Rodgers has no regrets over ref

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Brendan Rodgers has said that he has no regrets over speaking out over referee Lee Mason after the controversial 2-1 defeat at Manchester City last month.


rodgersThe Northern Irishman was charged by the FA and subsequently fined £8000 for criticising the logic in appointing an official from the Greater Manchester area, Bolton specifically, to oversee a game involving a local side.

“My view hasn’t changed. I obviously accept the punishment but I’m not one who is the enemy to the officials,” he said.

“My history will show that, I have always supported and encouraged them.


“I was disappointed after the game, disappointed with the outcome (the fine) considering my history but all I was doing was speaking honestly and in no way was I questioning the integrity of the referee.

“I was just talking about the logic and facts about other appointments would prove that true I am sure.

“But it is gone. The only reason I never challenged it was because I didn’t want anything getting in the way of what we are trying to do here.

“It would just prolong it and be something else to talk about when all I want is for us to talk about is our football.”


Reds suffer Agger injury blow

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aggerDaniel Agger has been diagnosed with a calf strain after limping out of Sunday’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Oldham Athletic at Anfield.

Subsequent scans have shown up the strain, but it remains unclear how long he will be out for. He will miss Sunday’s trip to face Stoke City though.


“The centre-back limped out of the clash with just under 10 minutes remaining at Anfield, and scans conducted on Tuesday confirmed he suffered a calf strain.” a club statement said.

“Agger will now undergo further assessment by the club’s medical staff to determine the extent of the problem.”

The news will come as a big blow to Brendan Rodgers, who has seen injuries to Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, Joe Allen, Jon Flanagan and Daniel Sturridge limit his options so far this season.

Assaidi would like to face Reds

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assaidiMoroccan winger Oussama Assaidi is disappointed he will not get to show Brendan Rodgers what he is missing on Sunday when his loan side Stoke City face Liverpool.

He was allowed to join the Potters on loan last Summer after failing to make an impact at Anfield last season and has become a regular for Mark Hughes’ side.

He has shown what he is capable of recent weeks with impressive strikes against Chelsea, Newcastle United and Everton.

But the 25 year old will not be able to play against the Reds under the terms of his loan agreement with Stoke.


“I would love to be involved in the game, but through rules and regulations that isn’t possible unfortunately.” Assaidi said.

“There is nothing I can do about it, apart from sit on the sidelines and cheer my team-mates on, which is what I will be doing on Sunday.

“I want Stoke City to win the game of course, because this is where I am playing my football at the moment, and for as long as I am here I will want us to win every game we play.

“We have started the year well – maybe we are still disappointed not to have won the game against Everton, but a point wasn’t bad.”

Rodgers accepts FA charge

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RodgersThe FA have confirmed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has accepted their charge over his comments regarding referee Lee Mason in the wake of the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City in December.

The Reds boss claimed the performance of the officials in the Reds’ loss at Manchester City on Boxing Day was “horrendous” and also questioned why a Greater Manchester referee, Mason is from Bolton, was installed as referee for the fixture.

It now seems likely that Rodgers will face a fine.

Suarez is “like a dirty street rat”

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Oldham manager Lee Johnson says Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is “like a dirty street rat”.

“He’s like a dirty street rat, and I mean that in the best possible way.” the Oldham manager said ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie at Anfield.

suarez“He’s sharp and horrible – all that is in admiration for him, because he’s a winner. He has that desire to be better today than he was yesterday.”

The Oldham boss recalls his first meeting with the Uruguay international, in a friendly for former club Bristol City against Suarez’s previous side, Ajax.

“I played against Suarez for Bristol City and I failed miserably – he scored. I remember asking, ‘Who was that lad up front?’ He wasn’t well known then. I was like, ‘Who on Earth is that?’ I was meant to stop the ball up to him but you just can’t. Sometimes players are just too good,” he said.

“Having a world class player like him play against Oldham, is the equivalent of me playing in a fans’ game. Someone can say, ‘Mark him,’ but if I move one way, I’ve got a yard.”

Oldham knocked Liverpool out of the cup a year ago and the Reds will be keen on exacting revenge on home turf.

Liverpool 2 – 0 Hull City

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Liverpool made sure they started 2014 with a victory as they saw off Hull City at Anfield to put the disappointment of the Chelsea and Manchester City results behind them.

Aly Cissokho and Iago Aspas were both named in the starting XI by Brendan Rodgers, replacing Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho – who both picked up injuries in the Stamford Bridge clash. Steven Gerrard was named amongst the substitutes as the skipper returns from injury.

The game started slowly with neither side able to find their rhythm initially, but as the first half proceeded Liverpool started to rise into the ascendency.

They thought they had found the opening goal in the 19th minute when Luis Suarez headed home from Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick, but the referee’s assistant ruled the goal out for offside – a decision which replays showed to be correct.

Although the goal didn’t stand, getting the ball in the back of the net seemed to increase the home side’s confidence, as they produced some good football to keep their opponents on the back foot.

It appeared only a matter of time before the Reds did take the lead, and the breakthrough came in the 37th minute. Daniel Agger met Coutinho’s corner with a powerful header which sent the Hull defence scrambling and ultimately ended up in the back of the net.

Liverpool dominated the rest of the opening 45 minutes, and should have really gone into the break with more than a one goal lead, but Jordan Henderson and Coutinho both missed good chances to increase the advantage.

Home fans didn’t have to wait long after the restart before a two-goal cushion was ensured though. With five minutes of the second half gone the Reds won a free-kick on the edge of the box, and Suarez stepped up to expertly bend the ball into the top-left corner of Allan McGregor’s goal.

With around 30 minutes left to play, Hull manager Steve Bruce opted to use all three of his available substitutions at the same time to try and turn the game in his side’s favour. His counterpart Rodgers responded by introducing Gerrard, which ensured his side remained in control.

With the exception of one late flurry of activity from the visitors, the game played out with only one side looking likely to score – though Liverpool were unable to add to their tally.

The final whistle confirmed the scoreline at 2-0, and as results from elsewhere filtered in it was confirmed that Liverpool moved back into the top four of the Premier League table.

Rodgers looking for home advantage

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Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes that home form will be key to his side maintaining their form into the second half of the season and mounting a title bid.

west ham hLiverpool have visited Everton, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Chelsea already this season and have taken just four points from those trips. But they face all of these sides at Anfield in the second half of the season, where they have beaten most visitors – including Manchester United.

Despite being top of the table on Christmas Day, Rodgers’ side have dropped out of the top four after successive defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea in the past few days.

But the Northern Irishman has not ruled his side out of the title race and feels Liverpool’s home matches will prove crucial.

“I think it’s open,” he said.

“What I’m looking forward to is we have to play every team except Manchester United at home.

“We’ve had a real tough run, all the games – Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Newcastle, Everton – all of them away from home.

“Anfield’s a tough place to come, we have to play all of them at home, it’s still very much open. We were top at Christmas, a few days later we’re fifth, that’s how it will go between now and the end of the season.”

His side have 36 points from 19 league fixtures, which is the best return the club has seen since the 2008/9 season where Rafa Benitez’s side agonisingly lost on the title to Manchester United by four points.

Chelsea 2 – 1 Liverpool

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Liverpool suffered a 2-1 defeat for the second time in four days as they went down fighting against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Brendan Rodgers made one change to the side that had lost against Manchester City – reinstating Daniel Agger as captain, with the Danish defender coming in at left-back in place of Aly Cissokho. There was a place on the bench for academy starlets Brad Smith and Jordan Rossiter.

It took just three minutes for the Reds to take the lead. Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick was flicked on by Luis Suarez, leaving an easy tap-in for Martin Skrtel.

Unfortunately the goal didn’t seem to push Liverpool on though, and the following exchanges saw the visitors on the back foot. The equaliser came on 17 minutes via a curling Eden Hazard effort.

The goal seemed to breathe some life back into the Reds, as they pushed forward with the aim of regaining their lead. Joe Allen found himself through on goal following good work from himself, Suarez and Jordan Henderson, but Gary Cahill was able to take the ball off the Welshman’s foot as he was about to strike.

Things went from bad to worse though on 34 minutes, as Samuel Eto’o was able to beat Skrtel to a low drilled cross to poke the ball home.

The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Liverpool, and they were by far the worse team for the remainder of the first half. They came out after the break with renewed vigour though, and were knocking at Chelsea’s door on several occasions.

Brad Smith was introduced for his senior debut on the hour mark, taking the place of Allen – who had picked up a knock. The youngster was rarely able to get into the game, though it may just be that the occasion was too big for him.

The Reds pressed to the death but were unable to find the elusive equalising goal. Howard Webb certainly played his part in maintaining the Chelsea lead when he denied a clear-cut penalty for a challenge by Eto’o on Suarez, the second time in a week Liverpool fans have been able to complain that contentious decisions potentially cost them points against their rivals.

Rodgers wanted Eto’o dismissal

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Brendan Rodgers has said that he believes Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o should have been sent off in the opening few minutes of the game at Stamford Bridge for his challenge on Jordan Henderson.

RodgersLong before his clattering foul on Luis Suarez, which should have yielded a penalty for the Reds, Eto’o was guilty of a nasty and high challenge on Henderson, which resulted in the free kick which Liverpool opened the scoring from.

Despite suffering the punishment of conceding a goal from the set piece, Rodgers believes that the Cameroon international should have been sent off for the foul on Henderson – which didn’t even warrant a booking in the eyes of lenient referee Howard Webb.

“He should’ve been sent off,” said Rodgers.

“I know we scored from it, but that was a wild challenge, where he’s raked down his knee and down his shin and didn’t even get a yellow card.”

“Luis will always provoke a challenge from defenders, that’s why he’s world class.” Rodgers said of the Eto’o foul on Suarez later on, which should have resulted in a penalty.

“What he probably doesn’t expect is to provoke a challenge from someone who’s not involved in the contact.

“He’s running to challenge Azpilicueta and Eto’o is street wise, he’s cute, he blocks him. On another day you could give that as a penalty, because it’s obstruction in the area.

Jose Mourinho has subsequently accused Suarez of diving, which has come as no surprise to Rodgers.

 

“Of course, he will defend his player and I will defend mine.”

Manchester City 2 – 1 Liverpool

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Liverpool fans walked away from the Etihad Stadium with a bitter taste in their mouths, after watching their side suffer a 2-1 defeat against Manchester City.

The Reds gave a good account of themselves – better than most clubs have managed when playing City on their home turf this season – but the game was marred by a shockingly incorrect offside decision, prompting Brendan Rodgers to criticise the match officials heavily in his post-match comments.

Liverpool only made one change from the side that had effectively seen off Cardiff and Tottenham, with Aly Cissokho replacing the injured Jon Flanagan at left-back. There was also a place on the bench for 19-year-old rising star Brad Smith.

The first chance of the game fell to the home side, with Jesus Navas clipping the woodwork from his headed effort. Vincent Kompany also went close with a header from a corner, whilst Luis Suarez had a couple of chances for the Reds.

The breakthrough for Liverpool should have come on 19 minutes, but they were denied by an incredibly poor decision from the referee’s assistant. Suarez played a through-ball to set Raheem Sterling through on goal, but the winger was adjudged to be offside. Replays showed that not only was Sterling onside, but was onside by at least a yard – making the decision all the more baffling.

Six minutes later though, and the Reds were in front. A good passage of play ended with Sterling taking the ball round Joe Hart, offering Philippe Coutinho to the chance to finish into an open goal.

The lead didn’t last for long though, and the home side were soon back on level terms thanks to Kompany’s headed goal. Joe Allen was on the Liverpool goal-line and managed to make contact with the ball, but couldn’t get enough on it to prevent it crossing the line.

Despite losing the lead the Reds were still looking good though, and Coutinho came close to doubling his tally after some excellent quick passing. Disaster struck right at the death of the first half though, as City took the lead via Alvaro Negredo.

Liverpool began the second half brightly, and both Suarez and Jordan Henderson came close to levelling the scores in the opening exchanges. For all their knocking at the door though the Reds were unable to find a way through, and with an adventurous stance being taken in search of an equaliser there were gaps left at the back which the home side almost managed to take advantage of on a few occasions.

Rodgers decided to introduce Victor Moses into the action in place of Coutinho – who had been a lot quieter through the second half – in an attempt to inject fresh life into his side.

The best chance for Liverpool to equalise came on 73 minutes when Suarez delivered an excellent ball from the left for Sterling, but the youngster somehow managed to put his shot over the bar from yards out, when it appeared impossible to miss.

The visitors continued to push until the final whistle, but City were ultimately able to hold firm to confirm their winning home streak continued whilst ending Liverpool’s run of four wins on the bounce.