Friday, August 31, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 1 - 1 Hearts

Luis Suarez spared goalkeeper Jose Reina's blushes - and some of his own - with the late goal that fired the Reds into the Europa League group stage at the expense of Hearts.

Brendan Rodgers' side dominated the second leg of their qualifying round play-off at Anfield but were punished for not adding to their 1-0 aggregate lead when Reina let a David Templeton shot squeeze through late on.

With extra time looming, Liverpool rallied and Suarez made amends for missing two earlier gilt-edged chances with a fine finish in the 88th minute.

It was a victory the Reds thoroughly deserved, played out against the backdrop of Friday's impending transfer deadline.

With £35million club record signing Andy Carroll conspicuous by his absence - as it transpired, finalising a loan move to West Ham - Rodgers handed a first start to 18-year-old striker Adam Morgan.

With 17-year-old Raheem Sterling having featured in the two previous games, Rodgers has not been afraid to give youth a chance but there was still an experienced look to his side.

Captain Steven Gerrard and star forward Suarez, both rested for the first leg at Tynecastle, were included along with the likes of Reina, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel.

With Rodgers having expressed a liking for "multi-functional" players, England winger Stewart Downing was fielded at left-back while Jordan Henderson, whose future has been the subject of speculation, was given a chance.

Hearts fielded the same side that started the first leg last week with captain Marius Zaliukas overcoming a thigh injury.

The Scottish side played some neat football and were not intimidated by Liverpool's reputation.

But aside from a dipping early shot wide from Callum Paterson, they lacked penetration and the hosts dominated.

Suarez tricked his way into the box but his shot was blocked for a corner.

Downing crossed for Morgan, who let the ball run for Gerrard but could not control the skipper's return inside.

Morgan's enthusiasm saw him catch Templeton with a late tackle but he escaped unpunished and grew in confidence playing in front of a fired up Gerrard.

Morgan headed back another deep cross from Downing and Suarez reached it to get a header on target but Zaliukas hacked off the line with Jamie MacDonald beaten.

Hearts appealed for a penalty when Paterson went down with Carragher in close proximity, but contact was ruled minimal.

Morgan tested MacDonald with a long-range shot as Liverpool came forward again but the goalkeeper managed to clutch the ball at the second attempt as Gerrard hunted the rebound.

Gerrard then weaved his way into the Hearts area to get in a shot but MacDonald blocked his shot - and the Scots breathed another sigh of relief when Morgan side-footed home in the 34th minute, only to have the effort ruled out as the ball had gone out before Suarez crossed.

Liverpool maintained the pressure in the second half with Jonjo Shelvey finding space to shoot wide from 25 yards.

The hosts seemed certain to take the lead in the 65th minute when Suarez, who had been goaded by the Hearts fans, timed a run perfectly to race through on MacDonald's goal.

As Manchester City's Carlos Tevez had done at the same end on Sunday, Suarez looked poised to take it round the goalkeeper and score but his touch was heavy and the chance was wasted.

Suarez's finishing ability was again brought into question just moments later, when after doing the hard part to beat Zaliukas, he blasted wide.

Sterling replaced Morgan to a huge ovation and immediately looked lively as he chased a first senior goal - denied only by a vital block by Daniel Grainger after one good run.

MacDonald tipped over a header from Skrtel but the Slovakian was ruled offside anyway.

Despite Liverpool's dominance Hearts were still only a goal away from taking the tie to extra-time.

Joe Allen escaped after Dale Carrick went down under his challenge outside the area but Sterling was punished for a push on Templeton 25 yards out.

Grainger lined up a shot but his effort was deflected for a corner off the wall.

That was a warning for the Reds and Hearts made them pay for their earlier profligacy six minutes from time.

Templeton seized on a clearance and took a couple of touches before firing at Reina.

It was well struck but the keeper should still have dealt with it, only it squirmed through his grasp.

Liverpool were forced to rouse themselves for one last push and Suarez made no mistake as he burst down the left and fired low across goal from a tight angle.

Rodgers Defends Reina After Hearts Blunder

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has defended keeper Pepe Reina after the Spaniard's blunder in the Reds' Europa League tie against Hearts.

With five minutes of normal time remaining, the Spain international managed to let a David Templeton shot squirm though his grasp and over the line before Luis Suarez saved his blushes scoring the winner three minutes later.

Rodgers told reporters: "Pepe has been brilliant since I’ve been here. He’s been a pivotal part of how we work. He’s been excellent off the field, a real good guy who understands the ideology of what we’re trying to do.

"Unfortunately for goalkeepers it’s part and parcel of the game. There’s no blame attached – unfortunately for goalkeepers they make a mistake and sometimes it leads to a goal.

“An outfield player makes a mistake and they’ve got their mates to recover. It will happen sometimes but we move on."

The former Swansea boss also hailed his side's work ethic and praised Suarez for his late clincher, although bemoaned a plethora of wasted opportunities earlier in the game.

Rodgers said: “One of the key things that I’ve noticed in the group is that they have hard work and integrity, I think the players have been absolutely magnificent since I’ve come in.

“They’ve given me everything and as each day goes on we’re getting closer as a group. That spirit really took us through Sunday’s game and took us through tonight’s game so it’s very important that when we went 1-0 behind we didn’t get disappointed.

“We came back and Luis’ most difficult chance he took, a wonderful run and finish. We probably could’ve put the game to bed earlier.”

Adam Morgan made his first start for the Reds in the match, and Rodgers revealed he will be looking to give more young players a chance in the team while he is in charge.

He added to ESPN:: "He’s a local boy, from Liverpool, and it’s important for me to give local boys who came through the ranks a chance.
"It was important for him to get his first start, and it’s important for me to give local boys a chance, and it’s something I’ll look to do."

German Youngster Signs For Reds

Liverpool have completed the signing of Samed Yesil from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen.

The 18-year-old striker becomes the latest youngster acquired by Brendan Rodgers after passing a medical on Thursday.

Yesil is of Turkish descent and has scored 22 goals in 26 appearances for Germany at U16, U17 and U18 level.

He was second top scorer in last summer's FIFA U17 World Cup after netting six goals in Mexico and is excited to be linking up with the Premier League side.

Yesil told the club's official website: "The first thing is that I have to train and then in one or two years I hope, step by step, to be in the first team.

"It is my dream to play for Liverpool and I will give my all."

Reds Eye Sturridge Bid

Sky Sports understands Liverpool is lining up a move for Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge before Friday's transfer deadline.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has identified Sturridge as the man to replace Andy Carroll who left on loan for West Ham on Thursday.

Sturridge provides greater attacking flexibility due to his ability to play in a wide position as well as in a central striker role.

The 22-year-old England international could be interested in making a switch in order to play first-team football.

Chelsea have strengthened their attacking options significantly this summer with the likes of Marko Marin, Eden Hazard and Oscar all capable of playing in Sturridge's wide-right position.

Liverpool Back In The Hunt For Uruguayan Winger

Liverpool is to launch a renewed bid for Bologna star Gaston Ramirez with hopes of securing the winger before today’s transfer deadline.

The 21-year-old was seemingly on the brink of a shock move to newly promoted Southampton earlier in the month, but complications surrounding the deal have seen the move stall. Italian outlet calciomercato suggest that Brendan Rodgers’ side have reignited their interest, and are reportedly not far away from reaching an agreement.

Liverpool previously had two bids for Ramirez knocked back, the highest being an offer of €14 million, an offer that fell short of the Italian club’s €20 million valuation of the player. Calciomercato suggest Liverpool’s new offer to take the player on loan for a fee of €5 million, followed by a permanent transfer next summer for in the region of €10-15 million depending on appearances and achievements, has been met with a much more positive response.

Throughout the negotiations between Bologna and Southampton, Ramirez has maintained his enthusiasm to play in the Premier League, a promising factor as Liverpool continues negotiations with the club. Should the Uruguayan international move to Anfield, he would join up with compatriots Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates.

West Ham Confirm Carroll Loan

West Ham have confirmed the signing of Andy Carroll on loan from Liverpool with a view to a permanent deal.

The Hammers have worked hard to do a deal for the England forward with Liverpool initially reluctant to do a loan deal for the man they paid £35million for last year.

But the newly-promoted side have persuaded the 23-year-old to move to London and confirmed they have an option to make the signing a permanent one for an undisclosed fee next summer.

The player himself insists he is just looking forward to playing games - and scoring goals for Sam Allardyce's side.

"It's great to be here at West Ham and all signed up - I just can't wait to get started now," Carroll told the club's official website.

"I want to be playing games and obviously hoping to score some goals. I know the manager well and some of the lads, so it is nice for me to come to a place where I know people.

"I'm hoping to add a lot of goals and create a few chances. I know Sam from Newcastle and he was a massive reason for me coming. When I worked with him at Newcastle it was great so it was a no-brainer really."

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is delighted to have got his man and believes he has acquired the services of an all-round talent.

He said: "I think for all parties this is a great signing. Andy is an all-round footballer, but because he is 6'3" and one of his strengths is his aerial power, everybody dismisses the ability he possesses on the floor.

"Hopefully he can score goals for us and we will be in a very good position at the end of the year in the Barclays Premier League."

Spearing Agrees Bolton Loan

Sky Sports understands Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing has agreed to join Bolton on loan. revealed earlier this week Bolton were one of five clubs hoping to sign Spearing before Friday's transfer deadline.

Bolton boss Owen Coyle is a big admirer of Spearing and sees him as a key addition to his side as he look to mount a bid for promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Liverpool are willing to let Spearing move on as the recent captures of Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin have pushed the local-born midfielder down the pecking order at Anfield.

A number of clubs were thought to be keen on signing Spearing on a permanent basis, but the 23-year-old has decided to go to Bolton on loan for six months as he sees his long-term future at Anfield.

Bolton are hoping to tie up a deal in time for Spearing to make his debut against Hull City this weekend.

Cole Rejects Moscow Move

Sky Sports understands Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole has rejected a move to Spartak Moscow.

Sky Sports had earlier indicated that the Anfield giants were ready to listen to offers for player before the close of the transfer window.

And it's understood that the Russians, who were drawn to face Barcelona, Benfica and Celtic in Group G of the Champions League, were keen on signing the experienced 30-year-old.

Cole enjoyed a successful campaign with French champions Lille while on loan from Anfield last season.

However, since his return, injuries have impacted the creative playmaker and it's believed the Reds had been looking to offload Cole before the end of the summer transfer window.

The Spanish coach of Spartak Moscow, Unai Emery, is reportedly a huge fan of the gifted Cole as he looks to strengthen his squad ahead of their European campaign.

It's believed the Russian runners-up had offered Cole a lucrative deal, but the player was not interested in a move to the Luzhniki Stadium.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Europa Cup Preview: Liverpool v Hearts

Lucas Leiva is the only confirmed absentee for the Europa League play-off second leg tie with Hearts.

On Wednesday Brendan Rodgers confirmed that the Brazilian midfielder could be out for up to three months with the thigh injury suffered during last weekend's draw with Manchester City.

Those Liverpool players who sat out the first encounter at Tynecastle are likely to play some part.

Though with Arsenal due to visit Anfield on Sunday afternoon the involvement of Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel amongst others could be limited - be that as a starter or via an introduction from the bench.

Despite the game taking place just 24 hours before the transfer window closes those linked with moves could also be given roles. Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam are amongst those not declared in the pool available.

Though unlikely to start Hearts keeper Peter Enckleman is rated as a doubt due to a shoulder problem.

Marius Zaliukas, the Edinburgh club's skipper, could feature after responding well to treatment for a thigh injury.

Ahead of the game Brendan Rodgers gave more information on Lucas's setback, explaining that there are more consultations before a full diagnosis can be made on an unusual problem.

"It's quite a unique injury at the top of his right fem [femur]," the Anfield boss said.

"He's had his scan and he will see a specialist this evening and we'll see whether he needs an operation or whether it's just recuperation and we'll see how that evolves from there."

The midfielder sat out most of last season after suffering a knee injury in November and regained fitness ahead of schedule.

Rodgers is hoping to see a similarly strong recovery adding: "He's a quick healer so I'd hope that he would be back sooner than that.

"We won't be rushing him. He's worked terrifically well and it's unfortunate that he's got over his knee problems and he looked strong and somewhere up to near fitness and now he's had this injury.

"I had a good long chat with him. He went for his scan and then he got the news last night. He's obviously disappointed because he's worked so hard but this will be an opportunity and a chance for him to work on other areas.

"One [is] to make sure that the strength in his knee continues to improve. He can still do some work off the field as well and it gives him a chance to focus. We are hoping that the [three months] will be a maximum.

"At this moment he's disappointed but he's a very courageous guy and he's focused. So his aim now is to get back as quick as he possibly can."

Sahin Ruling Nothing Out

Nuri Sahin has refused to rule out the prospect of completing a permanent switch to Liverpool if his loan deal proves to be a success.

The Turkey international has linked up with the Reds on a season-long agreement from Real Madrid.

Arsenal were also believed to be keen on acquiring his services, but Sahin will spend the 2012/13 campaign at Anfield after being convinced to head for Merseyside by Real colleague Xabi Alonso.

The 23-year-old arrives in England with a reputation as a midfielder capable of unlocking defences and grabbing the odd goal.

He will be hoping to bring those attributes to Brendan Rodgers' first-team squad, with Liverpool of the opinion that he can help them to push for a top-four finish.

Should Sahin prove that he is an asset worth retaining, the Reds may decide to look into the possibility of keeping him on a full-time basis.

No deal has been discussed as yet, but the former Borussia Dortmund playmaker admits anything is possible.

"In football you never know," said Sahin.

"I am here for this season and then you never know what will be happening in a few months.

"I am looking forward to playing this year here and after, we will see."

Liverpool Offer Players In Part-Exchange In Fresh Dempsey Talks

Liverpool has revived their move for Clint Dempsey by opening fresh talks with Fulham over a deal worth £7 million, can reveal.

The Merseysiders are back in negotiations with the Londoners, with discussions centring on the players who could move to Craven Cottage in part-exchange.

Liverpool are reluctant to meet Fulham’s asking price for the 29-year-old even though the Londoners will settle for a fee of around £6-7m.

Sources have said that discussions have focused on the identity of the players that could be used as makeweights in the deal in order to meet Fulham’s valuation.

Manager Martin Jol is in the market for a central midfielder after selling Mousa Dembele and Danny Murphy this summer, prompting Fulham to enquire again about Charlie Adam but it is understood that he is reluctant to move down south.

A number of junior members of the first-team squad have also been discussed as alternatives as Liverpool attempt to bridge the gap between the cash sum they are offering and the fee that Fulham want.

Liverpool have not yet made a concrete bid for Dempsey but there is a growing expectation that their summer-long pursuit of the American will reach a successful conclusion in the next 36 hours.

As revealed by last week, Fulham have lodged a formal complaint to the Premier League about Liverpool’s conduct by effectively accusing them of tapping up the midfielder.

Nevertheless, negotiations have been revived as Jol and senior Fulham figures accept that there is no way back for Dempsey at the club.

The 29-year-old has made it clear that he wants to quit Craven Cottage for Liverpool, whose manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted that he has made enquiries about signing the player.

As revealed by earlier this month, Dempsey has been training on his own after making it clear he does not want to play for the Londoners again while waiting for a move to Liverpool to materialize.

The attacking midfielder, who scored 17 Premier League goals last season and 23 in all competitions, has rejected Fulham’s offer of a new three-year contract that includes an option for a fourth year.

The west Londoners have fined Dempsey for refusing to play for the club and Jol has said that it would be “impossible” to keep the player at Craven Cottage.

The American has been left in limbo while his future remains up in the air but he has been reluctant to consider alternative offers, with Sunderland showing the most interest.

Dempsey, who moved to west London five-and-a-half years ago, believes that Liverpool’s interest could be the last opportunity he gets to play for one of the elite Premier League clubs.

Lucas Out For Three Months

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has suffered a new fitness nightmare after being ruled out for up to three months with a thigh injury.

The Brazilian sustained the problem in the warm-up before last Sunday's draw with Manchester City and limped out of the game after just five minutes at Anfield.

It is a cruel blow for Lucas, whose last season was ended by a serious knee ligament injury in the League Cup win at Chelsea in November 2011.

Lucas said on Twitter of his new injury: "No words to describe my feelings at the moment. It is been hard to be positive but I am sure better days will come. YNWA."

The defensive midfielder's absence is also a setback for new manager Brendan Rodgers as he looks to mould his tactics onto his squad.

New signing and former Swansea star Joe Allen was forced to drop into a defensive role against City after Lucas had gone off, with Jonjo Shelvey having come on as a substitute.

But Rodgers could now opt to give loan signing Nuri Sahin his debut as a starter in this Sunday's Premier League match against Arsenal, who the Turk almost joined.

It remains to be seen whether Liverpool will still decide to send Bolton Wanderers target Jay Spearing out on loan in the wake of Lucas' lay-off until November.

Liverpool will now decide whether or not Lucas' injury requires an operation and the 25-year-old is to see a specialist on Wednesday night.

Rodgers said: "It is very unfortunate. He has worked ever so hard to come back and he has been an outstanding player for me and person off the field as well.

"The indications are two to three months. It is quite a unique injury at the top of his right thigh.

"He has had a scan and we will see a specialist this evening. We'll see if it needs an operation or whether it is just recuperation."

Coyle Admits Spearing Battle

Owen Coyle has confirmed Bolton Wanderers are facing competition from 'bigger' clubs in the battle to sign Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing.

Sky Sports revealed on Tuesday that Bolton are one of five clubs keen on signing Spearing, who is considering his future at Liverpool following the recent captures of Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin.

A loan move or £3million permanent exit for Spearing has been mooted, with Premier League trio Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers and Southampton also thought to be considering a bid for the 23-year-old.

Coyle remains hopeful of bringing the midfielder to the Reebok Stadium and is waiting to see if the Trotters will win the race before Friday's transfer deadline.

"It's more complicated than people think," said Coyle after Bolton's Capital One Cup defeat at Crawley. "It isn't just a case of going out and bringing him in.

"Jay Spearing is a very good player and there's a lot of competition for that lad's signature.

"All we can do is our very best, and we'll continue to do that.

"I can't say right now that he's going to sign tomorrow morning because there is huge interest in him from clubs much bigger than ourselves. We'll see what transpires."

Carroll Asked To Leave

Andy Carroll has been asked to consider his future with Liverpool after boss Brendan Rodgers told the big money signing that he will be third choice striker at Anfield.

Rodgers is desperate to offload Carroll to fund a deadline day transfer swoop and he has left Carroll out of the Europa League squad to face Hearts tonight to give him time to consider a move.

The new boss has praised the attitude of Carroll, who has stated his desire to stay at the club, but believes that players who are not part of his plans should be looking to move on.

“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see Andy’s been a cover player but he’s been excellent in his attitude and acceptance of where he is at,” Rodgers said.

“But, as a club, I’m not sure we are in a position to have £35million players as third-choice strikers, or a winger on £5-6m a year.

“There’s still a wee bit of thinking time, and it’s hard to walk away from here. The ones who want to play will probably look elsewhere, irrespective of finance, because that’s their passion.”

Any transfers hinge on Liverpool players leaving first and Carroll could be joined at the exit door by Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam.

Rodgers explained: “The club financially needs repair. So to sign the players linked, unfortunately I don’t have the ability to do that – not in this window anyway.

“This is an incredible club and some players, even if you want to move them on, won’t walk out.

“I can only ever be straight with players.

“I’ve made it clear my group will be made up of starting players, cover players who can come in, and development players who can progress.

“If you feature outside of that I will tell you and then it is up to the player what they want – do they want to play football?”

Milan Rule Out Carroll

AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani does not think the club needs to sign another striker amid new reports linking the Serie A giants with Liverpool's Andy Carroll.

The £35million man was this summer expected to leave Anfield, as he seemingly does not fit into the plans of new manager Brendan Rodgers.

Carroll's former club, Newcastle United, is interested along with West Ham United while Milan were also thought to be monitoring the situation.

But with the Italian club set to sign Bojan Krkic to add to their existing attacking options, Galliani has quashed the links to England international Carroll.

The Milan official told Italian media when asked about the 23-year-old: "We already have many forwards."

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers last week said he would 'need to be a nutcase' to let Carroll leave on loan but speculation of a permanent exit has not gone away ahead of Friday's transfer deadline.

Carroll played just the final six minutes of Sunday's draw with Manchester City and it has been suggested he will be sold to raise money for signings.

Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Joe Cole have also been reported as players who Rodgers is prepared to let leave in order to fund a move for Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge.

Rodgers Plans New Downing Role

Stewart Downing could have a Liverpool future as a left-back, according to Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.

The £20million signing from Aston Villa has struggled at Anfield since his arrival last summer and has been usurped from his left-wing role by 17-year-old Raheem Sterling.

But Rodgers used Downing at full-back against Hearts in the club's Europa League play-off and is planning a new role for the 28-year-old England international on a long-term basis.

The Liverpool boss said: "I think it's a big possibility that he can play there. If you look at the modern day full-backs, like Jordi Alba and Ashley Cole, Ashley was a centre-forward.

"When I bring young players through, I will always bring attackers because they can move back.

"When Middlesbrough reached the UEFA Cup final against Sevilla, Stewart played left-back on that run, and sometimes that can release pressure on players.

"His job at the top end of the pitch is to create and score goals.

"But you looked at him in the half hour against Hearts, and he served the ball well, he got forward and defended a couple of times. That's important. I think he's good enough for that.

"I don't like to just give up on players, I always look at different ways you can play them.

"Stewart has a future as an attacking player but I have had a good chat with him on the role and he's excited about it.

"That's the biggest thing, because there is no point putting a player into a position he doesn't want to play.

"But when you speak to someone and tell them what the future could be, along with the qualities that he has, there is no doubt that in the modern game, he could play that role."

Potters Bid For Adam

Sky Sports sources understand Stoke have tabled a £4million bid for Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam.

Adam has struggled to make an impact at Anfield since joining from Blackpool last summer and looks unlikely to be part of manager Brendan Rodgers' first-team plans this season.

The 26-year-old, who cost the Reds a reported £6.75m to bring to Merseyside a year ago, has repeatedly said he is happy at the club and wants to stay.

However, his stance could change in light of Stoke's £4m offer, with Tony Pulis looking to bolster his midfield options at the Britannia Stadium.

Everton and Fulham are also thought to be keen on the Scotland international but the Potters could beat them to the punch.

Rodgers Casts Doubt Over Adam's Liverpool Future

Charlie Adam has been warned by his manager that he may have to leave Liverpool if he wants regular first-team football.

Brendan Rodgers has indicated to Adam that he will only be a squad player at Anfield this season. Adam was not involved on Sunday as Liverpool drew 2-2 with Premier League champions Manchester City, and is understood to have acknowledged that he needs to move on.

The 26-year-old, who arrived from Blackpool last summer, has been linked with Everton and Fulham, although it is not thought either club could match his salary at Anfield.

Rodgers said: "I've been open and up front with all our players. I think you saw on Sunday that our spirit is very strong in the group.

"But the reality is that players want to play. Everyone knows where they stand at the moment, and over the next few days, one or two of them might have decisions to make - in terms of whether they want to be a squad player or whether they want to play regular football somewhere else.

"Charlie's a very good player. He'll be a pivotal part of the Scottish national team going forward. He's a terrific player, with a good left foot and he will score goals. And I'm sure he'll do very well for Scotland."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 2 - 2 Man City

Carlos Tevez pounced on a Martin Skrtel mistake to continue his Manchester City rehabilitation by snatching a 2-2 draw for the champions at Liverpool.

The Argentinian, now firmly back in favour, seized on a backpass to strike his side's second equaliser and prevent City slipping to their first Barclays Premier League defeat of the season.

Liverpool were much improved after losing 3-0 at West Brom in their opener and twice led a pulsating clash with goals from Skrtel and Luis Suarez either side of a Yaya Toure effort.

But new manager Brendan Rodgers was denied his first league win as City again produced the sort of fightback they are beginning to specialise in.

After coming from behind to win their last three games 3-2, a City side which showed five changes had to settle for a draw this time.

Liverpool dominated for large spells with 17-year-old striker Raheem Sterling impressing on his first league start and Joe Allen looking composed on his home debut.

Mario Balotelli partnered Tevez up front for City on his first start since being sent off at Arsenal last April - and on a ground where he was dismissed last year - but despite looking focused, had a quiet game.

Liverpool showed early intent as captain Steven Gerrard twice stabbed low long-range shots wide in the opening three minutes.

Yet the game had hardly started when Liverpool were forced to make a change as Lucas, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, hobbled off after four minutes.

City had their first attempt on goal when Aleksandar Kolarov fired a free-kick straight at Jose Reina before Pablo Zabaleta launched a counter-attack with a fine tackle on Fabio Borini. Tevez took up the attack but his cross found no-one.

Liverpool should have gone ahead when the lively Sterling whipped in a fine cross for Fabio Borini but the Italian volleyed wide.

Tevez almost made him pay instantly as he latched on to a well-weighted pass from Samir Nasri and rounded Reina but the angle was too tight and he did well enough to hit the far post.

Kolo Toure tried his luck with a long-range shot but Skrtel blocked and a free-kick on the edge of the area came to nothing after Balotelli robbed Sebastian Coates and was tripped by Martin Kelly.

Liverpool then began to establish control with Sterling particularly looking a handful.

Kolo Toure blocked an effort by Borini, Suarez curled wide and City captain Vincent Kompany almost sliced a vicious low curling cross from Gerrard into his own net.

The Reds were not to be denied any longer as Skrtel came forward for the resulting corner and powered a header past Joe Hart from Gerrard's cross.

City were stung by the goal and struggled to make an impression as Liverpool dominated the remainder of the first half.

The hosts went close to doubling their lead before the break as Suarez flashed narrowly wide with another effort.

The Merseysiders thoroughly deserved their half-time lead and ovation and returned with much the same enthusiasm as Borini pounced on a mistake to set up Suarez, but the Uruguayan missed the target.

City boss Roberto Mancini began to make changes around the hour as he sought a way back into the game. Former Everton man Jack Rodwell predictably entered to boos from the home fans when he replaced Nasri and Edin Dzeko came on for Balotelli.

Within moments City were back level, but it owed much to defensive mistakes.

Tevez beat Sterling on the right and fired in a cross which the outstretched Reina was unable to claim. Kelly was wrong-footed by the Spaniard's attempts to gather and could not prevent the ball bouncing off him into the path of Yaya Toure, who swept home from close range.

Liverpool did not dwell on the disappointment and produced the perfect response.

Rodwell was penalised for handball 25 yards from goal and Suarez stepped up to bend a low effort past an ineffective wall.

It might have got worse for City as Glen Johnson charged into the area and went down but Kolarov was deemed to have made a clean tackle.

Yet just as it seemed Liverpool had the measure of the champions, Skrtel gifted them a way back into the game as Tevez seized on his poor pass back and calmly beat Reina.

Liverpool still wanted all three points and Jonjo Shelvey shot over from distance before Andy Carroll came on to a huge roar in the closing minutes.

City also pushed forward and Dzeko twice missed the target with shots.

Carroll almost grabbed a last-gasp winner as he got his head to a Suarez cross but Kompany headed off the line.

Rodgers - Skrtel Not At Fault

Brendan Rodgers does not blame Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel for his costly error which allowed Manchester City to equalize in Sunday's Anfield stalemate.

The Slovakian played a blind backpass towards Pepe Reina which City striker Carlos Tevez pounced on and slotted home for 2-2.

The Reds went ahead early on when Skrtel converted his header but was then involved in a defensive mix-up with Martin Kelly as Yaya Toure capitalized to level the score.

However, new Liverpool chief Rodgers was delighted with his side and refused to blame his goalscoring centre-back for the final error, instead hailing him for his 'courage'.

"There's no blame to Martin Skrtel, I'd rather have players wanting to get on to the ball," he told Sky Sports.

"The courage he has to get on the football and try to play is what is the most important thing."

The match saw starts for teenager Raheem Sterling and former Swansea midfielder Joe Allen - with both additions pleasing Rodgers, who labelled their performances as 'phenomenal'.

On the game, he said: "It was a brilliant performance I thought. There were a lot of questions asked of the team coming into such a big game but I thought the players were incredible and sometimes the best team doesn't win, and I think we were the better team.

"From what I've seen today, last week was a one-off and today I thought they were terrific.

"The plan was going perfect but then I thought tactically the ability to press at the right time and to drop off and to block was very good. I'm very, very proud of the team."

Rodgers is also looking to add to his squad, having brought in loan star Nuri Sahin last week.

He added: "I just think the players need some help. Obviously we lost a lot of players in the summer and we've only replaced what went out and not even that.

"The squad is a bit shallow, there's absolutely no doubt about that but we need to get a few in just to help the players that are here."

Enrique - Reds Style Needs Time

Jose Enrique is confident Liverpool will pick up plenty of points this season if they continue to perform to the same level as against Manchester City.

Liverpool twice led against the Premier League champions at Anfield on Sunday only for two defensive mistakes to allow City to salvage a 2-2 draw.

New Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is trying to implement a fresh approach on Merseyside and Enrique believes that, given time, it will reap rewards for the club.

"We are trying but there is still time - because there is a new manager we need time - but if we can play like this I think we will get many points," said the Spanish full-back.

"The best team in the world is the best example - Barcelona.

"You can see against Real Madrid a few days ago, how when they have the ball it is amazing and when they lose it, within three or four seconds they have it back. This the way we try to play.

"We can't compare with Barcelona - they are different, but we are trying to play like this. We are starting to learn but we are learning well."

Enrique also felt the overall performance of the team against City offered great encouragement for the rest of the season.

He said: "I think we did well. I think we deserved to win but we had two mistakes - that can happen in football.

"But then we got a point against Manchester City and that is not a bad point, of course.

"They were the best last year, which is why they won the league. I think we did better than them and I think this is the way we have to play this year."

Rodgers Rules Out Sterling Loan

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has ruled out sending young star Raheem Sterling on loan after impressing at the start of the season.

Sterling was outstanding for the Reds in his first Premier League start for the club in last weekend's draw with champions Manchester City.

It was initially thought Liverpool would consider loaning out Sterling this season so that he could get some valuable first-team experience under his belt, but the 17-year-old has quickly established himself in Rodgers' plans.

A number of clubs were thought to be keen on taking Sterling on loan, but Rodgers has now ruled out a move for the teenager as he wants him to continue his development at Anfield.

"I've seen a lot of development in him in a short time because he takes on a lot of the concepts and he is very good with instructions," said Rodgers.

"Normally wingers want to do their own thing but he is tactically improving every day.

"I am certain over the next few years that he will develop into a very good footballer.

"We just have to make sure that we keep the pressure off him.

"He certainly won't be going on loan and I believe that if we can help and nurture him in the right way, then he will be a very good player for Liverpool."

Liverpool Accept £3m Bolton Bid For Spearing

Liverpool has accepted a £3 million bid from Bolton Wanderers for Jay Spearing, can reveal.

The midfielder is set to complete a move to Reebok Stadium in the next few days after the Championship club matched the Merseysiders’ asking price for the 23-year-old.

Contrary to reports, it is understood that Spearing will move to Bolton permanently rather than on a season-long loan.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has sanctioned the departure of the Academy graduate as he tries to offload fringe players from his squad in the final days of the transfer window.

Rodgers is also willing to listen to offers for Charlie Adam, who has fallen down the Anfield pecking order following the arrivals of Joe Allen from Swansea City and Nuri Sahin on a season-long loan from Real Madrid.

The Northern Irishman has been told he has to raise funds to bring in new faces, as he bids to freshen up Liverpool’s attacking options in the next 72 hours with a wide forward his chief priority.

Spearing’s departure from Liverpool is expected to be confirmed before the transfer deadline on Friday night and is expected to slot straight into the Bolton team, where he will bring tenacity and energy to the midfield.

Spearing has not been named in Liverpool’s matchday squads in their opening two Premier League fixtures although he has featured in all three of their Europa League games and played 67 minutes of the 1-0 win over Hearts last Thursday.

Liverpool Sweat On Lucas Injury

Liverpool is waiting to discover the extent of midfielder Lucas Leiva's thigh injury amid concerns that he could be out for up to two months.

Lucas came off five minutes into Sunday's 2-2 draw with Manchester City after having felt the injury during the warm-up.

Manager Brendan Rodgers initially thought the 25-year-old had pulled a muscle, but is worried that it could be a tear that would keep him out for between six and ten weeks.

Lucas missed the final five months of last season after damaging his cruciate knee ligament in a League Cup victory at Chelsea at the start of December.

He made his return to action earlier than expected during Liverpool's pre-season tour of North America in July, and is desperate to avoid another long spell out of action.

After suffering his injury on Sunday, the midfielder wrote on Twitter: "Thanks (for) all the message(s). I am devastated but I need to put my head right and see in the next few days how bad (it) was. Good night."

Lucas's misfortune is likely to give new signing Nuri Sahin a chance to make his debut against Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday. Turkey international Sahin, 23, has moved to Anfield on a season's loan from Real Madrid.

Liverpool Ready To Sell Duo To Buy Sturridge

Rodgers is keen to bring the Chelsea striker to Anfield and will happily move on Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing to help pay for him.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is lining up a last-minute swoop for Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge.

Rodgers will have to pull off a massive clear-out at Anfield to get the proposed £15million deal done though.

He is ready to sell Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing this week to raise the funds to carry on his rebuilding plans and Sturridge is right at the top of his hit-list.

Andy Carroll could also go, with Newcastle and West Ham still interested in a loan deal with a view to a permanent transfer. The Geordie favours a return to his native North-East.

Rodgers is a big admirer of Sturridge who has become frustrated at Chelsea after failing to nail down a regular place in the side or get a chance in his favoured role as a central striker.

New Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo appears no more inclined than his predecessors to move him up the pecking order, only using him as a sub so far this season, which has alerted Rodgers and he is watching developments closely.

Chelsea are aware of Liverpool’s interest even though a bid has yet to come in, and may be reluctant to sell if it leaves them short of attacking options.

Having sent Romelu Lukaku out on loan to West Brom for the season, Sturridge is their only senior striker other than first-choice Fernando Torres.

However, they have been linked with a number of frontmen, including Napoli's Edinson Cavani and Bayer Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle.

Rodgers has impressed the Liverpool hierarchy and fans with his rebuilding plans and philosophy and if he can generate cash through sales then he will have the funds to get Sturridge.

Downing may be difficult to shift after a disappointing first season at Liverpool despite being an England international.

Adam is unlikely to be part of Rodgers’ long-term plans and has been linked with a move to Everton.