Friday, September 21, 2012

Dalglish Returns For United Game

Kenny Dalglish will attend Liverpool's match against Manchester United on Sunday to show his support for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

It will be his first visit to Anfield since his second spell as manager ended with his sacking in May.

Dalglish was Liverpool's boss at the time of the 1989 tragedy, in which 96 fans died, and he played a huge part in the club's response, attending dozens of funerals, while also continuing to be a vocal supporter of the campaign for truth and justice.

He also helped read out the names of the Liverpool fans who died when he attended the recent vigil at St George's Hall, that followed the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report into the disaster.

The match on Sunday will be the first at Anfield since the publication of the report, which cleared fans of any blame for the tragedy.

Representatives of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hope For Hillsborough, will be guests of honour.

Match Report: Young Boys 3 - 5 Liverpool

Jonjo Shelvey scored twice as a youthful Liverpool side kicked off their Europa League Group A campaign with a 5-3 victory over Young Boys following a topsy-turvy encounter in Switzerland.

That Brendan Rodgers' second-string side, which included a trio of debutants - two of whom were teenagers - scored five times was something of a surprise considering the struggles of the first-team this season.

They were given an early helping hand thanks to a comical own goal from Juhani Ojala and 19-year-old Andre Wisdom scored on his debut after Raphael Nuzzolo had equalised following a Jose Enrique error.

But Ojala then headed in at the right end and Gonzalo Zarate made it 3-2 before the match turned around again when Sebastian Coates headed in and then Shelvey netted a brace.

It was the first time Liverpool had scored more than once in eight European away matches and their first in any group stage game away from home since beating PSV in December 2008.

Rodgers wanted to give his younger players a chance to prove they were good enough and while they may not have convinced him he will not have to make 11 changes for Sunday's visit of Manchester United - having left the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez at home - they at least displayed the character he was looking for.

Despite concerns about the inexperience of the squad, having left eight senior players at home, the average age of the starting line-up was 24 - although that was pushed up slightly by 34-year-old Jamie Carragher.

Their veteran centre-back was the only player on the field who played in Liverpool's last away win in European competition - excluding qualifiers - when the Reds beat Romanians Unirea in February 2010.

The comedy started in the fourth minute when the Young Boys' defence got themselves in a tangle for no discernible reason.

Stewart Downing's right-wing cross did not look to be threatening but Dusan Veskovac headed the ball back across goal and his central defensive partner Ojala headed in.

That was only the beginning as Wisdom's inexperience at this level caught him out when he went to fetch the ball thinking he had a throw-in.

While he was off the pitch a ballboy tossed another to Young Boys, who quickly restarted, leaving Wisdom - more accustomed to the reserve team where you fetch your own ball - running back on still carrying the ball he had chased.

But if that error was down to inexperience, Jose Enrique's decision to dribble away from the hands of Brad Jones in the 38th minute was bad judgement as he passed straight to Nuzzolo - who drilled in a first-time shot before Jones had time to recover properly.

Wisdom, however, came to his defensive colleague's rescue two minutes later when he produced a huge leap to head home Nuri Sahin's corner.

The goal was Liverpool's 200th in this competition since they first took part in 1967-68.

Wisdom was also the first Reds defender to score on his club debut since Gabriel Paletta in October 2006 - which is where the England Under-19 international will want the comparison to end.

Just before the break Alexander Farnerud, who had earlier failed in trying to claim a penalty for Carragher's challenge, hit a low shot against Jones' right-hand post.

The second half was less than 10 minutes old when Raul Bobadilla was given far too much room on the right to pick out the run of Ojala to head in at the far post.

When Bobadilla outmuscled both Carragher and Suso, another debutant, to send Zarate down right the Argentinian neatly dinked over Jones.

Liverpool needed a quick response and it came within four minutes as Coates' looping header crept in at the far post with substitute Fabio Borini claiming a touch which was barely - if at all - there.

Borini had a more decisive influence on the winner as he picked out Jordan Henderson's run and the midfielder cut the ball back for Shelvey to fire home - and the same player added a similar second late on.

Rodgers' maiden Europa League campaign is up and running in the most unlikely way - and the Northern Irishman will be pleased his selection gamble did not backfire on him.

Rodgers Hails Liverpool Youngsters

Brendan Rodgers has praised the performance of his younger players after watching over a successful start to Liverpool’s Europa League group stage endeavour via a 5-3 away win against Young Boys. The BBC reports that the manager was impressed by the courage on show from the largely inexperienced group.

The BBC adds that the average age of the side was 24, and that even takes into account the presence of 34-year-old centre-back Jamie Carragher. Carragher formed part of a back four that also had 19-year-old Andre Wisdom playing at right-back, while Wisdom was joined on the score sheet by 20-year-old Jonjo Shelvey, who netted twice. The other goals came from a Young Boys own goal and a Sebastian Coates header.

As well as Wisdom, 18-year-old Suso made his debut, as did summer signing Oussama Assiadi, 24, while Dani Pacheco, 21 and 17-year-old Raheem Sterling started also. The rest of the side was made up of recognizable names who have found themselves on the fringes of the first team under Rodgers, including England international Jordan Henderson.

Rodgers said: “It was a chance for the young players to seize that opportunity to play and I think they did that. It is a night of great pride for the club and certainly me as a manager.”

Debut Appearance Pleases Assaidi

Summer signing Oussama Assaidi was delighted to make his Liverpool debut against Young Boys - and he's now relishing Sunday's clash against Manchester United.

The Moroccan was forced to wait for his first Liverpool appearance due to a niggling groin injury after signing a month ago, but impressed during his 67 minutes on the pitch in Switzerland as the Reds secured a 5-3 Europa League win.

"It was my first game in [more than] one month and it was very hard, but it was okay," said the winger, who arrived at Anfield from Dutch outfit Heerenveen.

After a bright opening at the Stade de Suisse, which saw the Reds take the lead twice through an own goal and an Andre Wisdom header, Young Boys fought back to claim a 3-2 advantage.

But a header from Sebastian Coates and a late double by substitute Jonjo Shelvey ensured Liverpool returned home with three points from their first Europa League group stage match of the season.

Assaidi explained: "At the beginning, we played well. After they came back, in the second half, they were tired and we made two good goals and won the game."

Having ended his wait for a debut, the 24-year-old now cannot wait for the Reds' next match - the small matter of a Barclays Premier League encounter with rivals United.

"It will be a very big game, I hope we get the three points in Liverpool and I hope win this big match", added Assaidi.

Shelvey Eyes United Start

Jonjo Shelvey hopes his late cameo in Liverpool's win over Young Boys will earn him a spot in the side to face Manchester United this weekend.

The young midfielder came off the bench to score twice to help Liverpool to a 5-3 victory in Berne in their opening Group A Europa League clash.

Shelvey earned the praise of Reds boss Brendan Rodgers after the game and the 20-year-old hopes he has given his manager food for thought ahead of the visit of arch-rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

"I hope I've played my way into the side for Sunday," Shelvey told the club's official website.

"I don't know what the manager is thinking regarding that game but since he came in the manager has been first class with me.

"He has given me opportunities and hopefully by coming off the bench and scoring two goals I repaid him.

"Games don't get any bigger than playing for Liverpool against Man United. It's what dreams are made of.

"The atmosphere at Anfield will be electric and I want to be a part of that."

Liverpool Manager Targets Three Midfielders

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has already identified three targets as he seeks to continue his revolution at Anfield, reports this morning suggest.

The Dail Mail suggest that the Merseyside club have identified three midfielders in Malaga’s Isco, Ander Herrera of Athletic Bilbao and Marcelo Brozovic of Dinamo Zagreb as key targets as the northern Irish manager seeks to continue his rebuilding job at Anfield, once funds become available.

Malaga playmaker Isco introduced himself to the Champions League in stunning fashion Tuesday night, scoring two superb goals to fire Malaga to a 3-0 victory over Zenit St Petersburg on their maiden night in Europe’s premier competition. It emerged yesterday in the Spanish press that Tottenham Hotspur had made a deadline day bid for the 20-year-old, but saw their offers dismissed. While Malaga’s financial predicament is not as perilous as it was during the summer, the club still need to address several financial concerns, after being implicated in UEFA’s Financial Fair Play sanctions handed down two weeks ago.

The Daily Mirror report that Liverpool scouts were present during Dinamo Zagreb’s 2-0 loss to Porto mid-week, scouting the 19-year-old midfielder. The Croatian club is reportedly prepared to cash in on the youngster next summer, with Serie A clubs Lazio and Genoa also maintaining an interest.

Athletic Bilbao’s Herrera, who attracted the attention of a number of club managers following his imperious displays against Manchester United in last season’s Europa League, may prove to be the most difficult target, with the Basque club in a healthy financial position, boosted by the record sale of Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich during the summer transfer window.

Sahin: I Play For The Biggest Team In England

The Nuri Sahin transfer saga went on for much of the summer but after shunning the advances of Arsenal and Tottenham, the former Borussia Dortmund captain believes he has signed for the biggest team in English football.

Liverpool have won 18 league titles, only bettered by Manchester United, and are the only English team to have won Europe's to club prize on five occasions, which is only bettered by Real Madrid and AC Milan.

Sahin spoke to NTVSpor at Liverpool's training ground Melwood, “I'd spoken with Jose Mourinho three times he wanted me to play in the Premier League but didn't refer to a specific team. I've chosen Liverpool because I wanted to play in a football team with a tradition.

“I played at one of the biggest clubs in Germany, Borussia Dortmund, and Real Madrid. And now, I play for the biggest club in England.”

Liverpool have not won a league title for 22 years and this type of recognition from a man who was in demand in the summer will be good news for the Liverpool fans and Sahin went on to laud his captain Steven Gerrard.

"He's a fantastic player and a captain,” Sahin continued. “He really takes care of the youngsters especially Raheem Sterling. I can learn many things from him. It's an honour to play alongside [him]."

Borini Putting The Hours In

Liverpool forward Fabio Borini has reassured fans that he will soon be hitting the net, confident that the hard work he is putting into his training will pay off sooner rather than later.

The summer arrival from Roma has found the net just once thus far in his eight appearances in a Liverpool shirt, against Belarusian side Gomel in a Europa League qualifier in early August.

The goal-shy Italian has found himself deployed in a wide left role rather than a preferred central position more often that not, but is determined to see his hard work on the training ground come to fruition on the pitch.

"It's just probably a moment or a matter of inches or luck,” Borini told the official Liverpool website.

“But I think we have qualities to convert the chances, we see in training and we work every day on shooting. It will come."

"I'm working really hard on the training ground.

"On my physical condition, technical side and tactical as well, with the manager and the assistant manager after training, with Luis (Suarez) and all the other players."

The hard-working forward has already exhibited his goal-scoring prowess to Brendan Rodgers during his loan spell at Swansea City in 2011, where the striker netted six times in a brief nine appearances.

While Borini does see his preferred position through the middle, he maintains he is happy to play anywhere his manager tells him.

“My favourite position and my natural position, as I've said in the past, is up front, because I played there every time in my career,” Borini added.

“But if to help the team I need to play left or right, midfield or even in goal, it's not a problem because to help the team I will do anything. That's the way it is, and all the players have to do that.”