Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Liverpool Are Being Rewarded For Their Attacking Philosophy

Liverpool’s more adventurous approach under Kenny Dalglish is paying dividends, and Daniel Agger believes it could lead to European glory.

The Reds ground out a ‘Liverpool of old’ goalless draw against Sparta in Prague last week, and will look to finish off the job at Anfield on Thursday.

But whilst, defensively, the Reds look a different proposition these days, Agger says it’s not all about the lads at the back.

As they prepare for Thursday’s Europa League clash, Agger says: “You have to look at the team which is exactly the same (as under Roy Hodgson). Kenny came in with new ideas, and they made us really happy about playing football.

"That has been the main reason why we've improved defensively because we're keeping the ball going forward."

He continued: "We will approach Thursday like we do every home game. Try to get forward and keep the ball, playing attacking football, and at Anfield if we play well, it will be difficult for every team.

"So we've got a good chance, but it's not easy, it's never easy in the knockout stages."

Agger's notched seven goals since joining Liverpool from Brondby, helping to forge a reputation as one of the game's most cultured centre backs.

"Getting forward and scoring goals is a big part of my game," he said. "I like to have the ball and play with the ball. For me, that's football.”

Liverpool Lead Race To Sign Nigerian International

Reports in Nigeria have claimed that some of Europe’s top clubs including Liverpool and Tottenham have been following the progress of Marseille left back Taye Taiwo.

Liverpool apparently sent talent scout Damien Comilli to watch Taiwo in the recent friendly against Sierra Leone and view the player as a ready made fit for the problem left back position.

The Nigerian Tribune also claims that Tottenham have watched the player along with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus, but their headline made it clear that it is Liverpool that are the clear front runners.

It would be strange for Tottenham to go after the player, they already appear to be set with left sided players, the same to a certain degree applies to Manchester United, the same however cannot be said about Manchester City, they will but almost anybody.

One thing is becoming clear, that Liverpool will be very active in the transfer window come the summer as they continue the rebuilding process at Anfield.

Carroll Could Make Debut Against West Ham

Andy Carroll could be in line to make his first appearance for Liverpool against West Ham United this weekend, after making a rapid recovery from injury.

There had initially been fears that Carroll - signed from Newcastle United for £35 million on transfer deadline day in January - would miss the remainder of the season with a thigh problem he was already carrying when the transfer was completed. But after taking part in some training drills at his new club on Monday, there is now a chance the tall striker could be involved in the matchday squad for the trip to Upton Park.

Carroll has not taken part in any contact drills with the rest of the players as yet, but was included in the recent trip to the Czech Republic for the Europa League clash with Sparta Prague to hasten his assimilation into the squad and improve his bond with team-mates.

Although the game against West Ham is a possibility, the following weekend's visit of Manchester United seems a more probable opportunity for the 22-year-old to make his bow - and in front of a supportive Anfield crowd.

Manager Kenny Dalglish has repeatedly said he is confident the expensive signing will be a huge hit on Merseyside, and is looking to get him on the pitch as soon as possible.

"The fans will really relate to him once he gets fit and starts to play for us," Dalglish said prior to the weekend. "Going to Prague was just so he could continue his rehabilitation.

"We just wanted to get Andy in amongst the boys so he will recognize a couple of faces."

Dirk Kuyt: I'm In Talks Over New Liverpool Contract

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt has confirmed he is speaking to the club about signing a new contract.

The Dutchman's current deal runs out at the end of next season but he has been convinced by the Anfield club's recent revival that his future lies on Merseyside.

Last season, Kuyt was wanted by former manager Rafael Benitez at Inter Milan.

However, the 30-year-old now appears set to lengthen his stay in England since signing from Feyenoord in 2006.

'My contract has one more season to go after this but there are things happening,' he said.

'We have had some talks and I can only say it looks positive.

'I feel at home in Liverpool and I don't want to leave.'

The need to sign Kuyt to a longer deal has become apparent after he took over as the dressing room DJ.

Since having the role, Liverpool has not lost a game with the Dutchman claiming his choices of Kings of Leon, The Killers and Amy Winehouse have inspired the team during their revival.

It is also being reported goalkeeper Pepe Reina could be offered a new deal, with Manchester United believed to be interested in securing his signature to fill the impending void which will be left when Edwin van der Sar retires at the end of the season.

Raheem Sterling Doubles Up As Liverpool Under-18s Make It Six Wins In A Row

After his five-star FA Youth Cup show, Raheem Sterling helped Liverpool under-18s make it six of the best with a 4-1 victory over Stoke City at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday.

Rodolfo Borrell’s side made it six wins in a row and stretched their unbeaten run to nine matches as they continue their quest for honours on two fronts.

Fresh from last week’s superb 9-0 victory over Southend in the fifth round, when Sterling scored five, Liverpool continued their fine form.

Captain Conor Coady, who was also on target in the Youth Cup and joined Sterling and Jack Robinson on the first team’s Europa League trip to Prague, opened the scoring.

The 17-year-old, who was on the bench against Sparta on Thursday, fired home a brilliant volley into the top corner of Stoke keeper Dave Parton’s goal to open the scoring on 28 minutes.

Seven minutes later Rainhill schoolboy Sterling tapped in a second from close range.

The visitors reduced the arrears just before half-time when Liverpool defender Patrik Poor headed into his own net.

Liverpool restored their two-goal lead as Krisztian Adorjan’s through ball put Sterling in on goal and despite being forced out wide by Parton, he unselfishly squared to Adam Morgan, who scored at the second attempt.

Within five minutes Sterling made it 4-1 and the 16-year-old almost had his second hat-trick of the week, but keeper Parton superbly tipped his curling shot over the bar.

Liverpool are now up to fourth in the Group C table, nine points behind leaders Everton, although they do have two games in hand on their neighbours.

Steven Gerrard Foundation To Benefit Merseyside Charities

Steven Gerrard has launched a charitable foundation to help disadvantaged children – and picked two Merseyside charities as its first beneficiaries.

The England and Liverpool FC star, who grew up on the Bluebell Estate, in Huyton, visited chosen charities Claire House hospice and Fairbridge Merseyside for the launch of the Steven Gerrard Foundation (SGF).

The foundation will work with the Consortium for Street Children (CSC) to provide grants to good causes nationally and internationally – but will have a particular focus in Liverpool.

The SGF says it aims “to provide relief to children and young people in need, whether through illness, family breakdown, disability, involvement in the streets, financial or educational disadvantage”.

Gerrard said: "I am delighted to launch this Foundation. The money raised will help give thousands of disadvantaged children a brighter future here in the UK and beyond. I am looking forward to working with SGF's partners and helping make a lasting difference to children's lives."

He said he enjoyed seeing “the smiles on the kids’ faces” and that it was “fantastic” to see their reactions.

He added: “There’s a big pleasure in giving something back to my city. I’ve been to different organizations in Liverpool that are in desperate need of money and I feel I’m in a position where I can raise a lot.

“I think if you’re a footballer and you’ve enjoyed the kind of success that I have, the least you can do is give that back to people who need it.”

He said: “I want my children to get involved in the Foundation as part of their education. I want them to see there are people in this city who are struggling, who have major problems, who need help. My attitude is that it’s never too late. You can always turn things round. But we need to help these kids realize that.”

Fairbridge Merseyside manager Jayne Wilson said: “Steven is a real inspiration for young people, and was an absolute star on his visit. With his background, he can really engage with youngsters and he encouraged them to focus on education and the idea of respect. We are delighted that Fairbridge Merseyside is one of the first charities he has chosen to support.”

Yvonne Cave, area fundraiser at Claire House hospice, said: “Steven Gerrard has lifted the spirits of everyone here at Claire House, the excitement he generates is palpable. He was very hands on chatting to the children and keen to see what went on here at Claire House. He was very impressed, as were we with him.”

Liverpool Plot €10m Swoop For Serie A Strike Ace

Liverpool are reportedly monitoring Inter Milan striker Goran Pandev.

The Macedonian's chances have become limited at the San Siro since Jose Mourinho left Milan for Madrid and the acquisition of Giampaolo Pazzini from Sampdoria last month has further dented his future prospects.

Reports in Italy - most notably from calciomercato.it - suggest Liverpool are now considering launching a summer bid for the 27-year-old as they look to further add to their goalscoring options at Anfield.

According to caughtoffside.com, Liverpool are on the lookout for a more experienced forward to interchange with young bucks Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll and, thus, have identified Pandev as someone who could potentially bolster their striking ranks.

Valued at around €10 million, Pandev is renowned for his creativity rather than his goalscoring prowess and could provide Liverpool with an interesting extra attacking dimension.

Liverpool appears to be keen to add variety to their attack and Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi - himself and inventive second-striker - has also been linked with a summer move to Anfield.

Spurs Ready For £10m Summer Battle With Liverpool

Harry Redknapp has hinted that Tottenham may reignite their interest in Liverpool target Charlie Adam.

The Blackpool captain was the subject of intense interest from both clubs during the January transfer window but their respective pursuits were ultimately fruitless.

Liverpool had three separate offers for Adam rejected by Blackpool last month as relations between the two clubs threatened to reach breaking point.

Adam, 25, even handed in a transfer request in attempt to force a move to Liverpool but this was also rebuffed by the Seasiders who were adamant the Scotland international would not leave unless their demands were met.

A fee of £10 million was rumoured to be the valuation Blackpool had placed on the midfielder and - with Liverpool falling way short with their proposals - Tottenham agreed a fee with the Tangerines as the transfer deadline approached.

However, Tottenham registered their interest too late on deadline day and failed to sign Adam by a number of minutes.

Liverpool are expected to launch a renewed bid for Adam when the transfer window reopens in June and Redknapp admits Spurs will face plenty of competition if they too decide to re-enter the race.

"Do I want to buy Adam in the summer? It's difficult, it depends what they [Blackpool] want to do with him," the Spurs boss told talkSPORT.

"He made the right decision to stay with Blackpool for the rest of the season. Blackpool have been good to him and I think he probably owes that to Blackpool, to try and keep them up this year.

"I'm sure at the end of the year there would be plenty of clubs who would be interested in him.

"He's a good player. He looks a good sort of lad as well, people who know him tell me he is a real student of the game. His dad was a professional, and he looks like he has a real love of football.

"He plays with passion and understands the game, and he has been an outstanding player in the Premier League - he has done great."

Manchester United have also been linked with Adam and – should they register their reported interest – it is sure to be a fascinating summer battle between themselves, Liverpool and Spurs.