Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kenny's Chelsea Lucky Charm

Kenny Dalglish is hoping to maintain a proud record when he takes Liverpool to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The Scot has never lost to Chelsea as Liverpool manager in any competition - winning eight and drawing three of the 11 meetings.

Here are the rest of the facts and figures ahead of the big game from club statto Ged Rea.

Head to head (league only):

Overall: Liverpool 62 wins, Chelsea 46 wins, 28 draws.

At Chelsea: Liverpool 17 wins, Chelsea 37 wins, 14 draws.

A win will put Liverpool level on points with Chelsea and a three goal margin of victory will take the Reds above their London rivals.

Last season Liverpool recorded their second Premier League 'double' over Chelsea. The Reds won 2-0 at Anfield thanks to two Fernando Torres goals in the first half and a tremendous rearguard action after the break.

Raul Meireles scored the only goal of the game after 69 minutes of the return in London last February - a game that saw Torres wear a Chelsea shirt for the first time.

The 'double' was only the Reds' second over the Blues in 21 seasons.

All of the Reds' wins at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League era have been by a 1-0 scoreline. Last season's victory followed Xabi Alonso's winner in 2008 and Bruno Cheyrou's in 2004.

Despite a recent improvement, Liverpool have picked up just 13 points out of a possible 57 in league visits to Chelsea.

The Reds have lost 11 of their last 15 league visits to the Bridge and won only three of the last 21 on the ground.

Since the inception of the Premier League Liverpool have won 15 and lost 16 of the 38 meetings.

Liverpool has scored just eight times at Stamford Bridge in 19 league visits.

They have not scored more than once in a league game on this ground in their last 15 visits since a 2-2 draw in December 1995 when Steve McManaman scored both goals.

Pepe Reina was controversially dismissed in the league meeting on this ground in February 2006, while Steven Gerrard also received his marching orders at Stamford Bridge in 2003.

Glen Johnson played 72 times for Chelsea in all competitions from 2003-07, scoring four times.

His first ever league goal was scored on this ground eight years ago this month in a 5-0 win over Newcastle.

Jordan Henderson made his career league debut on this ground in November 2008. His Sunderland team lost 5-0.

However, he was in the Black Cats side that recorded a shock 3-0 win at the Bridge a year ago last weekend.

Patrik Berger scored Liverpool's last hat-trick against Chelsea - at Anfield in October 1997.

That is one of only four occasions when Reds players have scored three in a game against Chelsea - the others being James Stewart (1910), Fred Pagnam (1915) and Gordon Hodgson (1930). All were scored at Anfield.

No player has ever scored a hat-trick for Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool's clean sheet last season was only their fourth in the last 16 league visits.

The Reds' biggest victory on this ground came in December 1989 when they won 5-2.

Liverpool's heaviest ever defeat at Stamford Bridge came on the opening day of the 1937-38 season when they lost 6-1.

Only Fabio Aurelio, Lucas and Dirk Kuyt of the current squad have scored for Liverpool at Stamford Bridge - all in the Champions League.

In fact, Aurelio's last Liverpool goal came in the 4-4 European draw at the Bridge in April 2009.

The Reds are looking to record back-to-back league wins at Stamford Bridge for the first time since the 1974-75 season.

Liverpool have won twice in the last three visits and have won four of the last six league meetings home and away. They have lost only two of the last nine.

In the last seven league meetings between the sides only one of the teams has managed to score. The last occasion when both teams scored was in the 1-1 draw at Anfield in August 2007.

Charlie Adam could make his 250th career club appearance in all competitions.

Going into this weekend's fixtures only the United's of Manchester and Newcastle (three each) have conceded fewer league goals on the road than Liverpool's five.

Liverpool is looking for a third successive league clean sheet for the first time since last February, when they kept four in a row. The last in that sequence was the 1-0 win at Chelsea.

The Reds have won four away games in succession in all competitions. The last time they won five was in May 2006 (ultimately they won six in a row) while they bid to register three in a row on the road in the Barclays Premier League for the first time since May 2009.

Chelsea have scored only six times against Liverpool in the last 10 league meetings home and away.

They have lost only six of their last 144 league games at home, the last coming in that 5-3 loss to Arsenal in the last fixture in front of their home fans.

Chelsea's last hat-trick in the fixture was scored by George Mills in August 1937 at Stamford Bridge.

Didier Drogba has scored 10 goals against Liverpool during his career - the first two for Marseille and eight for the Londoners.

Fernando Torres scored seven goals in eight games against the Londoners. Since moving to Stamford Bridge he has scored five goals in 30 games in league and cup. He scored 13 times in his last 30 Liverpool games.

He has scored more league goals for Liverpool in 2011 than he has for Chelsea - four for the Reds, three for the Londoners.

By comparison Luis Suarez has scored 11 in his 27 games for the Reds, while Andy Carroll has five in 21 appearances.

Raul Meireles scored five goals in 44 appearances for the Reds with his penultimate goal for the club coming on this ground. He has found the net once in his 11 games for Chelsea - scoring his side's first in a 5-0 Champions League win over Genk.

Nicolas Anelka played for the Reds during the 2001-02 season while on loan from Paris St Germain, scoring five times in 22 games in league and cup.

Along with Fernando Torres, David Luiz also made his Chelsea debut in this fixture last season, while Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel and Alex have all made their Blues' debuts against Liverpool in recent seasons.

The Blues have kept only two clean sheets in the last 10 games in all competitions and the 1-0 win at Blackburn last time out was their first Premier League shut-out since the opening day.

They have not kept a league clean sheet at Stamford Bridge since beating West Ham 3-0 in April.

Frank Lampard is Chelsea's leading scorer this season with seven goals, six in the league. He has scored five times in his last five league games, including a hat-trick at Bolton last month.

Earlier this season he became only the fifth player in history to make 500 Premier League appearances.

John Terry and Ashley Cole are the only players to play in every Chelsea league game this season.

Chelsea have had five players sent off this season: Alex, Torres, Jose Bosingwa, Didier Drogba and Ross Turnbull.

They have conceded nine goals at home in five league games. They shipped only 13 in 19 league games last season at the Bridge.

In 11 league games they have conceded 15 goals this season - the same number they let in during the whole of Jose Mourinho's first season in charge.

Leading scorers this season (league in brackets):

Liverpool: Suarez 7 (4), Carroll 3 (2), Adam 2 (2), Bellamy 2 (1), Gerrard 1 (1), Henderson 1 (1), Kuyt 1 (0), Maxi 1 (0), Skrtel 1 (1), own goals 2 (2).

Chelsea: Lampard 7 (6), Sturridge 5 (4), Torres 4 (2), Mata 3 (2), Ramires 4 (3), Terry 3 (3), Kalou 2 (0), Anelka 1 (1), Bosingwa 1 (1), Drogba 1 (1), Ivanovic 1 (0), Luiz 1 (0), Malouda 1 (1), Meireles 1 (0).

Reina - Torres Not Missed

Jose Reina insists Liverpool have not missed Fernando Torres since his departure to Chelsea due to the impressive form of Luis Suarez.

Torres was snapped up by the west London outfit for a blockbuster fee of £50 million, but has struggled to replicate the form that saw him plunder 81 goals in 141 appearances on Merseyside.

In the previous meeting between the two teams in February, Torres was withdrawn after 66 minutes in a game eventually decided by a Raul Meireles strike.

While Torres has struggled to find his rhythm, his replacement Suarez has flourished since his £22.8 million move from Ajax and is now a firm fans' favourite.

"Fernando is top class; Luis is as good or even better than Fernando," said Reds keeper Reina.

"Those players are really special. You don't find those kind of players very often.

"The club did a good job in signing Luis and hopefully he will be many years with us and hopefully he will score as many goals as Fernando."

Reina and Torres were very close during his time on Merseyside and even lived on the same street in Woolton.

The way Torres has struggled at Stamford Bridge has surprised most observers but his compatriot is confident he will regain his optimum form.

But hopefully it will be after Sunday, when the two sides face each other.

"He is the same player but it is a different team so it is difficult to judge (how he compares to his best form for Liverpool)," added Reina.

"I think there are a lot of periods when goalscorers' lives are like that. Sometimes you do it, sometimes you go through bad spells but Fernando does know how to score and is a very good player.

"With Juan Mata behind him he will deliver more goals and will be better. He is such a good player and he will be a real threat for us - not just him because they have a lot of good players that can create us problems."

Aquilani Reveals £5.2 Million Liverpool Buyout Clause

AC Milan midfielder Alberto Aquilani has revealed that the Serie A champions will be obligated to sign him on a permanent basis from Liverpool for £5.2 million if he features in 25 matches this term.

The 27-year-old is currently on a season-long loan deal with the Rossoneri after it became apparent that first team opportunities at Anfield were not forthcoming.

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has selected the Italy international 13 times in all competitions so far, and Aquilani has divulged the details of a potential permanent move to the Giuseppe Meazza.

"There is a buyout fee set at €6 million [£5.2 million] and it is activated after 25 games," he stated to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I feel more assured. You can never say no to Milan. I have always had the hope of becoming a Rossoneri player."

Aquilani spent last season on loan at Juventus, and believes a long term deal at the Turin club was blocked by Liverpool's large valuation of him.

"I did not expect to be bought by Juventus, the price set by Liverpool [€16 million] was too high. Juventus was an opportunity and I have used it well.

"It was a critical step in my career as after Liverpool I needed to play continuously. Maybe if I had not gone to Juventus I would not be at AC Milan," he concluded.

Bellamy Reveals He Snubbed Spurs In Favour Of Reds Move

Craig Bellamy has revealed how he turned down the chance to join Tottenham this summer to return to Liverpool.

The Welsh striker was in-demand during the off season with his career at Manchester City hanging in the balance. He spent last season on loan at Championship - and boyhood - club Cardiff, but a permanent move to a Premier League outfit was always expected.

Bellamy was heavily liked with a move to Tottenham with manager Harry Redknapp desperate to bolster his forward options.

And the 32-year-old has revealed how he turned down the chance to go to Spurs in favour of going to Liverpool and, aside from the Reds, a move back to Cardiff would have been his ideal move.

"There was interest from one or two other clubs, but I was trying to be straightforward with Cardiff," Bellamy told LFC TV.

"With no disrespect to your QPRs and your Stokes, who I do like a lot, I would go to Cardiff before them. But if there was a big club, or a chance of playing in the Champions League or for a club fighting for the Champions League, I had to look at that opportunity and take it really seriously.

"It all went on from there really. Come the last day, I'd resolved an issue with Man City which allowed me to go on a free. On the deadline day, I woke up, my phone went, my agent was on his way to see me - I was in a hotel with Wales - and he said, 'We have two offers - there's Liverpool and there's Tottenham. What do you want to do?'

"I like Tottenham, I like the team a lot. I feel the way they play and pass the ball would suit me a treat - but this was a chance to go to Liverpool.

"I don't believe you should return, go back to your old clubs, but this is Liverpool and I could never walk away from this opportunity."

Lucas Taking Liverpool Legend Lessons

Liverpool midfield stalwart Lucas Leiva has admitted that he has been watching Xabi Alonso closely, in order to improve his own game.

The Brazilian initially found life difficult after his move to Anfield, sparking displeasure in The Kop over his performances, and looked to Alonso in a bid to turn his career around.

Lucas puts this lengthy bedding-in process down to the need to dramatically change the style of play he was known for as a young player before his arrival at Liverpool.

Rafael Benitez signed the former Gremio man as a box to box driving midfielder, but it quickly became clear that the physicality of the Premier League would stifle this aspect of his game.

The former Brazil Under-20 captain was forced to re-think his game and begun his tutelage as a holding player, sitting in central midfield and protecting the defence.

Lucas cited a number of influences, including Barcelona man Sergio Busquets, but says his former teammate Alonso was his most influential.

He said: "Sergio Busquets is a player who is really good. Of course he has players around him who always help him and always make the simple pass. People can see how good he is.

"Xabi Alonso is a player I always watch and try to learn from. I had a few years with him here and I could see how good he was. Xabi would be my choice at the moment."

Hard work began to pay off for Lucas and, with a steady improvement in form, the boos subsided to become approving murmurings, until he was regularly praised for his hard work and consistency.

His redemption was finally complete last season, when he was confirmed as an Anfield favourite, voted LFC Player of the Season 2010-11.

The 24-year-old has not let his level drop since and the accolades have kept coming, as he was recently named North-West Player of the Year for 2011.

"I am really happy to be voted," he said. "I'm sure all the Liverpool fans worked really hard to make sure I won the award.

“They are always behind me and supporting me, and I'll try to repay them with performances on the pitch.”

Liverpool Miss Out On Johnson

Adam Johnson has signed a new four-year deal with Manchester City, putting an end to Kenny Dalglish’s alleged interest in capturing the England winger for Liverpool.

After arriving at Eastlands from Middlesbrough in January 2010, Johnson has impressed with some very creative, sparky performances.

At the age of just 24, he has time to mature into an even better player too, and will doubtlessly add to the nine England caps he already has.

"This club's going places and I want to be at one of the top clubs in Europe,” he explained to the club’s official website. "I wouldn't have signed if I didn't see a big future here."

"I'm delighted to sign, I'm just glad it's all sorted out. It was never on my mind when I was playing. You can't let that happen, contracts can take a long time these days.

"I want to become a top player, I want to keep winning things and picking up medals.

"It's great being part of it - my game's improved, I'm playing for England and in the Champions League, that probably wouldn't have happened if I hadn't come here."

Having scored thee times in six Premier League matches so far this season, Johnson has laid some sturdy foundations for a good year under Roberto Mancini.

Poyet Defends Suarez Comment

Gus Poyet has refused to back down from defending Liverpool striker Luis Suarez over alleged racist comments made against Patrice Evra.

Suarez has been charged by the Football Association for remarks made to Evra in a 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Liverpool in October.

Poyet caused further controversy by claiming that Evra has been "crying like a baby" over the comments and is convinced that his fellow Uruguayan is innocent.

It came just days after FIFA president Sepp Blatter triggered outrage by insisting that there is no racism between players.

Liverpool have revealed that Suarez is to deny the charge at a personal hearing and he has received the backing of Brighton boss and former Uruguay midfielder Poyet.

He told TalkSPORT: "I know Luis very well and I will go to court if someone wants to prove he's not racist.

"I can assure you and everyone Luis is not a racist. We use different words and it is a different kind of situation.

"We live in Uruguay with plenty of people who have different colour skin. We all live together and play football together.

"What hurts me the most is that you accuse someone. Luis Suarez has been accused of being a racist."

The Seagulls manager is adamant that Suarez's words have been misunderstood due to language differences but was unable to clarify what has been said between the two players.

He added: "You are not racist when you go against one, but (you are) if you go against the whole world of different colour and nationalities. That is being racist, not saying one word in one moment.

"If that's what you want, fair enough. I take it and accept it. I had to behave in a different way because I've been in England for 13 years. So I know what you are like and I adapt to that.

"Give Suarez another six months and I think he'll be how you want him to be."

Reds Search For Soccer Prince

Liverpool today announced they are backing the 2011 Soccer Prince - the X-Factor-style television program which aims to unearth football's next biggest star.

The Reds are the only Barclays Premier League team to support the initiative and are offering a one-year development program under their guidance to the winner.

Having previously been held in China and Vietnam, this year's competition will take place in Turkey and the first live show will be televised in the country on Saturday night with a special appearance from Anfield legend and Istanbul hero Dietmar Hamann.

From thousands of hopefuls aged between 14 and 16, Soccer Prince hosts auditions in 14 cities across the country.

80 boys will be selected to progress from the audition stage where they will take part in five-a-side tournaments and try to further impress the judging panel to try and win one of 24 places in the live shows, which will start in March.

From there, the contestants will face the voting of both the judges and viewers over several weeks until five are left in the competition to contest a two-show finale in May.

The winner will travel to the UK and spend one year being developed under the guidance of Liverpool. This one-year development program includes English education, tourism opportunities and all costs are covered by the show.

"What we are providing here is that once in a lifetime chance to play for Liverpool," said Managing Director Ian Ayre. "People love us because of football and it lets people in other countries see the power of Liverpool Football Club. The key for us is that it's all over different parts of the world and giving different kids a chance."

Steve Cartwright of organizers Kickworldwide said: "Soccer Prince will prove to be a massive hit in Turkey, and we are all very excited to be working alongside Liverpool FC again as we take this successful reality format into emerging markets across the world.

Our collaboration with Liverpool FC, steeped in history and tradition, will ensure that the prize winners will be immersed in the true ethos of English football."

Charity Thankful For LFC Donation

Bradbury Fields today spoke of their gratitude after receiving a signed Liverpool jersey to put up for auction to raise funds for the charity.

The organization, which is the largest provider of services for blind and partially sighted people on Merseyside with more than 4,000 people on their register, popped down to the club's Academy complex to receive the shirt from promising youngsters Krisztian Adorjan and Adam Hajdu.

The jersey will now be put up for auction, with funds raised going towards the charity.

A Bradbury Fields spokesperson said: "Bradbury Fields is delighted with the support we have received from Liverpool Football Club not just in donating football memorabilia, but also for the opportunity to meet players and staff and to visit the famous Liverpool Football Club Academy.

"Our Chief Executive, Jim Moran, thanked Liverpool Football Club for generously donating a signed LFC shirt which will be put up for auction and will no doubt help us to raise substantial funds for our charity."