Thursday, December 01, 2011

Carragher Targets Wembley

Jamie Carragher is determined to help Liverpool to a first appearance at the new Wembley, but recognises the Carling Cup represents a significant challenge.

A 2-0 win over Chelsea on Tuesday night booked Kenny Dalglish's team a place in the semi-finals, where they could meet Manchester City, Cardiff, or Manchester United, if Sir Alex Ferguson's men overcome Crystal Palace.

Carragher knows a two-legged meeting with either of the Manchester sides will prove a tough test, but the former England international is desperate to make it to Wembley with his hometown club.

The defender won FA Cups and League Cups at the Millennium Stadium while Wembley was being redeveloped, however, Liverpool have not made it to the home of English football since it reopened in 2007.

Carragher told his club's official website: "I've played at Wembley once or twice for England, but I've never done it for Liverpool.

"I'd love to do that, but when we have got to cup finals they have been in Cardiff so I've never been there with Liverpool.

"There is a still a semi-final to play over two legs and there are some massive sides in there so it is going to be very tough. We'll take the semi-final very seriously."

Carragher was also full of praise for England Under 21 defender Martin Kelly, who headed Liverpool's second goal against Chelsea after Maxi Rodriguez had opened the scoring.

"Kelly is a young lad coming through, he's still learning the game. He can learn off Glen Johnson, England's right-back," he said.

"But hopefully in the future Martin Kelly will be in that position himself and he showed that."

Manchester City Face Liverpool In League Cup Semi-Final

Manchester City will face Liverpool in the League Cup semi-finals, as Cardiff City take on fellow Championship outfit Crystal Palace.

Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night to secure their path through to the final four, while Roberto Mancini's side was 1-0 victors against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

The two sides met in the Premier League on Sunday, with the clash at Anfield ending as a 1-1 draw after Joleon Lescott's own goal cancelled out an opener from Vincent Kompany.

The draw means a Championship club will definitely be in the Wembley final, after both Palace and Cardiff beat Premier League opposition in the quarter-finals.

Cardiff beat struggling Blackburn Rovers 2-0 on Tuesday, and Dougie Freedman's side defeated Manchester United in a 2-1 win after extra time.

Both semi-finals will take place in January.

Reina Targets Christmas Points Present

Liverpool stopper Pepe Reina knows that the coming months are set to be pivotal to the club's push for a top four place this season.

The Reds are desperate for a return to the Champions League after missing out on Europe altogether last term, and have showed signs that they are one of the teams to beat after beating Chelsea and drawing with Manchester City in back-to-back league matches.

With a hectic December and January fixture list round the corner, Reina has been in the English game long enough to know that this will be a pivotal period for the Reds, and the Spaniard is hoping the club can gain some important wins in the winter months.

"We know from experience how important December and January can be in terms of the title race and your position in the league. We have to push now more than ever," Reina told the official Liverpool magazine.

"Without meaning any disrespect to the teams we are playing in this period, when you look at the fixtures I think all the games are winnable.

"Obviously every team is tough to beat in this league but now we have to make sure that we don't make any mistakes at home and that we take maximum points as often as we can."

Confidence is sky high in the Liverpool camp at the moment, helped in part by two wins in nine days at Stamford Bridge against Andre Villas-Boas' beleaguered Blues.

Reina believes Kenny Dalglish has been key to the change in fortunes on Merseyside following his arrival back in January, and the stability the Scot has brought to the club could be key to their future successes.

"We are all happy. I think we now find ourselves in an established situation. Kenny was one of the owners' appointments and Kenny is Liverpool, Liverpool is Kenny," he added.

"He has been the greatest ever so the supporters are more than happy and I think the way the team is playing shows that we are going the right way. Now we want to keep going and improve.

"We have found the right balance off the field with the determination from the owners to keep progressing. The stability is there so now it's up to us to deliver the results."

Liverpool Plan Move For Brazilian Playmaker

Liverpool have enjoyed a decent spell of form in recent weeks and manager Kenny Dalglish is determined to keep the momentum going by brining in reinforcements in January.

The Kop boss is reportedly interested in Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Jadson who was close to sealing a move to the Premier League in the summer when Arsenal were linked with the Brazilian.

The 28-year-old was top of Arsene Wenger's wishlist after losing Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the summer but the move never materialized and now it could be Liverpool that sign the attacking midfielder.

According to, the diminutive midfielder is now being lined up by Liverpool who, despite bringing in a number of midfielders, is keen to add the creative talent.

Jadson made his debut for Brazil in February of this year and has since gone on to play a number of games for the national side, scoring one goal against Paraguay in the Copa America.

With Joe Cole looking likely to make his move away from Anfield a permanent one next summer, Liverpool would well be looking for a creative midfielder and Jadson certainly has the ability to fill that role.

Liverpool has managed just 17 goals in 13 games and it seems they want to add a player capable of providing opportunities for their strikers as well as scoring from midfield.

Jadson has been a huge success in Ukraine where he has helped Shakhtar win five league titles in six years and play regularly in the Champions League.

Chelsea & Liverpool Told To Bid For River Plate's Ocampos

Chelsea and Liverpool have been encouraged to bid £14million if they want to sign River Plate's teenage sensation Lucas Ocampos.

Sportsmail revealed in October that Chelsea had made strong enquiries about the 6ft 2ins tall 17-year-old who has been dubbed the new Cristiano Ronaldo.

River initially insisted they would not sell until they had won promotion back to the Argentine top division and claimed they had already rejected offers of £15m for Ocampos from Inter Milan.

However, they are now contemplating a deal in January. Liverpool has been making big strides in the South American market with Chile forward Eduardo Vargas another transfer target.

His agent has confirmed Liverpool and Arsenal have made enquiries about him.

Liverpool has been monitoring the 22-year-old for a few months but they face strong competition for the Universidad de Chile player as AC Milan has already opened talks.

His agent Diego Cativa said: 'We're talking to clubs like AC Milan, Inter, Liverpool, Arsenal and others.'

Newcastle And Liverpool To Scout Dutch Star

Fulham's game against FC Twente on Thursday night is attracting plenty of attention from fellow Premier League sides Liverpool and Newcastle who are keen to watch Luuk de Jong in action.

The Twente striker is a long term target for Newcastle and in recent weeks has also been linked with Liverpool after starting the season in superb form in Holland.

De Jong has scored eight league goals in nine appearances as Twente have lost just one of their opening 14 matches and currently find themselves seven points behind leaders AZ Alkmaar.

The 21-year-old has become a regular starter for Holland under Bert van Marwijk and has now made six appearances for the side, scoring his first ever international goal against Finland in September.

Newcastle have long been linked with a striker after losing Andy Carroll last January and De Jong appears to be the man that is topping manager Alan Pardew's wish list.

Meanwhile, Liverpool has also shown an interest in the prolific young striker as Kenny Dalglish attempts to continue the clubs policy of signing the best young talent around.

Both Premier League sides will watch the striker in action against Fulham on Thursday night with a view of making an offer for the striker in the January transfer window.

Reds Recall Shelvey As Lucas Cover

Liverpool has recalled Jonjo Shelvey from his loan spell at Blackpool as speculation mounts about the severity of Lucas Leiva's knee injury.

Shelvey, 19, has scored six goals in ten Championship appearances for the Seasiders, including a hat-trick in the 5-0 thrashing of Leeds earlier this month.

However a knee injury suffered by Lucas in Tuesday's 2-0 Carling Cup defeat of Chelsea has resulted in the Anfield club activating the immediate recall clause in Shelvey's loan agreement.

"Obviously this is a setback to us as Jonjo has done ever so well in his short time with us,'' Blackpool manager Ian Holloway told the club's official website. "We knew that Liverpool had the recall option on him and it is only the unfortunate injury to Lucas that has prompted them to take this course of action.''

Holloway has not ruled out a return to Tangerine colours for Shelvey, and he added: "We will be in regular contact with Liverpool about trying to bring him back in January should Liverpool's injuries clear up.''

Lucas Faces Six Months Out

Liverpool fear Lucas Leiva will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. The Brazilian midfielder, one of his club's best performers this year, was carried off on a stretcher during the 2-0 Carling Cup win at Chelsea on Tuesday night.

Lucas underwent a scan yesterday at 1pm, and although the results will not be known until today, Liverpool fear the worst. The player himself was said to be pessimistic as he returned to Liverpool on crutches. The likely prognosis for a serious knee-ligament injury would be a six-month absence.

With 20 minutes remaining of Tuesday night's game at Stamford Bridge, Lucas collided with Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Juan Mata. He went down clutching his left knee and was carried off. "I will have the scan to see how bad is [sic] my injury," he wrote on Twitter immediately afterwards. "Just send positives [sic] energy and I hope won't be too bad."

It would be a sorely felt absence for Liverpool if they did lose Lucas for an extended period. He has been an influential playing alongside Charlie Adam in the centre of the park. His defensive anticipation and swift, precise distribution have helped Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool smother opposition attacks and initiate their own.

Lucas was the obvious man of the match in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City, nullifying the threats of David Silva and Yaya Touré. "Joe Hart was good for them but Lucas was the best player on the pitch, he was amazing," said team-mate Jose Enrique afterwards. "He is playing really well with Charlie [Adam], who is scoring some important goals for us this season."

Last night Lucas was comfortably leading the voting on Liverpool's website to be their Player of the Month for November. The 24-year-old has started 12 of Liverpool's 13 Premier League games this season, and three of their four in the Carling Cup; no outfield player has played more across the two competitions. Without Lucas, youngster Jay Spearing, who has not started in the league this season, is likely to have to be promoted to partner Adam.

Steven Gerrard could also play alongside Adam in midfield but the 31-year-old is currently out with an ankle infection. He has been missing for more than one month, having returned in September after a six-month absence with a recurring groin injury.

Enrique Won't Consider England Switch

Spanish fullback Jose Enrique has revealed his Liverpool team-mates are trying to persuade him to switch allegiance and play for England.

Enrique, 25, has impressed at Anfield following his summer transfer from Newcastle United but has yet to win a cap for Spain, the current European and world champions.

Compatriot Manuel Almunia and Italian goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini had been linked with similar switches in the past but neither ever played international football, although Enrique is adamant he still wants to represent the country of his birth.

"Some team-mates have told me to apply for British citizenship but I'm not thinking about doing that because I'm Spanish and I'll either play for Spain or nobody," he said.

"I want to play for Spain. Playing for a club like Liverpool makes you think you'll have more chance of representing your country but it is Vicente del Bosque who decides and I just have to focus on playing well for my club."

And on that note, the left-back is also confident that Liverpool are progressing, something that could give his international credentials a further boost.

"We've gone a year-and-a-half without losing to the Premier League's big four teams. We're doing OK but we can be better. Liverpool should be aspiring to be in the Champions League.

"Winning the Premier League is difficult because there are so many strong teams but you can see now that the ones playing in the Champions League are suffering a bit. We are going to try to take advantage of that."

Enrique has experienced a dramatic turnaround during his time in England. He was signed for Newcastle in 2007 by Sam Allardyce but it took a long time for him to become established.

Suso Sinks Wolves

Spanish starlet Suso was on the mark as Liverpool Reserves maintained their excellent form with a 1-0 win at Wolves.

Rodolfo Borrell's side was full value for the victory as they made it four wins out of their last five league games.

Jon Flanagan gave an impressive display during his 90 minute run-out in a central midfield role while Nathan Eccleston started in attack.

The match was played in difficult conditions with a narrow pitch but the young Reds showed great character and determination.

Wolves went into the game on the back of two wins and one draw against Arsenal, but Borrell's charges did the club proud on the night.

Reflecting on the win, Borrell said: "It was a bit of a scrappy game but we scored a good goal and did well.

"The lads had to work hard against a physical side who played a lot of long balls, but we kept them out and this was a good victory for us."

Liverpool team: Hansen, Mendy (Roberts 55), Smith, Sama, Wisdom, Coady, Suso, Flanagan, Eccleston (Ngoo 64), Adorjan (Silva 75), Sterling. Subs not used: Roddan, Belford.