Saturday, September 29, 2012

Match Preview: Norwich v Liverpool

Liverpool will hope a strong record against Norwich City in the Premier League will bring their first top-flight win of the season on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers has yet to record a domestic three points since moving to Anfield, including last weekend's defeat by Manchester United, and will be desperate to address the struggles.

West Bromwich Albion was beaten at the beginning of Liverpool's League Cup defence in midweek but the Premier League is the priority.

And Rodgers will be pleased to know he has inherited a club record of having won five and lost none of the last six Premier League matches against Norwich.

Liverpool is also unbeaten in their last four visits to Carrow Road, winning the last three in a row, including Luis Suarez's hat-trick in this fixture last season.

Norwich have endured similar struggles in the Premier League and, like Rodgers, Chris Hughton has yet to record a win.

They sit just one place and point above relegation zone occupants Liverpool but Doncaster were defeated in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday and there could be some momentum.

Norwich has been counting the cost of their victory over Doncaster with the news Harry Kane could be sidelined for six weeks.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, damaged his ankle in the 1-0 win against the League One club.

Kane is also understood to have broken a metatarsal, although the full extent of the injury has not yet been confirmed.

Centre-back Daniel Agger has a good chance of being fit for Liverpool despite being carried off on a stretcher last weekend.

The Denmark international sustained bone bruising in the defeat by United but could retain his place in the starting line-up, although forward Fabio Borini (ankle) is rated at 50-50.

Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is suspended while Martin Kelly's knee operation means there is a decision to make in defence with left-back Jose Enrique still injured.

Gerrard: First Win Is Crucial

Steven Gerrard admits the pressure is growing in the Liverpool dressing room as they go in search of their first win of the Premier League season against Norwich.

The Reds have taken just two points from their opening five league matches, which have included home games against champions Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Their next three fixtures - against Norwich, Stoke and Reading - are definitely winnable on paper and Gerrard knows they must start converting their encouraging recent performances into victories.

"We have a run of games coming up now where there are points we should be taking but the longer it (not winning) goes on the more difficult it is going to get so it is important against Norwich we take maximum points," said the 32-year-old.

"If you look at the performances against City and United we should have six [more] points so it is not a case of 'they're out the way now, let's go beat the sides we should beat'.

"I think what we need to do is keep playing like we have done and hopefully we'll get the rub of the green, get referee's decisions in our favour and we will go on and take maximum points.

"Of course it puts more pressure on us. If we had won against United and beaten City everyone would be saying about how good a result it was at Sunderland (a 1-1 draw).

"But because that win hasn't come it seems as if we dropped points at Sunderland, so it is no good getting a point from these tough away games any more, we need to win them."

Carra Praises Rodgers' Bravery

Jamie Carragher has hailed Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers for being brave enough to put faith in the club's emerging talent.

Veteran defender Carragher again saw at first hand the potential of some of the budding stars of the future during Wednesday night's 2-1 win at West Brom in the Capital One Cup.

On-loan Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin scored both goals, wiping out an early opener from Gabriel Tamas, as holders Liverpool retained their grip on the trophy and set up a home tie with Rodgers' former club Swansea.

But others such as left-winger Oussama Assaidi, who laid on the winner, caught the eye, while Jerome Sinclair became Liverpool's youngest player at 16 years and six days as a late substitute.

Carragher said: "We believe that we have good young players at Liverpool.

"But you can have the best kids and academy in the world, and if the manager isn't brave enough to play them, then it doesn't make any difference.

"You have to give the manager credit for having the balls to play them and for the lads to have the sort of character they showed as well at West Brom after going 1-0 down.

"It isn't just the ability they have, it's the character as well. It's not just against West Brom that they've showed that. It was last week as well in the Europa League (against Young Boys).

"He's giving players a chance and they have to grasp it. So far they're doing that."

Carragher acknowledges the challenge facing Rodgers, who has admitted he has only 12 fit senior players ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash at Norwich.

He said: "It's difficult for the manager, we're in four competitions and the squad's a bit threadbare at moment.

"We missed out on a couple of players in the transfer window on the last day.

"We also have a few injuries as well, so it's difficult for the manager to juggle it all.

"I'm sure a lot of people looked at the team sheet at West Brom and thought it was going to be a difficult night for us.

"After the first 10 minutes maybe they were being proven right. But credit to the young players here."

Molby: Nuri Deserves Norwich Start

Jan Molby lauded the influence of on-loan midfielder Nuri Sahin after the Turkey international inspired a young Liverpool side to an important victory over West Brom on Wednesday night.

Anfield's Great Dane, who knows all about influencing matches from the centre of the park, was delighted to see Sahin pulling the strings and dictating the pace of the game at The Hawthorns.

And he believes the 24-year-old's decisive contribution mid-week should be rewarded with a starting berth for the Reds' trip to Norwich on Saturday.

"The performance of Nuri Sahin on Wednesday night did not come as a surprise to many of us, least of all myself," Molby wrote in his Liverpool Echo column. "I have written about the midfielder before and how much I like him as a player.

"He is starting to show us his form now and at the Hawthorns we caught glimpses of that football arrogance he plays with, which was great.

"Sahin was at the heart of a lot of what was good about Liverpool in the Capital One Cup against West Bromwich Albion.

"He deserves to start at Norwich City. He would go into my team for the weekend because we need players who can influence games."

Sahin fired the Reds' equalizer from distance before putting the finishing touches to an intricate 10-pass move to set-up a meeting with Swansea at Anfield in the fourth round.

The side was largely unchanged from the XI that secured a memorable 5-3 victory over Young Boys in Bern last Thursday and Molby is thrilled with the way the youthful outfit have displayed both character and composure during the two ties.

"What really encouraged me about the team was that they were confident in looking for those risky final passes, which would get them into dangerous positions," explained Molby.

"Barring one of two changes, it was the same side that went over to Switzerland last week and defeated Young Boys.

"And again, there was a real flow to their game. These lads have been given an opportunity and a lot of them have taken it with both hands.

"But not only did they impress everyone with their technique and skill at West Brom in midweek, but also their ability to dig in and show character.

"Brendan Rodgers was particularly pleased with the manner in which they fought back.

"The way Suso has played recently and with the confidence he has, I don't see any point in keeping him on the bench.

Meanwhile, Molby was keen to look ahead to Saturday's trip to Carrow Road with a degree of caution, pointing to manager Chris Hughton's ability to inspire his players as one of The Canaries' key strengths.

"Hughton is very much in the Paul Lambert mould of management and gets the players onside," said Molby. "He gets them working very well and he manages well, considering the limitations placed upon him.

"Norwich have had a difficult start to the season but remain a well organized side who will work as hard as anyone in the league."

"Up front, they have a real physical threat with Grant Holt and so, with Daniel Agger still a doubt, an important selection issue arises as who to partner Martin Skrtel at centre-half.

"With the current appetite for a new Liverpool, and the way he looked very comfortable on Wednesday night, I would select Sebastian Coates."

LFC Considering Offer For £10m Serie A Star

With Jamie Carragher winding down, and Daniel Agger still prime to picking up injuries, Liverpool could be in the market for another central defender in January, and according to new reports in Italy, the Reds are tracking Udinese defender Mehdi Benatia, and are considering making a 'tempting' offer.

Liverpool manager tried to sign the no-nonsense defender during the summer transfer window, but a deal could not be concluded.

In March - when Kenny Dalglish was at the helm - Udinese president Giampaolo Pozzo confirmed that Liverpool were interested. He told Radio KK:

"Arsenal and Liverpool have contacted me [about Benatia], but there is no mention of a transfer fee. At the end of the season we will see how it goes"

Chelsea and Manchester United are also reportedly interested in the £10m-rated defender, and with Nemanja Vidic injured again, And Rio Ferdinand getting older, Liverpool could face stiff competition for the Benatia's signature.

Central defence may not appear to be Liverpool's immediate priority, but it's arguably an area of the team that needs to be addressed.

Liverpool fans will get to see Benatia in action soon during the club's Europa League double-header with Udinese next month.

David Villa Reveals Summer Liverpool Inquiry

Liverpool has taken a lot of flak for not signing a star striker over the summer. Manager Brendan Rodgers has been frustrated to nearly no end that he was not allowed to bring in another player in the place of Andy Carroll. Having loaned the big Geordie striker to West Ham United, the Reds were left with only Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini as first team attackers.

However, it appears that aside from the failed attempt to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham, the club were interested in a world class forward that has revealed he would have accepted the chance to move to the famous English club had his injury not prevented the summer transfer.

That world class striker is Barcelona and Spanish international David Villa. A leg break suffered in the club world cup last winter saw him miss the second half of the 2011/12 campaign as well as the European Championships for his country.

It has been revealed that Villa had indeed been interested in the potential move to Merseyside and has sparked debate that he could be a massive winter transfer period signing for Liverpool. According to both El Confidencial and Caught Offside, Villa is ready and willing to discuss his options.

If the Liverpool owners want a true solution to their scoring issues upfront, the combination of Villa and Luis Suarez with the support of Fabio Borini could be one of the most deadly front three groupings in the EPL. The creative ability of Villa could also potentially bring Steven Gerrard that much more back into the game for the Reds in the second half.

Suarez Defends Premier League Referees

Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has refused to put the blame on referees regarding decisions that have gone against him this season.

Manager Brendan Rodgers yesterday revealed that he had spoken to Mike Riley, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd; irate with perceived mistreatment his players have been receiving this season. One of the northern Irish manager’s biggest gripes surrounded the incident at Anfield last Sunday, where the referee failed to award Suarez a penalty after a challenge from Manchester United’s Jonny Evans.

But the Uruguayan international has taken a more thoughtful approach, and has conceded that referees are tasked with a difficult enough job where mistakes can be made.

“There are times when the referee gets it right and others when he doesn't but that's all part and parcel of the game,” the forward told Sky Sports.

"It's happened in the last few games, like against Manchester United when the penalty shout on me wasn't given and then the one on (Antonio) Valencia was.

"But talking about it doesn't solve anything - the referee has a split second to see an incident. Let's just hope that it doesn't happen again in the future.”

Brendan Rodgers bemoaned a number of decisions that have gone against his side in the last week, particularly aggrieved with the decisions that saw Suarez’s penalty claim turned down and Jonjo Shelvey’s shown a red card.

Borini Wanted To Stay In Italy

Liverpool striker Fabio Borini would have welcomed a stay in Italy, his agent has revealed.

The Italian international arrived at Anfield for a fee of £10.5 million; just weeks after Roma had signed the remaining 50% of the player’s contract from Parma. Prior to his move to the Premier League, Borini was co-owned by Serie A sides Parma and Roma, a common circumstance in Serie A.

After a successful campaign, the Rome side paid Parma a fee of €5.3 million to acquire the other 50% of Borini’s rights and own the player outright. Little over two weeks later, the forward became Brendan Rodgers’ first signing as Liverpool boss.

But speaking to Italian radio station, Radio Incontro, Borini’s agent Marco De Marchi has suggested the striker would have been happy to stay at Roma. “His move to Liverpool happened very quickly, he wanted to stay at Rome. (and was prepared to even buy a house there.”

De Marchi was also quick to add that a move to Merseyside was a welcomed alternative.

“However, then the directors eventually decided to sell him to Liverpool and that was certainly a welcome destination for him.”

The 21-year-old, who Brendan Rodgers also signed on loan from Chelsea while he was managing Swansea City, has hit the back of the net just once so far this campaign, against Belarusian side Gomel in a Europa League qualifier.

Barnes: Education The Answer To Racism

John Barnes has told ESPN that "we are all unconscious racists" and said the punishments handed to Luis Suarez and John Terry are not the answer to ridding football of racism.

On Thursday, Chelsea captain Terry was fined £220,000 and given a four-match ban after an FA commission found him guilty of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during a match at Loftus Road in October 2011.

In December 2011, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was given an eight-match ban and fined £40,000 after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in their match at Anfield on October 15.

Barnes, though, believes that education is the most effective way of clamping down on racism in the sport and suggested that everyone is guilty of "unconscious racism".

The former Liverpool winger told ESPN: "The trouble is stereotyping. We are all unconscious racists. It's what you think as much as what you say.

"If players are careful not to say it, [in order] to avoid bans, you cannot stop them thinking it. It just drives it all underground, and that can make it worse.

"So the approach of heavy-handed punishments isn't the answer. If you want to get rid of unconscious racism, you have to understand its causes and understand that people like John Terry and Luis Suarez are not going to change the way they think.

"The answer is through education, awareness, tolerance, and it is vital that we teach a new generation racial tolerance. It is about understanding the unconscious racism that can exist in all of us. It can exist in myself, but I can recognize it and deal with it.

"But the FA punishing John Terry and Luis Suarez won't change the way people think. It fails to get to the root of the problem.

"We need people to discuss the issues and not to be afraid of them, as they are now, and it is not the point whether you think John Terry is a racist or not.

"John Terry has been carrying his opinions for the whole of his life. His opinions about black people haven't changed, and he cannot help feeling the way he does about black people.

"But we all have to tackle the cause, the reasons why we feel this intolerance, rather than tackle the symptoms of it. John Terry is no different to anyone else - he is an unconscious racist, just as we all are."

Friday, September 28, 2012

Match Report: West Brom 1 - 2 Liverpool

Nuri Sahin's first goals for the club kept Liverpool's grip on the Capital One Cup as Brendan Rodgers' young lions came from behind to win at West Brom.

Albion went ahead through Gabriel Tamas but on loan Real Madrid midfielder Sahin levelled before half-time and struck the winner with eight minutes remaining.

Liverpool's first choice line-up had been humbled 3-0 at Albion on the opening day of the season in the Barclays Premier League but their potential stars of the future did them proud on Wednesday night.

Rodgers made 11 changes from the side beaten at home by Manchester United on Sunday but his side were worthy winners after an uncertain start.

Oussama Assaidi caused all sorts of problems down the left flank for Billy Jones and then Craig Dawson and set up Sahin's late decider.

Turkish international Sahin also showed his quality in the centre of the park.

The home side will be bitterly disappointed at their exit after fielding a strong side but only midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu and striker Romelu Lukaku emerged with much credit.

Albion needed only three minutes to take the lead after a glaring error by Reds goalkeeper Brad Jones.

Liam Ridgewell floated a harmless looking free-kick into the Liverpool box from the left flank but Jones, under no pressure, dropped the ball and central defender Tamas kept his volley down as it flew into an unguarded net.

West Brom came close to doubling their lead when Lukaku cut in from the left but his shot was deflected wide by Jamie Carragher.

Albion dominated the early exchanges and a fierce drive from Markus Rosenberg forced a low save out of Jones after Lukaku had shaken off the challenge of Carragher.

But Liverpool should have levelled after 11 minutes when debutant Samed Yesil headed wide from Assaidi's centre.

Another goalkeeping error, this time by Ben Foster, led to Liverpool equalizing after 17 minutes through Sahin

Sahin let fly with a speculative low 30-yard drive and Foster allowed the ball to slip under his body and into the net.

Ridgewell limped out of the action after 22 minutes and was replaced by Craig Dawson

Liverpool were now in the ascendancy with winger Assaidi causing constant problems but Albion still posed a threat on the counter-attack.

Jones raced out of his goal to fly hack clear from Lukaku, who then tested the Liverpool keeper with a low drive.

Mulumbu and Reds defender Andre Wisdom were booked after challenges on Sahin and Billy Jones respectively.

Liverpool dominated the early exchanges of the second period and Yesil's low shot hit the leg of Foster and somehow bounced up over the bar.

Then the former England keeper could only stand and watch as Jordan Henderson's curling attempt from the left of the Albion box struck the bar.

Rosenberg was struggling to make an impact but did force Jones to turn aside an effort from on the edge of the Liverpool area.

Foster again struggled in dealing with a dipping drive from Daniel Pacheco and was having one of his less than convincing games - but he partially redeemed himself in denying Sebastian Coates at close range.

Jerome Sinclair became Liverpool's youngest ever player at 16 years and six days when he was introduced as an 81st minute substitute, beating the record of Jack Robinson (16 years and 250 days).

Then a minute later Sahin won it for the visitors when he found space at the far post to convert Assaidi's low cross.

Rodgers Excited By Special Swansea Clash

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is relishing a Capital One Cup fourth-round clash with former club Swansea - and is determined the holders will not easily relinquish their grip on the trophy.

Rodgers made 11 changes for the third-round trip to West Brom and two goals from on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin secured a 2-1 win after Gabriel Tamas had given Albion an early lead.

The Reds manager made the switch from the Swans in the summer and was finally able to celebrate his first win in domestic football with his new club.

Rodgers said: "The Swansea game will be a special occasion, very much so. It is a wonderful club, a brilliant club, and I was in no rush to leave there.

"I could only leave there to go to another special club. It will be a great night.

"I think in the competition you prefer home games so to play Swansea at Anfield, in front of two wonderful sets of supporters, it will be a great night.

"I said to the players afterwards that the cup is stored at Anfield and I don't want to give it up too easy.

"I want us to fight even thought it is difficult because of our lack of depth in the group.

"It is a competition we want to do well in. Of course, we will be really stretched with the Europa League, Premier League between now and January.

"But the nature of this club is we want to win every game and, if we get a few young players out of it (the Capital One Cup), it will really help us moving forward."

Rodgers believes the best is still to come from Sahin, who was on the verge of joining Arsenal before moving to Anfield.

He said: "Nuri is still getting up to speed. It has been difficult for him. He was out for a long time and has come here having missed a big part of pre-season.

"But every day he is getting better. He has got great football arrogance, terrific on the ball.

"With his first goal you see he has got good technique, he is not frightened to shoot and he can arrive in the box and get a goal as he showed with the second one."

Rodgers believes the result at the Hawthorns emphasizes how far Liverpool have progressed since losing 3-0 to Albion on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season.

He said: "It was a symbolic night as well because it shows how far we are moving as a group from our first day of this season.

"Then we were a bit disjointed and players did not quite understand my methods.

"But in the last three or four weeks where our tempo and relentless possession has started to come through. He said: "We said we'd have a go, we certainly started that way. I think their first goal knocked the stuffing out of us a bit.

Sahin Pleased With Victory

New Liverpool recruit Nuri Sahin has spoken of his happiness at registering his first goals for his new club in their victory over West Brom.

Sahin scored a first half equalizer before a second ten minutes from time ensured that Liverpool progressed to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.

It was Sahin's first domestic victory at his new club, and the Turkish midfielder was happy with the character shown by an inexperienced side.

"We played with a young side and they showed a lot of character, especially to come back from 1-0 down and they did very well," Sahin told the club's official website

"It was a good night for the club and I was happy to see the young players get their chance and show what they can do. I was impressed with Jack Robinson who did well at left-back but to be fair they all did very well.

Liverpool travel to Norwich City on Saturday looking for their first league win of the season.

Jerome Sinclair Is Liverpool's Youngest Ever Player

Jerome Sinclair became Liverpool's youngest ever player when he starred in their 2-1 Capital One Cup victory at West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday night.

Sinclair ended the evening happy after Liverpool had inadvertently called him Jordan on the team-sheet, on his return to The Hawthorns where he was part of Albion's academy before he moved to Anfield a year ago.

The striker, who came off the bench, made his senior debut aged 16 years and six days, supplanting Jack Robinson, who was 244 days older when he made his first Liverpool appearance.

Sinclair made his debut for Liverpool under-18s towards the end of last season, having spent most of the campaign playing for the under-16s. He was a prolific goalscorer in pre-season friendlies for the under-18s, which earned him his chance to step up.

Suso Can Be World Class, Says Enrique

Liverpool’s 18-year-old prodigy Suso has been backed by his compatriot Jose Enrique to go on to establish himself as a world class talent.

The Spanish full back was full of praise for Suso, who has greatly benefited from Brendan Rodgers’ penchant for utilizing the stand out individuals amongst the clubs youth ranks recently. Suso made his debut in Liverpool’s thrilling 5-3 win over Swiss outfit Young Boys last week, and subsequently found himself on the bench during the club’s game with Manchester United last Sunday.

The diminutive attacking midfielder had an immediate impact when he came off the bench against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, instantly helping create Steven Gerrard’s opener. Fellow Spaniard Enrique is confident the youngster can achieve whatever he desires, providing he keeps up the hard work.

“I know Suso well because we speak Spanish together and I think he is a top player already," Enrique told the Liverpool Echo.

“He can be a really top player for Liverpool and for any team in the world,”

“I tell him he has to work very hard in the Premier League and work back like all the other players. That is very important, but I tell him if he works hard he has all the qualities.

The former Newcastle United full back feels that young Suso is ready to follow in the footsteps of Raheem Sterling, who looks to be handling the transition from youth and reserve level to the first team with consummate ease.

“I think he is ready now. We saw that against Manchester United. He played very well,” Enrique added.

“We knew Raheem Sterling was confident because we have seen him play a few times already, but he surprised me by trying all the things he is trying in matches at 17-years-old.”

Suso Credits Team-Mate For Liverpool Rise

Liverpool rookie Suso has credited fellow Spaniard Jose Enrique for his rise through the ranks at Anfield.

The promising 18-year-old made his Premier League debut when he came on at half-time against Manchester United on Sunday and did not look out of place in the emotionally-charged derby.

The Spain Under-19 international, who joined Liverpool in 2010 from hometown club Cadiz, admits it has been a challenge to adapt to life in England.

However, he says the transition has been made easier by the presence of left-back Enrique.

"He is the player I learn from," said Suso, who featured against West Brom in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night.

"Every day he gives me advice and he always knows what is best for me and what I can improve. He is the best companion I have here; he is a good support inside and outside the club.

"It's true there is much difference between Liverpool in Cadiz. Especially the food, the fish you can get in Cadiz is not here! And my family of course."

Liverpool Defender Praises Rodgers For Playing The Game The Right Way

Daniel Agger insists that Brendan Rodgers’ brand of football is a step in the right direction for Liverpool, but anticipated the difficult start the club has endured.

Liverpool sealed their place in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night with a 2-1 victory over West Brom, courtesy of a Nuri Sahin brace. Prior to that, Liverpool had mustered just two points from their opening five fixtures in the league, picking up two draws and three defeats to leave them languishing at the foot of the table.

Rodgers has been attempting to revolutionize the way the Merseyside club play football this season, making efforts to instill better ball retention and greater tenacity in pressing their opponents, a design many liken to Spain’s ‘tika tika’ formula. Danish international Agger is confident that things will click soon enough at Anfield, and the club will begin to reap the awards of playing attractive football.

"I like the manager’s system and his style of football," the defender told the Liverpool Daily Post. "It’s the kind of system I like to play so I’m more than happy.

"And I also think it’s the right way for Liverpool Football Club – it’s the style of football Liverpool should play.

"Of course the most important thing is to get the results but if you can do that and at the same time play with a good style of football, good possession and aggression, that’s a bonus.

Given Liverpool’s stuttering start, which has been exacerbated by their limited striking options up front, there had been early signs of frustration emanating from Anfield. But 27-year-old Agger insists improvement is being made each day, and the club will soon be taking their chances to climb back up the Premier League.

It has been difficult but we knew that before we started," Agger continued. "We knew that we were trying to adapt to a new system and a new way of playing, so it was going to take some time.

"But I really think we are moving forward now. We dominated the fixture last weekend but at the end of the day we need to start collecting some points.

"I see signs every day in training and in the game that we are going the right way. We need to be a little bit more clinical and make sure we get the result when we deserve it.

Lucas Frustrated At Dealing With New Injury Blow

Injury-hit Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has described 2012 as the worst year of his career and his life.

The Brazilian had to wait until August to make his first competitive appearance of the year after suffering a serious knee injury at the end of 2011.

But in just the second Premier League match of Liverpool's season Lucas picked up a thigh injury and was ruled out for another three months, leaving him to cut a dejected figure on the sidelines again.

"This is the worst year of my career and of my life as well. When we can't do what we like to do and perform your job, it's always a bit frustrating," the 25-year-old told Sportv.

Despite a slow start to his career at Anfield Lucas has been able to establish himself as a key player in the Reds' midfield, but the double injury blow has dealt him a significant setback.

He added: "Everything is a bit new to me because I have never had so many injuries. Two in a row is very complicated.

"We tried to stay positive when the first one happened, but the second one was much tougher as it happened so close to the other one."

Rodgers' Melwood Injury Update

Brendan Rodgers has revealed Daniel Agger and Fabio Borini are edging closer to the levels of fitness that could see them feature in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash against Norwich.

However, the manager also explained to journalists gathered at Melwood how the problem Martin Kelly sustained against Manchester United on Sunday is likely to sideline the 22-year-old until the latter stages of the league campaign.

Asked whether Agger or Borini could play some part at the weekend, Rodgers replied: "Daniel probably has a good chance and Fabio is 50/50.

"They haven't trained this week but we'll see how they go over the next 24 hours. They are responding well."

Kelly suffered an ACL rupture of his right knee during Sunday's Anfield encounter and the full-back will undergo surgery to repair the damage tonight.

"We wish him all the best," Rodgers said. "He's been fantastic for me since I've come in, so it's really unfortunate that he's got the injury.

"If he does (play again this season), it will certainly be towards the end (of the season).

"The good thing is that he is a real worker. We've got the operation done as quickly as we possibly could. He'll come back and recuperate and then we'll see how he goes.

"They talk six to nine months for these types of injuries, so even till then it will pretty much rule him out.

"But we will see. There's no pressure on him, he just needs to get fit and make sure the surgery goes well and we'll assess it into the New Year."

Meanwhile the manager expressed his delight at the response of Lucas Leiva, who limped from the field after just minutes of play against Manchester City in the Reds' first home game of the season as a result of an injury to his thigh.

"He has responded very well - he's doing great," said Rodgers. "He'll still have a wee bit of time away but he's working hard and working very well.

"He was in the pool today and he's got good movement; he's started to run. So hopefully he'll be back sooner rather than later."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

League Cup Preview: West Brom vs Liverpool

Liverpool's League Cup triumph last season was not enough to prevent a summer of major upheaval at Anfield.

But with the season barely a month old there are question marks over whether those changes have set them on the path to improvement or actually left them in an even more precarious position.

One of the consequences of the blood-letting on Merseyside was the departure of first-team coach Steve Clarke who seems to have settled nicely into his new role as head coach at The Hawthorns.

His masterminding of a 3-0 victory over his former employers on the opening day of the season suggested Liverpool's loss was most definitely West Brom's gain.

That result was no anomaly in the story of the season so far. For the Baggies it was the springboard to their best ever start in the Premier League. For Liverpool it signalled the beginning of their worst opening to a top flight season in more than a century.

As such it is the Baggies who will begin a clash with Liverpool in the unusual role of favourites.

This is the first meeting between the two sides in the League Cup since October 1997 when Liverpool won a third round tie 2-0 at The Hawthorns. West Brom has won three of the last four games between the two sides.

The Baggies have only made it past the third round once in the last six seasons, beating Manchester City 2-0 at this stage in 2010/11. Albion won the League Cup in the first season they entered it in 1965/66. Manager Steve Clarke won a League Cup winner's medal with Chelsea in 1998.

Current holders Liverpool have won the League Cup eight times - more than any other club. They beat three Premier League sides on the way to Wembley last season, Stoke, Chelsea and Manchester City. The Reds have scored in each of their last 12 League Cup ties.

West Brom boss Steve Clarke may choose to make changes to the side that beat Reading on Saturday.

Striker Shane Long is among those pushing for a return to the starting XI.

Liverpool defender Martin Kelly is out of action with a knee ligament injury, while Jonjo Shelvey is suspended.

Daniel Agger is also out with a bruised knee problem while Fabio Borini suffered a swollen ankle at the weekend.

Rodgers Wants Killer Instinct

Brendan Rodgers has urged his shot-shy Liverpool squad to show a killer instinct until he can bring in a goalscorer in January.

Since taking over from Kenny Dalglish in the summer, the Northern Irishman has been working on getting his squad adapted to a game-plan based around lots of possession.

In probably their best display so far, the Reds dominated Sunday's home match against Manchester United, even after Jonjo Shelvey was sent off before half-time, but ended up losing 2-1 having not taken advantage of their control.

Rodgers wants his players to threaten the goal more, especially as they have scored four times in five Premier League matches, but is happy with the way everything else is developing despite his side being in the bottom three.

"I said to them at half-time we have to be effective as well," said Rodgers, who is currently working to bring in a goalscorer to fit into his system in January.

"We have to hit the target. There is no point us getting into good areas in the field and twisting and turning and being bright if we don't shoot.

"You have to shoot otherwise you don't score - that is something we know across the board we need to improve on.

"There's no reticence to shoot but it is in the DNA of the player, the type of player. That is what we hoped we could bring in over the summer and we weren't able to do that.

"So we've got to go with what we've got until January and you bring in the certain type of player who can help that."

Despite the defeat to United, Rodgers believes the United match provided a watershed moment in his short tenure as Reds boss.

"I think we have seen enough in the team to see the improvement and the biggest thing for me to come out now is that control and domination," he added.

"We really dominated and controlled the ball against United, a top, experienced side, so for me that is a big moment from when I first came in."

Gerrard: Be Fair To Suarez

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has urged referees to be fair to Luis Suarez and not judge him on his reputation.

The Uruguay international was booked for diving during the Reds' draw at Sunderland earlier this month.

He was then denied a penalty by referee Mark Halsey in Sunday's defeat to Manchester United at Anfield despite appearing to be clipped by Jonny Evans in the box.

Gerrard believes the 25-year-old is suffering from the label given to him during a difficult period last season.

"I think even when Luis does get blatant penalties now he doesn't get them," said the skipper.

"It is down to referees to not judge him and give what they see - if it's not a penalty don't give him one but if it's clear give it. It's only fair.

"He was booked at Sunderland but against United it was a penalty."

Reds defender Glen Johnson conceded the match-winning spot-kick at Anfield after Antonio Valencia went down in the area.

He echoed the sentiments of his captain, adding: "Reputations go in front of people at times and because Valencia is not a known diver that is why he got the decision.

"I almost guarantee if it was exactly the same situation and it was Luis and not Valencia then it wouldn't be a penalty."

Agger & Borini Injuries Less Serious Than Feared

Concerns that Martin Kelly's injury on Sunday was a significant one and that the player would be out until at least the new year proved founded today when it was revealed that the young fullback had ruptured the ACL in his right knee. Unfortunately for Kelly, this injury will require his ACL be surgically reconstructed, and there's a good chance the player won't see action again this season—and that any kind of return to full fitness will be a long, difficult road for the 22-year-old.

Fortunately there's better news to report when it comes to Daniel Agger and Fabio Borini. Borini's bruised and swollen ankle was always considered the least serious of the three injuries suffered against Manchester United, and x-rays today confirmed that there was no fracture and signal a likely brief layoff.

Meanwhile for Daniel Agger the news is also encouraging. After he collided with teammate Glen Johnson and had to be stretchered off the pitch in the second half, and given his significant injury history, there had been concerns that Agger might miss months. Instead it has been confirmed that defender suffered a significant bone bruise to his knee, and with no ligament damage sustained his layoff should be nearly as short as Borini's.

Expecting either of Agger or Borini to be back over the next two weeks, a stretch that sees Liverpool face Norwich and Stoke in the league, Udinese in Europe, and West Brom in the League Cup might be overly optimistic, but both should be ready to return to action by the time Reading comes to town on October 20th following the international break.

Jones Keen To Prove Himself At Anfield

Brad Jones is aiming to make the most of a fresh start under Brendan Rodgers by kick-starting his Liverpool career.

The goalkeeper has made six senior appearances for the club since arriving from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2010. But Rodgers has indicated he is prepared to give Jones a chance in both the Europa League and the Capital One Cup this season.

The Australian has played in two of Liverpool's five European games this season, and is set for a League Cup run-out at West Brom on Wednesday night. Pepe Reina remains Liverpool's first choice keeper, but Jones has risen from third to second in the pecking order while Alexander Doni has been on leave in Brazil.

Jones has had a difficult time off the pitch over the last two years, with his son Luca dying last November after a long battle with leukemia. On the field, Jones feels the arrival of Rodgers from Swansea in June has given him a chance to start afresh.

The 30-year-old said: "It's settled down over time off the pitch. On the pitch, this season's been a lot better for me. The new manager involves me a lot more, which was difficult last year anyway with me being here and being away.

"I've started with a clean slate, fewer things to worry about this season, and a new manager coming in. It was a case of having to prove myself all over again but it's something I feel has gone well.

"I'm hoping the manager has been happy with the way things have been going, with the way I've trained and played in the few games I've had. It does feel like starting again, and that's probably a good thing, to be honest. I can start afresh and try to push on."

Jones paid tribute to Liverpool and their fans for supporting him and his family following the loss of his son. The goalkeeper has worked over the last two years to raise funds for the Anthony Nolan Trust cancer charity, for whom his partner Dani Lawrence ran in last year's London Marathon.

Jones feels that the volume of that support he received both during his son's illness and for his charity efforts has strengthened his bond with the club.

He said: "It's incredible, really. The club and the fans have been fantastic, not only with supporting me in general but in helping out with the charity stuff we do and supporting my girlfriend when she was doing the marathons and half-marathons for charity.

"It is a special place to be. It's one big family and nothing shows that more than the way I've been treated."

Rodgers Backs Excellent Wisdom

Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool youngster Andre Wisdom has "all the qualities" needed to make a name for himself at the club.

The 19-year-old defender scored on his Reds debut in their thrilling 5-3 Europa League win over Young Boys and his talent has impressed the former Swansea boss, who thinks he could fit into the side's new style of play.

"It's always good when you put young players in and you see how they react," he told the club’s official website.

"I thought Andre Wisdom at right-back was excellent. He's got all the qualities that I believe will set him up to have a very good career.

"He's quick, he's strong and he passes the ball well, which is going to be important for us at this club and always has been. I thought he was a real positive note."

Wisdom played in a back-four containing Jamie Carragher against the Swiss side and Rodgers feels the veteran’s experience is key to young players coming into the team.

He added: "It is critical. The likes of Andre Wisdom look up so much to guys like Jamie Carragher, and to be on the same field as him and learning from his experience and leadership qualities is very, very important.

"Sometimes as a coach, you can coach players, you can talk with them, you can educate them, but when they go out onto the field, if they've got top players around them that can also help them manage the game from the inside.

"Guys like Carra are top class at that and, for me, your young players are only as good as your senior players."

Sahin With An Eye On Turkey Spot

Nuri Sahin has vowed to win a regular place in Liverpool's midfield and boost his chances of getting back into the Turkey starting line-up.

Sahin, 24, has made two starts for Brendan Rodgers' side since arriving on a season's loan from Real Madrid.

The midfielder is looking to rebuild his career at Anfield after a knee injury interrupted his progress in Spain last season.

The midfielder, who won the Bundesliga title with Borussia Dortmund two seasons ago before moving to Madrid, has fallen down the pecking order with his national team.

He was restricted to substitute appearances in Turkey's World Cup qualifiers against Netherlands and Estonia, but hopes that making an impression at Anfield will convince coach Abdullah Avci to give him a greater role in the Turkey side.

"First of all, I'll give everything to have a successful season at Liverpool and to play as many games as possible," Sahin told

"Recently I've experienced how quickly an injury can set you back. And of course, I want to be in the starting 11 for Turkey. That's my main aim and I think I'm close to achieving it."