Sunday, November 04, 2012

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Newcastle

Liverpool will aim to put the frustrations of their past week behind them when they host Newcastle United in the Premier League.

Sunday's Anfield fixture has served up some of the classic games from the English top-flight's history but the focus this season will be on points and not entertainment.

Liverpool are preparing to welcome Newcastle on the back of surrendering their defence of the League Cup in a defeat by Swansea City and having been left aggrieved by a draw in the Merseyside derby.

Brendan Rodgers will therefore be determined to take maximum points against a Newcastle side who have in recent seasons progressed past the Merseysiders as a force in the Premier League.

Alan Pardew's Newcastle finished fifth in the last campaign, three places and 13 points above Liverpool, and they have ambitions this term of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

But the St James' Park club need to stop dropping silly points and must maintain the momentum of the draw in the Wear-Tyne derby against Sunderland and the following victory over West Bromwich Albion.

If they are to do so, Newcastle will have to address a dreadful record at Anfield, where Liverpool have won 15 and lost none of their last 17 Premier League games against the North East club.

The only goal Newcastle have scored at Anfield in their last six Premier League visits was an own goal netted in this fixture last season by Daniel Agger.

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina and defender Glen Johnson remain injury doubts for the visit of Newcastle United.

Reina has missed four matches with a hamstring injury while Johnson missed last week's Merseyside derby with a similar niggle and will be assessed before Sunday.

Long-term absentee Lucas Leiva has stepped up his rehabilitation but is still three weeks away from a possible comeback from his thigh injury.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has described star striker Demba Ba as '50-50 at best' for the trip to Liverpool.

The forward picked up a calf injury in last weekend's win over West Bromwich Albion and is a doubt for the trip to Anfield.

Newcastle will definitely be without Cheick Tiote, with the midfielder serving the second-match of his three-game ban for a red card against Sunderland.

Rodgers Hails ‘Modern Great’ Gerrard

Steven Gerrard will make his 600th appearance on Sunday against Newcastle at Anfield and Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has high praise for his captain.

Gerrard made his first Liverpool appearance in November 1998 and Rodgers believes that fans should appreciate the time that he has left.

"Players of that ilk come around very rarely," he told SportingLife. "I think he is a player that supporters should really make the most of the years he has left. He still has a number of years left, don't get me wrong, but this guy has quality.

"You saw him the other night when we were playing Swansea and the game was flat in the first half. He dons his Superman cape, comes on and changes the whole dynamic of the game.

"That is what great players do and this is one of the modern greats of the game. What is even more of a pleasure to see is how he devotes his life to it.

"He is 32 and he wants to learn. We are looking at videos of his game to improve him and that has to come from him. That is self-motivation and a self-drive to be better.

"He is not settling on everything he has had in his career, he wants to improve and he is an incredible talent who is a real pleasure to work with. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he's an iconic figure for this football club."

Guitierrez Defends Suarez Ahead Of Liverpool Clash

Jonas Gutierrez has defended Luis Suarez ahead of Sunday’s clash between Newcastle and Liverpool.

The Newcastle and Argentina winger will come up against fellow South American Suarez in search of his side’s first win at Anfield for 18 years.

Despite Suarez being under fire for going to ground to easily, Gutierrez defended his friend, claiming that he is ‘excitable’.

"He's someone I know, and I realize Suarez upsets some people - he's done a few things that players and others don't like too much,’ Guiterrez told Sky Sports.

"He does a lot of things that make people talk about him and not about his football, but I'd rather talk about what kind of player he is.

"He's so excitable, I don't know whether that's a particularly South American trait, but when you see a referee make a decision against him, he's always upset.

"We know that he's a really difficult striker to handle, and his work-rate is up there with the best, so we know we'll have a tough time keeping an eye on him."

Arsenal Target Says He Would Join Liverpool

Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby, a reported target for Arsenal, says his allegiances to Everton would not prevent him from joining Liverpool, as the German midfielder attempts to chase his Premier League dream.

Holtby is out of contract with Schalke next season and has frequently been linked with a move to either Arsenal or Liverpool, either during January transfer window or at the end of the season.

The 22-year-old Germany international, who has an English father, was raised as a fan of Liverpool's rivals Everton, but would be willing to go against the wishes of his dad and move to Anfield.

"I have always said that one day, I want to play in England. I would not exclude Liverpool, even if it would mean a hit against my father who is a die-hard Everton fan," Holtby told Bild.

The reported interest of Arsenal and Liverpool in Holtby has yet to be confirmed but Schalke manager Horst Heldt says their have been 'concrete offers' from other clubs for the German.

Holtby played in Schalke's impressive 2-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the Champions League almost two weeks ago, and would fit into the free-flowing style adopted by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

Likewise, Holtby would be able to slot into Brendan Rodgers' system at Anfield, which has proven too much for some Liverpool players, like former Chelsea star Joe Cole.

Liverpool Told To Pay £20m For Eredivisie Star

Liverpool has reportedly been informed by Ajax that it will take £20 million for them to lure Christian Eriksen away from the Amsterdam Arena during the January transfer window.

Eriksen is regarded as one of the finest young talents to be operating in European football, and it would be viewed as quite a coup if Liverpool were able to bring the 20-year-old to Anfield.

According to Metro, Eriksen is one of Liverpool's top targets for January, and the Reds have now been told just how much they will have to spend if they hope to acquire the services of the Denmark international.

£20 million may be deemed too excessive by Liverpool owners Fewnay Sports Group, given the wasteful spending in recent times, although they have shown a willingness to invest in youth.

Liverpool may, however, have to fend of interest from Arsenal and Manchester City in pursuit of Eriksen, although the Premier League duo could hold off their interest until the summer.

Liverpool Boss Dismisses Reports Of Walcott Swap

Brendan Rodgers has quelled speculation suggesting he is preparing a bid to bring Arsenal’s Theo Walcott to Liverpool when the January transfer window opens.

A number of reports this morning claimed that Liverpool had upped their efforts to sign the England international, suggesting a bid in the region of £10 million had been lodged. Walcott’s contract situation at the Emirates remains unresolved, despite claims that the matter had been made “urgent” by Arsene Wenger.

Liverpool has been linked with a speculative move for the former Southampton man since the summer, when a breakdown between the north London club and player first emerged. Given their shortage of strikers, Liverpool has been linked with a number of forward options, but Rodgers has played down reports that the club have made a move for the Arsenal man.

When quizzed on the reports suggesting his club had made a bid for Walcott, Rodgers replied, “There is nothing in it. He is an Arsenal player," Sky Sports report.

Following Walcott’s impressive hat trick midweek in the thrilling 7-5 win over Reading, calls for the club to address the striker’s contract situation have been heightened. Wenger has since reassured fans that the “urgent” talks with underway. The source of the contract dispute is thought to be Walcott’s wage demands, and his desire for reassurances that he will be played as a forward, rather than a wideman.

Carragher Backing For Gerrard

Jamie Carragher expects Steven Gerrard to overtake him in Liverpool's list of record appearances.

Centre-back Carragher is no longer a first-team regular at the age of 34 but has currently played 710 games for the club and is second to Ian Callaghan on 857.

Captain Gerrard is preparing to play his 600th match in Sunday's Premier League fixture against Newcastle United but his club-mate thinks he still has a lot more to come.

Carragher, who is expected to retire at the end of the season, thinks 32-year-old Gerrard's match-winning potential means he will still feature regularly even as a substitute.

"It depends when we both finish playing but I expect he will," Carragher told Liverpool's official website.

"When Stevie gets to my position - and I don't know if he'll want to be in the position I've been in for the last six to 12 months, because I've been on the bench a lot - he will still always come on.

"As a centre-back, you don't come off the bench unless there are strange circumstances.

"I would imagine he'll play more games, and listen, he's been a better player than me for Liverpool so he thoroughly deserves that.

"If you look at the Swansea game (on Wednesday), he's still getting brought off the bench to rescue it for us. That's been the way for 13 or 14 years now.

"When that changes, maybe he'll look at it. But he's still expected to produce the Superman act at 32, so I think we're still a while away from that changing."

Rodgers: Lucas Will Lift Allen

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes fans will see a different side to midfielder Joe Allen's game once Lucas Leiva returns to the side.

Allen, who followed Rodgers from Swansea in the summer in a £15million deal, has seamlessly slotted into a pivotal central role in which he has become the fulcrum of the team's passing game.

However, with Lucas missing through a thigh injury Allen has had to be slightly more circumspect in his approach.

But Rodgers believes the expected return of the Brazil international, who has made only four appearances this season having come back from knee surgery last November, later this month will bring out a new element to Allen.

Lucas will provide more of a defensive shield, giving Allen the chance to express himself more.

"I think you will see a different part of Joe's game," said Rodgers. "I am not sure whether you will see an improvement because I think he has been at a real high level.

"But you will see his flexibility in how he can play further up the field. He is really dynamic in that middle-to-final third and sometimes you see those little bursts when he breaks through and is exciting.

"Lucas is a player who is progressing really well. He is working very hard off the field to arrive back as quickly as he can.

"We had good news on his scan the other day and hopefully in the next few weeks he will be back and that will make us stronger."

U18s Tame Wolves

Jerome Sinclair scored twice as Liverpool U18s produced an impressive display to beat Wolves 4-2 at the Academy on Saturday morning.

Steve Cooper's side played some great football at times and it was the perfect response to last weekend's 5-3 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Seyi Ojo was an impressive performer on only his second start for the U18s and it was from his cross that Sinclair headed the Reds in front.

Jordan Lussey then missed a penalty before Wolves equalized on the stroke of half-time when Dominic Dell followed up after Ryan Fulton had saved superbly from Robbie Parry's initial penalty.

The Reds came out firing in the second half. Ojo made it 2-1 after a brilliant pass from Yalany Baio and Kris Peterson netted from the spot to make it 3-1 and find the net for the fourth successive game.

Ibrahim Keita reduced the arrears with a great finish but Sinclair made certain of the three points with a brilliant finish to make it 4-2.

The Reds team: Fulton, Cleary, Maguire, Jones, Heaton, Baio (Randall), Peterson, Lussey, Sinclair, Trickett-Smith, Ojo.