Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Match Report: Chelsea 0 - 2 Liverpool

Craig Bellamy steered Liverpool into the Carling Cup semi-finals to heap further pressure on under-fire Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Bellamy's pinpoint delivery set up second-half goals for Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly as the Reds took a step closer to winning their first silverware since 2006.

It completed an emotional return for Bellamy, who had been omitted from the squad for Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City on compassionate grounds following the death of close friend Gary Speed.

The 32-year-old Wales winger provided the spark of creativity Liverpool needed to defeat toothless opposition who were prone to erratic defending.

The ineffectual Andy Carroll, who started at Stamford Bridge, missed a first-half penalty while Chelsea should have been awarded a clear spot-kick after just two minutes.

Villas-Boas will be disappointed by the poor defending that led to both goals and hastened Chelsea's third defeat in four matches, a sequence spanning just 10 days.

The Portuguese is now in a precarious position, with his future certain to attract fresh scrutiny as the Blues continue to flounder under his guidance.

Adding to Villas-Boas' woes was the performance of anonymous £50million striker Fernando Torres, who was a peripheral figure against his former club.

Kenny Dalglish has now never lost to Chelsea as Liverpool manager in 13 meetings, but that record would have been more seriously challenged had referee Phil Dowd not blundered in the third minute.

David Luiz had dashed into the area but just as he appeared to have rounded Sebastian Coates, he was caught by the Uruguayan's knee and tumbled over.

Dowd was unimpressed, however, and booked Luiz for diving.

Alex clattered into Bellamy in a feisty opening that soon settled down as both teams sought to pass their way into the final third.

Dowd did point to the penalty spot in the 21st minute and it was Liverpool who were the beneficiaries.

Alex blatantly handled the ball while under pressure from Carroll and Dowd hesitated before awarding the kick and booking the Chelsea defender.

Carroll, who had protested fiercely to Dowd, stepped up only to drill his effort straight at Ross Turnbull, allowing the Blues to wriggle off the hook.

Chelsea twice passed their way out of trouble in their own third of the pitch, but the same patterns were missing in the opposition's penalty area.

The limping Josh McEachran was replaced by Ramires in the 42nd minute, moments before Florent Malouda almost connected with a dangerous through-ball.

Dowd made another mistake by booking Ryan Bertrand for a nasty challenge on Jordan Henderson when it was Romelu Lukaku who caught the midfielder on the shin with his studs.

Lukaku then sent a header narrowly wide after being expertly teed up by Jose Bosingwa.

Bellamy almost released Carroll after dashing clear from his own half, but he overhit the pass and England marksman had no chance of connecting.

Lampard sent in a free-kick that caused panic in Liverpool's defence, with first the crossbar and then Coates coming to their rescue.

Luiz stopped Rodriguez in his tracks with a wonderful tackle as the former Argentina international charged into the area.

But Liverpool and Rodriguez could not be denied in the 58th minute when Liverpool surged into the lead.

Bellamy did the initial damage with a killer ball across goal - perhaps Luiz should have done more to prevent the pass - for Rodriguez to complete a simple tap-in.

Liverpool's large and noisy travelling contingent were back on their feet five minutes later as Liverpool grabbed a second.

Once more Bellamy supplied the ammunition - this time from a free-kick - and Kelly was given all the time in the world to nod home his first goal for the club.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas was stretchered off after going down in a tackle.

Torres was denied by the outstretched arms of keeper Pepe Reina, the Spain striker's most meaningful contribution to a match that had largely passed him by.

Bellamy left to a richly deserved standing ovation from visiting fans, who had earlier taunted Villas-Boas by chanting "you're getting sacked in the morning".

Lucas Awaits Knee Scan

Lucas Leiva is to undergo a scan following the knee injury he suffered against Chelsea, according to Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish.

Lucas, 24, has been one of Liverpool's best performers this season but was stretchered off in the Carling Cup quarter-final victory over Chelsea following a challenge with Ryan Bertrand and now requires a scan.

"He's damaged his knee," Dalglish said. "We don't know what it is. We'll get him looked at and take it from there.

"We don't know what it is so rather than speculate we are best waiting until we get the proper diagnosis tomorrow or the next day and we'll let everybody know in due course. He needs to get it scanned."

Any injury setback to Lucas is a blow given Liverpool's impressive form and a lack of cover for their defensive midfielder.

Dalglish Hails Bellamy

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish praised Craig Bellamy following the Welsh forward's inspirational performance in his side's 2-0 victory over Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter-final.

Bellamy returned to action little more than 48 hours after being withdrawn from the squad for Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester City on compassionate grounds.

The 32-year-old was mourning the loss of friend and compatriot Gary Speed and stood with his head bowed during the minute's applause held at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in remembrance of the Wales manager.

Bellamy set up the goals for Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly in the second half as Chelsea were swept aside.

"Craig is a fantastic footballer who had a hugely disappointing day on Sunday," said Dalglish. "He regarded Gary Speed as a mentor.

"It was great for the wee man, making the first goal. For the second he took the free-kick. He told Martin to leave it, it was going in!

"I don't know if we took Chelsea apart but we were delighted with the way we played. We've had a good day and we deserved to go through."

Dalglish took a swipe at competition organizers for the scheduling of matches that forced Liverpool to play two games in three days.

"The way we're progressing is more significant than reaching the semi-final of a cup that's been cheapened by the actions of the people who run it," he said.

"But that doesn't mean to say we wouldn't love to win it. We've got our reward and we'll look forward to the next game.

"Three teams in the quarter-finals have problems with fixtures. Do us a favour.

"I'm not clever but I think I could have avoided that. The solution is to get someone a brain."

Ghanaian Lands Trial With Liverpool

Liverpool are set to hand a trial to New Edubiase United’s 18-year-old Mumuni Abubakar.

The young Ghanaian, who is due to arrive in Liverpool in December, is the captain for his club and has recently been handed the armband for the Ghana Under-20 tour in Italy.

“It sounds too good to be true for many but this a letter signed Liverpool Director of Football Damien Comolli,” Fifa agent Oliver Arthur told

“Mumuni is one of the emerging talents in the Glo Premier League and in the match against the senior side of Parma, he was highly impressive.”

“We at Arthurlegacy said the trip to Italy will open doors and this is just the beginning. Apart from the exposure, our boys can earn moves to big clubs where they can learn.”

Abubakar was named last season’s Ghana Premier League Most Valuable Player and the promising midfielder will have a great chance to impress the coaching staff at the Liverpool Academy.

Agent Claims Liverpool & Arsenal Have Joined Race For Eduardo Vargas

The agent of Eduardo Vargas has revealed that Liverpool and Arsenal are the latest clubs interested in securing the services of the 22-year-old Chile international.

The English teams will have to fight off AC Milan and Inter in the race for the Universidad de Chile forward who is considered one of the hottest properties in South American football.

His representatives claimed over the weekend that Inter have already tabled an offer for the player.

The news came hot on the heels of speculation that Milan was also preparing a bid. Now, Vargas’ representative has claimed that some of the Premier League’s finest are also in pursuit.

"We're talking to clubs like AC Milan, Inter, Liverpool, Arsenal and others," agent Diego Cativa told Super Vasco.

Cativa was also keen to talk up his client’s talents and described Vargas as "better than Neymar".

The agent also spoke of the youngster's importance to his side, claiming: "It is as if the team has three players instead of one [when Vargas plays]."

Vargas, who has been capped nine times by his country, has been in sensational form this season for Universidad and is considered a major contender for the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award.

Dutch Winger Emerges As Surprise Liverpool Target

Liverpool has been linked with a somewhat surprising move for Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe, who is currently on loan with Everton.

The Dutchman joined the Toffees on deadline day and will remain at Goodison Park for the remainder of the season at least.

Everton retain an option to buy Drenthe at the end of his temporary agreement, but Liverpool may reportedly move to scupper any proposed deal.

According to The Guardian, Liverpool are prepared to negotiate directly with Real in order to keep the 24-year-old out of the clutches of their city rivals.

Should Kenny Dalglish formalize his alleged interest in Drenthe, Liverpool is likely to have more negotiating power than Everton, having demonstrated their sizeable financial clout in the summer.

Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Alexander Doni, Jose Enrique, Sebastian Coates and Craig Bellamy all moved to Anfield during the transfer window to the tune of over £50 million.

Kelly Jokes About Bet With Spearing After Scoring Against Chelsea

Liverpool defender Martin Kelly has joked on Twitter that he and midfielder Jay Spearing had a bet over who would score their first senior goal for the club.

The tweet came after Kelly scored the Reds' second goal in their 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the League Cup quarter-final on Tuesday evening.

The 21-year-old tweeted: “Written in the stars, I apologize to jay speo as he owes me money from a bet we had for first senior goal.”

Kenny Dalglish’s men snatched their second victory over Chelsea in under a fortnight after their 2-1 Premier League victory.

Craig Bellamy, who was absent from Liverpool’s draw in the Premier League with Manchester City on Sunday, made an emotional return to the starting line-up, following the death of friend Gary Speed.

But the Welshman was in fantastic form, terrorizing the Blues defence and setting up both goals.

First, Bellamy squared for Maxi Rodriguez to tap into an empty net, while the second was a beautifully flighted free-kick which Kelly rose to head past Ross Turnbull in the home side’s goal.

Kelly has been kept out of the starting line-up by an in-form Glen Johnson for much of this campaign, but will be hoping his assured performance against Chelsea will remind Kenny Dalglish that he is still fighting for a spot in the first XI.

Sebastian Coates Thanks Suarez For Helping Him Adjust To Life In England

Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates has thanked Luis Suarez for helping him to settle in to life in England after moving to Anfield last summer, describing the striker as his 'big brother'.

The 21-year-old joined from Nacional and has revealed his fellow Uruguayan Suarez encouraged him to make the step of leaving his homeland.

"He is like a bigger brother, not like a father," Coates told "I appreciate very much all the help he has given me since I've been here.

"I'm not sure if he persuaded me to come - he encouraged me. He told me about life in Liverpool, at Liverpool Football Club. He also told me what a great club Liverpool was in Europe and England but I knew that.

"I'm settling in very well. I'm getting used to the city, getting used to the people and getting used to English football. I've had the help of Lucas and Luis and Maxi [Rodriguez]. That helps me very much.

"It is difficult but when I started my career as a footballer I was aware there was a possibility I'd have to move to play football in a different country. You have to adapt and make the best of a situation like this.

"For myself and my family, the most difficult thing is the language. We're trying to learn English as quickly as possible so we can improve our quality of life in this country.

“The other thing is the weather - but I came here to play football, not for the weather."

He added: "I think I've done well so far. We've won the matches I've played in but I've got lots of time in which to learn, and I am learning, little by little.

"The other centre-backs have treated me well and helped me very much. We have a very healthy competition between us because, logically, a player always wants to play football but they've given me a lot of advice. I've been able to learn a lot from them.

"I hope to play many games for Liverpool and do very well for the club. I hope I'll stay here a long time and contribute much to Liverpool Football Club.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

League Cup Match Preview: Chelsea vs Liverpool

Chelsea seek to avenge the Barclays Premier League defeat to Liverpool when the two sides take on each other in a Carling Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is set to make changes to his team for the game – with Fernando Torres expected to be handed a start against his former side after sitting on the bench the last time the two sides met.

Villas-Boas could also be tempted to give his young striker Romelu Lukaku a rare start in the game as well.

Chelsea, although not giving up on winning the league title, believes the Carling Cup is definitely within reach.

“This year we’ve looked at it as a trophy for us to win,” Chelsea assistant manager Roberto Di Matteo said.

“It’s a chance to win a cup. It can give a very positive momentum if you win a trophy in that part of the season.

“It’s the first one we can win and we are still in all the competitions, so we have a chance to win them all.

“In terms of the manager, winning a trophy is always very important.”

Liverpool is coming off a energetic 1-1 draw against Manchester City in league on Sunday, while Chelsea cruised past Wolves 3-0 and manager Kenny Dalglish will for sure rest some players.

“48 hours is a bit irresponsible for the people who’ve organised the dates of the matches. It’s not just us, it’s Man City,” Dalglish said on Liverpool official website.

“To ask any team or any players to play two games of high intensity in 48 hours is a bit of a joke.

“I don’t know why the PFA don’t come in and say something about it – it’s their players. For me it’s difficult to understand why they don’t come out and say something. Or do they agree with it?

This means that Dalglish could start the likes of Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly, Maxi Rodriguez and Andy Carroll.

Craig Bellamy is also expected to start after missing Sunday’s game following the death of his close pal Gary Speed.

Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 when the team’s met on Nov. 20.

Match Report: Liverpool 1 - 1 Manchester City

Ten-man Manchester City survived a serious examination of their title credentials to extend their unbeaten Barclays Premier League record to 13 matches at Anfield.

Had it not been for goalkeeper Joe Hart the visitors may have tasted a league defeat for the first time since May 7.

They barely had time to celebrate Vincent Kompany's 31st-minute opener before Charlie Adam's shot was deflected in by Joleon Lescott.

In the second half substitute Mario Balotelli lasted 18 minutes before being sent off for a second bookable offence and had England international Hart not been on top form City would have succumbed to sustained Liverpool pressure in the final 20 minutes.

Having coasted serenely through the domestic campaign, scoring goals at will, this was the first time this season Roberto Mancini's side had failed to score more than once in a league match.

Credit must go to Liverpool who, after a slow start, enhanced their own reputation as genuine top-four contenders with a second-half performance which produced everything but a winning goal.

City may have previously won only once at Anfield in the last 30 years - and that in May 2003 - but they played the first half like they were the home team.

They passed the ball around with consummate ease, as they have done all season, with both Samir Nasri and David Silva threading threatening balls down the side of the two centre-backs.

Liverpool tried to employ the same high, pressing tactics which were so effective in last week's victory at Chelsea and it worked to some degree.

For all City's neat triangles and movement off the ball they did not really threaten and the closest they came was when they were gifted an opportunity by Jose Enrique's backpass.

The Spaniard was obviously unsighted when he rolled a ball too close to Sergio Aguero but Jose Reina raced 15 yards out of his penalty area to first block and then, after the ball rebounded off the Argentinian back onto his arm, clear.

Aguero was doing his best to unlock what is becoming an increasingly frugal Liverpool defence and he twisted past Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger with ease on the left of the area but bamboozled himself and lost balance.

Ironically, considering the silky attacking skills at their disposal, the visitors took a 31st-minute lead from an old-fashioned corner routine.

Silva swung in a left-footed cross and centre-back Kompany glanced a header into the far corner after marker Dirk Kuyt and Glen Johnson got in each other's way.

That is usually the key for Mancini's side to go into attacking overdrive but within two minutes they found themselves pegged back as indecision and a bad decision cost them.

Kompany's weak clearance dropped to Kuyt who squared for Adam to unleash a left-footed drive which was heading wide until Lescott tried to clear and succeeded only in diverting past Hart.

If he was helpless to stop that shot the England goalkeeper showed his quality as he stuck out a leg to brilliantly divert Adam's right-footed shot over.

Suddenly the momentum was with the Reds and Johnson, last week's match-winner, flashed a left-footed shot past Hart's right-hand post.

Reina saved low from Aguero in first-half added time but the open football continued after the break as Stewart Downing's cross ballooned up off Kompany and Kuyt's diving header missed the target.

The languid, measured play of the first half had been replaced by a more frenetic approach after the break, evidenced by Hart's hurried punch to Downing's cross.

Hart did better with his England team-mate's shot into the turf from Adam's corner, tipping over just as the ball was about to dip under the crossbar.

The increasingly manic atmosphere hardly needed enhancing but the arrival of Balotelli for Nasri did exactly that.

Right on cue the Italian produced a comedic stumble, a fraction of a second after Skrtel had slipped trying to reach the ball, just when he was about to burst into the penalty area.

Liverpool had steadily grown more comfortable over the course of the game and they had the momentum entering the final 20 minutes.

Enrique and Downing shot wide before Balotelli's propensity for getting himself in trouble surfaced late on.

Having been booked for pulling back Johnson, he was shown a second yellow card for catching Skrtel across the face.

Hart kept his side in it with another good save at his near post from Luis Suarez before Silva over-complicated things in Liverpool's area having beaten Reina and Skrtel cleared off the line.

But Hart was the one being worked the hardest and another brilliant one-handed save from Andy Carroll's header in added time preserved City's unbeaten start.

Dalglish Sees Encouraging Signs

Kenny Dalglish believes the nature of Liverpool's performances against both Manchester clubs is an indicator of the headway being made on Merseyside.

Sunday's 1-1 draw against 10-man Manchester City may have been the fourth successive time they have been held at home but that does not really tell the full story.

Having gone behind to Vincent Kompany's 31st-minute goal they equalized within two minutes when Charlie Adam's shot was turned past Joe Hart by Joleon Lescott.

From that point most of the attacking was done by the team in red and when Mario Balotelli was sent off for a second bookable offence just 18 minutes after coming on, the pressure only increased on Roberto Mancini's side.

Had it not been for England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who pulled off a series of good saves, Liverpool would have inflicted City's first Premier League defeat of the season.

It was a similar story just over a month ago when Manchester United were the visitors and although there have been dropped points against Norwich and Swansea in between, manager Dalglish can see the positives.

"We have played both Manchester clubs here now and we have walked away a little bit disappointed we have only take one point off each," said the Scot.

"Maybe that is the mark of the improvements we have made here.

"We are delighted with the way we played and the quality of the performance and with a bit more luck we could have had three points.

"We will play a lot worse than that and get three points."

Dalglish was full of praise for his players who, certainly for the majority of the second half, made City look ordinary - something very few English teams have done this season.

"They had fantastic attitude, commitment, determination and pride in playing for the club and we can't ask for much more than that," he said.

"If you are playing a team the quality of Manchester City you can't afford to have anyone playing below standard.

"I don't think any one of our players could be - or should be - disappointed with their performance.

"If we can continue doing what we are doing then they will get more points than they lose."

Kuyt Confident Reds On Course For Champions League

Dirk Kuyt claims Liverpool's performances against the Premier League's top sides have given the Reds the belief they can regain Champions League football.

Kenny Dalglish's side drew 1-1 with Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday and was unlucky not to be the ones to end the league leaders' unbeaten start to the season. Only the brilliance of England goalkeeper Joe Hart kept the visitors in the game in the second half.

Liverpool have not lost in the league to either City, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal since September 2010 and this season have two wins and two draws from their matches with those teams.

And having beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge the previous weekend Kuyt thinks that gives an indication of the direction the team is heading.

"In my opinion City have so far been the best team in the Premier League so we can take lots of positives from our performance,'' said Kuyt.

"I think if you had said we would take four points from Chelsea away and City at home you would probably have signed up for it - but I think we could have walked away with all six points.

"That's football and we can't blame ourselves. We worked really hard, did everything we could, and we just have to keep going from here.

"The way we have played against the top sides has been fantastic - we beat Arsenal and Chelsea away and I think we deserved more against United and City. We will keep going in this way.

"We have also played well against the other teams and I think the future is bright.

"We are on the way forward. That's what we want and we need to keep going and hopefully we can do enough to qualify for the Champions League at the end of the season.''

Liverpool are now unbeaten in ten matches in all competitions but that will be tested when they return to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday for a Carling Cup quarter-final.

Enrique - Tiredness No Excuse

Jose Enrique insists playing twice in 48 hours can be no excuse if Liverpool are knocked out of the Carling Cup by Chelsea, after manager Kenny Dalglish described the scheduling as 'irresponsible'.

Liverpool drew 1-1 at home with Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday and travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in the cup quarter-final on Tuesday.

Reds boss Dalglish is likely to make several changes for the game and Enrique is disappointed that a compromise regarding the schedule could not be reached.

However, the left-back will not point to fatigue as a reason for any failure to reach the semi-finals and he would be happy to start again in West London.

"If the manager decides I have to play, I play," said Enrique.

"The Premier League and Football League didn't make a good decision.

"We played on Sunday and have to play in another 48 hours, whereas Chelsea played on Saturday. This is not normal. It just happens in England.

"It is no good for us because we play against Chelsea away and it is hard to win, and normally when you play 48 hours after a game you are more tired.

"But there will be no excuses. We can still win there and will try to get that win."

The Premier League was reluctant to bring the league match against City forward because of concerns it would cause major inconvenience to fans at short notice.

Also the Metropolitan Police could not sanction a move to Wednesday because of a Trades Union Congress rally taking place in central London that day and Tottenham's Europa League game at home to PAOK Salonika.

However, Dalglish told Liverpool's official website: "Forty-eight hours is a bit irresponsible for the people who've organized the dates of the matches. It's not just us, it's Man City.

"To ask any team or any players to play two games of high intensity in 48 hours is a bit of a joke.

"I don't know why the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) don't come in and say something about it - it's their players. For me it's difficult to understand why they don't come out and say something. Or do they agree with it?

"We know we've got to accept it although we don't agree with it, and it won't affect the application or give us an excuse.

"There'll be one or two bumps and bruises I would have thought, and maybe one or two missing, but we have a strong squad and we've made changes in other Carling Cup matches."

Liverpool Continue To Be Linked With Bid For Germany Striker

Liverpool have continued to be linked with a move for Manchester City and Arsenal target Marcos Reus, who has been in fantastic form for Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Reds boss Kenny Dalglish watched from the sidelines as Liverpool dominated the second half against table topping Manchester City but were unable to break the deadlock as Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw.

This has seemingly prompted Dalglish to persuade the owners to make the funds available for him to be able to sign the 22-year-old forward has been attracting a lot of interest following a series of impressive performances for Gladbach.

Manchester City and Arsenal have both been linked with a move for some time while Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich have also been keeping tabs on the talented young forward.

Liverpool have started the season well but have thrown away plenty of opportunities with too many draw coming at home as Dalglish has seen his side draw their last four games at Anfield in the league.

Dalglish is reportedly on the look-out for new attacking options and his search has led him to Reus, with the Germany international being in superb form this season.

It is believed that Liverpool would have to offer as much as £15million to try and persuade Gladbach to part with their star striker, but the player certainly fits the new transfer policy of the Reds who are trying to recruit the best young talent.

Liverpool Become Shock Contenders To Sign Man City Striker

Liverpool have reportedly become shock contenders for the signature of Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor as manager Kenny Dalglish looks to bolster his forward line.

The 27-year-old Togo international's career at City appears certainly over having spent the second half of last season on loan at Real Madrid before joining Tottenham on a temporary basis for this campaign.

He has started life brightly at White Hart Lane, scoring five goals and setting up two in nine games. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has made no secret of his desire to sign Adebayor on a permanent deal at the end of this season, but has admitted the club may struggle to finance the move.

However, according to, Dalglish is ready to tempt the former Arsenal striker to Anfield as he looks to bolster his front line.

Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll were both signed during last season's January transfer window, but have so far failed to sparkle as a partnership.

The arrival of Craig Bellamy in the summer for a second spell at the Reds has bolstered their attacking options somewhat, but it is thought Dalglish is keen to make Adebayor the team's number one centre-forward.

City are asking for £15m to make any deal permanent and with Liverpool eager to sign an established marksman to fire them back into the Champions League, it is thought the Reds are prepared to make a competitive offer.

Brazilian Superstars Agent Reveals Interest From Liverpool & Chelsea

The agent of Brazil international midfielder Lucas Moura has revealed that there has been contact from both Liverpool and Chelsea as the Premier League pair attempt to lure the youngster to England.

Lucas is considered one of the hottest properties in South America and has consistently been linked with a move to Europe after becoming a regular for Brazil.

The attacking midfielder has already managed to earn 10 caps for Brazil and has been a in superb form for his club side Sao Paulo where he has scored a total of 12 goals this season.

Now, the 19-year-old's agent has suggested that Liverpool and Chelsea are keen to snap up the talented midfielder, but has warned that it will take a mega offer to land the player.

"Chelsea, Inter Milan and Liverpool have demanded details from me and Sao Paulo knows the situation," Wagner Ribiero told The Sun.

"At the moment they are not interested. Perhaps in the summer they may negotiate but only an enormous offer could change things as I want continuity for the player for a couple of years."

The Premiership duo had been linked with a £15million move for the midfielder in January, but it seems they will have to make a far bigger offer to persuade Lucas to make the move to Europe.

Liverpool Trial For Steaua Stopper

Liverpool are keen on rookie Romanian goalkeeper Valentin Cojocaru according to talkSPORT.

The 16-year-old stopper is widely regarded as one of the brightest young talents to come out of eastern Europe, and is currently on the books at Steaua Bucharest.

Cojocaru has been offered the chance to train with Liverpool at the club's Melwood academy - where Reds boss Kenny Dalglish will ask his team of coaches to determine whether or not the teenager could have a future at Anfield.

The Merseysiders are blessed with great goalkeeping options, with Pepe Reina, Alexander Doni and Brad Jones the three first-choice stoppers vying for the No.1 spot.

And with Peter Gulacsi and Martin Hansen also making a name for themselves in the youth and reserve teams, Cojocaru will face a difficult task in convincing Liverpool he can bring additional value.

Anfield Ace Pleads For Extension

Blackpool loanee Jonjo Shelvey is hoping Liverpool will agree to extend his stay at Bloomfield Road.

The 19-year-old midfielder is enjoying a spell of regular first-team football, chipping in with six goals for the Seasiders.

Having helped Ian Holloway's side cement their place within the promotion-chasing pack in the Npower Championship, Shelvey is eager to see the challenge through, and help Blackpool bounce back to the Barclays Premier League at the first time of asking.

"Blackpool is a good team with good players and I have asked Liverpool if I can stay here for the season," he said in an exclusive interview with Vital Football.

"It is not that far from home and I think we could achieve something - I am really enjoying it here."

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish has high hopes for Shelvey - who has been tipped for a bright future at Anfield. But with competition for places in the Liverpool side stronger than ever, the youngster believes an extended run of games will be more beneficial to his long-term development.

"Obviously I want to break into the Liverpool side," he added. "But I think playing at a good club gives me the best chance of doing that."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Man City

As if a meeting with the Premier League leaders was not difficult enough, Liverpool will be aware that a Manchester City backlash could be on the cards this weekend.

The Reds will head into Sunday's game in positive mood, with a seven-match unbeaten run keeping them within touching distance of the top four.

They will also be fresh, with no European action at Anfield this season meaning there can be no excuses when the Premier League takes centre stage.

Kenny Dalglish has already seen his side overcome Arsenal and Chelsea this term, while only a late equalizer allowed Manchester United to leave Merseyside with something to show for their efforts.

Liverpool can also boast an impressive record against City in recent times, with six wins and two draws taken from their last eight meetings at Anfield.

In fact, the Reds have lost only one of their last 12 top-flight matches against their North West rivals.

Dalglish's men came out on top the last time the two sides locked horns, with Andy Carroll netting twice in a 3-0 victory back in April.

That match represents the last time City failed to score in the league, with 52 goals plundered in 18 games since.

Liverpool are also the last side to score more than two goals against the Blues, with Roberto Mancini's side having shipped just 14 since their forgettable visit to Anfield.

Such fine form has City sat proudly atop of the Premier League table, with 11 victories taken from their opening 12 fixtures this term.

It is, however, abroad that the Blues have struggled, with Mancini's men in danger of slipping out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage.

A 2-1 reversal against Napoli on Tuesday has left their European fate hanging in the balance, with favours now required from elsewhere.

A disappointing showing on Italian soil will have been put to the back of their minds, though, by the time they take to the field on Sunday, with City looking to respond positively to a rare setback.

It could be quite some afternoon on Merseyside, with both sides boasting frontmen in imperious form.

Luis Suarez continues to go from strength to strength for Liverpool, while Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli have been regular sources of goals for City.

Dalglish is likely to keep changes to a minimum as Liverpool attempt to bring some stability to their season.

Defender Jamie Carragher, who returned to the squad for last week's win at Chelsea but could only make the bench, may have to settle for a place among the substitutes again.

Winger Stewart Downing will be pushing for a recall having been dropped last week after starting the first 11 league matches but captain Steven Gerrard is still not fit to return from an ankle infection.

Manchester City have no fresh injury or suspension concerns to contend with, with Balotelli having recovered from a fever, but Mancini is likely to shuffle his pack.

Gareth Barry and Samir Nasri will be pushing for a recall after being left on the bench on Tuesday.

Aguero will also be hoping to start, with a cameo appearance in Naples suggesting he is over a slight knock and ready to lead the line.

Micah Richards will be another hoping to get the nod against the Reds after being omitted from Mancini's midweek European plans.

Possible starting XIs:

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Kuyt, Adam, Lucas, Downing, Carroll, Suarez.

Man City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, De Jong, Barry, Toure, Silva, Balotelli, Aguero.

Dalglish Facing Testing Questions

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish knows he has some tough calls to make as he seeks to end Manchester City's unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

The Scot is not averse to effecting a seemingly random change to what appears an established team, often with some degree of success.

He did so last weekend when Maxi Rodriguez marked his first league start of the season with a goal in the win at Chelsea but this Sunday the calculations are likely to be even trickier.

Craig Bellamy was also recalled to the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge and will be desperate to face the club he left in the summer but waiting in the wings are multi-million pound substitutes like Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson.

Dalglish will make his selection knowing just over 48 hours after the final whistle at Anfield he will have to send out another side for a Carling Cup quarter-final at Chelsea.

But his primary focus will be on picking the right team to face City in a fixture which saw £35million striker Carroll score his first two goals for his new club as the Reds won 3-0 in April.

As good as that display was, it will have no bearing on the team which takes the field at the weekend.

"You take into account what is happening at the moment," said the Scot.

"Andy scored two great goals against them last year but we got our reward for that and so did Andy.

"But that is not to say because he scored two last year he will do the same this year - you are giving yourself a bit of a problem if you think that's you finished.

"We will start afresh, Andy included, for the game on Sunday and if we can repeat the same result everyone will be happy.

"Almost every week we say we are happy with the strength of the squad and there are many examples of when that is reflected in the team selection and the results they have got.

"It is no surprise to us so I don't see why it should be a surprise for anyone else.

"We have a strong squad who has been a credit to themselves and the club."

Carroll has scored three goals this season, two in the league, but his demotion to the bench last weekend was not a reflection of his form.

"I went on record as saying Stoke (the Carling Cup win) and West Brom were his two best games for us and I don't think we were too far away in those," added Dalglish.

Bellamy has hardly put a foot wrong since rejoining the club in the summer but he has had to mostly resign himself to the role of impact substitute.

On his first start he scored against former club Norwich and last weekend he was involved in Rodriguez's important opening goal.

The Wales international has impressed Dalglish after returning to the club but even that may not safeguard his position on Sunday.

"Craig Bellamy is a fantastic professional footballer; he knows his profession, he knows himself and how to get himself prepared for the games and he has been a huge plus for us since he came in," said the Reds boss.

"What has happened elsewhere for Craig at other stages of his career doesn't really concern me.

"I am only concerned with what he has done now and we have been absolutely delighted with the way he has gone about his work on and off the pitch."

Striker Luis Suarez has been Liverpool's spearhead almost ever since he signed from Ajax in January.

There are comparisons being made between what impact the Uruguay international has had at Anfield and the contribution of Argentina's Sergio Aguero, who arrived at City in the summer.

Dalglish did not want to play them off against each other but was more than happy to treat them as equals.

"They may both be South American but they are from two different countries," he said.

"I have not seen a lot of Aguero but he has done well there and scored a few goals.

"But I don't think our fella's done much worse than him and I've said many times before that we are delighted to have Luis."