Saturday, August 27, 2011

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Bolton

Liverpool will expect to make it a perfect 10 wins on the trot over Saturday's opponents Bolton at Anfield.

Not since September 2006 has the Reds dropped points against the Trotters, when Sam Allardyce inflicted a 2-0 defeat upon his then counterpart Rafa Benitez.

Much has changed at both clubs since then, with Liverpool scoring 23 goals to Bolton's four in reply, taking in an impressive sequence of nine victories both home and away.

However, only Manchester City have scored more goals than Bolton in their opening two Premier League games this season, following a 4-0 opening win at Queens Park Rangers and a 3-2 home defeat to Roberto Mancini's side last time out.

Kenny Dalglish's side are unbeaten, though, with four points on the board following an opening-day Anfield draw with Sunderland, followed by a comfortable 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates.

Both sides were successful against lower league opposition in the Carling Cup in midweek, but changes are expected to be made upon the return of top flight football.

Liverpool Team News

Dalglish is yet to name the same side in Liverpool's opening three fixtures and has a fresh injury concern adding to the absence of club captain Steven Gerrard and full-back Glen Johnson.

Raul Meireles, who earned his first start in the midweek win at Exeter, was forced off in the 3-1 win at St James Park after a nasty fall on his collarbone. The extent of the midfielder's injury is yet to be revealed, but he can expect to play no part against Bolton.

Dalglish is likely to name the same back five, including goalkeeper Pepe Reina, which kept Arsenal at bay last Saturday, with full-backs Jose Enrique and Martin Kelly earning the right to support stand-in captain Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger at centre-half.

Lucas Leiva and Charlie Adam appear to be Dalglish's preferred central midfield pairing at present, and Stewart Downing can expect to start on the left flank, while Dirk Kuyt may return to the right.

With Andy Carroll, who replaced Meireles against the Grecians and scored Liverpool's third, is off the mark for the season and is likely to start alongside Luis Suarez, who has netted three goals in three games.

Bolton Team News

Tuncay Sanli has given Bolton boss Owen Coyle a selection headache, having come off the bench to single-handedly rescue the Trotters from defeat to Macclesfield Town on Wednesday.

The Turkish playmaker came off the bench to make his debut and spectacularly equalized with an aerial volley before setting up Martin Petrov for the winner.

Coyle has named an unchanged side in his two league encounters so far, though, so Tuncay may be forced to settle as a useful option from the bench.

Gretar Steinsson is struggling to keep his place after picking up a foot injury, and he will face a late fitness test.

And the game may come too soon for Ricardo Gardner to make the match squad as he continues to shrug off a groin strain, while Marcos Alonso, Sam Ricketts and Stuart Holden are all sidelined.

Chung-Yong Lee and Tyrone Mears are long-term absentees having each suffered a broken leg in pre-season.

Possible Starting XI

Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Carragher, Agger, Kelly, Lucas, Adam, Downing, Kuyt, Suarez, Carroll.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Knight, Cahill, Steinsson, Reo-Coker, Muamba, Petrov, Eagles, Klasnic, K Davies.

Liverpool Plot Late Move To Sign Barcelona Attacker

Liverpool’s director of football is eyeing up a late move for Barcelona winger Ibrahim Afellay as the Merseyside club looks to continue their summer spending. The attacker has barely featured for the Catalan side since his move to the Nou Camp in January and the signing of Chilean Alexis Sanchez will push the former PSV Eindhoven man further down the pecking order and may convince the Dutch international to consider pastures new.

Thus far Liverpool have spent over £50m to bring Jordan Henderson, Doni, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique to Anfield and having resolved the lack of natural width on the left hand side now boss Kenny Dalglish may look to do likewise for the right hand side of his attack.

For the past few seasons Dirk Kuyt has been employed as a converted right winger, a role he has succeeded in making his own, but the 31 year old is very much a square peg in a round hole. There is no doubt the former Feyenoord man gives his all and is a determined performer but Dalglish is known to like the use of traditional wingers and may feel that Afellay may be the right man to fill the spot in the long term.

Comolli has had dealings with Barcelona in the past and pulled off of a coup back in 2008 when he brought Mexican youngster Giovani dos Santos to Tottenham, a move that was considered something of a shock at the time. Now the French head scout is interested in snapping up Afellay.

The 25 year old Afellay cost Barcelona just £2.5m back in January as the Utrecht born winger, who can also play as an attacking central midfielder, was set to be out of contact at the Eredivisie side in the summer. Pep Guardiola may be ready to accept offers in excess of £5/7m as such a fee would represent a profit and would help balance the books at the La Liga giants, who have spent over £45m to bring the aforementioned Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas to the club.

Liverpool Consider Move For £10m Rated Italian International Hotshot

AS Roma have offered striker Marco Borriello to Liverpool.

Il Tempo says Borriello, who has been put up for sale by Roma this week, has rejected an offer from Fulham.

Determined to clear him off the books, Roma made contact with Liverpool about the striker’s availability.

Liverpool did not shut the door, but told Roma to wait while the Reds pursue Manchester City attacker Craig Bellamy.

By all accounts Marco Borriello is fairly confused as to why he is being made available by Roma, especially given that fellow Stadio Olimpico striker Mirko Vucinic has been sold to Juventus. Clearly the arrival from Barcelona of Bojan may though have an impact on how often the 29 year old former AC Milan gets a spot in Luis Enrique’s starting eleven.

Marco Borriello has been in fine form in recent seasons, notching 19 goals with Genoa in 2007/08 which earned the Naples born striker a move to the San Siro where in 2009/10 he managed 15 goals with the Rossoneri but led to a surprise loan spell away from the club when Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived at AC Milan.

Last term at Roma the talented frontman netted 15 goals in all competitions and it is therefore a little odd that he is being offered to all and sundry. Perhaps Kenny Dalglish feels that Borriello would be a useful back up for first choice pair Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. David N’Gog doesn’t appear good enough to play for Liverpool and Dirk Kuyt is not a fully converted right winger.

Roma are thought to want a fee in the region of £10m for the experienced Serie A man and that fee may be a fair one given his recent good form.

Liverpool Reveal Meireles Should Only Miss One Game

Liverpool has revealed good news on midfielder Raul Meireles, who will only be out for a couple of weeks after hurting his collarbone.

Meireles lasted just 23 minutes of the Reds' 3-1 win at Exeter in the Carling Cup, taking an awkward tumble that led to his substitution. Replacement Andy Carroll came on and scored to add to goals from Luis Suarez and Maxi Rodriguez.

Kenny Dalglish had been unable to rule out a significant layoff for the Portugal international in the post-match interview, commenting: "I've not got a medical term for it. He just damaged his collarbone. He just fell on it. It's disappointing."

However, any fears of a fracture have been dispelled by Liverpool, who revealed on their official website that Meireles should only miss one game - Saturday's home clash with Bolton. The midfielder should therefore be available for the trip to Stoke after the international break.

"It's his collarbone that is damaged, but it's only a week or two," Dalglish said on the Reds' website. "We've been quite fortunate with that. A week or two will be the maximum."

Liverpool Denied In South American Striker Pursuit

Liverpool has been dealt a decisive blow in their pursuit of Wigan Athletic striker Hugo Rodallega.

The Colombian international has been linked with a Barclays Premier League switch this summer, with Kenny Dalglish thought to be keen on bringing the 26-year-old to Anfield.

However, Latics boss Roberto Martinez has quashed rumours that the former Necaxa striker could be making a move to Merseyside in the closing stages of the transfer window.

"We would not consider anything," Martinez is quoted as saying in the Daily Mirror.

"You can't replace players at this stage of the season. If a player is moving on for big money they have to go earlier in the summer. We would not be in a position to replace him now. It is not possible."

ESPN cite reports claiming the Liverpool manager is willing to test the resolve of Martinez in the coming days, with Dalglish hoping to capitalize on the player's current contract, which runs out in less than 12 months.

However, the Reds may have to take their search elsewhere if they are to add to the summer signings made already. Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Alexander Doni have all joined Liverpool in recent months, with the club spending big in an effort to return to the top four.

Despite adding Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in January, the Liverpool boss is still keen to add a further striker to the ranks, but will have to look elsewhere with Rodallega set to stay at the DW Stadium.

Emiliano Insua Joins Sporting CP

Emiliano Insua has joined Portuguese side Sporting CP on a five-year deal.

The Argentine left-back spent last season on loan to Galatasaray and despite being a regular for his country, he didn’t figure in Liverpool’s plans for the forthcoming season, especially since the arrival of Jose Enrique and emergence of Jack Robinson.

Insua told his new fans “I am delighted with many ‘ganas’ to start training and playing. The Sporting is one of the big Portuguese clubs and is recognized for their work in training players. The club is looking for a win and win titles. I will give everything for Sporting.”

Insua made a total of 62 appearances for Liverpool, scoring once, since arriving from Boca Juniors – initially on loan in 2007.

Dalglish Explains Why Aquilani Left Liverpool

Kenny Dalglish spoke to and told us why Aquilani has left Liverpool to go on a season long loan to AC Milan.

“It’s a great move for Alberto. He’s got his wife and kid over there. It was difficult for him here.” Dalglish said.

“When he came back his pre-season training was excellent. We gave him a few games, he did well in those games. But the problem for us was trying to get him in the team. We couldn’t get him in the team.

“Obviously everybody wants to play and Alberto is moving over to a fantastic football club. He goes there with the best wishes of everyone and we hope it works out for him, because he was never a problem in any way, shape or form.”

Free LFC Camp Delights Kids

Liverpool FC this afternoon waved goodbye to over 100 kids who participated in a five-day free football camp in South Liverpool.

The 'Goals 4 All' football camp, organized by LFC community coach Scott Fowler and his colleagues, saw 120 boys and girls attend daily training sessions at 'Goals' in Speke, one of the best amateur football facilities in the city.

As well as receiving some first-class coaching in small groups, each child was also taught about some serious social issues ranging from the perils of guns and drugs to the dangers of bullying and racism.

"The whole week has been a great success," claimed Fowler, brother of former Anfield legend Robbie. "The kids all seemed to love it and I think the parents really appreciated the fact that the club put it all on free. Money is tight for lots of people in this city right now and if we as a club can help make a child's summer holiday that little bit more enjoyable then it makes all this worthwhile."