Thursday, November 22, 2012

Liverpool vs Young Boys Betting Preview

With three Premier League games in the nine days that follow this fixture, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will be tempted to rest some of his star names for the visit of Young Boys.

“I would have loved to have kept them on the side to give them a breather but obviously when you need them you need to put them on,” said Rodgers of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard when he introduced the pair in the Capital One Cup tie against Swansea.

Unfortunately for the Reds, it could be a similar story once again as they are only joint-second in their Europa League group.

A win here would ensure qualification if Udinese fail to win in Russia. Their Swiss opponents showed potential in a spirited display against Liverpool in the group opener and have grown into the competition since then, pulling off an unlikely double against Udinese.

Even if the home side do find a way of getting past Young Boys in the end, it seems likely that the visitors are at least capable of causing problems early on.

Midfielder Lucas Leiva is still not fully fit as he nurses his way back from the thigh injury which has kept him sidelined since August, and the Brazilian will play for the U21s on Friday as he steps up his rehabilitation.

Young Boys are set to be without Canadian winger Josh Simpson, who suffered a broken leg back in May.

Venezuelan forward Joseph Martinez and goalkeeper Ivan Benito are also missing as they struggle with thigh complaints.

Left-back Christophe Spycher (knee) and centre-half Jan Lecjaks (foot) may play some part at Anfield, but both are rated at 50-50 heading into the continental clash.

Liverpool have only led at half-time in two of their last 10 home games and, given that the line-up for this tie could be one that is thrown together, Rodgers’ team may struggle for fluency before the break.

As a result, the pick of the bets is to back Young Boys not to be behind at the interval. In the second half, it could be a different story and Suarez is to have the final say as last goalscorer.

Other goalscoring bets include Jonjo Shelvey, who scored two goals in the previous meeting between the sides, and Raul Bobadilla, who netted a hat-trick against Udinese.

But for the value bet remember that the first match between these sides finished 5-3 to Liverpool after 90 minutes. That makes the over 4.5 goals this time around look very tempting indeed.

Brendan: We're Constantly Improving

Brendan Rodgers believes his squad is near to the level he wants them to be and insists his side has momentum firmly behind them as they continue to improve on a daily basis.

The manager was speaking to the press ahead of what will be a crucial Europa League tie against Young Boys at Anfield on Thursday and a game in which the Reds could secure early qualification from the group stage if results go their way.

And Rodgers told reporters how his players are getting to grips with a new way of working and will only get stronger as the season progresses.

"I said at the beginning of the season that I wanted to build a competitive group and for us that means competing at the top end," said Rodgers. "That's where every team will want to be and for us it's no different.

"I feel this group will get stronger as the season goes on. We have momentum and the mentality is strong. We're hard to beat and we'll improve into the second half of the season.

"We're in a good place now and I see a sort of cohesion and a template for where we want to be growing every day.

"We're near where I want us to be, but what we're installing is a mentality and resilience in the group - which will provide a real foundation for us going forward. I believe that in the second half of the season we will become stronger and better.

"I've always tried to map out where I want to go and I've done that since I was a young coach. It's a lot easier if you know where you want to go and for me I have always set myself targets and goals.

"But all you can do is work well and continue to learn - which is very important. My ambitions will always be in the best interests of the club. I want this club to succeed. I'm hungry and I'm very keen to learn.

"I couldn't judge percentage-wise where we are at but if we can make a percentage increase every single day then we are going to improve. The players have been brilliant and now they feel comfortable in the way that we're working."

The manager also confirmed that Lucas Leiva will miss the clash against Young Boys on Thursday night - but Rodgers added that the midfielder is set to feature in the U21s' clash against Middlesbrough on Friday - a game you can watch exclusively live on LFC TV at 2pm GMT.

The Brazilian has been out of action since sustaining a thigh injury in the first home game of the Reds' Barclays Premier League campaign against Manchester City in September.

"The injured players are returning very quickly," said Rodgers. "Lucas Leiva is back in training but he won't be involved in the game on Thursday night. He will play a reserve game on Friday but he looks very good [fitness-wise].

"All the players have been coming through. The group is very healthy and very strong."

Nuri Sahin has been a prominent feature in Rodgers' side so far in the Europa League and the Turkish international has often been the leading presence on the pitch as part of a relatively young side.

"He's a very talented footballer," insisted Rodgers. "I've known Nuri since he was a youngster and he broke onto the scene in Germany.

"Technically he's very strong and tactically he can participate very well. He's got a real hunger to succeed and so I've really enjoyed working with him."

The manager also took time out to heap praise on Luis Suarez, who could be in contention to face Young Boys at Anfield on Thursday and add to his tally of two goals in the Europa League so far.

"He's certainly one of the top strikers around at the moment in European football and world football," said Rodgers. "There's absolutely no doubt about that - I think he has proven that.

"What makes Luis unique is his unpredictability. You are not sure if he is going to spin or feint to shoot. He twists and turns around the box. His cleverness and his brightness is incredible.

"Every day he trains against the likes of Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher, Sebastian Coates and these are all strong and committed centre-halves. So it's very hard for them every single day. He's wonderful striker, who has still got a lot to learn as well. He's still looking to improve."

Allen Dream Of Champions League Success At Liverpool

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen has revealed that he dreams of European success during his Anfield career.

The midfielder was signed by Brendan Rodgers last summer and has been an ever present in the sides 12 Premier League fixtures.

Despite Rodgers' side featuring in the Europa League this term, it is Champions League exposure which Allen craves - and the former Swansea player would relish a night of it in front of the Kop.

"Any sort of Premiership footballer's dream is to one day play in the Champions League, and it's no different for me," he told the club's official website.

"European contest always has great feeling. At Anfield in particular there's that atmosphere you don't experience at many other places in the world. Hopefully I'll get a taste of that one day."

The Reds welcome Young Boys to Anfield on Thursday, where a win could leave them top of Group A, and while climbing the league table and trying to secure Champions League qualification is paramount to his side, Allen insists Liverpool will try their hardest to win the Europa League.

"As professionals, as footballers, we want to win every competition we can and every game we can.

"We want to go as far in this Europa League as we possibly can and we know Thursday's match is pivotal if we're going to do that.

"If you look at the calibre of opposition in this competition, it's a great challenge. Test yourself against some great players, some great clubs - there would definitely be no shame in lifting that trophy."

Liverpool Still Keen On £7m African Striker

Liverpool is once again being linked with a move for Newcastle United striker Demba Ba.

The Sunday People claims Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is looking to get Stewart Downing out of the club in an effort to free-up funds for strikers in January.

Ba is one of the players on the Anfield transfer radar, according to the paper, along with Giuseppe Rossi, Wilfried Bony and Daniel Sturridge.

The Senegalese striker has been linked with a move to Liverpool on a number of occasions in the past, with The Daily Mail claiming last month that Rodgers was monitoring the player after being warned against a bid for South Korean international Son Heung-min.

A £7 million minimum fee release clause will once again be reactivated in the New Year, according to the Mail report last month, meaning Ba is certainly an affordable target for the Reds owners – should they wish to make a move.

Liverpool is short of senior options up-front, with Luis Suarez shouldering the burden alone this season on Merseyside following Andy Carroll’s exit on loan.

Ba – who has eight goals for the Toon this season, joint-second behind Suarez in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot – would certainly add an extra attacking dimension to Liverpool if they could lure him to the club, giving the Reds the most productive strike-force in the division at this stage.

Liverpool And Arsenal Target To Reject New Offer

Hamburg striker Heung Min Son has revealed that he is unlikely to renew his contract with the German side which has seen Premier League clubs Arsenal and Liverpool up their interest in him.

The 20 year old has scored six goals in 12 appearances this season and has been tipped from greatness ever since he left Dongbuk High School in 2008.

It is believed that Hamburg are desperate to hang on to the star who has attracted interest from Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Monaco as well as the two Premier League sides.

The player himself has been keeping his future under wraps but has this week given the clearest indication that his is to leave Hamburg for pastures new telling Bild, “It’s very hard to say that I will renew at the moment.”

Liverpool are believed to be in pole position to launch a January bid, and with the South Korean unwilling to sign on, a bid of around £8 million should be enough to convince Hamburg to sell.

Lucas Suggests Liverpool Make Move For Brazilian Star

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has urged Brendan Rodgers to consider signing Internacional star Leandro Damiao in a bid to bolster the club’s attacking options.

The Merseyside club has found themselves heavily dependant on the goal scoring form of Luis Suarez this season, following the decision to allow Andy Carroll to join West Ham United on a season-long loan, exacerbated by Fabio Borini ruled himself out until the New Year with a broken foot. The Uruguayan has scored ten of Liverpool’s 17 goals in the Premier League this season, and Brendan Rodgers has admitted he will have to consider forward options in January to ease the burden on Suarez.

Lucas, who returned to first team this week, has identified compatriot Damiao as a perfect option for the club to investigate. The Internacional forward was heavily linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur throughout the summer, particularly following his explosive form in the Olympics where he netted six goals in six appearances.

Speaking to FourFourTwo, the Liverpool man admitted that it would be “almost impossible” for the Reds to sign perhaps the most sought-after talent in world football in Neymar, but suggested 22-year-old Damiao could be the perfect addition to the Premier League.

When asked which of his compatriots could strengthen Rodgers’ side, Lucas said, "The consensus in Brazil would be Neymar. He is a different player now: a promise turned into reality. But I know signing him would be very hard, almost impossible.

"So among the other players who are currently in Brazil I would choose Leandro DamiĆ£o. He would suit the Premier League very well, as he is a strong centre-forward who finishes very well and knows how to play with his back to goal."

Liverpool Link To Grosskreutz

Liverpool has been offered encouragement in their reported interest in Borussia Dortmund's Kevin Grosskreutz after the winger again expressed his Premier League ambition.

The 24-year-old has long been linked with a move to Anfield and scouts are expected to watch Wednesday's UEFA Champions League match against Ajax in Amsterdam.

Germany international Grosskreutz, a friend of Liverpool loanee Nuri Sahin, is under contract with Dortmund until the end of next season but he has hinted at a move to England.

He is quoted as saying in Bild: "Should I continue with my career in a foreign country at some point, the Premier League of England would be my top priority.

"I really like the way football is played over there. I have no concrete thoughts on that. In terms of contracts, my first conversation will be Borussia Dortmund.

Wales Skipper Blasts Luis Suarez

Swansea City’s Ashley Williams has ignited the clash with Liverpool ahead of this weekend's fixture after revealing his dislike for Luis Suarez.

Williams faced the Uruguayan on two occasions last season and in his book 'My Premier League Diary' he openly talks of his dislike for the Anfield favourite.

'Suarez has that aura about him that says "I'm untouchable" and his manner and behaviour made me want to knock him out.'

“I'd go as far as to say that the manner in which he approached the game, with utter contempt for us all, means that he's streets ahead of any player I've truly disliked since we've been in the Premier League.

“He dived more than any other player I've played against before - it was so bad I was genuinely shocked. Throughout the game, he just dived down and screamed at any given moment.

“Now, obviously, diving has crept into the game more and more in recent years and, as a defender, you have to be aware of it. But even the players you know that like a dive at least wait until there is some sort of challenge or contact. Not Suarez.

“A couple of times I'd hear the scream, see him writhing on the floor and for the life of me couldn't see where the contact could have been.”

Williams also took exception to Suarez in the return match last May. After Swansea's 1-0 win, he wrote, “Having played against him twice now I just have to say that I don't like the bloke. They won a corner, and I appealed to the ref to say that it had come off him last. He said something to me with a bit of a snarl, so I just told him to shut his mouth. I don't like the superior manner he brings on the field with him. Basically I have no time for the guy at all.”

Lucas To Step Up Comeback

Lucas Leiva is in contention to make his return to action this week, assistant manager Colin Pascoe has revealed.

The Reds are set to play four games in as many days, with the U18s, U21s and first team all in action from Thursday to Sunday.

And Lucas, who has not figured for Liverpool since sustaining a thigh problem against Manchester City on August 26, could be considered for 45 minutes in Friday's second-string clash against Middlesbrough - though not before being assessed by the club's medical team.

Pascoe told "The next step is getting his strength up in training and hopefully he can get 45 minutes in the reserve game on Friday.

"But we'll assess him, see how he is in the next couple of days, and if he feels fine himself, then he could possibly have 45 minutes on Friday."

As well as sitting out most of the season so far, the Brazil midfielder also missed the second half of 2011-12 due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

However, Lucas returned to full training at Melwood last week - much to the delight of everyone connected with the club.

Pascoe said: "It's fantastic to see Lucas back in training. He's a good player and it's nice to get him back.

"He's been unfortunate with a lot of injuries. I know that's part and parcel of football but it can get you down and it's nice to see Lucas with a smile on his face.

"He's a great professional. He's done his recovery and rehab. When you're injured, you can't wait to go and play football again and sometimes you can't see a light at the end of the tunnel, but Lucas has kept his head down, worked hard and he's looking good in training."

A first-team return may still be a few weeks away for Lucas, but Pascoe believes he will slot into Brendan Rodgers' set-up seamlessly.

He said: "He knows his position, knows the angles and is a great player. It was a sad miss when we lost him - so it'll be a great boost to the team when he's available.

"He's a popular character. He's a great lad and was missed around us. We're glad he's back with us training and when he's available for selection, it'll be great to have him around again."

Borrell Thankful For Brendan

Belief from Brendan Rodgers is the crucial element which has allowed a number of youngsters to enjoy a first-team opportunity, according to Rodolfo Borrell.

The U21s coach has watched former charges Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom feature in the Reds' starting XI on a consistent basis this season.

Such success has engendered an atmosphere of hope and motivation at the Academy, with Borrell of the opinion that the boss' willingness to give young players a chance is vital.

"If he didn't believe in the youngsters, it would be really difficult - some lads would go through, but not so many," Borrell explained to

"We have to consider that and be thankful that the first-team manager is giving the lads so many opportunities," added the Spaniard, whose U21s are unbeaten in league football in 2012-13.

"I have to say that for the same reason that he is pleased with the work that is being done and we are doing here, I am also really pleased to have him as a manager.

"I always said that you can develop, you can do many things at the Academy, but you need to have a person in the first team who has such a belief in the youngsters."

With the likes of Conor Coady, Adam Morgan and Jack Robinson also earning experience with the senior team, Borrell could not be happier with the manager's policies.

"It's a matter for us to put all the effort in order to make the lads ready," continued the former Barcelona youth coach.

"At least when they get the possibility to go to Melwood and join the first-team squad for training sessions that they get in there with the right tempo, the right mentality, with the same style and understanding of the whole thing. That is very important.

"Obviously the next step is giving them a chance to perform for our first team, [which] depends only on our first-team coach."