Monday, October 03, 2011

Carroll Joy At Derby Strike

Liverpool striker Andy Carroll believes it cannot get 'any better' than opening his account for the season against Mersey rivals Everton.

The former Newcastle frontman scored the opening goal of the fiery Goodison Park contest on Saturday, with Luis Suarez later sealing a 2-0 win for Kenny Dalglish's men.

It was Carroll's first goal of the season and his third in total for the club since his £30million move from Newcastle last January.

The 22-year-old could not hide his delight at not only breaking his scoring duck for the season, but for netting in such an important game.

"It was a good feeling to get the goal," Carroll told the club's official website.

"It always is great to score, and to get my first league goal of the season against Everton couldn't be any better."

Downing Hails Reds Character

Stewart Downing says Liverpool have proved they have the character to succeed after responding to successive defeats with back-to-back wins.

The 2-0 win in a controversial Merseyside derby followed on from three points at home to Wolves last week and erased the memories of reverses at Stoke and, in particular, Tottenham.

Beating Wolves was significant in light of the fixtures to follow as, having now made the short trip to Goodison Park, Liverpool host Manchester United after the international break.

They can at least go into that game with renewed confidence after seeing off their determined nearest-neighbours, albeit with a little help from referee Martin Atkinson who inexplicably sent off young Toffees midfielder Jack Rodwell midway through the first half for a tackle on Luis Suarez which was barely a foul.

"The two victories we've had back-to-back after the defeats have shown the character of the team and depth of the squad we've got here," said Downing.

"We all want to do well and getting wins like this helps.

"We played some good stuff at times but the sending-off killed them a bit and made it very hard for them.

"I wasn't near it at the time. It happened that quick I didn't have a great view of it but at the time I thought it would be a yellow card.

"It's easy for me to say that but it was a tough decision for the referee.

"But we kept pressing and it paid off in the end. Credit to the lads because we managed to exploit it in the end."

For a long time Everton made light of their numerical disadvantage thanks to their impressive work-rate and organization but had almost undid it all when Phil Jagielka brought down Suarez just before half-time.

Dirk Kuyt, scorer of five Merseyside derby goals, saw his penalty brilliantly saved by Tim Howard and it was not until the introduction of Craig Bellamy and, to a lesser extent, Steven Gerrard, with a quarter of the match remaining that things turned in the visitors' favour.

Bellamy sent Jose Enrique away down the left and his cross, which Kuyt cleverly ducked under, allowed Andy Carroll to fire home his first Barclays Premier League goal of the season.

Nine minutes from time Suarez, who appeared to be targeted by bottles and coins thrown by Everton fans, clinched victory after Sylvain Distin's clearance rebounded off the Uruguay international's chest and dropped at his feet six yards out.

"It was a great game to be involved in. It was a great atmosphere and both sets of fans got right behind their teams," said Downing, one of five Merseyside debutants in the Liverpool side.

"It was quite feisty for half an hour, the tackles were flying in but that's part of the game."

Christian Eriksen Desire To Flush Out Liverpool Interest

Liverpool look likely to have to accelerate their interest in Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen if they wish to ensure the Danish youngster ends up at Anfield.

The Reds are known to be tracking the 19-year-old and have repeatedly been linked with a bid for his services, although Ajax has remained adamant that Eriksen will not leave the Amsterdam ArenA.

Now though the Dutch side’s resolve is set to be tested to the limit as AC Milan bid to scoop up the promising player in January.

AC Milan are on the lookout for another midfielder and, ideally, will sign a player not just for the here and now, but the future too – and Eriksen is on their agenda.

Liverpool is thought to have been plotting a swoop for the attacking midfielder, but not before the end of the season. Firm interest from Milan could flush out the Merseyside giants.

Ironically, one of the reasons Milan have set their sights on Eriksen is to bring out the very best in midfielder Alberto Aquilani, loaned to the Rossoneri by Liverpool in the summer.

Aquilani has impressed at Milan, but coach Massimiliano Allegri believes there is much more to come from the former Roma midfielder.

Another concern is veteran Clarence Seedorf’s ageing legs – Eriksen would be a perfect long term replacement.

Gonzalo Higuain Linked With Liverpool Switch

Liverpool are being linked with a shock January move for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.

The Argentine international was speculatively place on the Reds' radar this summer, with Kenny Dalglish reportedly keen on the 23-year-old.

However, manager Jose Mourinho denied the club was looking to sell the former River Plate starlet, ending the Merseyside transfer link.

Spanish radio station Candena Ser suggests that Liverpool are back in for the player though, with Higuain at the top of their New Year hitlist.

The forward has fallen down the pecking order at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Karim Benzema appearing to be back in favour under 'the special one'.

Despite strengthening with the addition of Craig Bellamy on deadline day, Liverpool are still thought to be keen on adding to their attacking options alongside the Welshman, Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

The same radio station also claims Liverpool are considering a move for David Villa when the transfer window re-opens, although an Anfield switch would appear a certain non-starter given the player's form with Barcelona.

Leeds Plotting Move To Bring Liverpool Defender To Elland Road

Liverpool are considering allowing young central defender Danny Wilson to leave the club on a short term loan deal in order to gain some vital first team football.

The former Rangers defender was brought to Anfield last summer and has so far struggled to force his way into the Liverpool first team, but is considered a potential star of the future.

The 19-year-old has made just two appearances in the Premier League, but last season was a regular in the Europa League and is certainly still in the clubs plans as manager Kenny Dalglish attempts to build a young side.

Wilson is already a regular for Scotland and was a crucial member of the Ranger side that won the treble in 2010, before earning a move to Liverpool.

The Scot has the likes of Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and new signing Sebastian Coates ahead of him in the pecking order and may have to leave to gain more experience.

Leeds manager Simon Grayson is reportedly interested in taking the defender on loan, while former club Rangers and Blackpool are also said to be interested in bringing in the Liverpool man.

Leeds are currently 11th in the Championship and are hoping to once again push for a place in the play-offs.

Cole Open To Lille Stay

Joe Cole has admitted that he would be willing to consider a permanent switch to Lille when his loan spell comes to an end.

The midfielder will see out the season with the reigning French champions after falling out of favour at Liverpool.

A change of scenery has helped to breathe new life into Cole's career after he stagnated somewhat at Anfield.

The England international is enjoying his football again and that has showed in his performances.

Cole's loan agreement will reach a conclusion next summer, but he has refused to rule out the prospect of remaining in Ligue 1.

"I could join Lille permanently," he said.

"If they are happy with me, and vice versa, I don't see why not.

"Lille have quality players and there's an unbeatable mood in the dressing room. I benefit from it every day and I am enjoying myself.

"There is a superb team spirit at the club. I love playing here."

Kelly A Shock Contender For England Place

Liverpool’s Martin Kelly is a shock contender for a place in the England squad for Friday’s crucial Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro.

The 21-year-old right-back is understood to be part of manager Fabio Capello’s provisional squad.

A final 23 will be named tonight and Kelly could be called up for a match from which England need a point to reach the finals next summer.

Capello was at Goodison Park on Saturday to check on the fitness of Steven Gerrard, who came on as a 67th-minute sub.

Capello said: “If Steven’s fit then he will be with us.”

Capello To Speak To Gerrard

England coach Fabio Capello is ready to call up Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard for the Montenegro clash if he is deemed fit enough.

The Italian tactician spoke out after watching Gerrard come off the bench in the second half of the Reds' 2-0 derby win against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime.

The midfielder, who has now played just 45 minutes of first-team football this season due to a six-month groin injury lay-off, revealed earlier this weekend that he did not feel fit enough to feature in this coming Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier, while Reds boss Kenny Dalglish does not want him rushed back too soon.

However, Capello, whose side need a draw in Montenegro to finish top of their group and qualify for next summer's European Championships, wants Gerrard in his squad, but will ultimately let the player decide.

"I want to speak with Steve," Capello said.

"If he decides: 'Yes, I can', he will be with us. If he says he can't, he will stay at home."

Capello is keen for Gerrard to travel as he is already without the likes of Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick.

"We have big problems with the midfielders," he added.

"Some players can stay on the bench, or come on at half-time, but not play all the game. For this reason we need to be careful in every moment."