Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rodgers Insists There Is Much To Play For This Season

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists there is much to play for despite the team's exit from the Europa League.

The Reds were edged out on away goals by Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday despite a 3-1 victory at Anfield.

Although the result means Liverpool have no chance of any silverware this season, Rodgers is looking for a high points return in the remaining league games this season.

Rodgers said: "Our season doesn't finish, and never was going to finish, until the final whistle against QPR.

"This is a group that is growing all the time. You see the level of performance on Thursday night, to dominate a team of that ilk and control the game like we did was incredible really.

"For us, going forward, it is to continue with how we have been working since the turn of the year. As the season has gone on we have got better and improved.

"We want to carry that through right until the last whistle at the end of the season.

"You can see the players have the hunger and determination to do that. We will look to demonstrate that in the last 11 games."

Liverpool are not in action again until they travel to Wigan on March 2 and their remaining fixtures include home clashes with Tottenham, Chelsea and Everton but otherwise they face a host of teams currently in the bottom half.

Presently seventh, their challenge is to claw back a nine-point gap to fourth-placed Tottenham.

He said: "We need to do our best. We are out of the cup competitions and that is something we will look to put right going forward.

"We want to win trophies here, that is the idea.

"For the remainder of the season it is to finish as high up the league as we can. When I came here in the summer that was the priority given to me.

"There has been some great growth in the group and that will continue. We want to keep showing our quality of fight and spirit right the way through to the QPR game.

"Then we will reassess in the summer and we will be in a much better position come next season.

"The framework will already be in place. It is difficult for players with a new manager coming in, with different ideas and work. But I think we are now starting to see there is a flow in it.

"They are comfortable with it and we are scoring goals and producing performances. Hopefully we can continue."

Luis Suarez May Have To Leave Liverpool This Summer

Love him or hate him, it's difficult to deny the sheer talent and brilliance that Luis Suarez has brought to the English game.

With much made about his diving antics since joining Liverpool, lately it's his performances and goals that are grabbing the headlines.

Despite the Uruguayan being the current hero on Merseyside, Suarez has been linked with a move away from Anfield. Liverpool has been unable to challenge for silverware in recent times which has further fuelled speculation of a departure for their key man.

There is no doubt that although Liverpool have spent again since the arrival of manager Brendan Rodgers in the summer, Liverpool still lack a side capable of winning major trophies. With 18 league goals to his name this season, and only Manchester United striker Robin van Persie ahead of him in the Premier League scoring charts, its plain to see why Suarez is so adored by the Liverpool faithful.

It also looks extremely likely The Reds will again be without Champions League football next season as they currently trail fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur by nine points. And after being humiliated by lower league Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup, they have now bowed out of the Europa League.

Not even a Suarez double could avoid defeat on away goals to big spenders Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield on Thursday night. This latest cup exit means there will be no trophy to celebrate for the Kop again this season.

With these issues, it is little wonder Suarez is often being linked to moves away from England. The latest and most reoccurring rumour involves him and Bayern Munich. With Pep Guardiola set to take charge at the end of the current season, there is much talk of how he would like to take Suarez to the Allianz Arena. And with the team Bayern currently have, it is hard to see why Suarez would stay with Liverpool if he has any desires to win any silverware in the future.

As big a loss as it would be to the Premier League, and a massive blow to the plans of Rodgers and Liverpool's future, Suarez would be wise to make the move to Germany should Guardiola and Bayern give him the chance to be part of their current revolution.

Liverpool Step Up Hunt For Efe Ambrose

Liverpool are ready to step up their scouting of Celtic midfielder Efe Ambrose after being impressed with his performances at the African Cup of Nations.

Ambrose was one of the stars of the Nigerian side that won the tournament, and Reds scouts are aware of his rising stock.

Indeed, it’s thought that Liverpool’s talent spotters at the competition in South Africa returned to England with only one name in their note book – that of midfield enforcer Ambrose.

And according to reports, the 24-year-old will now be watched by Liverpool representatives during Celtic’s title run in, with his agent keen to move his client on at the end of the season.

The news comes with Celtic manager Neil Lennon admitting he is aware of the growing interest in Ambrose, but says the club are yet to be formally approached about a deal.

‘I know a few Ambrose fans,’ said Lennon.

‘There is nothing concrete, but I am aware of the interest.’

It is thought that Liverpool has other priorities at present, but Ambrose would represent excellent value with Celtic said to be willing to sell the player for just £6million.

Ambrose is currently contracted to Celtic until 2015.

Liverpool & Spurs In Race For Spanish Striker

Liverpool and Tottenham have joined the chase for reported Arsenal target Adrian Lopez this summer, according to the Express.

The report claims the Gunners were keen on the Atletico Madrid striker during the January transfer window but a deal failed to come to fruition, and if they are to renew their interest at the end of the season it seems they will now face competition from Premier League rivals Liverpool and Tottenham, who’re both said to be tracking the Spanish hitman.

The Express claims Liverpool are on the look-out for attacking reinforcements this summer with Brendan Rodgers understood to be keen on providing more competition up front for Luis Suarez, Fabio Borini and Daniel Sturridge.

The reports suggests Spurs are also looking to sign another striker at the end of the season with boss Andre Villas-Boas heavily reliant on Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor in attack this season.

Lopez moved to Atletico from Deportivo La Coruña on a free transfer in 2011 and has gone on to score 23 goals in his 84 appearances so far, but the 25-year-old has found regular first team football hard to come by this season so may be open to a move in the summer.

Tottenham might fancy their chances of luring him to White Hart Lane if they manage to hold on to a top-four finish and qualify for the Champions League next season but Liverpool, and possibly Arsenal, may also be in for the Spanish international striker.

Liverpool & Chelsea To Battle For Croatian Defender

Liverpool & Chelsea are both vying for the services of Lyon defender Dejan Lovren, reports suggest.

The 23-year-old has impressed for the Ligue 1 outfit and has caught the eye of the Premier League duo, the Daily Mail report, with both clubs reportedly preparing summer bids for the centre half.

Both Chelsea and Liverpool are likely to consider addition cover to their defences this summer.

David Luiz’s relocation to the centre of midfield has seen Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic often used at the heart of defence in the absence of John Terry, who has struggled with a knee injury since November of last year.

The imposing Lovren could be seen as a long term replacement for the Chelsea skipper, who’s own future at Stamford Bridge remains unresolved.

Liverpool also find themselves in a position where an addition centre half could be requirement.

Jamie Carragher recently announced his intention to retire at the end of the campaign, which will leave Brendan Rodgers with Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel as the club’s only experienced centre backs.

Liverpool Could Be Chasing Atletico Madrid Star

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has identified Arda Turan as a summer transfer target.

The Turkish midfielder was linked in the build-up to the January transfer window with Arsenal, but a deal did not materialize and with Brendan Rodgers planning to revitalize his squad in the summer Turan could fit the bill.

Turan's agent Ahmet Bulut raised the spectre of a potential move for his client to Anfield, by telling Turkish state broadcasting service TRT, "Arda has played at Atletico Madrid for two seasons now. I have wanted to see him play for another team in another league and Arda wants the same.”

“I can’t say the league or you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about but let’s just put it like this, there are only 5-6 clubs which could afford Arda right now and he’s going to join one of these five clubs."

According to Spanish paper AS, Rodgers is readying a £19m bid for the player.

Ochoa Claims Liverpool Option

Ajaccio goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa claims Liverpool is one of a number of clubs to have expressed an interest in his services.

The Mexican shot-stopper has revealed that the Premier League outfit enquired as to his availability during the January transfer window.

No deal was put in place, but Ochoa is hoping he will be on the move over the summer.

Anfield may be one option open to him, but the 27-year-old claims he could end up in England, Italy, Spain or Germany.

Ochoa told Orange: "There was some communication with Liverpool, but I let everything be handled by my agent and my club's president. My job is to remain focused and think about my team, Ajaccio.

"There is no doubt, though, that this is a dream I have had since I came to Europe, since I started playing football.

He also told "My agent had contact with Liverpool but there is nothing concrete. I hope this summer there will be some offers and I will analyze if it is the right time for me to leave Ajaccio.

"It will be difficult to choose between Liverpool, Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Bayern, Dortmund. It depends on how everything happens, I'll then choose the best one regarding all aspects.

"The idea is to play for one of the best teams. But it is hard to decide as there are five very good leagues: Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1."

Liverpool & West Ham Set To Miss Out On Ivory Coast Star

Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony could spurn interest from West Ham and Liverpool and move to Italy, according to his agent.

The 24-year-old is hot property at the moment having bagged 36 league goals for Dutch side Twente since the start of last season.

He has been heavily linked with several Russian clubs this month, but he has his admirers in England, with West Ham and Liverpool believed to be chasing his signature.

However, his agent Francis Kacou has dampened talk of him moving to the Premier League and says he wants to play in Italy instead.

"I have received several offers from clubs in England and Russia, but the boy is more excited about playing in Italy," Kacou told Voetbal International.

Bony, who is under contract until June 2015, is the subject of firm interest from 2010 European champions Inter Milan.

Rodgers Has Great Pride In Liverpool Exit

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he is very proud of his teams performances against Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday night despite their Europa League exit.

The Reds trailed 2-0 from the first leg in Russia and after going behind through a goal from Hulk they had to score four times to progress in the competition, yet they only managed three.

A double by Luis Suarez and a Joe Allen strike gave the hosts half an hour to get that crucial fourth, but it was all to no avail as a 3-1 victory was not enough to prevent Liverpool from going out on away goals.

"I thought we were incredible," Rodgers said. "Obviously we were two down from the first leg and to concede again, at 3-0 you might have thought the tie was over and done with.

"But we showed real character and quality tonight to get three goals, and we totally dominated the game, controlled the game and should have had a penalty.

"So we're bitterly disappointed and we lost the battle , but in terms of the war going forward we very much look forward to that. Overall we were fantastic.

"I don't think the players could have done any more, the crowd certainly couldn't have done any more. It was one of those nights. It was a fantastic night but unfortunately we probably lost the tie over there.

"At this level, to have to score that many goals and nearly do it gave me great pride."

Rodgers also refused to criticize Jamie Carragher after his mistake led to the Zenit opener, he said, “There is no blame. It is probably the first mistake I have seen him make since I came to the football club, and that includes every game in training.

"I thought he was brilliant, how he controlled Hulk, who is a real threat with his strength and power. It is one of those unfortunate things.

"I am disappointed for Carra. He is a brilliant professional and deserved to go into the next round and play again, but unfortunately it is not to be."

Inexperienced U18s Punish Sunderland

Daniel Trickett-Smith's stunning late goal capped off an impressive Liverpool U18s display as the Reds eased to a resounding 4-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday.

Skipper Jordan Rossiter opened the scoring just inside the half-hour mark at the Academy before Jordan Blinco brought the visitors back on terms.

This drew a devastating reaction from Liverpool - who rested several players ahead of a big week - as a ferocious strike from close range by Jerome Sinclair put the Reds back into the lead before a low strike from Cameron Brannagan helped to condemn Sunderland just before the break.

Trickett-Smith's unstoppable strike in the dying moments of the game ensured full-backs Corey Whelan and Sam Hart had debuts to remember.

The result sets Steve Cooper's side up nicely for Thursday's FA Youth Cup clash against Leeds at Anfield.

Liverpool looked to stamp authority in the early stages and forced Sunderland goalkeeper Peter Burke into making two saves inside the first 10 minutes.

Seyi Ojo fashioned an opportunity after the winger created space for himself when coming inside from the left flank. Ojo fired a shot that deflected towards the corner of the goal but was foiled by the outstretched arm of Burke.

Shortly after, Sinclair received the ball 30 yards from goal and instinctively turned and curled an audacious effort that Burke leapt across to tip wide.

Nine minutes later, Liverpool created their clearest chance of the opening 20 minutes after some composed play from Sinclair. The striker showed great awareness to slide a defence-splitting pass through to Trickett-Smith, the frontman's shot was destined for the corner but it was blocked by the trailing foot of Burke.

The Reds' constant pressing eventually paid dividends as they broke the deadlock in the 28th minute.

A scramble for possession in the box ensued after Sunderland failed to deal with Ryan Kent's corner and Rossiter swiftly seized the opportunity to tuck the ball into the net at the back post.

Against the run of play, the visitors managed to level the scoring in the 36th minute. Tom Robson's lofted pass was just beyond the Reds' backline and found the onrushing Blinco, who calmly slotted past Ryan Fulton.

Sunderland's goal only temporarily altered the complexion of the game before Sinclair restored Liverpool's lead just two minutes later.

Yet another troublesome corner from Kent caused havoc in Sunderland's area, the ball ricocheted between players in the box before Sinclair ruthlessly drilled a shot crashing into the roof the net.

This was the catalyst for a series of attempts on goal as half-time approached, one of which found the net to increase Liverpool's lead.

After palming Ojo's rasping drive from an acute angle over the crossbar, Burke was called into action again to prevent Sinclair from doubling his tally when the striker side-footed a shot at goal.

Fortunately for Liverpool, the Irishman was helpless to stop Brannagan from adding a third for the Reds in the closing stages of the first half. Ojo surged down the left wing before pulling it back to the midfielder who steered a left-footed shot beyond the reach of Burke and into the back of the net.

After the break, Sunderland substitute Dan Wright entered the fray and wasted a glorious opportunity seven minutes into the second half. Full-back Steven McCarthy burst down the right flank before spraying the ball across to the midfielder; Wright rushed his effort and dragged his tame shot wide.

Just before the hour mark, Trickett-Smith presented Sinclair with an opportunity reminiscent of the chance that the former nearly scored from in the first half. Sinclair received the accurate pass from his strike partner before rounding Burke and chipping a shot that was glanced onto the post by the retreating Sunderland defence.

As the match entered the last half an hour, Sunderland's desperate need for a goal intensified.

The visitors won a free-kick on the edge of the area but failed to take advantage as Fulton comfortably dived down to smother Tom Brewitt's set-piece.

As Sunderland's hopes of stealing a share of the spoils drained, Trickett-Smith confirmed the win for the Reds with just a few minutes remaining. The striker received possession 25 yards from goal before immediately turning and firing a well-struck shot that soared into the corner of the net, making it an afternoon to remember for the young side.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Match Report: Liverpool 5 - 0 Swansea

New signing Philippe Coutinho marked his Liverpool debut with a goal in a 5-0 win as an understrength Swansea side with one eye on a Wembley final next week put up little fight at Anfield.

The 20-year-old scored the important second goal moments after the break following Steven Gerrard's first-half penalty.

Jose Enrique, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, also from the spot, finished off the visitors who rarely looked interested in, or capable of, making a contest of it.

Brendan Rodgers, facing the club he left in the summer for the third time this season, began the week talking up what an important seven days lay ahead.

But after a home defeat to West Brom and one against Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League this game took on even more significance.

It was a match Liverpool effectively could not afford to do anything but win, although that only served to paper over the cracks which have been exposed recently.

As emphatic as the scoreline was - incredibly securing a first win over a top-10 side this season - it only served to prove just how frustrating the Reds can be.

Earlier in the week they created as many if not more chances against the Baggies but failed to put any away.

The same problem befell them in Russia, with a similar 2-0 defeat the outcome, but in some ways Swansea probably provided the ideal opposition for the Reds to end a five-match win-less run.

Physically unintimidating, with a bigger prize on offer in seven days' time, they were also the perfect team for the slight and youthful-looking Coutinho to make his first appearance since an £8.5million move from Inter Milan late last month.

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup, with his thoughts on next weekend's Capital One Cup final, did his predecessor a huge favour by naming a weakened side, selecting only four who beat QPR 4-1 last week and leaving out 15-goal striker Michu, captain Ashley Williams and Nathan Dyer.

Had Liverpool not beaten a side which was arguably not as strong as the one which defeated the Reds 3-1 in the League Cup in October, serious questions would have been asked.

After striker Roland Lamah's hopeful appeals for a handball against Glen Johnson were waved away by referee Howard Webb the match settled into a familiar and all-too-frustrating pattern for the hosts.

England right-back Johnson planted a free header well wide, Gerrard drilled a free-kick into the wall and Suarez fired the rebound over, before the Uruguay international whipped a 25-yard free-kick just over the bar and similarly dispatched a dipping volley.

The chances continued to be created and not converted as Sturridge missed the target with a close-range header before the £12million signing appeared to be brought down by Kyle Bartley.

Referee Howard Webb saw nothing untoward but worse was to follow as Liverpool's other January arrival Coutinho stabbed the loose ball wide with the goal at his mercy.

Webb was also unconvinced by Kemy Agustien's unnecessary challenge on Suarez close to the touchline but fortunately for the home side his assistant Mike Mularkey saw it differently and immediately flagged for a penalty.

Gerrard, having failed from the spot in front of the Kop against West Brom, went for the opposite corner and succeeded in beating Michel Vorm for Liverpool's first goal.

Sturridge had one more chance before the break but having been put through by Suarez his left-footed toe poke was blocked by the head of Bartley.

Swansea had shown little threat in the opening 45 minutes and any ideas they may have had about staging a comeback were snuffed out within 10 minutes of the restart.

In truth, the 16 seconds it took the 20-year-old Coutinho to skip through the visitors' defence and beat Vorm was all that was required.

However, a well-worked goal saw Enrique poke home Sturridge's pass before Suarez went past both Swansea's centre-backs to fire home the fourth.

The persevering Sturridge was denied again by Vorm as the Reds ploughed forward almost at will with Swansea seemingly powerless to stop them or provide any effective response of their own.

He finally got his goal but only courtesy of the generosity of Gerrard who relinquished penalty duties when substitute Wayne Routledge handled.

Liverpool, who finished with 10 men after third and final substitute Fabio Borini went off with a painful-looking shoulder injury, have now scored 17 goals in their last five home games with only the two conceded against West Brom spoiling a perfect run at Anfield.

The key for Rodgers, as it has been for the entire season, is to find a way of ensuring this is not just another flash in the pan as his side moved to within nine points of fourth-placed Tottenham.

Rodgers Praises Outstanding Performance Of His Team

Brendan Rodgers was a very happy man after Liverpool beat Swansea City 5-0, in what he described as an outstanding performance.

The Reds had lost their last two games against West Brom and Zenit St Petersburg 2-0, in the Premier League and the Europa League respectively.

He said: “For us it was a very important win and an outstanding performance. I think we really showed our character and mental toughness today to get our performance like that.”

As well as a clean sheet, the former Swansea boss was also buoyed by a debut goal for January signing Philippe Coutinho.

“The Premier League is very important to us. We had to focus and show great commitment today against a Swansea team that has been brilliant.’ he added.

“We’ve had a bumpy road this week. The last four games defensively we haven’t been at our best.”

Laudrup Shares Blame

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup accepted some of the blame for the "accident" of their 5-0 defeat at Liverpool but felt the players had to also take responsibility.

The Dane made seven changes - leaving 15-goal striker Michu and captain Ashley Williams on the bench - with one eye on next weekend's Capital One Cup final against Bradford.

It backfired spectacularly as his side was never in the match and barely managed to raise a competitive element to their game.

"We could have lost seven or eight nil easily had it not been for (goalkeeper) Michel Vorm and that is not good enough," said Laudrup.

"It is a little difficult to explain because I made a lot of changes so the first to blame is me because I picked the team.

"But I will not exclude players who were thinking about the game next week, which in a certain way is human logic because it will be the biggest game in the history of the club.

"One thing you can always ask is your team is competitive and after 45 minutes we were still in the game (at 1-0) but they came out and scored three goals in 10 minutes - you cannot do that.

"I don't want to believe that it was a lack of concentration because we had just talked about it in the dressing room after the first 45 minutes.

"I don't regret making the changes because I still think, until now, even when we lost we were competitive but (we were) never like this.

"I was sure this team could do well. It is obvious why Williams and Michu were not there.

"You can't put it only on those two, there were still some very good players on the pitch who had performed a lot of other times.

"I want to see this as a single accident maybe caused by what is going to happen in seven days - at least I hope so."

Swansea trailed at half-time to Steven Gerrard's penalty but they conceded another to Reds debutant Philippe Coutinho within 16 seconds of the kick-off after the interval, sparking a 10-minute spell which brought further goals from Jose Enrique, Luis Suarez before Daniel Sturridge converted a 71st-minute spot-kick.

Liverpool Could Pick Up Argentine For £4.5m

Liverpool could pick up Argentine playmaker Lucas Biglia for a bargain £4.5m in the summer.

Belgian champions Anderlecht are willing to let the 27-year-old go for around half his value after he fell out of favour.

And Brendan Rodgers is keeping a close eye on the situation, according to The Sun on Sunday.

Biglia, who has seven caps for Argentina, was suspended by the Belgian club after going AWOL earlier this season.

During the January transfer window, he returned home to Argentina in a bid to force through a move to a Premier League club.

Anderlecht's managing director Herman van Holsbeck said: 'If we get 5.5m Euros for Biglia during the next transfer window, we will be happy.'

He is also being monitored by Southampton - where compatriot Mauricio Pochettino is a well-known admirer - Real Madrid, Napoli and Fiorentina.

Rodgers Could Raid Swansea For Ashley Williams

Brendan Rodgers says he wants to “bring in some men” to his Liverpool squad this summer to eradicate the costly errors that have derailed the club’s season.

The floundering campaign has been attributed to the inexperience in the squad, the lack of senior players soon to be accentuated by Jamie Carragher’s retirement.

Thursday night’s 2-0 defeat at Zenit St Petersburg was the latest occasion when Liverpool have failed to convert their dominance into victory.

Rodgers has made no secret of the profile of player he is looking for following a period where all his major signings have been 23 or under.

“The biggest thing we need this summer is to bring in some men, some character that allows and supports the other men to see the games out,” said Rodgers. “That is the biggest thing for me. Look at Jamie Carragher, he is our best defender, he is 35 but we are losing that character. That has to be replaced. I also think there are other areas of the team that need improving.”

With the future of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates also under discussion, it means Rodgers could need three new centre-backs.

Top of his wanted list is likely to be Swansea centre-half Ashley Williams, who was made captain when Rodgers was manager.

Williams, 29 in August, was recently handed the Wales armband. He is one of the best defenders in the Premier League but would cost at least £10 million.

With Swansea more likely to qualify for Europe than Liverpool, there would be no guarantee he could be so easily lured. But changes must be made, insists Rodgers. “This has been a difficult but real eye-opening period in terms of coming in to a club with such ambition. We just need that mentality to be clinical,” he said.

“That’s something we’ll talk about at the end of the season when we identify where improvements have to be made. I just want the best team, whether that is senior players, youth or the best which is the mixture. I always like to give young players hope but in order to do that they need that bit of experience alongside them.

“I don’t think massive surgery is needed. Daniel Sturridge came in and you saw the difference it made to the team. Maybe if we had a few more of his capacity in the group that could set us up.

But it is not wholesale changes. But in order for us to be up there consistently we need to improve in terms of our mentality. Technically we have shown we are very capable, tactically we have not been found wanting like in the two games against Arsenal and Man City.

“The condition and intensity of their work is high so that only leaves you one thing - mentality. That is the area which needs to improve and to do that we need character.”

Rodgers Planning Liverpool Clear-Out

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is planning a summer clear-out as he bids to stamp his authority on the Anfield squad.

As many as five first-team regulars are reportedly set to face the axe: Pepe Reina, Martin Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing.

Liverpool will also allow Sebastian Coates to leave and seek a buyer for flop Andy Carroll, according to the Sunday Mirror.

Rodgers watched his side lost 2-0 to Zenit in the Europa League on Thursday which reinforced the need to overhaul his squad.

'An Anfield source told the Sunday Mirror: 'The manager has now imprinted his style of play on the club, but next season will be more important in terms of results.

'There are a lot of talented players at Liverpool, but the club needs people with strong mentalities who can perform under pressure.'

Rodgers, who hopes to keep striker Luis Suarez at the club, will concentrate on strengthening his defence.

Jamie Carragher is retiring and Skrtel would be allowed to return to Zenit for around £12million.

Swansea's Ashley Williams is Rodgers' main target as he hopes to be reunited with the centre back.

But Arsenal is among a host of clubs likely to rival Liverpool for his signature.

Liverpool's Borini Facing Lengthy Spell Out

Liverpool FC could be without Fabio Borini for the rest of the season after the Italian forward suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder against Swansea City AFC on Sunday.

The 21-year-old entered the fray with just 12 minutes remaining, as a replacement for Luis Suárez, but fell awkwardly and was forced off before the final whistle.

"It looks like Fabio Borini has a dislocated shoulder which will keep him out for the season," said manager Brendan Rodgers after the game.

"It is unfortunate. It is actually the other shoulder to a similar injury he had when he was at Chelsea. It is a big blow for us."

Capped once by Italy, Borini was an unused substitute in Liverpool's 2-0 UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg loss at FC Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday, having made two appearances in the competition this season.

Suso: Gerrard Now My Idol, Not Zidane

The 19-year-old Spaniard revealed the French legend was his favourite player until he played with the Anfield captain, whose desire to improve himself has been inspirational

Liverpool starlet Suso has revealed that Steven Gerrard has displaced Zinedine Zidane as his footballing idol, with the Anfield captain's work ethic being an inspiration to the youngster.

The 19-year-old joined the Premier League club in 2010 from Cadiz, and the promising midfielder has since made 18 appearances for the Reds.

And while France legend Zidane will always have a place in his heart, the Spaniard says it is 32-year-old England captain's dedication to personal improvement which sets him apart from the rest of the footballing world.

"When I was young I'd always say Zidane but since I've been here I would say Stevie [Gerrard]," Suso told Liverpool's official website when asked who his footballing idol was.

"Every time I see him it's like he's from another world. He works hard every day and he always wants to improve even though he has won almost everything.

"At 32, he still wants to keep getting better. That shows me how much I have to learn."

Alonso: Rodgers Right Man For Liverpool

Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso insists Brendan Rodgers must be given more time to improve the club's fortunes.

The Spain international, who spent five years at Anfield before leaving to join Real Madrid in 2009, believes Rodgers is building the foundations for success.

Liverpool faces the prospect of missing out on next season's Champions League and failing to win a trophy after a frustrating week.

They are 12 points adrift of a top-four Premier League spot after losing at home to West Brom last Monday, while their Europa League chances suffered a huge dent with a 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their last-32 tie away to Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday.

Rodgers, who took over as Liverpool's manager in June, has acknowledged that the club may well have to wait until next season to achieve what they desire. But Alonso, 31, insists the former Swansea boss is the right man for the Anfield job.

He told BBC's Football Focus program: "With Brendan, Liverpool are building a project. They need to be patient. We all want to see Liverpool fighting for the Champions League places."

Alonso, who scored the equalizer when Liverpool came from three goals down to beat AC Milan on penalties in the 2005 Champions League final, has fond memories of his five years at Anfield.

"I still follow the Premier League and I still feel much attached to Liverpool and I follow them. I consider myself a Liverpool fan," he said.

Liverpool was badly affected by Alonso's departure for Madrid, which came after 12 months of speculation about his long-term Anfield future.

"After five years, I think I needed a change," Alonso said. "It was the right time. It was a difficult decision to take at that time, but some things happen."

Alonso's days at Anfield seemed numbered after Rafael Benitez spent the summer of 2008 unsuccessfully pursuing a deal for Gareth Barry. It was widely believed at the time that Benitez would sell Alonso to raise the money to bring in Barry from Aston Villa, and the Spaniard began to feel that he was ready to move on.

Alonso felt that his departure was inevitable by the time he did leave Anfield in 2009. "Not that summer but the summer before, when they tried to tell me that I wasn't as important [to the club], and they said to me that I could leave and I said 'OK', I said 'That's football'.

"But as well it came to my mind that my position it was different and the following summer I thought that was maybe the right time to leave.

"After I left, performances and so many things happen and that's always the way. Some players come and others go, and I don't consider that [Liverpool declined] because of my departure."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Match Preview: Liverpool vs. Swansea

Liverpool's season of inconsistency continues to frustrate as they prepare to tackle Capital One Cup finalists Swansea at Anfield on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers' side earned deserved plaudits for their thrilling draws away to Arsenal and Manchester City, before coming unstuck at home to West Brom on Monday and then suffering a 2-0 defeat away to Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League on Thursday evening.

Rodgers' former club Swansea have already triumphed once at Anfield this season, securing a 3-1 success in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup back in October, with Michael Laudrup's men tackling League Two giant-killers Bradford in the Wembley showpiece next weekend.

Another concern for Reds supporters will be that they have failed to score in the three top-flight meetings between the two sides since the Swans returned to the Premier League last season.

The Anfield clash is the only Premier League fixture of the weekend due to the fifth round of the FA Cup, with Swansea's participation having come to an end at the hands of Arsenal, while Liverpool were humbled by Oldham.

Victory for Laudrup's men would see them move to within two points of Everton having played a game more than David Moyes' side, whereas a success for the Reds would elevate them to seventh in the standings above West Brom and Swansea and three behind their Merseyside rivals.

Rodgers will welcome Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho back into his plans for Sunday's game.

The January signings were not eligible for the Europa League clash with Zenit St Petersburg and were the only key men not to make the long trip to Russia.

Martin Skrtel started in place of Daniel Agger in the centre of defence against his former club on Thursday evening, while Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling came in for Lucas Leiva and Jonjo Shelvey.

Defender Chico Flores will miss Swansea's trip to Merseyside after rupturing ankle ligaments against QPR.

Kyle Bartley or club captain Garry Monk will get the chance to step into the Spaniard's shoes and stake a claim for a place ahead of the Capital One Cup final.

Midfielder Leon Britton could return from an ankle injury, while left-back Neil Taylor continues his recovery from a broken leg.

Rodgers Admits Liverpool's Top Four Hopes Are Fading Fast

Brendan Rodgers has conceded that Liverpool’s wait to compete in the Champions League again is likely to have to continue for at least another year.

Despite impressive performances away to Arsenal and Manchester City where the Reds walked away with a point on each occasion in recent weeks, Rodgers’ side remain a long way off where they want to be.

With just 12 games of the season remaining, Liverpool sit ninth in the Premier League, 12 points away from fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur.

The former Swansea City had previously maintained faint hopes of Liverpool making a late bid for a top four finish, but as games begin to run out, Rodgers admits that the feat may be out of the club’s hands this season.

"Being a realist, it’s going to be very difficult", Rodgers told a press conference this morning, details of which were published through the club’s official Twitter account.

"It’s going to be a huge task", he added. "We can still do it but it will be difficult."

Liverpool welcome Rodgers’ former club Swansea to Anfield this Sunday, with the Capital One Cup finalists sitting two places ahead of the Reds in seventh.

Laudrup Expects Much Improved Liverpool Side

Manager Michael Laudrup expects his Swansea side to face a much-improved Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

The Swans enjoyed a 3-1 success over the Reds when they met on Merseyside in the Capital One Cup in October, putting one over on former manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Welsh club also claimed a point in the league meeting at the Liberty Stadium, and sit above Rodgers' team in the table after the Reds lost to West Brom on Monday.

Liverpool followed that reverse against the Baggies with Thursday's Europa League defeat to Zenit St Petersburg in Russia.

But Laudrup has seen signs Liverpool are becoming increasingly confident in Rodgers' methods and expects them to be a tougher proposition this time around.

"They are better now than when we played the cup game," he said.

"They have a couple of new players, we saw they have brought in (Daniel) Sturridge to play with (Luis) Suarez, and they have had more time with the new manager and understand how he works.

"I have watched them over the last five or six games before they played West Brom and they are getting better all the time."

Last weekend's win over QPR moved Swansea onto 37 points, putting them just a victory away from the oft-stated survival target of 40.

As a result Laudrup feels his side can travel to Anfield with no pressure on their shoulders, after enjoying a warm-weather training camp in Dubai this week.

But the Dane expects the high standard of Swansea's away performances, which have resulted in wins at the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle so far this season, to be maintained.

"Winning against QPR and with the points we have, we can go there with no pressure at all," he said.

"That does not mean we give the game away, we always want to be competitive, but the pressure will be on them, they are a team who have to go into Europe and they are strong.

"Anfield is one of those grounds where you can never expect to get anything, like at Old Trafford or the Etihad Stadium. I know we have had results at some of these grounds like the Emirates and Stamford Bridge, but normally they are huge favourites."

Liverpool Keeping Tabs On Emmanuel Emenike

According to Russian newspaper Izvestia, Liverpool are tracking Spartak Moscow striker Emmanuel Emenike as a future replacement for Luis Suarez.

Liverpool face the very real possibility of losing star striker Suarez in the summer if the Reds fail to secure European football, and as a precaution, have earmarked Emenike as a possible replacement.

The 25-year-old is contracted to the Russian club until 2016 and is currently valued at around €12 million.

But after a successful African Cup Of Nations campaign, in which he finished joint top scorer with four goals in five games, a move to the Premier League could be on the horizon.

Emenike has been prolific since he joined the Russian outfit from Turkish side Fenerbahce, scoring 18 times in 37 games.

And although Luis Suarez has claimed he does not intend to leave Liverpool, another year without Champions League football will not sit well with the Uruguayan, who may well seriously consider his future if an offer from the likes of Barcelona or Manchester City was to arrive at Anfield.

Liverpool FC Chase £10m Rated Dutch Striker

Sporting Lisbon striker Ricky Van Wolfswinkel is the latest player to be linked with a possible move to Liverpool.

Despite the signing of Daniel Sturridge the Reds are still struggling up front and the Dutch player is highly regarded throughout Europe.

According to newspaper reports in Italy on Friday, Liverpool has sent a scout to watch the 23 year old, and are continuing to monitor his progress. In January Sky Sports reported that:

“Van Wolfswinkel has been linked with a move to England and the Premier League for some time, with the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle all credited with interest in the player”.

Valued at around £10m, Van Wolfswinkel has already stated his interest in playing in the Premiership:” I know that a lot of Dutch players play in England. It’s a really good competition and I do see it as a step to take maybe in the future, but we will see about that when it happens”.

Should they make a summer move, Liverpool could face stiff competition for the player from Norwich. Manager Chris Hughton confirmed earlier this year that his side is also interested in the player:

“Yes, I have seen those reports on him and there is an interest from ourselves but now far that interest from us has gone I don’t know. But certainly there is an interest”.

Gerrard Eyes Euro Comeback

Captain Steven Gerrard believes Liverpool is well-equipped to overcome a two-goal deficit in their Europa League tie with Zenit St Petersburg.

The Reds' hopes of reaching the last 16 of the competition were dealt a big blow as late goals from Hulk and Sergei Semak sealed a 2-0 victory for the Russian side.

Gerrard admits the result in the Petrovsky Stadium makes it very difficult for his side but he has backed them to respond in the second leg next week.

"If anyone can pull it back, it's us," the 32-year-old told the Liverpool official website.

"We'll have an advantage with our supporters. If they can create the noise they're capable of, get behind the team and we can get an early goal, it's game on.

"But we are disappointed. It wasn't the result we wanted - we wanted an away goal and to try and sneak away with a clean sheet, but if you concede sloppy goals, you get punished and that's what happened.

"Up until the 70th minute against Zenit, the game was under control. It was a tough night in tough conditions. We're disappointed with the two sloppy goals we conceded, but the tie is not over."

Winger Stewart Downing feels the Reds paid the price for a series of missed chances against Zenit.

"They started well and put us under a little bit of pressure, but with the chances we had, especially coming here, it's quite hostile and they had plenty of the ball, but we still had five or six chances to win the game," said Downing.

"But they've got some quality players and they showed that. Hulk was quiet for large periods but he came up with something special.

"The tie is still open. We'll be back at Anfield and we have to try and win the game."