Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Match Preview: Manchester United vs Liverpool

Luis Suarez could make his return from his 10-game suspension for Liverpool against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.

The Uruguayan has been absent since the FA handed down his punishment for the Branislav Ivanovic biting incident, and Brendan Rodgers may look to introduce back into the starting lineup as soon as possible to ease the burden on Danny Sturridge.

The England striker has been Liverpool's only source of goals this season, and the Liverpool boss could look to rest him after a low-key performance in the defeat to Southampton last Saturday.

As it's the Capital One Cup, Rodgers may well give a few of the youngsters and fringe players the opportunity to impress - so don't be surprised if Andre Wisdom and Raheem Sterling get playing time.

Similarly, Iago Aspas has been in and out of the starting lineup this season as he looks to get up to speed in the Premier League. He could get a chance from the start at Old Trafford.

Daniel Agger is expected to miss out through injury, while Joe Allen (hamstring), Philippe Coutinho (shoulder) and Glen Johnson (ankle) are all set to miss out as well.

Simon Mignolet could get a rest with the Reds set to travel to Sunderland next Sunday, in which case back-up Brad Jones would deputize.

And after the Southampton defeat, don't expect Rodgers to try the four centre-backs experiment again. With Johnson still out, Wisdom could come in, while Enrique came off the bench against the Saints.

Liverpool Facing Fresh Injury Ahead Of United Clash

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers could be without centre-back stalwart Daniel Agger for their clash against Manchester United on Wednesday.

Agger played in the Anfield side's Southampton loss at the weekend, but was replaced with half an hour to go after aggravating a rib injury.

The centre-back was selected for the Saturday Merseyside clash, despite not training all week.

Rodgers will be looking to bounce back after their first league defeat of the season, while Manchester United will also see the Capital One Cup as a way to lift spirits after their humiliating defeat against City on Sunday.

"We’ll see how he is for the game,” said Rodgers.

"He could be a doubt for that game as he has not quite recovered. We wanted to give him time at the weekend, but unfortunately he was struggling with his breathing because he got a knock to his ribs.

"But we’ll see. He’s a player who makes a good recovery and we’ll see over the next 24 hours how he gets on for the game on Wednesday."

Rodgers Believes His Decisions Are Moving Liverpool Forward

Brendan Rodgers thinks that he is the man that is helping to turn Liverpool back to the glory-days, according to Liverpool's official website.

Rodgers is in his second season as 'The Reds' manager and has overseen three wins from five games, the club were top of the table until Saturdays shock defeat to Southampton at Anfield.

The Anfield club is now fifth and hoping to make a long overdue return to the Champions League, they haven't finished in the top four since the 2008/09 season.

The historic club has been going through a turbulent transitional spell; The Northern Irish manager became the fourth man in charge in two years following the sackings of Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish.

However, results have started to improve on and off the field and Rodgers believes he has played a significant part and will continue to in the coming years.

He told talkSPORT: "I want to be the one that steers the club back in the direction that it should be going in.

"That's not easy but I know I'm making the decisions in the best interests of the club, and that will always be the case.

"There was a difficult period at the beginning but from that we've grown and become better and better. I've got great confidence that in the coming months and years, we can really push on with that development.

"It's an incredible club - I've been on the outside, knowing Liverpool was a big club but it's not until you actually come in that the sheer scale and status of the club is phenomenal.

"To be the one in charge, trying to, in this part of its history, put it on the right track and the right direction - I'm hugely privileged.

"I'll fight for as long as I can to be here as long as I can; I know that's about getting good results."

The 40-year-old will be hoping for a second defeat over fierce rivals Manchester United in the space of a couple of weeks when the two sides meet in the League Cup this week, where he will also welcome back influential striker Luis Suarez from his ten match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

Liverpool Keeping Tabs On Alonso Return

Liverpool is set to battle it out with Juventus over a move for Xabi Alonso.

The Real Madrid centre midfielder only has one year left on his contract at the Bernabeu and it remains to be seen whether he will be offered a new deal.

Alonso will turn 32 in November and it is thought that new Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is having second thoughts about sticking with the experienced midfielder or bringing in a younger breed of players.

Liverpool and Juventus are set to wait in the balance and are keeping a close eye on the contract situation of the Spanish international according to Talk Sport.

Alonso joined Real Madrid from Liverpool in 2009 for a fee of £30million and it was rumoured that he never wanted to leave Anfield but for a dispute with former manager Rafa Benitez.

He was a key player at Anfield with the highlight of his tenure winning the 2005 Champions League final.

Arsenal And Liverpool In Chase To Sign Austrian Starlet

Arsenal and Liverpool are battling it out with Juventus to sign Austria Under-21 ace Martin Hinteregger.

The 21-year-old has been a regular for Red Bull Salzburg over the past few seasons since making his first-team bow in October 2010.

Capped four times at Under-21 level, the versatile defender has been monitored by Juventus in recent weeks.

However, the Serie A side will face a battle to land Hinteregger as Liverpool and Arsenal both have a long-standing interest in him.

Napoli Revive Skrtel Interest

Reports continue to suggest that Napoli will swoop for Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel in January.

The centre-back has been repeatedly linked with the Partenopei and a reunion with Rafa Benitez, who first signed him from Zenit in 2008.

They were already in negotiations over the summer, but they could be revived during the January transfer window.

Liverpool would be willing to let Skrtel go, as they have signed several alternatives recently.

However, they would still want at least £10m for a player who is under contract until 2016.

Coutinho Hoping For Fast Return

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho says his shoulder surgery was a 'success' and he hopes to be back playing soon.

Coutinho was injured earlier this month against Swansea and needed an operation to stabilize the injury.

The Brazilian has started the season in superb form and Liverpool looked in need of his creativity at the weekend - after they lost 1-0 at home to Southampton.

But Coutinho has stated he is doing everything he can to be back playing as soon as possible - the initial assessment was that he would be back by the end of October.

"It's annoying to get injured, especially when you are playing well, but that happens," Globo Esporte quotes Coutinho as saying.

"I now want to focus on my recovery and do everything right to be back as soon as possible to help Liverpool in the league.

"The surgery was a success and this is what matters the most. I'll be back soon."

Coutinho is being strongly tipped to be part of Brazil's World Cup squad next year and he is hopeful of making the tournament in his homeland.

"I dream of getting called up again for the national team, but it's only up to me," he said.

"Of course it's bad when you get injured in a moment like this, but this is football.

"I have had a set-back and my concern is being fully ready as soon as possible. If I play well, things will happen naturally."

No Rush Over New Johnson Deal

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes there is no hurry to offer England right-back Glen Johnson a new Anfield contract.

Johnson, currently out of action with a sprained ankle, has just under two years to run on the extended deal he signed in 2011, and Rodgers is keen to keep the 29-year-old, who was signed in a £17.5 million deal from Portsmouth in 2009.

However, he is reportedly among the club's highest earners and would have to take a pay cut to stay.

Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's Boston-based owners, have been unwilling to increase the salaries of players once they pass their 30th birthday, and Johnson will be two months short of turning 31 when his contract expires in June 2015.

Asked about a new deal for the defender, Rodgers told the Daily Mirror: "It's something the club will take up at the right time. I'm not sure where it's at."

Johnson has not played since spraining his ankle during the 1-0 Premier League victory over Manchester United on September 1.

He is a doubt for England's final two World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland at Wembley next month, with Liverpool's Premier League trip to Newcastle on October 19 his likeliest return date.

In his absence, Andre Wisdom and Kolo Toure have filled the right-back slot, and Rodgers added: "Glen is the type of player [without whom] you don't realize what you're missing until he is not in the team. It will be great when we get him back. He's got the cast off his foot now."

Liverpool Will Not Forgive Suarez, Says Former Star

Former Liverpool star Phil Thompson believes Luis Suarez will never be forgiven for his actions that gave him a 10-match ban towards the end of last season.

The Uruguayan's suspension came after he was seen biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and Thompson has insisted that the striker's actions will not be forgotten in a hurry.

The current Soccer Saturday pundit told Sky Sports: "I don't think we'll ever forgive what he actually got up to with Ivanovic at the back of last season. It wasn't good, not for my football club."

However, with Suarez expected to make a return against Manchester United in the League Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, Thompson does believe he will act as a new signing for the Reds.

Thompson continued by saying: "But he's still here, which is fantastic. He will be like a new signing coming in for this season.

"I'm quite sure he will be in that starting line-up at Old Trafford and I think it adds that little extra."

And, ahead of the United game, Thompson has admitted that the return of Suarez will make the occasion even more exciting.

He finished by saying: "Does any Manchester United v Liverpool game need any spice? Not really, but this one is extra special because of Luis Suarez."

The two sides will go head-to-head for the second time this season - the Reds beat United at Anfield thanks to an early goal from Daniel Sturridge at the start of the month.

Morgan Nets A Beauty As U21s Beat Man City

Adam Morgan scored a devastating long-range lob as Liverpool U21s eased to a deserved 2-0 victory over Manchester City in their Barclays U21 Premier League clash at Ewen Fields on Monday night.

The striker's unstoppable finish - coupled with a second-half side-footed goal from Cameron Brannagan - ensured that Alex Inglethorpe's side left Hyde FC's ground with all three points on a thoroughly encouraging evening for the young Reds.

Rafael Paez, a recent acquisition from Real Madrid, put on an assured display at the heart of Liverpool's defence as he helped to keep the hosts at bay.

In an opening 20 minutes that produced very little goalmouth action, Manchester City's Seko Fofana was the first to cause a degree of concern for Liverpool's backline.

The home side intercepted possession deep into the Reds' half that gifted Fofana a brief glimpse of goal from 20 yards. The youngster rushed his effort, dragging a low drive well wide.

Shortly after, Stephen Sama's headed effort was equally wayward. The centre-back met a corner with a powerful nod that flew narrowly over the crossbar.

Morgan corrected his side's previously inaccurate aiming in the most emphatic fashion minutes later with a beautifully-struck long-range effort that rendered goalkeeper Ian Lawlor completely helpless.

The striker received possession just beyond the halfway line before swiftly turning and sending a sublime attempt soaring over the City custodian and into the back of the net to stun the hosts.

Sama was inches away from doubling the visitors' tally on the stroke of half-time, but his effort mirrored his header earlier in the half. The towering defender was first to meet a set-piece yet again but he flicked the ball agonizingly over the goalframe.

The Reds were nearly made to rue that missed opportunity so soon after the restart. Devante Cole rose to meet a corner and headed towards goal but was accidentally foiled by the torso of a fellow Blue - Shay Facey - before Liverpool reacted rapidly to clear the remaining danger.

City continued to pour forward in a desperate search for an equalizer but found themselves constantly thwarted by a sturdy Reds defence.

A cross from the right flank flashed across the face of goal and drew no contact until it fell to the feet of Sinan Bytyqi, who hesitated before striking a shot that was expertly blocked by the energetic Jordan Rossiter.

With less than 20 minutes remaining, the Reds compounded Patrick Vieira's side's misery through a composed finish from Brannagan. Sama utilized a combination of pace and strength to surge past Bytyqi and Adam Drury before drilling the ball into the area for the midfielder to calmly side-foot past Lawlor.

Liverpool built on an impressive move by continuing to prevent City from having any joy in the final third of the pitch as the Reds comfortably closed out the game to deservedly secure all three points.