Friday, December 16, 2011

West Ham Join Liverpool In Race To Sign Crystal Palace Striker

West Ham are the latest club to be linked with a move for Crystal Palace's in-demand forward Wilfried Zaha, who has also been linked with a move to Liverpool in recent weeks.

The teenage forward caught the attention last season when he burst into the Palace first team and this season has once again proved his quality with a string of impressive performances.

Zaha has scored five goals so far this season, while his ability running with the ball has also created a number of opportunities for his fellow forwards.

The 19-year-old has been one of the stand-out performers in Palace's superb run in the League Cup, a competition in which he has scored three times and was instrumental in helping the club overcome Manchester United in the last round.

West Ham are the latest club to declare their interest in the versatile forward as manager Sam Allardyce attempts to get his promotion push back on track after two consecutive losses.

The Sun believes that the east London club are prepared to make an offer of £5million in the January transfer window but are aware that there may be offers from Premier League clubs.

West Ham currently have a number of injuries to attacking players with the likes of Sam Baldock, Matt Taylor and Henri Lansbury all sidelines and Allardyce knows that he needs reinforcements.

Zaha has the ability to play across the front line or in wide positions and is viewed as the man to help fire West Ham to automatic promotion.

Liverpool Set To Raid Premiership Rivals For Brazilian International

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is preparing to step up his pursuit of a new midfielder to replace the injured Lucas who is out for the rest of the season and has set his sights on Tottenham's Sandro, according to reports in The Metro.

Sandro signed for Tottenham from Internacional in 2010 for £8million, however the Brazilian international has failed to nail down a regular first-team place and since the arrival of Scott Parker has found himself even further down the pecking order at White Hart Lane.

The 22-year-old had some impressive performances for Tottenham during their debut campaign in the Champions League last season and over the course of the previous couple of months Sandro has been linked with moves to Italian giants AC Milan and Juventus.

Premier League rivals Liverpool are now also keen to bring Sandro to Anfield once the January transfer window opens for business as Kop boss Dalglish feels he would a like-for-like replacement for Lucas.

It is believed Liverpool are planning to table a £12m offer for the Tottenham midfielder in the New Year.

Dalglish: We'll Rise To Festive Challenge

Kenny Dalglish insists Liverpool are ready to tackle the busy schedule awaiting them over the Christmas and New Year period.

Following Sunday's clash at Aston Villa, the Reds will take on Wigan on Wednesday night before playing host to Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day.

Newcastle United then travel to Anfield on December 30, before Liverpool's first test in 2012 is against Manchester City on January 3, with the FA Cup third round tie against Oldham scheduled to take place just three days later.

But while Dalglish acknowledges the program is a demanding one, he maintains his side will stick to their tried and tested mantra of taking each game as it comes.

"Obviously you take into account the fixtures you've got coming up and how many days you've got in between," he said. "There is a great deal of thought that goes into the process.

"After the first game, you take into account how your players are before you move into the second game - but you do that before every match.

"The games do come thick and fast now and we've just got to deal with it, but you do take into consideration the workload. Everything is monitored anyway, so you've got a good idea of how the players are."

Dalglish added: "We'll get the first game done, and then we'll worry about the one after it. We know what fixtures we've got coming up, but there is not a great of thought that goes into the one beyond the Aston Villa game.

"The greatest influence on the team against Aston Villa will be who we're playing against - not the game that's coming after that at Wigan. First thing's first."

The Reds head into Sunday's contest at Villa Park hoping to build on an away record that has seen them take 12 points from a possible 21 so far.

Dalglish acknowledges that the Villans will pose a real threat to his team's chances of closing the gap on the top four and is hopeful the encounter will see Liverpool hit the goal trail.

He said: "We're not going to sit and identify their dangers or weaknesses because we're not going to sting ourselves.

"Any information we've got we'll keep to ourselves. That's the way we've operated and that's the way we'll continue to go.

"They (Villa) got a fantastic result at Bolton at the weekend. It's been difficult for Alex (McLeish) moving from Birmingham to Villa, obviously. But he seems to have got them going a little bit, just at a bad time for us. We aren't doing bad either, so we'll be respectful and look forward to a difficult game.

"Our away form has been really impressive. We got beaten the last time away from home (Fulham) but the performance was good enough to have won it. We'll just keep going like we have done before.

"I think the only stat that isn't in our favour is probably in the goals for column. We've got fewer points than the performances deserve. We've got that in our own hands and we'll just continue to do what we've done and sooner or later we'll turn our chances into goals."

He added: "We've not come up against a goalkeeper who hasn't been outstanding against us. I think 16 times against the woodwork makes a contribution as well. At the same time the responsibility is on us to create chances and then finish them off.

"We'll probably win a game scoring every chance that we make, so we'll look forward to that."

Kenny On January Transfers

Kenny Dalglish today confirmed Liverpool 'have the option' to add to their squad in January - but insisted they don't necessarily need to bolster the ranks.

With the transfer window set to re-open in 16 days' time, journalists at Melwood were eager to quiz the boss on any potential plans to bring in new faces to the Reds squad.

"We don't speculate on anybody - either our own players or somebody else's players," Dalglish told his pre-Aston Villa press conference.

"It doesn't matter what we say, there is going to be speculation in the newspapers - but we won't be here to answer every question that's in newspapers.

"We'll do our business the way we've been brought up to do our business, and that's privately behind closed doors.

"We have the option to add if we want to, but we also have another option that we don't have to."

Gerrard Fitness Update

Kenny Dalglish today revealed that Steven Gerrard has stepped up his rehabilitation - but refused to give a timescale on when the skipper will return to action.

The midfielder has made great strides in his recovery from an ankle infection and was back in light training at the end of last week.

However, the boss remains cautious over when the No.8 will be available for selection.

Dalglish told reporters at Melwood: "We are looking alright I think. We only trained on Tuesday, but there's nothing there that will cause us a problem for Sunday."

He continued: "Steven is progressing and training really well. Everybody is delighted with his progress, so that is positive as well.

"We'll wait and see (if he's available). We won't set any targets for Sunday that we won't reach. When he's ready he'll be ready. It's fantastic for him that he's progressing as well as he is and great for us as well."

Gerrard And Carragher Are Vital To Liverpool FC, says McAllister

Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are as important to Liverpool FC now as they were when they started out on their sparkling Anfield careers more than a decade ago, according to Gary McAllister.

Injury has restricted Gerrard to just two starts this season, while Carragher has been forced to settle for a place on the subs bench since a calf strain saw him miss two rare games through injury.

But Gary McAllister, who spent two years at Liverpool FC while the sparkling potential of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher was starting to emerge, does not accept that the influence of the two Scouse hearts of Kenny Dalglish’s squad is starting to wane.
“Now, both, first and foremost, they are big lovers of the club,” declared McAllister.

“I mean in the way they train, the way they represent that club, the way they speak about it. I think it tells you everything, they love it. They love the club, they love the history, the tradition, they love the fans. So Liverpool without these two guys… I just can’t picture it.

“You know when I was there, they were younger players but outstanding, both lovers of the game.

“That’s the thing, they trained as if it was their last training session. They played a game as if it were going to be their last game.

“So I think that was always the thing that always shone through from these guys, they love football. They’re football fans.”

Gerrard and Carragher were both integral to the trophy winning treble landed by Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool FC side in 2001, with McAllister an equally influential catalyst.

Eyebrows were raised when the Scottish international was signed by Houllier at the age of 35, but McAllister’s majestic performances over two seasons saw him safely installed as an Anfield idol.

The Scot made 87 appearances over two seasons, and scored nine goals, including some hugely significant strikes.

And it was McAllister’s free-kick which was headed into his own net by Alaves’ Delfi Geli to land the UEFA Cup and complete that historic Cup treble of 2001.

But McAllister believes that if he had joined Liverpool earlier in his career, when he was at his peak, the Reds might even have captured the ultimate domestic crown.

Speaking while filming for his role in online football game IAMPLAYR, McAllister added: “Well it was the perfect swansong, but yeah, it would have been nice if I had got there in my prime. Because, you know, I went to Leeds in 1990.

“Who knows? If I had gone to Liverpool in 1990 when I was in my prime, Liverpool might not have had to wait so long to win a Championship because I was fortunate enough to win one at Leeds.

“But it’s a fantastic club. It would have been nice to play at Liverpool when I was in my prime but to get there when I was 35 and have two unbelievable seasons it was like a dream.”

As a result of that spell at Anfield McAllister has a particular affinity with Liverpool’s famous old stadium – the evening he buried the decisive UEFA Cup semi-final winning penalty against Barcelona, past a young Pepe Reina, is recalled as one of Anfield’s great European nights.

But he reluctantly accepts that the time is looming when the Reds may have to move on.

“Well the thing is Anfield is such an iconic stadium,” he explained. “I was very fortunate to play in some fantastic European nights.

“You know, Anfield under the lights is unique it’s a fantastic stadium but as much as I am a traditionalist clubs have got to move on.

“I think they’re looking to expand Anfield and that would be the best result for me rather than moving away from Anfield, but if they have to move away it’s just a sign of the times.

“Look at Highbury. That was a wonderful stadium but I think their move to Emirates has worked for them.

“The money they can earn by moving to a bigger and better facility is there for everybody to see.”

McAllister left Liverpool in 2002 to forge a coaching career, and last September left a post with Middlesbrough to become Gerard Houllier’s assistant manager at Aston Villa.

Since leaving Villa Park in the wake of Houllier’s departure he has been out of the game, but is itching to get back.

“It’s what I know, it’s what I’ve done since I left school at 16,” he explained.

“I enjoyed my brief time at Aston Villa. You know if the right opportunity does come along I would jump at it.

“You know that’s just a fact, it’s what I have been brought up to do, it’s what I know it’s what I know best.

“I’ve played over seven hundred games so I would like to put something back in.”

Anfield Chance For Young Town Trio

Three Swindon Town Centre of Excellence players are spending this week training at Premier League side Liverpool.

The three players are Jordan Young (U13), Ryan Wood (U14) and Lee Marshall (U15) have been selected to spend a week's training at the Liverpool Academy.

The trip has been organized as part of their continued development with the club already having close links with the Anfield side.

Centre of Excellence manager, Jeremy Newton, commented: "Dave Moss, Head of Recruitment at the Liverpool Academy, is a former Swindon Town player and someone I know well.

"The experience of going up to Liverpool and training with them will be a good opportunity for the young boys and hopefully they will learn a lot from their time there.

"In turn, we are looking for the lads to come back to Swindon and put into practice what they learn from being in such a high-level environment.

Newton added: "It's a little reward for all the efforts the boys have put in during the first half of this season."

Marsh Expects Liverpool U18s To Respond To FA Youth Cup Defeat

Mike Marsh says he has no worries about his side’s ability to bounce back from their disappointing FA Youth Cup exit.

The Reds Under-18s were much-fancied for this season’s competition, but fell at the first hurdle as they were beaten 3-1 by Swansea City last week.

Marsh admits he was left frustrated by his side’s early exit, but says there is plenty to look forward to from the Reds’ next generation.

“It was very frustrating and disappointing,” he said. “We always have high hopes and we want to do well in any competition, but we can’t dwell on this.+

“The lads have reacted well in training, as I knew they would.

“Setbacks happen in football. At a club like Liverpool, you are always under scrutiny, you just need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off.”

Marsh hopes his side can do just that when they welcome West Bromwich Albion to Kirkby on Saturday morning, and says there is plenty of reason for positivity among his young talents.

“When you analyze it, we have lost four games out of sixteen,” he added. “We are doing really well, playing some nice stuff, and I think we are only going to improve in the New Year too.

“We have a very young side, with a lot of first year scholars in our line-up. It’s good to think that this time next year we will have a superb side, but they are doing great this year too.”

He added: “Generally, our performances have been good. Results-wise, they have been better away from home than at home for some reason, but in terms of performance there hasn’t been a lot of difference either way.

“We have hopefully learned one or two lessons from the Swansea game, and everything bodes well for the future.”