Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Casper Relishing Reds Test

Brighton goalkeeper Casper Ankergren believes Wednesday's Carling Cup clash with Liverpool will show how far they have come.

The ambitious Seagulls welcome Liverpool to the Amex stadium for their third round tie hoping to take another Premier League scalp after dumping out Sunderland in the previous round.

Gus Poyet's side have impressed in the Championship since their promotion from League One and only suffered their first defeat of the season in last weekend's game at Leicester.

Former Leeds keeper Ankergren is relishing pitting his wits against Liverpool and he feels the game will show just how good the Seagulls are.

"It will be a good test that will show whether we can play as we did in League One, in the Championship and also against Sunderland," Ankergren told Bold.dk.

"We'll see how far we have really come with our football.

"We are not given a great chance of winning. It is a class team we are up against."

Ankergren also hopes Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish will field his strongest possible team against Brighton, with Steven Gerrard tipped to make his long-awaited return for the Reds.

"When you meet the team you might as well play against the best, and I also think that Liverpool have some great players," added Ankergren.

"I hope they come with their strongest team."

Coates Relishing Fresh Challenge

Sebastian Coates insists the challenge of adapting to a new country and making a name for himself were the reasons behind his Liverpool switch.

The Uruguay international moved to Anfield before the transfer window closed and he made his debut in Sunday's 4-0 defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Coates has achieved success in his homeland with Nacional and at international level and wants to replicate that at a new club in unfamiliar surroundings.

The rising star knows the game's biggest players have achieved success wherever they go and he wants to become a crucial player in Liverpool's history.

"The biggest attraction was the challenge: to come to an unfamiliar place - a huge club - and make a name for myself," he told LFC magazine.

"So far in my career, I have been very lucky; to play for Nacional, to play in the Copa Libertadores, to win the Copa America. There has been a lot of success in a short period of time. But I have achieved that in a place where I am most comfortable.

"Now, I am here, in a different country, in a different league, with different team-mates. The best players are successful wherever they go. I am determined to become an important player here at a historical stage of the club's future."

The central defender also admits that some of compatriot Luis Suarez's words had a big influence on his decision to join Liverpool over the summer.

"(Suarez) helped me from a professional point of view," he added.

"I knew about the history; the success and the European Cups, but he also taught me about the nature of the supporters - the way they treat the players.

"When you're wanted by a club that is famous worldwide - by a club with a history like this - it was impossible to go anywhere else."

Steven Gerrard Due For Timely Return To Liverpool Side

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has stressed the imminent return of captain Steven Gerrard will not detract from the work which will have to be done in the wake of their White Hart Lane humiliation.

Even before the Reds had Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel sent off in Sunday's 4-0 defeat it was apparent they were nowhere near the level Tottenham were playing at.

A second successive defeat, and in particular the first-half performance, will no doubt pose a number of questions but Dalglish stressed they would not be answered by Gerrard's return.

The England midfielder could well end six months on the sidelines after a groin operation in March with an appearance in Wednesday's Carling Cup tie at Brighton.

But bouncing back from the Spurs defeat is more about what the other players do according to the Reds boss.

"It's natural everyone will chase Stevie, especially after we lost 4-0," said Dalglish.

"He has done fantastically well to get where he is. We will monitor his fitness, we will see how it goes, and then we will decide between ourselves when he is fit to play.

"But we have to look at ourselves. We know there is plenty of room for improvement after that [defeat].

"We have to correct the mistakes we made, improve on it and try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"That is all we are going to concentrate on.

"We have had good days and we will have a lot more coming but that doesn't mean we dismiss a performance like that.

"It doesn't mean we go away and don't correct what we have done and take it for granted.

"When we played well we went out and worked hard to make it better and we'll do exactly the same."

Dalglish found himself having to defend his selection and his tactics in the wake of the defeat.

With injury to Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly still not 100% fit he persisted with central defender Skrtel at right-back and his weakness in that position was exposed by Gareth Bale, the player on whom the Slovakia international committed the fouls which earned him two yellow cards.

A player like Dirk Kuyt, whose renowned tireless industry may have come in useful against a marauding Spurs side, never made it off the bench despite striker Andy Carroll having to adopt an unfamiliar left-sided position after the second sending-off but Dalglish stood by his decisions.

"This is not about a team, it's about a squad and the squad is going to be used throughout the season," he added.

"When there is a victory no comments are made about the team but if it's a defeat then whatever players you use are wrong.

"How we started the game we would have lost the game irrespective of what happened

"The boys are upset and so they should be - if they weren't they wouldn't be here.

"The football club expects more than a 4-0 defeat when you come away from home."

Striker Luis Suarez has cut a frustrated figure in the last two matches against Stoke and Tottenham, often remonstrating with team-mates about his lack of service.

However, the Uruguay international is looking to put the poor performances behind them.

"It is not easy to lose like we lost [against Spurs]," he wrote on Twitter.

"But we have to work hard to improve. I trust my team partners, come on!"

Dalglish is fortunate this is a Carling Cup week as it means both Adam and Skrtel will serve their one-match suspensions on Wednesday and be available for selection at home to Wolves at the weekend.

He may have to wait to discover the extent of Daniel Agger's injury after the Denmark international was forced off with a rib problem in the first half at Tottenham.

"I don't know how bad it is but it obviously was painful," said the manager.

Aldridge: Carling Cup Is Vital Now For Liverpool FC

All of a sudden, the Carling Cup trip to Brighton and Hove Albion looks a great deal more important than it once did.

Liverpool will of course be desperate to stay in the hunt for silverware this season, especially with no European football on offer.

But equally importantly, it is a chance to produce an immediate reaction to two disappointing league results.

They were unlucky at Stoke; they defended well and didn’t get the goal they deserved, but they need massive improvement from the Tottenham game.

It will be interesting to see what team Kenny puts out, and whether he gives a few new faces a chance to impress.

At least he has the squad to make such decisions now. He can shuffle his pack and it won’t have an adverse effect on the team.

Former Liverpool Striker Believes Reds Lack Defensive Steel

Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore believes the club is lacking the defensive steel and that is stopping Kenny Dalglish's side challenging for major honours.

Liverpool were one of the busiest clubs during the summer transfer window and added the likes of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Jose Enrique and Sebastian Coates on top of January signings Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

However Collymore who made 61 league appearances for Liverpool between 1995 and 1997, feels the Anfield club need to add a top class defender to the squad in order to bridge the gap between themselves and the likes of Manchester United, City and Chelsea.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Collymore said: "Jamie Carriagher is still one of the best defenders in the Premier League but you're always looking to freshen things up.

“They brought the player of the tournament in the Copa America, Sebastian Coates, who is supposed to be a very good central defender but it will take him time to adapt to life in the Premier League.

"When you look at Vincent Kompany at Manchester City, Rio Ferdinand and people like Phil Jones who has come into Manchester United, I don't think Dan Agger or Martin Skrtel compare. They are a level below.

“From a former Liverpool player’s perspective a top, top quality central defender in January, £20m worth, to be a leader from the back and eventually take over from and put competition on Jamie Carragher.”

Liverpool Face Italian Competition For Belgian Defender

Liverpool will need to warn off the interest of Inter Milan if they wish to complete the signing of Jan Vertonghan, according to talkSPORT.

The 24-year-old was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal earlier this summer in their search for a centre back.

However, Liverpool are now seemingly the front runners, but they are under pressure from Italian giants Inter Milan.

Injury to Daniel Agger during Sunday's defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, and the inexperience of new signing Sebastian Coates leaves Liverpool short at the back, meaning a move for another defender could be on the cards.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has already made moves for seven players during the summer transfer window, and it is yet unknown whether the club's owners will release more funds for the Scot.

South American Starlet Waiting For Liverpool Talks

Bologna coach Pierpaolo Bisoli has quashed claims that Gaston Ramirez is already in talks over a move to Liverpool, insisting the midfielder will look at his options in January.

Ramirez is yet another Uruguayan on Kenny Dalglish’s hitlist for the next transfer period, with the 20-year-old starring for both club and country alongside Luis Suarez.

But Bisoli argued that when it comes to interest from Liverpool, with the transfer window closed, discussions will resume only in January.

"The market is now closed, so I don’t know what to say about it", Bisoli said over Liverpool’s interest in Ramirez.

"The problem at the moment doesn’t exist. Today he plays [for us] regularly, for the rest he will have to wait eventually until January."

Liverpool have been particularly interested in Uruguayan players over the last year, signing Suarez and Coates, and forming a formal agreement with Uruguayan side Nactional over player transfers.

President Confirms Agreement With Liverpool Target

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis has confirmed there is a buyout clause written into the contract of reported Liverpool target Ezequiel Lavezzi.

But Laurentiis is irritated that he ever reached such an agreement with Lavezzi and his representatives - and claims it will never happen again.

“Lavezzi’s agent very sneakily asked me for a buy-out clause and as a novice, I fell for it, but from that point on I have never accepted another clause in the contract," said De Laurentiis.

"There is a price for everyone, as this is a business, but I am the one who chooses it.”

The buyout fee for the Argentine striker - who has attracted plenty of interest in recent months - is alleged to be set at around €32 million.

Liverpool, meanwhile, had been linked with a summer swoop for Lavezzi, as Kenny Dalglish reinforced his Anfield ranks with real purpose.

Whether or not Liverpool made an approach for Lavezzi remains unclear, but the Merseyside club did enjoy a particularly fruitful transfer window.

Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Alexander Doni, Jose Enrique, Sebastian Coates and Craig Bellamy all signed for Liverpool to aid their quest to qualify for the Champions League once more.