Sunday, November 18, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 3 - 0 Wigan

Striker Luis Suarez proved just how valuable he is to Liverpool with two goals and an assist to help secure only a second home win of the season.

The Uruguay international struck twice in nine second-half minutes and also played a part in the third which saw Jose Enrique score his first goal for the club.

Reports this week that Manchester City were ready to make a £40million bid for the striker in January were dismissed by Roberto Mancini and Brendan Rodgers, with the latter confidently stating his prize asset was not for sale.

And in any case, scoring in five successive matches to take his tally to 10 in as many appearances would appear to have boosted Suarez's price tag by several million more.

Not that Liverpool would consider - or could even countenance - selling a player who is so vital to any chance of success in the short- to medium-term.

Without the 25-year-old's input this season - from goals and assists - the Reds would be in the bottom three.

It is difficult to put a price on exactly how much that is worth to a team still growing into Rodgers' way of working but it is safe to say it would likely take much more to replace what he has brought to the side this campaign.

Yet Suarez was strangely subdued in a first half which had very few talking points.

With goalkeeper Jose Reina making his first appearance since October 7, Rodgers reverted to back four having opted for three centre-backs at Chelsea last weekend.

Somewhat surprisingly he selected Enrique on the left of midfield but before the half was out he had tinkered with his tactical line-up having seen his side fail to get a grip on the game.

The hosts began well with Suarez's cross turned behind by Ben Watson and Daniel Agger's header from the corner tipped just wide by the outstretched hand of Ali Al Habsi.

After Reina shrugged off some of the rustiness with a routine save from Arouna Kone's long-range effort both Agger and Suso headed over.

It was virtually the young Spaniard's last involvement as just past the half-hour he was replaced by Jordan Henderson with Gerrard moving forward to play in the hole by Suarez in an attempt to get more support for the Uruguay international.

By then Wigan had lost Watson to a painful shin injury after he was caught by Raheem Sterling, with Ivan Ramis' subsequent free-kick deflected behind off the wall.

There followed plenty of possession without much penetration from both sides.

Whatever was said by Rodgers to his team - and Suarez in particular - at half-time had the desired effect as Liverpool came out a side with much greater purpose.

It took them just over two minutes to prove it with a swift drive forward for the opening goal.

Andre Wisdom's pass into space gave Sterling, who had also had an uncharacteristically quiet 45 minutes, the chance to nip in front of Maynor Figueroa and run at the Wigan defence.

When he crossed for Suarez the Uruguayan's first-time shot, assisted by a slight deflection of Ivan Ramis, beat Al Habsi.

If the goal energised the home side it ignited Suarez, who was rampant after that.

Enrique drove infield from the left and poked in a through-ball which still required plenty from Suarez but in his current form there was only going to be one outcome and he easily beat the goalkeeper.

The third goal had a touch of fortune but only in its origin.

A throw-in down Wigan's left should have gone to the visitors but the officials awarded it to Liverpool and it was from that they finished off the game.

Suarez again had major part to play, sliding a pass through the inside-right channel to Sterling whose shot was parried by Al Habsi into the path of Enrique who could not miss from a few yards out.

The Spaniard, benefiting from his advanced position, celebrated only his second goal in five years in English football, his first coming for Newcastle against Nottingham Forest in March 2010.

Confidence was now surging through a Liverpool side that had previously been so timid and reticent in front of their own fans in 2012 - having previously only won three league matches at Anfield all year.

That was typified by Glen Johnson's run, starting on the halfway line close to the left touchline, which saw the England defender drive just wide with his right foot from the edge of the area.

Suarez eventually departed to a well-deserved standing ovation late on as Rodgers protected his investment on the back of seven-match unbeaten run.

Rodgers Always Confident

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insisted he was always confident his side would improve throughout the season after watching the Reds overcome Wigan 3-0.

The Anfield triumph was only Liverpool's second in the Premier League on home soil this season, with Luis Suarez grabbing a brace and Jose Enrique also on target.

Uruguay international Suarez has now netted 13 times this season and has scored or set up 85 per cent of all Liverpool's goals this term.

Rodgers told Sky Sports: "Our overall performance was outstanding. We created chances and we took the chances.

"We are seven unbeaten now in the league and for our confidence it is important. I felt that we would get better throughout the season.

"Wigan are a very good side, they have some dangerous players. Roberto has done an outstanding job with Wigan."

The match was overshadowed by a broken leg suffered by Ben Watson in the first half in an accidental clash with Raheem Sterling.

And while Latics boss Roberto Martinez had no complaints over that challenge, he felt Suarez was fortunate to escape punishment for a tackle on David Jones.

But Rodgers said: "I didn't think there were any bad challenges in the game. I thought it was a game played in a sporting manner and both teams conducted themselves very well."

Luis Suarez Accused Of Stamping By Martinez

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez accused Luis Suarez of a stamp after the Liverpool striker's match-winning performance at Anfield.

The Wigan manager claimed the Uruguayan stamped on Latics midfielder David Jones in the 63rd minute of the match, which Liverpool won 3-0.

"He was very fortunate because there was a stamp on David Jones that the referee didn't see," Martinez said.

"That wasn't the sign of a top player. He was fortunate. He was lucky."

Suarez scored twice in the second half and helped create a third to give Liverpool only their second home win of the season - but Martinez's comments may put the controversial striker in the spotlight again.

"I have not mentioned it to the referee," Martinez added. "The things that may happen on a football pitch should be judged by the referee. Those are the incidents that happen. It wasn't a nasty game, a bad game.

"But when you see the replay it is a clear stamp. It could have been a red card if the referee had seen it. But I am not one to look back."

Everton manager David Moyes also claimed Suarez was fortunate to escape a red card for a challenge on Sylvain Distin in last month's Merseyside derby.

And he has also been accused of diving to win penalties for his team, with Stoke boss Tony Pulis calling for the striker to be banned for trying to con referees.

With his ninth and 10th league goals of the season, Suarez has moved above Manchester United's Robin van Persie to top the Premier League scoring charts.

But Liverpool boss Rodgers - who had already spoken to the media before Martinez made his accusations - was keen to insist that despite Suarez having scored 10 of his side's 17 league goals this season Liverpool are not over reliant on their striker.

"He is a master marksman, absolutely outstanding and we are thrilled to have him. But the ethos is very much about the team and the team were excellent today," Rodgers said.

"I thought the team was outstanding today. Luis took his goals very well, his movement was outstanding but today was a result for everyone and I was delighted with that performance.
"It is not just Luis Suarez. Luis Suarez finishes off the great work."

Sterling Apologizes For Breaking Watson’s Leg

Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling has apologized to Ben Watson after the Wigan man suffered a broken leg.

The pair clashed going for a ball in the air with Watson’s shin bearing the brunt of the impact at Anfield in the first half of the Reds’ 3-0 win.

And Sterling, who made his England debut against Sweden on Wednesday, has come out on Twitter and apologized for the incident.

He tweeted: “To Ben Watson I didn't realize it was serious as that ill be praying for a speedy recovery mate ill have you in my prayers every day #sorry”.

Arsenal Plot Player-Plus-Cash Transfer For Sterling

Arsenal is being linked with an audacious player plus cash offer for Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling.

The 17-year-old Reds sensation has been in fantastic form under Brendan Rodgers, taking his chance in the first team on Merseyside this season.

But, with just 18-months left on his current deal at Anfield, The Sun reports that Gunners chief Arsene Wenger is ready to offer Theo Walcott plus £8 million to secure the recently-capped England international’s signature.

Walcott is out of contract at the Emirates Stadium in the summer, and with negotiations yet to reach a settlement, the north London club is now ready to cash-in on the player.

“It’s always important to keep your best players but if selling Walcott should happen, we’ll replace him with someone, another big name,” said the Arsenal boss, according to The Sun.

Rodgers is an admirer of the former Southampton academy graduate, according to the report, but does not want to lose one of his rising Liverpool starlets to secure the deal.

Arsenal will hope the cash incentive can persuade the Reds chief otherwise, but with the paper claiming Walcott’s wage demands are in the region of £90,000, it’s not just the transfer fee that will impact on the Reds’ finances.

Jamaican-born Sterling spent a large part of his youth in London, joining the QPR youth setup as a 10-year-old.

He moved to Liverpool in 2010, and after impressing for the U18s and reserves, has taken his chance to become a regular in the senior side.

Liverpool Face Newcastle Fight Over Serie ‘A’ Defender

Newcastle United is being linked with a £4.5 million move for Liverpool defender target Andreas Granqvist.

The Reds made a £4 bid for the player in the summer transfer window, according to The Sun, but the paper now claims that Magpies chief Alan Pardew is ready to ‘hijack’ the Genoa star’s potential move to Anfield.

Granqvist has previously admitted to being flattered over a link to Liverpool, despite being happy with life in Serie ‘A’, and would compete for a place at centre back alongside Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher and Sebastian Coates.

'I am happy in Genoa, but obviously I am flattered by the interest from the Reds. They are an historic and successful club,” he said in October, according to Metro.

The report in October claimed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers asked scouts to watch the player on international duty for Sweden, but it appears the Merseyside giants were not the only Premier League club watching the player.

Newcastle United isn’t short of defenders at St James’ Park, although injuries have left Pardew’s side particularly weak at the heart of the back line.

Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson are the three main centre backs currently on the books in Tyneside, and Granqvist would add further strength to Newcastle in the position as they look to challenge in both the Premier League and Europe.

Liverpool & Arsenal Target Urged To Consider Transfer Options

Liverpool and Arsenal transfer target Lewis Holtby has been told to consider all his options before deciding on his future by Schalke general manager Horst Heldt.

The German international midfielder is out of contract with the Bundesliga outfit in the summer, and is yet to agree new terms amidst speculation over a move to the Premier League.

However, Heldt is not putting the 22-year-old under excess pressure, and believes it’s good for the youngster to look at other clubs before making a decision.

"We are in intensive talks with Lewis (Holtby). I would be glad to see him decide in our favour then. Still it is very important for him to take his time and look into options at other clubs,” he told Deutsche Presseagentur, according to Sky Sports.

"It's the only way for him to find out that Schalke 04 is the right choice for him as a player."

Liverpool ‘stepped-up’ their interest in the player back in October, according to, with Brendan Rodgers hoping to bring Holtby to Anfield on a free transfer at the end of the season.

A technically-gifted midfielder, the three-cap international – whose father is from Merseyside – would challenge Joe Allen for a place alongside Steven Gerrard at the heart of the Liverpool side if he were to join the Reds.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was linked with a move for Holtby at the start of November, with The Daily Mail claiming the Frenchman was impressed by the player’s performance at the Emirates Stadium in the Champions League.

His agent also gave the Gunners hope over a possible move, admitting that English clubs do appeal to his client.

“Lewis is very good at Schalke but above all there is an English club which has made a very interesting proposal,” Markus Noack told

The talented former Alemannia Aachen starlet appears to have options at his disposal, and both Liverpool and Arsenal will be hoping he chooses a move away from the Veltins-Arena.

Liverpool & Chelsea Target Ignoring Talk

Liverpool, Chelsea and Barcelona target Jackson Martinez has welcomed being linked such prestigious European clubs.

However, the Porto star that has made a more prolific start to his career at the Portuguese club than Radamel Falcao has insisted he is only focusing on the job in hand.

Liverpool was reportedly tracking the star when he was with former club Jaguares in Mexico, but Porto beat them to the punch.

Now Sky Sports have claimed both Chelsea and Barcelona are after the Colombian, who is being tipped to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Falcao, even though he has only just begun to embark on his career in European football.

Both Liverpool and Chelsea are having certain problems up front; Roberto Di Matteo only has the misfiring Fernando Torres and inexperienced Daniel Sturridge to occupy the central striker berth.

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers has only Luis Suarez to call upon in attack at Anfield; the Uruguayan is doing a fantastic job by himself, but it isn’t an ideal situation.

Martinez insists he is ignoring all this speculation and is just concentrating on adding to the 11 goals he scored in his first 12 games for Porto.

“Chelsea and Barcelona? Sincerely I have not spoken with anybody but this is a good signal about my performances in the Portuguese Liga,” he said.

"Rumours are normal because I am working with success in Porto and scoring goals but I am calm, if the papers say there are offers that do not worry me.

"Now I am focused exclusively on my work for Porto, I prefer to ignore the rumours about clubs being interested."

Suarez: Gerrard Is The Best Midfielder

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has hailed team-mate Steven Gerrard as the best midfielder he has played with.

Gerrard made his 600th club appearance for Liverpool against Newcastle earlier this month and secured a century of England caps against Sweden in midweek.

Uruguayan Suarez, who has played alongside the 32-year-old since arriving 21 months ago, told the club’s official website: "He is a player for whom you have to show enormous respect.

"He has always shown utmost respect to the club and has always remained here out of his love for the club, and for me he is the best midfielder I've ever seen play or been able to play alongside.

"He's a real legend at this club, for many reasons. The time he's been at the club, for all what he has given for the club, for the great team-mate he is, for all the years and all those 600 games he's played here.

"That is by no means an easy thing to achieve at a club like Liverpool, and for his modesty and the classy person he is.

"I can't speak about the years before I was born or before I can remember, but I don't think that the club will ever have another player like Steven Gerrard."

U18s Suffer Chelsea Loss

Liverpool U18s suffered a frustrating 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday morning.

Steve Cooper's side was boosted by the inclusion of Jordon Ibe and Jerome Sinclair, and they played some good football at times but in the end a succession of missed chances cost them dear.

Substitute Connor Randall netted a late consolation for the Reds, and they were also boosted by the return of the influential Jack Dunn who made his return from injury in the second half.

Cooper told "It was a frustrating day for us really. We created some good chances in the game but just couldn't finish them off.

"We played some good football at times but it was just one of those days in the end."

Liverpool U18s team: Fulton, Quirk, Maguire, Jones, Heaton, Baio (Dunn 65), Peterson (Gainford 73), Lussey, Sinclair (Randall 65), Trickett-Smith, Ibe.