Sturridge enjoying Suarez partnership

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Daniel Sturridge says he is relishing being one half of the Premier League’s deadliest strike force, ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United on Sunday.


Sturridge was awarded the Premier League player of the month award for the second time this season, after firing five goals in four league games over February.

Sturridge&Suarez

The duo have amassed an incredible 42 goals between them this season to inspire a Reds title challenge, and despite a couple of fiery moments between the two on the pitch, Sturridge claims they drive each other on.

“Luis works tirelessly,” he said. “I think we combine very well. He’s someone who wants to win, and I want to win. We both enjoy scoring goals and both like to assist each other.

“I think we’ve both got three assists for each other, so we look for each other and we give each other opportunities and we work as a unit. I enjoy playing with him.

“Luis is very demanding but then so am I. It’s important that everyone’s demanding if you want to be successful and everyone’s pushing each other to get the best out of each other.

“I don’t think we really realise what we are achieving as a team. We’re just going out, playing with smiles on our faces. That’s the most important thing I think.”

Sturridge is preparing to face Suarez at international level when England take on Uruguay in the summer’s World Cup, and the 24-year-old is looking forward to the challenge.

“It will be great to play against him because he’s a world-class player and a great friend of mine,” Sturridge added.


“One of us could be going out very unhappy but maybe we’ll both go through and Italy will go out.

“I’m going to have a lot of banter with him when the season’s finished. I’m going to steal all his boots and his shinpads!”

Sturridge was one of five Liverpool players to start for England last week, and spoke in glowing terms about his colleagues for club and country, none more so than captain Steven Gerrard – who he has nicknamed James Bond.

“He doesn’t like it, but I call him that because he can do everything,” Sturridge said.

“On a day to day basis in training, you have to see it to believe what he can do with a football.

I’ve grown up with Jordan Henderson in international age groups, Raheem Sterling is like a little brother and I’m very close to him, Glen Johnson is a top-class player and then there’s James Bond… Stevie has got the lot, hasn’t he?

“If ever there was a player who deserved to finish his career with a Premier League winner’s medal or a World Cup winner’s medal it’s Steve Gerrard.”

 

 

 


Moyes says Liverpool are favourites

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Manchester United manager David Moyes has said that Liverpool will be favourites when they visit Old Trafford on Sunday.

moyesBut the former Everton manager will know full well that a victory over their deadly rivals will be a massive boost to him and his struggling side – just like it will be a big boost for Liverpool in their unlikely fight for the title.


“They may well be favourites. Their league position suggests they are ahead of us and they possibly do come here as favourites.” Moyes said.

“It would be a big boost to win on Sunday. I think everyone knows the importance of Manchester United v Liverpool. We have played them twice already this season in the League and Capital One Cup – we’ve had one win apiece and they’ve both been tight games.”

“I still think it’s the biggest game in the Premier League. There’s an awful lot riding on it.”

Why it must be Coutinho over Allen for United clash

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For perhaps the first time in Premier League history, Liverpool are set to go into Sunday’s game against Manchester United at Old  Trafford as favourites.

Brendan Rodgers side sit 11 points clear of the reigning Premier League champions, knowing a win will all but secure Champions League football for next season, and keep themselves well in the title hunt.

Coutinho

But the Reds boss finds himself with something of a tactical dilemma heading into Sunday’s fixture.

Last time out away from home, Rodgers selected Joe Allen to start in a midfield diamond, leaving Raheem Sterling on the bench.

The decision came after an impressive cameo from the Welshman in the 4-3 win over Swansea City, when his high energy and decisive passing helped sure up the midfield and swing the game in the Reds favour.

Allen was also impressive in the win at Southampton, contributing to Liverpool picking up a much needed clean sheet, and another crucial three points.

So Rodgers must decide whether to stick with the starting eleven that beat Southampton, restore Raheem Sterling to the starting line up at the expense of Allen, or possibly drop Phillipe Coutinho – something Reds legend John Aldridge thinks would be the best bet.

“A lot of debate will centre of on the type of team Brendan Rodgers will pick at Old Trafford, I am sure. I think Joe Allen will start, and I can see exactly why, as well,”  Aldo wrote in the Liverpool Echo. 

“You need grafters when you go to places like Old Trafford, and a midfield of Allen, Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard is full of graft. United struggle in central midfield, it is well documented, so I would make that part of the field as strong as possible

“If that means leaving Philippe Coutinho on the bench, then so be it. I think Raheem Sterling has to start, and Coutinho has looked a little jaded in the last couple of games. Mind you, it’s not a bad option to have to bring off the bench.”

Whilst you can see Aldo’s point, I personally would like to see Rodgers go with the same team that dismantled both Everton and Arsenal at Anfield previously, with Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger coming in for Aly Cissokho and Kolo Toure.

This is not the same Manchester United team as last season, and whilst they are not to be underestimated, I would love to see Rodgers send his players out on Sunday with the intent of attacking from the off, and making a statement of just how much the tables have turned with a big three points – which I think he will.

Whilst you could argue Coutinho has looked jaded in the last couple of games, he has had a fortnight to recover having been withdrawn early in the second half against Southampton on March 1.

No Premier League player has created more chances than Coutinho this season, and when he is on form, he is absolutely crucial to the way Liverpool play.


He also showed in the 5-1 win over Arsenal he is not afraid to press and do the defensive side of the game, as Jack Wilshere would surely testify.

In previous seasons I would have said Allen would have to start, but this Manchester United side has not been good enough to force the Reds to alter their best team.

Which in my opinion consists of Gerrard, Henderson and Coutinho in the midfield, and Suarez Sterling and Sturridge up front.

Liverpool have also managed 45 goals in the first half of matches this season, whilst Manchester United have managed 46 in total.

Brendan Rodgers side are notoriously quick starters, with the Everton and Arsenal games perfect evidence of that fact.

Who is to say Liverpool should not come flying out the traps as they did in those games, and then bring Joe Allen on later to sure things up when they have a lead to protect?

Manchester United will be heading into this game full of anxiety, as will the home supporters.

Old Trafford is not the fortress it once was, with West Brom, Everton, Newcastle, Swansea, and Tottenham all coming away with victories, and Southampton, Chelsea and Fulham earning draws this season.

Liverpool have every right to go into the game high on confidence looking at those previous results, not to mention the fact they have won five of their last six Premier League matches.

A fast paced start and an early goal – which has proved something of a speciality this season – would frustrate  the home supporters, the Sky camera’s would pan to Moyes looking all hot and bothered on the touchline, and we can all start to enjoy our Sunday afternoon.

For that to happen, I would like to see Rodgers go with his best attacking line up, which would no doubt include Coutinho over Allen.

Coutinho has started every Premier League game since his return from injury in November, and Liverpool have hardly done badly in that time.

Sunday should be a case of it it’s not broke, don’t fix it – whether it’s Manchester United at Old Trafford or not.

 

 

 

Sturridge wins player of the month

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Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge has won the Barclays Premier League Player of the Month award for February.

The 24-year-old has been in fine form for the Reds, contributing to the cause with five goals and two assists in February & helping Liverpool move up to second place in the table.

The goals came in a period that saw the club wins three games from four – including the memorable 5-1 victory against Arsenal at Anfield.

It is the second time this season that Sturridge has picked up the player of the month prize, the first coming at the start of the season in August.

Rodgers pleased by ‘incredible’ intensity in training

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Brendan Rodgers has praised the ‘incredible’ intensity shown by Liverpool players in training ahead of Sunday’s clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Reds have not played since dispatching Southampton 3-0 on the opening day of the month, with international and FA Cup fixtures giving Rodgers men 15 days to prepare for the game.

RodgersToure

And Rodgers was keen to praise the ‘tireless’ work rate the players have shown on the training ground.

He explained to talkSPORT: “It was interesting really as we had an adaptation day after they had been off for a few days.

“It was supposed to be a low intensity session, but the quality and the intensity they worked at was incredible. I actually had to take them off it a little bit.

“They are a very focused group. They are very keen and very ambitious for the club to do well. I see that in their work every day. They are brilliant professionals.

“We have been terrific for the last 14 months or so and the club is on a real high. That’s big credit to the players and all the staff, who are working tirelessly every day.

“Sunday is a game we are really looking forward to. For us it’s about retaining the focus. We know it’s a big game but we’ve done well in a lot of the big games this season.”

 

 

Rodgers: Sturridge and Hendo will only get better

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Brendan Rodgers has been delighted with the form shown by Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson this season, and insists both players are only going to get better once they hit their peaks.

Sturridge is only 24, and Henderson 23 – but their ages haven’t prevented them being crucial players for Rodgers this season, helping the Reds climb to second place in the Premier League.

Henderson - Sturridge

Both also started for England during last weeks friendly against Denmark, and are expected to be on the plane to Brazil.

On Sturridge, Rodgers enthused to talkSPORT: “Daniel is potentially world-class. He has got everything to be a world-class striker.

“He’s been given an opportunity here at a huge club and a lot of people are helping him to implement his talent. He’s a good boy.

“He’s a boy at 24 years of age who has all the tools – the speed, the power, two great feet and he’s getting better in the air.

“He still has a lot of improvements to make but the combination between him and Luis [Suarez] gives us a real threat.”

Rodgers also had words of praise for Henderson – who has started every one of the Reds 28 league games this season – insisting he deserves a place in England’s World Cup squad.

He added: “As for Jordan, I don’t think there’s any doubt he deserves to be on that plane.

“He has made huge strides after coming into here as a young player with a big price tag. In the last 12 months he has really pushed on, both technically and tactically.

“He’s a great learner. He pushes himself every day in training. He looks after his body and on top of that he’s a real good young man. I know his family are very proud of him.

“I can see him being an important player for Liverpool for many years. At 23, he’s only going to get better.”

 

Gerrard calls on fans to celebrate the 96

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Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has called on the supporters to turn out in force for the ‘Celebration of the 96’ Charity match next month.

Gerrard was speaking at a press conference to announce the Easter Monday game which will see a team of former local Reds take on an international team managed by Gerard Houllier.

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The match will help mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, and a host of former stars have already agreed to take part.

John Barnes, Jamie Carragher, Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia, Dietmar Hamann, Steve McManaman, Jan Molby, Ian Rush and Vladimir Smicer are the former Reds to have confirmed.

Gerrard said: “I think the support we’ve had up and down the country has been phenomenal. For me personally, I’ll be there to enjoy the occasion and I’m sure a lot of other first-team players will be. Let’s hope we can fill the stadium and make it a fantastic occasion.”

Gerrard described the £96,000 donation he made to the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG) as the “proudest thing I’ve ever done”.

Gerrard was joined at the press conference by HFSG chair Margaret Aspinall and Kenny Dalglish, who will manage the team of local players on the day.

“Everybody that wants to come along and play wants to play because they know the importance of Hillsborough,” the former Liverpool boss said.

“They might have put on a few inches; some might have lost a bit of pace; some of them never had any pace! On the day, they’ll be trying their best to put on a show. We’ve got Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Peter Beardsley, Gary McAllister; I’m sure everybody that is asked will love to play. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Funds raised for the game will be split between the HFSG and Liverpool FC Foundation.

Margaret Aspinall said: “We want everybody to come along and raise as much funds as they can for the two charities and celebrate the lives of the 96.”

 

Lucas relishing Reds return

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Lucas Leiva has declared himself fit for the final ten games of the season, and has revealed he is targeting glory for both club and country in the coming months.

The Reds midfielder is back to help Liverpool cement their place in the top four, whilst looking to keep the pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

Leiva 1

And the 27-year-old is hoping some positive performances for the Reds will see him make Luis Felipe Scolari’s Brazil squad for the summer’s World Cup in his home nation.

Lucas told Liverpoolfc.com: “It was really good for me to get going again and try to improve my fitness.

“I was lucky that I wasn’t out for a long time and I’m now looking forward to first-team action. Hopefully I’ll be able to help the team again for the next 10 games because we know how important they are.

“I felt really good after the game and I’m looking forward to the next two months.”

Lucas knows he faces a fight to break into the Liverpool starting eleven, with the team going unbeaten throughout his absence with injury.

However, Lucas insists he has returned confident he can reach the level he was playing at prior to the injury.

He said: “It’s a massive two months for me, especially looking towards the World Cup at the end of the season as well, so I can’t afford to miss many more games.

“I knew the injury wasn’t too bad. I knew something happened but of course I was disappointed I wouldn’t be able to make the last international game.

“When you are out of the international team and squad there is always someone else who will have a chance to impress, the competition for places in the Brazil squad is so big, so that’s why I’m really confident that if I have a good two months ahead then I will have a chance to play at the World Cup.

“That would be like a dream for me – playing for my country in Brazil. It’s going to be massive, but as I said, what I do for Liverpool is what’s going to get me in the Brazil squad, so I’ve just got to concentrate on the next 10 games and hopefully help Liverpool to do good things until the end of the season.

“Injuries aren’t good but they can happen and probably 90 per cent of the team have had some injury during the season, so unfortunately for me it didn’t come at a good time but I’m back and I’m sure I will be at the same level that I was before.”

 

 

Conor Coady wants Liverpool future

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On-loan Sheffield United star Conor Coady is hoping for a future with Liverpool.

The former Reds youth team captain has enjoyed an impressive campaign on loan with the League One side, and on Sunday helped them qualify for an FA  Cup semi final at Wembley.

Conor Coady

Coady has revealed his happiness at his form this season, but insists he remains focused on breaking into the Liverpool first team in the future.

Coady said: “I keep in contact with the young lads, like Raheem [Sterling] and a couple of the other lads out on loan. They’ve sent me a couple of texts.

“The manager and the staff at Liverpool all take an interest in how I am getting on at Sheffield United.

“They will often text or call, and it is nice to know that I am still in their thoughts. They haven’t just sent me out and left me.

“As I say, it’s up to me now to prove I can cut it.

“That’s what I am aiming for at Wembley, and in the remaining league games as well. It’s a big challenge for me, but I’m well up for it.”

Coady made his first team debut for the Reds in the Europa League last season, and insists he is under no illusions as to how difficult it will be to break into the first team squad.

Coady said: “It’s going to be tough but this season will help me massively.

“I had a couple of seasons playing U21 football and this was the season for me to go out and learn my trade.”

 

Robbie reckons Reds are favourites at Old Trafford

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Reds legend Robbie Fowler reckons Liverpool go into Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford as favourites.

Liverpool currently occupy second place in the Premier League, and hold an eleven point gap over their rivals, whilst there has been an incredible 40 point swing in favour of the Reds in comparison to the same stage of last season.

Brendan Rodgers

And Fowler has looked to credit Reds boss Brendan Rodgers with turning the club into title challengers, claiming teams fear playing Liverpool at the moment.

He told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s always a massive game but the difference this time is that Liverpool must be favourites. I can’t remember the last time a Liverpool team went to Old Trafford in that position.

“On paper it’s a game Liverpool should win. They’re in great form and I am quietly confident Liverpool can get a big result there. People talk about how far United have dropped but I also look at it from the other side – how far Liverpool have come.

“That’s testament to what Brendan has achieved so far. He has got the team playing so well and I think teams are starting to fear Liverpool again. The manager deserves a lot of credit for that.”

Manchester United have lost four Premier League games at Old Trafford this season, but Fowler acknowledges the Reds must be prepared for a potential backlash.

“A few teams have gone to Old Trafford and got results this season,” the 38-year-old continued. “It has lost that fear factor. United had it for a number of years.

“Teams went there knowing they would be on the back foot and almost expecting to lose. That’s not happening anymore. Now teams are actually pushing on looking to win there rather than sitting back, hoping to nick a point.

“When Liverpool play Everton everyone says the formbook goes out of the window and to a certain degree, I’d say the same goes for Liverpool v Manchester United games.

“Forget the season they’re having, United will certainly up their game for the visit of Liverpool. Brendan and the players need to be ready for that.”