Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Andy Carroll Could Make Liverpool Debut Against Manchester United

Liverpool is hopeful that Andy Carroll will make his club debut early next month, raising the tantalizing prospect of the £35m record signing taking his bow against Manchester United at Anfield.

The manager Kenny Dalglish has consistently declined to set a time-frame on Carroll's recovery from the thigh injury that has kept him sidelined since 28 December. The 22-year-old has suffered several setbacks with an injury that Newcastle United, his former club, initially believed would result in a three-week absence. He visited a specialist in Sweden before becoming the costliest British footballer on transfer deadline day.

Carroll has now resumed light training with Liverpool and is targeting a comeback in early March. Dalglish's team entertain Sir Alex Ferguson's league leaders on 6 March and will also face a Europa League tie on 10 March providing they overcome Sparta Prague in the last 32 of the competition. The first leg of that tie takes place in Prague on Thursday.

Liverpool's £57.8m deadline day capture of Carroll and Luis Suárez helped cushion the impact of the £50m departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea. Jamie Carragher believes the club's new strike partnership will bring added momentum to Dalglish's reign.

"I was delighted to get them in and the club made a statement," said the Liverpool vice-captain. "Suárez has made a great start. He's got the goal, but it's his performances more than anything. With Carroll coming back, it looks the perfect partnership. Someone the size of Andy Carroll and then Suárez, it looks good."

Despite the arrivals at Anfield, Carragher admitted the timing of Torres's exit was unfortunate. "I'd have loved him to stay and I wish he would have given us to the end of the season," he said. "For two or three years for us he's been the best striker in the world. The disappointing thing is the timing of it but the start of the season hasn't gone well.

"I think it was something we were expecting either now or maybe in the summer. It's happened, good luck to him there, and I'm pleased with who we've brought in. We've got to look to the future."

Carragher Reveals Reds Concerns

Defender Jamie Carragher has confessed that he is constantly concerned about the future of Liverpool in the wake of the club's problems over the past 18 months.

The 18-time champions of England failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League last season and severely struggled under Roy Hodgson for the first half of the current campaign.

Liverpool was also on the brink of administration in October before new parent company, Fenway Sports Group, took over from George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

But Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish succeeded Hodgson and has transformed fortunes to put the top four of the Premier League within touching distance after a six-match unbeaten run.

When asked if he was genuinely concerned, Carragher said: "Every day! To be honest, it's been like that for a little while.

"Stevie [Gerrard] and I are so involved emotionally, sometimes too much, and it affects your whole life, and the last 18 months have been really tough.

"We've not been doing too well and the fans are your friends and family and it takes its toll.

"So it's great that the pressure has lessened off and people are starting talking about the top four.

"Dalglish's presence and who he is has galvanized the whole club - players and supporters. I don't need to tell you what he means to the club and the fans."

Simon Kjaer Remains On Anfield Radar After January Interest

Liverpool continues to be linked with defender Simon Kjaer despite having a January bid rejected, according to reports.

The Danish international was being monitored by a number of English clubs in the summer before moving to the Bundesliga, and again in January. It was Liverpool who moved for the 21-year-old though, with German media outlets claiming a bid from Kenny Dalglish was rejected.

Wolfsburg signed the player for an undisclosed fee in July, but it's thought that Liverpool will have to pay in the region of £10 million to bring the player to Anfield.

With 15 international caps to his name already, Kjaer isn't short of experience at either international or domestic level, and the centre back starred for his country during the World Cup in South Africa.

Clubs were already aware of his talent from his performances with Palermo, and his stock has steadily risen since the move from Serie 'A'.

New Liverpool owners NESV have already shown that they are willing to back the Merseysiders financially, spending over £55 million on two strikers in the January transfer window.

Dalglish has hinted that more additions could follow as he looks to strengthen in several core areas at Liverpool, and a centre back is thought to be high on the wish list at Anfield.

Liverpool Target Super Spanish Star To Solve Problem Position

Newcastle United left-back Jose Enrique has been earmarked as a summer transfer target for Liverpool reports the Daily Mirror.

The 25-year-old Spaniard has been in fine form for the Toon this season and is seen as an ideal replacement for the outgoing Paul Konchesky.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish sent Konchesky on loan in the January transfer window after the summer signing struggled for form at Anfield.

He has instead preferred to play an out-of-position Glen Johnson at left back for the rest of the season until they can bring in a long-term replacement.

Enrique has been linked with Liverpool before but fresh reports have surfaced after Anfield Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli was spotted at Ewood Park this weekend watching Enrique and Newcastle take on Blackburn Rovers.

The highly rated defender is regarded as one of the best players in his specialist position and Magpies fans will be desperate to keep hold of the Spanish star, particularly after having already lost former Toon legend Andy Carroll to Liverpool in the January window.

Enrique was brought to St James’ Park by former manager Sam Allardyce in August 2007 from Villareal for a fee believed to be around £6m, but since his rise to prominence, Newcastle chief Mike Ashley is thought to want at least double that if the player is to be sold.

New Liverpool owners NESV have already shattered the clubs record transfer fee since taking over when they signed Carroll from Newcastle for £35m, proving their financial commitment to the cause as they look to restore the Anfield club to its former glories.

Additional interest from Manchester United could be the only stumbling block as Sir Alex Ferguson continues to look for a replacement for Red Devils star Patrice Evra who is rumoured to be unhappy with life at Old Trafford and has been continuously linked with a move away from Manchester.

A summer transfer tussle between Manchester United and Liverpool will only play into the hands of Newcastle as they look to gain the maximum possible fee for one of their remaining leading stars.

Sylvain Marveaux Signs On Dotted Line At Anfield

Liverpool have reportedly agreed a pre-contract agreement with Rennes winger Sylvain Marveaux.

The 24-year-old will leave the French club in the summer after opting to allow his contract to expire at the end of the season and has also reportedly been courted by Chelsea.

However, according to Bleacher Report, Liverpool has won the race for the Frenchman – who was spotted in the stands at Anfield last month.

Liverpool director of football strategy Damien Comolli is alleged to have concluded talks Marveaux who – should reports be believed – will move to Anfield in July.

Marveaux, however, underwent groin surgery last week which ruled him out for the remainder of the season and will have to work hard to prove his fitness to whoever his potential employers may be.

If Bleacher Report’s claims are correct, then Marveaux is unlikely to be the only new arrival at Liverpool in the summer.

Aston Villa winger Ashley Young still remains on the Liverpool radar, as does Blackpool captain Charlie Adam – who was the subject of a number of bids from the Merseysiders in January.

AC Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng and France striker Karinm Benzema have also been linked with summer moves to Liverpool as New England Sports Ventures look to further invest in their playing squad.

Lucas Leiva Downplays Talk Of A Top-Four Finish For Improving Liverpool

Liverpool midfielder Lucas believes that a top-four finish in the Premier League is still possible, but does not think it would be wise to start thinking of Champions League football next season.

The Reds began their campaign in an ignominious fashion as they plummeted down into the relegation zone, but the appointment of Kenny Dalglish has seen the club come close to the European places after a series of positive results.

"I don’t think it would be clever on our part as a team to talk about the top four because two months ago we were three points off the relegation zone,” said Lucas, according to the Liverpool Echo.

"It is clear the team has improved and we are playing better but we have to keep going.

"In football everything can happen but we can take each game at a time.

"We should have killed the game [the 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic] and got three points but we move on and we have two important games in the Europa League now [against Sparta Prague]. There are still a lot of things to improve but our record is not too bad even with a draw.

"We know we must keep the same level of concentration every game to make sure we finish as high as possible in the table."

Liverpool currently lies sixth in the Premier League, eight points behind fourth-place Tottenham.

Torres Insults Liverpool Fans Again

Fernando Torres has once again risked incurring the wrath of Liverpool fans by clumsily stating that "people on the outside can't understand some things about football."

Torres promised to repay Roman Abramovich in goals for sealing his £50million "beautiful" move to Chelsea and further alienated the Liverpool fans who stuck by him through a bad loss of form by insulting them and then backtracking and saying he wants to be "recognized" when he returns to Anfield.

Torres said: "As a striker I'm asked for goals so I'll pay in goals.

"I still haven't seen Roman Abramovich. To put so much money down for me speaks of his dreams to keep on making history.

"We want to repay him for this effort. I have to pay my debt on the pitch. It's beautiful he paid so much for me.

"When the season started I expected to play a lot to forget about my injuries. But Liverpool didn't start well.

"There was no light at the end of the tunnel.

"An incredible door opened for me when there was six months of fight ahead of me.

"Now I can fight for what I've always dreamt about fighting for."

Torres then made his veiled insult to Liverpool fans.

He added: "People on the outside can't understand some things about football.

"The problem was that when Xabi Alonso and then Javier Mascherano left I could only see a light at the end of the tunnel when Chelsea opened the door.

"It just happened that my time came to leave. In time I hope Liverpool fans understand.

"I would like to return to Liverpool and be recognized. I only have gratitude towards the people, the club and everybody in Liverpool."

Torres has clearly lost the ability to let his football do the talking but his continued jibes at the club who showed massive loyalty to him when he was badly out of form are misguided at best.

This over-rated player should show some dignity and respect, especially after his pitiful showing on his Chelsea debut against the side that gave him his chance in English football.

Rampant Reds Rout Southend

Raheem Sterling scored five times as Liverpool U18s stormed into the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup with a 9-0 win over Southend United at Anfield.

Three strikes in six first-half minutes put the Reds into an unassailable lead, with Sterling bagging a brace and Conor Coady firing home from the penalty spot all before the midway point of the opening period.

Sterling completed his hat-trick on 35 minutes and Stephen Sama and Adam Morgan headers made it six for Liverpool before half-time.

The winger added his fourth and the Reds' seventh on 56 minutes with another jinking run and shot.

Sterling bagged a fifth with a cool finish on 85 minutes and Toni Silva wrapped up the scoring as Rodolfo Borrell's side booked their place in the last eight in emphatic fashion.

The U18s had comprehensively dispatched Notts County and Crystal Palace en route to the fifth round - two results that contributed to the seven-match unbeaten run they took into their showdown with Southend.

Borrell's men kicked-off aiming to set up a mouth-watering last eight clash with either Manchester United or Newcastle as they continued their bid to reach a fourth Youth Cup final in just six years.

The Spanish tactician named the same starting XI that had taken to the field against Palace in early January, while Southend included two players with first-team experience in their team in the shape of Alex Woodyard and Julian Okai.

The hosts nearly made a dream start when Jack Robinson almost somewhat inadvertently steered Suso's corner onto the base of the post inside the opening 60 seconds.

Sterling went closest next, cutting in from the left and curling an effort over the bar on 15 minutes.

But the Shrimpers were in no mood to lie down in the opening exchanges and they almost broke the deadlock themselves moments later. Woodyard's cross was misjudged by Duane Ofori-Acheampong, but the ball dropped invitingly for James Stevens.

The Southend skipper scuffed his attempt goalwards, but the ball was creeping into the bottom corner until Sama cleared off the line.

It was a real let off for Liverpool - but the visitors were soon made to pay for their profligacy.

It was Sterling who put the Reds into an 18th minute lead. Tyrell Belford's long goalkick was allowed to bounce through and find the winger's run, and he made no mistake with a composed finish beyond Daniel Bentley.

If there was a slight suggestion of fortune in Liverpool's opener, then Sterling's second on 21 minutes was all down to sheer talent.

Collecting the ball on the left wing, the diminutive No.7 surged into the area, dancing beyond three Southend defenders, before dispatching an effort into the Kop end goal.

Three minutes later and Borrell's side added a third. Morgan was brought down inside the area by Dominic Iorfa, allowing Coady the chance to crash a penalty into the roof of the net.

Liverpool were totally dominant - and Sterling duly completed his hat-trick on 34 minutes.

Craig Roddan's challenge on Stevens 25 yards from goal allowed the ball to break for Sterling inside the Southend box. The end result was never in doubt as he netted with aplomb.

The Reds were showing no signs of letting up and Sama headed home Krisztian Adorjan's corner to make it 5-0 eight minutes before the break.

There was still time for another before the break and Morgan nodded in Adorjan's free-kick to extend the Reds' advantage even further in stoppage time.

The hosts' onslaught continued after half-time and after Sterling's swerving effort had narrowly evaded the post, substitute Toni Silva saw an effort deflected onto the crossbar by Bentley.

But Sterling was not to be denied his fourth and on 56 minutes, he again burst beyond three Southend defenders before slipping a low shot out of Bentley's reach and into the top corner. It was simply sublime stuff from the former QPR teenager.

Substitutes Joshua Sumner and Jason Banton combined well on 67 minutes, resulting in the former rolling a strike against the post, while Ofori-Acheampong looped over on a rare sortie forward from the guests.

With five minutes left on the clock, Sterling guided a low shot across Bentley and into the bottom corner to claim his fifth of the night before Silva wrapped up the scoring on 90 minutes.

It proved to be the final act on a night that will live long in the memory for Liverpool fans, and Borrell's troops can now look forward to an Anfield quarter-final date with either Manchester United or Newcastle.

On this form, neither of those two sides will be looking forward to the clash with the Reds.