Monday, September 02, 2013

Match Report: Liverpool 1 - 0 Manchester United

Daniel Sturridge provided a fitting tribute to the memory of Bill Shankly with a fourth-minute winner against Manchester United to maintain Liverpool's 100 per cent start to the Barclays Premier League season.

Monday would have been Shankly's 100th birthday, and it will be celebrated with Liverpool claiming a 1-0 victory, with Sturridge now bagging the only goal in all three matches so far.

In contrast, Manchester United manager David Moyes endured a depressing day.

He failed to claim a hoped-for first win at Anfield following 12 unsuccessful visits with Everton.

If that was not bad enough, Wayne Rooney faces a few weeks on the sidelines with the head injury sustained in training on Saturday, and with the transfer window closing at 11pm on Monday night, Moyes is still to make his first significant signing.

Not that United's travails will bother Liverpool, who dominated the opening half, then had enough defensive muscle to resist the visitors' late rally.

If United's first half was bad, spare a thought for Roy Hodgson.

The England manager now knows he will be without Rooney for the vital World Cup qualfiers with Moldova and Ukraine.

In addition, he saw Phil Jones limp off after the defender landed awkwardly jumping for a routine header.

To top it off, he was forced to watch from a seat normally afforded to visiting scouts as a result of what he was told was a "clerical error".

It seemed a pretty woeful oversight on a day when the presence of Victor Moses, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori in the directors' box showed Liverpool's intent for the last day of the transfer window.

At least Hodgson had Sturridge's form to console him on the drive down to St George's Park.

Liverpool's match-winner against Stoke and Aston Villa on the Reds' perfect opening to the season, Sturridge bagged another as the hosts made a lightning start.

The former Chelsea man had already given warning of his threat when he seized on the loose ball after Jordan Henderson had harassed Ashley Young into a mistake. Rio Ferdinand turned away his shot on that occasion.

But when Daniel Agger leapt highest at the corner, Sturridge was afforded far too much room inside the six-yard area to turn the ball home.

It was the kind of start Moyes must have dreaded, raising the decibel level of an already pretty raucous occasion.

Robin van Persie was not far away with an overhead kick after Patrice Evra had knocked down a Ryan Giggs free-kick, but largely it was an opening period of unremitting frustration for the visitors.

Van Persie was one of three United players cautioned and the half ended with an angry exchange of words between Steven Gerrard and Van Persie, whose focus appeared to have slipped somewhat after an earlier tangle with Agger.

It was not that Liverpool were creating lots of opportunities, David de Gea saved a decent curling free-kick from Gerrard after Glen Johnson's powerful burst had been halted unfairly and the excellent Philippe Coutinho curled a free-kick over the crossbar, but Liverpool's main advantage came through their control of the game, with Lucas outstanding alongside his captain in that crucial central midfield area.

United did return with a bit more purpose at least.

Michael Carrick started to find his passing range, which allowed Young, and then his replacement Nani to threaten from wide positions.

Still, United's increased attacking threat came at the exposure of their defence, and the risk of a killer second.

Nemanja Vidic almost gifted it to Liverpool with an underhit back-pass that had De Gea rushing to clear as Johnson closed in.

Nani forced Simon Mignolet into his best save of the match 15 minutes from time, just before Johnson became the latest member of Hodgson's squad to depart, limping pretty badly after a crunching clash with Patrice Evra.

Van Persie could not make the most of a late opportunity provided by Javier Hernandez, and although five additional minutes of injury time brought a few nerves, in the end it was the hosts who came closest to scoring, De Gea brilliantly turning over Raheem Sterling's powerful drive.

Rodgers Refuses To Discuss Title Bid

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has shrugged off premature title talk even though his side has the last remaining 100 per cent Barclays Premier League record.

Sunday's 1-0 win over old rivals Manchester United at Anfield means the Merseyside giants are top of the table heading into the first international break of the season.

It is a fitting way to mark Bill Shankly's 100th birthday, with Daniel Sturridge claiming the only goal on his 24th, yet Rodgers is not getting carried away.

"We have got 35 matches to go," said Rodgers.

"We won't be getting carried away. The team has a lot of improvement to do and there is a lot of work ahead of us.

"The initial challenge is to get in the top four."

They will certainly be pushing for that, particularly if Sturridge maintains his present form.

The former Chelsea man took his overall tally for the season to five and became a match-winner for the third successive game when he turned home Daniel Agger's knock-down in the fourth minute.

Injured Johnson A Doubt For England

Glen Johnson is a doubt for England’s World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine after leaving Anfield on crutches following Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Manchester United.

The right-back suffered an ankle injury, and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said he feared the worst after having to replace him with Andre Wisdom.

“He took a bad knock on his ankle. It’s quite bad for him to come off,” Rodgers said.

However, team-mate Daniel Sturridge said he hoped he would be fit for the games -- even though his manager said he had not been not fully fit against United.

Sturridge scored the winner to become the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler, 19 years ago, to score in the opening three games of a Premier League season.

“I’m delighted with Daniel’s application because he was nowhere near fit,” Rodgers said. “He had a slight knock on his thigh.

"We have just said: ‘Put yourself out there -- at 70%, you are better than most strikers.’ He got his reward. He can always be a threat whenever he is on the pitch.”

Rodgers said Sturridge could still join up with the England squad but added: “We just need to assess him. We need to make sure we think of Liverpool first. I’m sure [England manager] Roy [Hodgson] would see him as a starter.”

Sturridge said he was optimistic that he would be ready, adding: “I had a problem with my thigh before the game and it is still hindering me, but I hope I will be okay for the squad.”

Mamadou Sakho & Tiago Ilori Join Liverpool

Liverpool has signed central defenders Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori for a combined fee of about £25m.

Sakho, 23, who has 14 France caps, will cost around £18m from Paris St-Germain.

Sporting Lisbon's Ilori, 20, has represented Portugal at youth level but is still eligible to play for England because he is born in London.

Sakho told the club's website: "I came here because the project at Liverpool interests me. I'm really looking forward to playing my first game."

He is manager Brendan Rodgers' most expensive signing of the summer and can play in the centre of defence as well as at left-back.

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said: "He's an important marquee signing for us. It was a difficult one to do and it was a difficult one for us to get, but I'm very pleased that we've been able to attract him to the football club."

Ilori, who cost £7m, said: "Liverpool has a great team and I think it's the place for me to be at the moment.

"There have been some great teams here in the past and the club has won a lot of trophies and I want to be a part of it."

Rodgers has now signed seven players this summer following the captures of Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Simon Mignolet and Aly Cissokho.

Liverpool prioritized defensive recruitments because Sebastian Coates has been ruled out for most of the season while Toure and Cissokho are also injured.

Sakho and Ilori were both at Anfield on Sunday to watch Liverpool beat Manchester United to move top of the Premier League.

Victor Moses Signs For Liverpool

Liverpool has signed Chelsea forward Victor Moses on loan for the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old former Crystal Palace and Wigan player links up with central defenders Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori, who have joined Liverpool for a combined fee of about £25m, at Anfield.

"The target is to get into the top four and for the club to compete in the Champions League," said Moses.

"I just want to gel in, the formation and players here will help me."

Moses scored one goal in 23 Premier League appearances for Chelsea following a £9m move from Wigan last August.

The Nigeria international helped the Blues reach the final of the Europa League by scoring four goals in the competition, and was an unused substitute as Chelsea beat Benfica in the final.

But Moses has yet to feature in a game under new manager Jose Mourinho and has now been allowed to move to Anfield after watching Liverpool beat Manchester United 1-0 in the Premier League on Sunday.

"First and foremost, I'm delighted to have made the loan from Chelsea to a big club like Liverpool," added Moses.

"The manager [Brendan Rodgers] has done very well. There are a lot of quality players here - they're winning games and creating chances. It's a massive thing for me to be here."

Madrid Lining Up Shock Suarez move

Real Madrid could be lining up a shock move for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.

It comes just after completing the world record signing of Gareth Bale for £86m.

According to the Metro, sources in Spain are suggesting that Madrid will continue their spending and is willing to pay £45m for Suarez.

The Uruguayan international was rumoured to be seeking a way out of Anfield and speculation has been mounting over the majority of the summer whether he will depart from Brendan Rodgers’s side.

The 26-year-old was strongly linked with Arsenal after the Gunners had a £40,000,001m bid rejected from the Reds.

Suarez decided to favour a move to stay at Anfield for another season but his representatives are now on high alert after Madrid is thought to be considering a new bid.

If the transfer does happen, it could spark a mass exodus from the Madrid squad in order to recoup some of the money spent already.

Mesut Ozil looks set to join Arsenal and Sami Khedira is being strongly linked with Chelsea.

Liverpool Rule Out Selling Suarez On Deadline Day

Liverpool has ruled out selling Luis Suarez to Real Madrid or Arsenal on transfer deadline day.

The Reds have been bracing themselves for last-minute offers for Suarez, who asked to leave the club at the end of last season.

But despite Madrid reportedly opening talks over a deal on Sunday, and Arsenal considering making a last ditch offer, Liverpool say their player will stay.

‘Luis Suarez will stay at Liverpool despite what offers arrive,’ the club said in a statement.

It means that Suarez will be forced to stay at Anfield until at least January, where talk over his future is expected to arise again.

The player, who only signed a new contract last year, has been reintegrated back into the Liverpool squad, but still remains keen to play Champions League football.

Suarez is expected to return from a ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic next month, having not played so far this season due to suspension.

Gerrard Hopes Suarez Shows Liverpool Loyalty

Steven Gerrard has called on Luis Suarez to show the Liverpool supporters his loyalty by staying for at least another year at the club.

Despite pushing a move to Arsenal this summer, the Liverpool supporters have given the Uruguayan striker their full support during several pre-season matches.

Suarez has been forced to watch from the sidelines at the beginning of the Premier League season because of his ten-match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic last season but will return in a Capital One Cup clash with Manchester United next month.

Sky Sports report that Gerrard never thought Suarez would end up leaving and says if Liverpool doesn’t qualify for the Champions League then a move abroad is more than likely.

“I didn’t ever think Luis would leave – well, not to another English club anyway,” revealed Gerrard.

“I don’t want to disrespect Arsenal, because they are a fantastic club, but I don’t see joining them as being a step forward for Luis.

“There are only really two or three clubs he should leave this football club for if he is taking a step forward.

“If we don’t qualify for the Champions League this season he can go to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich – and he can go with his head held high.

“The one thing I can assure you, it’s not about money with Luis Suarez.”

Gerrard also said he didn’t want Suarez to make the same mistake as Fernando Torres, who has struggled to replicate his Liverpool form with Chelsea.

"I saw what happened to Fernando Torres. I didn't want Luis to make the same mistake and that's the advice I gave him. He'll have another chance to move forward to a club that he deserves to be at.

"Luis has got to openly admit this club has stood behind him on a couple of massive occasions and they've rewarded him with new contracts as well.

"I think he's got to stop and realize that the club has been fair to him. He is at the right age (26), he is going to be fantastic for us if he stays for another year.”

Wisdom Is Reportedly Holding Talks With Wigan

Liverpool youngster Andre Wisdom is reportedly holding talks with Championship side Wigan Athletic, over the possibility of a loan move for the season, reports The Daily Mirror.

The 20 year old is believed to feature in the long term plans of manager Brendan Rodgers but needs more playing time and experience to mature into a first team player for the Reds.

It is reported that the Rodgers considers a move for the player to Wigan apt, with his Latics counterpart Owen Coyle sharing his views.

The club has a massive fixture list involving Championship games and Europa League ties, ahead of them and that would ensure quality playing time and opportunities for Wisdom.

A product of the club’s youth academy, Wisdom made 20 appearances for the Reds last season, scoring a goal and providing 2 assists too.

Fabio Borini Set For Sunderland Loan

Liverpool striker Fabio Borini is set for a loan move to Sunderland after the player was spotted arriving at the Black Cats' training ground.

Borini, 22, joined the Reds from Roma last summer in a deal worth an estimated £10.5 million.

However, after an injury-hit first season and the arrival of a clutch of attackers, including Daniel Sturridge, Iago Aspas and Victor Moses, the Italy international has slipped down the pecking order.

The former Chelsea and Swansea player was not involved at all as Liverpool overcame Manchester United on Sunday, and after starting just five games last year he will now be allowed to move to the Stadium of Light in the pursuit of regular first-team football.