Saturday, April 28, 2012

Match Preview: Norwich vs Liverpool

Norwich striker James Vaughan is pressing for another Premier League start after his recovery from a frustrating injury spell.

Former Reds centre-back Zak Whitbread (hamstring) remains sidelined and will not be playing against his old club.

Fellow defenders Marc Tierney (groin) and Daniel Ayala (knee), another former Liverpool man, are ruled out of the season.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard returned to training during the week after being rested for the home defeat against West Brom.

However, with an FA Cup final in just over a week and two league matches to play before then manager Kenny Dalglish may look to protect some of his players, starting with Saturday's trip to Norwich.

Midfielder Charlie Adam's knee injury has ruled out a return before the end of the season.

Norwich (from): Ruddy, Ward, Naughton, Drury, Crofts, Pilkington, Surman, E Bennett, Fox, Hoolahan, Holt, Jackson, Morison, Wilbraham, Steer, Johnson, Martin, Howson, R Bennett, Vaughan.

Liverpool (from): Reina, Johnson, Flanagan, Kelly, Coates, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Enrique, Spearing, Shelvey, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Suarez, Carroll, Bellamy, Doni.

Dalglish Wants Results Over Style

Kenny Dalglish is prepared to see his side sacrifice their style for the sake of some results as they search for a winning formula.

Liverpool has struggled to secure victories this season as their expensively assembled attack has continually malfunctioned.

A familiar pattern was witnessed again last week against West Brom at Anfield, where the Reds dominated the game, but failed to find the decisive goals.

Dalglish's side have won just five games in front of their home fans this season and scored only 20 goals at Anfield over the course of the campaign.

And with the FA Cup final against Chelsea coming up next Saturday, Liverpool needs to build some confidence and moment ahead of the showpiece event.

"We want to win games but it would be nice if we were rubbish and won a game," said Dalglish.

"Our incentive is to get as much as we can from every game we play.

"We want to finish with as many wins and points as we possibly can and the incentive we have is just representing the football club as much as anything else.

"We have always set ourselves high standards in terms of the level of performance and there are not too many times when we've let ourselves down on that front.

"But winning is what it is all about and points on the board is what it is all about."

Liverpool's lack of a killer instinct has been illustrated by the fact they have hit the frame of the goal 30 times this season.

It is a statistic which grates their former player who believes their approach play and determined efforts are worthy of so much more.

He added: "There is no one happy with what has happened in games and we've said that in our post-match interviews.

"But nothing changes in the week to what we have said after the game. The less you have to change the easier it is and it is great credit to the players that they continue to get in there and try their best to win the matches.

"They show great resolve and determination - but I am repeating myself. We know that they are good players and that is not being arrogant or big-headed.

"There is not much more we can say and there are no answers coming up. Their performance level is very high so if they continue to play at that good level then eventually it is going to work for us."

Liverpool Close In On Bologna Midfielder

Liverpool may have moved a step closer to signing Uruguayan star Gaston Ramirez after his agent revealed they have received a bid from an un-named Premier League team for the Bologna midfielder.

Ramirez has been one of the star performers for his club side in Serie A and has been attracting interest from Kenny Dalglish.

The Liverpool manager is set to make a number of changes during the summer and has been strongly tipped to make a move for the 21-year-old.

According to Italian TV station TMW, Ramirez' agent Pablo Bentancur has confirmed that a Premier League club have made an offer for his client and a decision will be made at the end of the season.

Bentancur said: "Bologna have received an offer near to 20 million Euros from an important club in the Premier League.

"Bologna will decide at the end of the season what they are going to do."

Liverpool Will Face Competition For Highly-Rated Playmaker

It is believed that Liverpool will face strong competition from Turkish giants Galatasary if they follow up their rumoured interest in Keisuke Honda.

The Reds have been linked with the Japanese star for a number of weeks, and according to reports on TalkSport, are considering a summer move for the player.

However, the CSKA Moscow playmaker is hot property, with Lazio already having failed to lure him to Serie A in January.

Kenny Dalglish's men have struggled to find consistent league form, and it is widely expected that the Liverpool boss will venture into the transfer market.

With Dirk Kuyt expected to leave Anfield at the end of the season, Honda would be an adept replacement, with his ability at set-pieces one of the more outstanding attributes he possess.

Should Liverpool move for the 25 year-old though, it is expected that they will be met by Galatasaray who are hoping to make Honda their marquee signing of the summer.

Spurs And Liverpool Prepare To Battle It Out For Barca Star

Tottenham and Liverpool could be about to reignite their interest in Ibrahim Afellay after it was revealed that he is set to leave Barcelona on loan.

According to reports in Italy, Lazio are hoping to seal a deal to take the Dutch winger for the whole of next season, as he attempts to get his career back on track following a six-month injury lay-off.

Spurs and Liverpool both wanted to sign Afellay from Ajax before he joined Barca back in January 2011.

But he failed to establish himself at the club in his first nine months before the cruciate knee ligament injury struck last September.

Now a loan spell seems the most likely scenario, which could tempt a Premier League club to approach Barca this summer.

However, sources in Spain have suggested that unnamed English clubs have already been in touch with the reigning European champions about Afellay's availability this summer.

Ancelotti Confirms Paris Saint-Germain Interest In Suarez

Paris Saint-Germain boss Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed his interest in signing Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

It was reported in February that the Ligue 1 giants were open to offering the Uruguay international a route out of England following his eight-game ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

The link resurfaced earlier this week and, when Ancelotti was asked during an interview with PA if he would like to acquire the services of the Reds forward, the Italian replied: "Suarez is a good striker, yes."

Ancelotti also revealed that he expects to sign winger Florent Malouda from Chelsea during the summer, having failed with a previous attempt to land the Frenchman.

"We were interested in January, but I think in June we will have a different solution," the two-time Champions League winner claimed.

Addressing his departure from Stamford Bridge at the end of last season, just a year after he led the Blues to the double, Ancelotti insisted that he bore no ill will towards club owner Roman Abramovich for firing him on the back of a trophyless campaign.

"When I signed a contract for Chelsea it was very clear: If I couldn't win, I had to leave," he explained. "So, it was not a surprise."

Ancelotti insisted that he is currently enjoying the challenge of trying to establish PSG as a major force in European football but did admit that he would one day like to lead his country.

"Yes, it's a different job to train the [Italy] national team," the former AC Milan coach mused. "[It] could be another good experience."

PSG are currently second in Ligue 1, two points behind leaders Montpellier with five games remaining.

Gerrard Ready To Return

Liverpool boss Kenny Daglish has confirmed that captain Steven Gerrard is fully fit and there are no issues over his fitness.

Gerrard was left out of Sunday's defeat to West Brom, with worries over a hamstring injury.

But Daglish has admitted that it was a precaution to leave him out last week and he has been training all week with no issues.

With nothing but pride left to play for in the Premier League, Dalglish does not want to take any chances with the England international with an FA Cup final coming up in just over a week's time.

"He's fine, no problem," was the Scot's assessment on Gerrard.

"We said it was just a precaution so he's back training. He's been training all week, so there's no other problems."

Dalglish: Adam Out Of Olympics

Kenny Dalglish has confirmed that Charlie Adam will miss the remainder of Liverpool's season through injury, and does not expect the Scotland international to feature in this summer's Olympic Games.

Adam has not played for the Reds since the defeat to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in late March, and his knee injury will keep the 26-year-old out until next term.

That means Adam will miss Liverpool's final four Premier League fixtures but, the fact that he is now unavailable for the FA Cup final on May 5 will serve as a greater blow for the midfielder.

Meanwhile, Adam had reportedly been named on the 80-man shortlist to represent Great Britain at the Olympics, and would have been under consideration as one of the three 'over-age' players in Stuart Pearce's squad.

But Dalglish does not believe the former Blackpool captain would be fit in time to take part in the tournament, should he be selected.

"There is no operation needed but he won't play this season," Dalglish told his weekly press conference.

"And I would think if they had any designs on having him in the Olympics he wouldn't be fit for that either."

Dalglish Opens The Door For Aquilani Return

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has insisted that he would be happy to have AC Milan loanee Alberto Aquilani back in the summer, but has urged the Italian giants to let the midfielder know where his future lies.

The Italian joined Liverpool for £16 million in 2009, but struggled to settle due to injuries and has since returned to his homeland in loan deals with Juventus and Milan.

The former Roma man has made 22 appearances this season, but has failed to start any of the last four games amidst rumours that Milan do not want to trigger the automatic £6m buy-out clause that will come into effect if he plays 25 games.

Dalglish expressed his frustration at the Italian champions’ conduct, but admits that he would welcome Aquilani back to Anfield.

"We've done everything right from our side, so how they want to play it and what they want to do, that's up to them," told reporters.

"If they don't want him, tell the boy you don't want him. They will do what they have to do. If they don't trigger it or they don't want him, it's not a problem.

"I'll be disappointed for the boy, but then he'll come back here as he's our player."