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.