Monday, July 30, 2012

Spurs And Liverpool Draw In USA

Liverpool played out a drab draw with Tottenham in the final game of their USA pre-season tour at the M&T Stadium in Baltimore.

Aaron Lennon missed the best chance of the first half when he hit the post when it seemed easier to score, as Spurs marginally shaded the opening period.

A flurry of substitutes after the interval saw Steven Gerrard and Liverpool's new signing Fabio Borini enter the fray.

It helped the general quality of the game to improve but both sides will be hoping they are at peak fitness at the start of the season.

Lennon should have scored just three minutes before the interval when he fired against a post from close range following Harry Kane's pass.

Liverpool had controlled the early moments, with Stewart Downing missing a decent chance in the 11th minute and again shortly afterwards, while Adam Morgan was unable to beat Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel from a tight angle.

And after Lennon had somehow failed from two yards, Liverpool continued to create chances after the break with Joe Cole missing his kick when he looked certain to score.

Martin Skrtel forced a save out of Friedel while, at the other end, William Gallas lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi and also the crossbar.

Kane fired a free-kick high over the bar but in the heat of Maryland, the game petered out in a draw.

AVB Fury At Adam's Bale Tackle

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has criticized Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam for a heavy challenge on Gareth Bale in their goalless pre-season friendly in the United States.

Spurs and Liverpool played out a 0-0 draw at the M&T Bank Stadium, home of NFL franchise the Baltimore Ravens.

In a game which marked the Liverpool debut of summer signing Fabio Borini, Villas-Boas was critical of Adam who has previous history with Bale. The Spurs boss is now waiting to learn the extent of the injury.

In May 2011 the Scotland international injured Bale in a tackle, an incident Villas-Boas was only made aware of following game in Baltimore.

Bale was out for three months with ankle ligament damage after that incident and Villas-Boas was unhappy with Adam's latest challenge.

Villas-Boas said: "I think it was a very nasty challenge from Charlie. The player had gone and he came in from behind on Gareth's ankle. I did not know the previous history between the two. I do now.

"It is a difficult one to be fair. You do not want to end up in a game with Liverpool with 10 men.

"At half-time Charlie came to me and said something about the challenge. I can accept that but I think he should go to the player to say sorry."

The incident left Villas-Boas waiting to hear on the seriousness of Bale's injury.

He added: "If the player escapes hospital it is because he is very lucky. The last time he was out for three months and in the end it is the Premier League that suffers without a player of Bale's talent."

Bale's appearance on Spurs' United States tour had already caused controversy as he scored in the game with Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday despite having pulled out of the Team GB squad for the Olympics with a back injury.

Liverpool To Offer £18 Million For United Midfield Target

Liverpool is ready to go toe to toe with Manchester United for Benfica midfielder Nicolas Gaitan, according to Portuguese newspaper Record.

Gaitan has been heavily linked with Manchester United for some time now, and while he remains on the radar of the Old Trafford club, their interest has cooled sufficiently to give Liverpool hope they can land their man.

Negotiations with Manchester United have been on-going for some time; however the stalemate in talks has opened up room for Liverpool to pounce.

Record report that Benfica are willing to consider offers for Gaitan in order to secure their financial future, with Liverpool ready to offer £18 million for the Argentinian maestro.

The 24-year-old, who impressed against Chelsea and Manchester United in the Champions League last season, has a release clause of around €45 million written into his contract, however the financial instability of Benfica means a deal could potentially be done at a much lower price.

News of Liverpool’s impending approach may serve to revive Manchester United’s interest in Gaitan, who, according to Record, are still keeping an eye on developments.

Newcastle Handed Advantage In Pursuit Of Liverpool Star

Newcastle are in the driving seat to re-sign Andy Carroll after it was revealed he would only leave Liverpool for European football.

The England striker is understood to be keen on staying at Anfield and proving himself to new manager Brendan Rodgers but is becoming increasingly aware of the fact that his future may lie elsewhere.

And with European football being a deal breaker for any club looking to sign him from Liverpool, it would appear Newcastle, who he left to join Liverpool for £35m in January 2011, have the advantage over West Ham who are also understood to be keen on the 23-year-old’s services.

Reports suggest the Hammers have tabled a club record bid in an attempt to convince Liverpool they are serious about signing Carroll.

Rodgers is beginning to remodel his squad and while he insists there is no chance of Carroll leaving Liverpool on loan, he admits the Reds will consider any offers they receive for the forward.

"There is talk of him going on loan, but there is absolutely no way I would be looking to loan a player like that, especially after the investment the club have paid," Rodgers said last week.

"But his condition will be the same as every player. If an offer comes in for any player at the club we would either look at it, or dismiss it, and Andy's no different to that."

Rodgers Wants Carroll To Stay

Brendan Rodgers says that there have been no offers for Andy Carroll and insists that he is not looking to push him out of the door.

The striker has been heavily linked with a move away from Liverpool after claims that he did not figure in the plans of new boss Rodgers, with both Newcastle and West Ham keen.

West Ham are reported to have failed with a £17million bid, while Newcastle have tried to take him back on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent move.

However, Rodgers says that he is unaware of any bids for the player and has dismissed claims he wants to move him on before the start of the new season.

When Rodgers was quizzed over whether there had been any bids, he replied: "Not that I am aware of. Obviously I'll know more when we get back.

"There has been a lot written about Andy, but you saw today he's happy to be here and he's worked very well since he's been here.

"The reality is he's still a Liverpool player, he can fit into how I want to play, and he's happy here.

"I'm certainly not wishing to push him out of the door."

Rodgers Aims To Sell Aquilani Back To An Italian Club

Liverpool hope they can finally offload Alberto Aquilani back to Serie A after informing the Italian he is not part of Brendan Rodgers’ plans.

Aquilani did not return to Merseyside with the rest of the Liverpool squad when they flew home from their North America tour on Saturday.

Instead, he headed to Rome to see if a deal could be struck with numerous Serie A sides, one of which is believed to be Fiorentina.

The 28 year-old, who cost Liverpool £20 million in 2009, now realizes there is little chance of him reviving his career at Anfield, but offloading him is not easy because of his staggering financial package.

The Italian’s lucrative contract equates to around £6.5 million a year, an expense which has only been reduced in recent years thanks to loan deals. He spent last year at AC Milan and has also been loaned to Juventus in the past.

To put it into perspective, the £125,000 a week he is currently costing the Anfield club double what Anfield stalwart Jamie Carragher earns.

Rodgers hopes that the desire to revive his career will motivate Aquilani to seek pastures new and reduce Liverpool’s extortionate wage bill. Aquilani still has two years of a five-year contract remaining.

Rodgers left Aquilani out of the last tour game, a 0-0 draw with Tottenham in Baltimore, before giving him permission to fly to Italy instead of Merseyside.

Liverpool are unlikely to raise more than a nominal fee for Aquilani’s services when he is sold.

Agent Rules Out Aquilani Move

Alberto Aquilani's agent has dismissed reports linking the Liverpool midfielder with a move to Fiorentina, insisting the Italian is happy at Anfield.

Aquilani, 28, is back at Liverpool after two seasons on loan in Serie A, first with Juventus and then with AC Milan, and is now hoping to make a mark under new manager Brendan Rodgers.

However, the £17 million signing from Roma was linked with a swap deal involving Fiorentina's Juan Manuel Vargas in the Italian and English press over the weekend.

"Let's not open up a soap opera, please," agent Franco Zavaglia told Radio Sportiva. "Aquilani is a Liverpool player and he is happy where he is now.

"We have not received any requests from [Fiorentina sporting director] Daniele Prade, but that was only to be expected, seeing as Aquilani will only leave on a permanent move and at figures Fiorentina cannot afford.

"I would rule out a current return to Italy. At the moment Alberto is relaxed and on Tuesday he'll attend pre-season training with Liverpool, as planned."

Earlier this week, Aquilani said he believes he will have an opportunity to rescue his ailing Liverpool career under Rodgers.

"I had a very good talk with Brendan where we were able to share our thoughts and it was a very positive chat," he explained. "I like his footballing philosophy and I like the mentality he has because it matches my own skills."

Bellamy Will Bounce Back

Craig Bellamy is confident he will be fit for Team GB's second Olympic fixture despite taking a few knocks during a physical opening encounter with Senegal.

Stuart Pearce's side were held to a 1-1 draw by their Group A rivals on Thursday after putting in a nervy display at Old Trafford.

Their efforts to make a flying start to their gold medal quest were not helped by some rather questionable challenges from the Senegalese.

Welsh duo Bellamy and Joe Allen were forced to limp out of the action, but the former says he will shake off a few bumps and bruises in time to face the United Arab Emirates.

"I got caught on the end of probably the worst tackle I faced and it just tweaked my medial ligament a little bit," said the Liverpool forward.

"I should be alright for the UAE match. Now it's all about preparing for that game and making sure we bounce back."

Bellamy was also happy to have the Old Trafford faithful on his side for once, with club colleague Luis Suarez taking much of the flak during Uruguay's clash with UAE earlier in the day.

"I was expecting what Luis got earlier," said the Welshman. "I was prepared for it but I was grateful Luis was playing first.

"Look, I'm a Liverpool fan and Liverpool is my club but it's always an honour to play at Old Trafford.

"It is a truly remarkable place, so to represent Great Britain here, and to represent my own country, which is Wales, was special."

Gerrard Excited By Lucas Return

Steven Gerrard has backed the returning Lucas Leiva to once again underline his class to Liverpool fans.

The 25-year-old was displaying his most consistent form since joining the Reds in 2007 when he damaged his cruciate ligament at the tail end of last year.

Lucas, though, has now recovered from the injury and is poised to start the 2012/13 campaign at the heart of Liverpool's midfield.

Most observers blamed Liverpool's mid-season slump on the Brazilian's absence, and that is a point not lost on the Reds' skipper.

"It was a big factor, because when he got the injury he was probably our best player, form-wise," Gerrard told the club's official website.

"He was playing superbly well, and he plays that position in the team where he does the ugly work, the work you don't really like to do: breaking up the play, protecting the back four, and when we lose the ball and teams counter-attack, he stops a lot of goals.

"It's great to have him back. He's a great person; he's great for the squad."

Lucas was signed by Rafa Benitez but initially struggled with the demands of the Premier League and failed to win over the Kop.

However, it was testament to his character that he redoubled his efforts to become central to the success of the team.

"You've got to come through the lows, and it was certainly a low for Lucas when the fans weren't giving him the backing," Gerrard added.

"All the players stuck with him because you could see it in training and in parts of his game that he was a young lad who was always going to come good.

"Credit to him - he rolled his sleeves up, he worked hard, he hit the gym and got himself stronger physically and it's turned around for him."

Joe Cole: Rodgers' System Suits Me

Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole believes that the style of football Brendan Rodgers wishes to implement at Anfield will suit him.

Over the past two seasons, the creative midfielder has been castaway from the Merseyside club, spending the 2011-12 campaign on loan at Lille.

The England international has been involved in Rodgers' pre-season plans, however, and thinks that he can make an impact this season.

"Yeah, I think the system is good for me," Cole explained to "I [also] think it's going to be good for the team mainly. We've taken the ideas on board.

"It's a different style of play, it's a very 'un-British' style of play."

Cole featured in Liverpool's 0-0 draw with Tottenham at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Sunday and is eager to get the new season started after the team's tour of North America.

The Reds drew 1-1 with Toronto FC in Canada before suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Roma in Boston.

"It's exciting to be back," he said. "We are really happy with the progress we've made on this tour with this team. We're going to keep going in the right direction."

Gerrard: Time For Youngsters To Step Up

Steven Gerrard has urged Liverpool's youngsters that they can't afford to be patient and must prove themselves worthy of a place in the first-team.

The likes of Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey and Adam Morgan have impressed while on the club's pre-season tour and will be hoping that new Reds manager Brendan Rodgers gives them a chance in the Premier League.

However, Gerrard believes that the next generation of Liverpool stars should not be waiting for their chance, instead giving Rodgers no other option than to pick them however old they are.

"I see or hear some young lads talking about being patient or waiting for their chance," Gerrard told Liverpool's website. "It sounds like they feel they need a 15-minute cameo in a first-team game to prove what they can do. That's not what it's about. It's about proving yourself every day in training.

"We train from 10am until 1pm or 2pm. In that time you have to show you don't want to wait around. Their attitude should be: it doesn't matter how old I am, I'm good enough.

"They don't want to be getting to September or October and wondering why they didn't get a chance in a game. Do it now is my message to them. They have to go in every day and prove to the manager that they are better than those players who are in the team."

Gerrard broke into the Reds' first-team in 1998, with a teenage Michael Owen already an established senior player and defender Jamie Carragher also making 20 appearances in the 1997-98 campaign.

"Myself and Jamie and Michael didn't wait around on the fringes of the squad hoping we'd be selected some day," he added. "We showed on the training pitch that we would do whatever it took to make the boss put us in.

"We showed the mental strength required. We proved that we were as good as, if not better than, those who had been ahead of us. That's what these lads need to do."