term, since they have won only one of their nine league games to date. And six defeats among them has seen the side having to remain in mid-table as the halfway point in the season approaches.

Now the former Fulham manager is hoping that he is not faced with a sight he so often faced at his former club - the away day hoodoo - and is counting on the Spaniard to deliver at Blackpool.

"The important thing is your players keep getting in the right positions and if we can keep getting Fernando into areas where he can score goals he will score goals," Hodgson told reporters.

"We have had our chances, we have created the danger but we have not converted as many of those occasions as we should have done and it is something we have worked on.

"The players are very aware of it because we do have goalscorers in the team and have one of Europe's best in Fernando Torres.

"He does not need reminding of when he misses a goal chance because I bet he can remember every chance he has missed over the last three to four months because they stay with people."

Liverpool Enter Race To Sign Wolfsburg Striker Edin Dzeko

Liverpool are trying to put a deal together to sign Edin Dzeko, the Wolfsburg striker, but fear they will not be able to match Manchester City’s spending power.

The Bosnia striker, 24, has a €40million (£34 million) release clause in his contract, which expires in 2013, and Wolfsburg hope that City’s interest will help them receive a figure as close to that as possible.

Wolfsburg had hoped to keep Dzeko until the summer but after a poor start to the season under Steve McClaren — they are 13th in the Bundesliga and out of the cup — they are prepared to let their star player go. Wolfsburg, who won the title in 2009 with Dzeko as top scorer, are open to Liverpool’s suggestion of taking players in part-exchange, with Ryan Babel and Daniel Agger the German club’s preferred options.

City have confirmed they have been in dialogue with Wolfsburg and it is understood they wanted to put Emmanuel Adebayor into a deal in part-exchange. Adebayor, however, does not want to move to the Bundesliga.

A deal for Dezko would be the biggest of what is set up to be a frenetic transfer window. It opens on Jan 1 and one senior club executive said, “I have never seen anything like it at this time of year. There are agents aggressively pushing players and sometimes several different agents all working for the same player.”

With some agencies understood to be in financial difficulty, and several clubs, especially on the continent, needing to sell to stave off financial pressure, there is value in a market which has previously proved a poor time to spend.

Liverpool Offer Inter Milan Ryan Babel And Dirk Kuyt For Davide Santon

Liverpool are in talks with Inter Milan over young right back Davide Santon.

And according to itasportpress, after an initial €10 million bid was rejected by Inter, Liverpool has now offered to throw in Ryan Babel and Dirk Kuyt as part of the deal.

19-year-old Santon is a multi-skilled full-back, who can also play on both flanks or in central midfield.

He is tall and strong, while also possessing good pace and excellent technical ability. He can use either foot to cross, pass and shoot.

He has already won six caps for Italy and is deemed a hot prospect for the national team.

Santon, who has also been linked with Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea, is contracted to Inter Milan until 2014.

Liverpool Contact Bordeaux Left-Back Benoit Tremoulinas

Liverpool have contacted Girondins Bordeaux left-back Benoit Tremoulinas with a view to bringing the Frenchman to Anfield in the January transfer window, according to French sources.

Tremoulinas, a product of Bordeaux's youth system, is a very combative full-back, with good technique, speed and vision.

Although yet to win his first cap for France, he has been touted as the successor to Bixente Lizarazu for both club and country.

The 24-year-old has also been linked with Arsenal, Juventus FC Torino and Bayern Munchen.

Cassano Snubs Premier League Suitors

Antonio Cassano will shun the Premier League's top clubs and join AC Milan this week.

Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham have been on red-alert since October when the striker had a row with Sampdoria president Riccardo Garrone.

The 28-year-old has not featured for the Serie A club since the falling out and was a target for a number of the Premier League's top clubs.

However, the controversial former Bari player has opted for a move to the San Siro and that could signal the end of Ronaldinho's time under Massimiliano Allegri.

The flamboyant Brazilian could now become a target for the Premier League clubs originally interested in Cassano as the January transfer merry-go-round builds momentum.

Jamie Carragher Is A 'Nothing', Says Blackburn's El-Hadji Diouf

According to The Sun, the Senegal international has a built-up resentment towards Carragher stemming back to their Liverpool days and further inflamed by comments made by the Englishman about Diouf in his autobiography.

Diouf is quoted as saying: "If Liverpool had 10 players like Carragher, then they would never win anything.

"Carragher, for me, is nothing. He's like a make of ketchup or mustard to a normal person, not important.

"I played for Liverpool for two years and Carragher never spoke to me. That's life, some people are like that.

"We didn't have a team at Liverpool. We had the English somewhere and the French boys somewhere. If it's like that you can do nothing together.

"Carragher is just a guy who loves to talk. But Carragher doesn't sell papers, Carragher doesn't sell shirts.

"When I played at Liverpool, Carragher could have talked to me then - but he didn't.

"He was jealous of me - that's why he talked about me. Because when I came to Liverpool I earned more than him and I was a bigger name than him.

"I took my country to the World Cup and to the finals of the African Nations Cup.

"So Carragher can't criticize me because, to me, he has done nothing with his life."

No Reds Return For Rafa

Liverpool's new owners have made clear there will be no emotional return to the club for Rafa Benitez.

The Spanish coach has returned to his home on Merseyside after being sacked less than six months into his reign at Inter Milan.

Already some Reds fans are calling for the Champions League-winning boss to be brought back by the new regime, after being sacked by the previous owners in June.

But John Henry and Tom Werner, the men behind NESV, who completed a takeover of Liverpool two months ago, have privately indicated there is no way back for Benitez.

Both owners have a good relationship with current manager Roy Hodgson and publicly defended him when asked about his job by supporters on a TV question-and-answer session.