Shelvey & Sterling get England call-up


Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling have been called up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the friendly match against Sweden in Stockholm next Wednesday.


The pair were brought into the senior England set-up for the first time earlier this season and Shelvey made his international debut as a substitute in the 5-0 win over San Marino in October.

20-year-old Shelvey is currently in Moscow preparing for Liverpool’s Europa League tie against Anzhi tonight, whilst Sterling has been rested by Brendan Rodgers and has not travelled to Russia.

Steven Gerrard is set to make his 100th appearance for the Three Lions, following on from his landmark 600th outing for the Reds on Sunday.

The other Liverpool player named in Hodgson’s 23-man squad is full-back Glen Johnson.

Patience is the key to success


A lot has been said about Brendan Rodgers this week via various media outlets following last weeks home defeat to Swansea, and the 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle United. Most of this has been negative and I think it is very early days to judge our new leader, especially when there are a number of players at the club that he does not want as part of his plans. Some forums are saying he is not ready for a job like Liverpool whilst others are saying he doesn’t have a Plan B when things are not going right. I sort of agree with the latter however, we will benefit from this in the future once the Ulsterman has his own squad.

It may be naive from Rodgers to only pay the ‘tiki taka’ way however, as proven with Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea last season, if you start changing the style you have, you can start to get very confused which results in fans and the media questioning you even more.

Rodgers is sticking to his vision and if he is given time, I believe that vision will pay off and bring more success to our great football club. Brendan is our 4th manager in as many years and this is not stability that Liverpool Football Club is used too. Okay, people may say that Roy Hodgson was never given enough time in the job however it was clear after the first few games under Hodgson’s tenure that the club had made a massive mistake. Hodgson was too cautious and negative to be a Liverpool manager. The job is all about taking risks, which Rodgers has achieved by bringing through youngsters and playing the way he wants too with, arguably, a mediocre squad.

The fans understand what he is trying to do and have built a solid early relationship with him; they never took to Hodgson and vice versa. It was clear Hodgson did not really have a plan as to what he wanted to achieve and build at Anfield. Rodgers has. Kenny Dalglish steadied the ship after Hodgson’s dismissal and now we need to get back to basics by giving a manager time and the chance to succeed. There needs to be some stability with regards to the manager’s position.

There is so much pressure on the club to get back in to the Champions League (which we all want) however it is going to take time and stability is needed whilst we make our way back to Europe’s premier competition.

When Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez took over at Anfield, the club were in similar positions as to when Rodgers took over. Maybe more similar under Houllier than Benitez. Both were given time to get their own squads in and implement their styles. I know we won the European Cup in Rafa’s first season, as well as The Treble early into Houllier’s reign, however both were still given time and we benefited from that as a football club.

We cannot keep chopping and changing and we have to make sure Rodgers is given time, and I’m convinced this time next year we will be in a more healthy position and on the right road to where we want to be. That is competing for trophies on a domestic and European scale. The reality is, at the moment, we are where we are and there is no quick fix unless you have the spending power of Chelsea and Manchester City. That’s why I believe in our current position; we need to back the manager and we will be rewarded. Remember, patience is the key to success.

Rodgers rests stars for Russia trip


Brendan Rodgers has left Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Nuri Sahin, Raheem Sterling, Glen Johnson, Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Jose Enrique out of the travelling party to face Anzhi in Russia tomorrow.

With a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea looming on Sunday, Rodgers has decided to rest most of his key men for round four of the Europa League group games.

Provisional squad: Jones, Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Robinson, Shelvey, Henderson, Cole, Downing, Yesil, Assaidi, Gulacsi, Ward, Flanagan, Sama, Wilson, Coady, Suso, Morgan.

Gerrard: “I would like to play for Mourinho”

Gerrard: "I would like to play for Mourinho"

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has spoken of his respect for Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho and has admitted that he would like to play for him one day.

The Portuguese manager nearly made that happen in 2005 when he came very close to prising Gerrard away from Liverpool down to Chelsea, but the Reds legend rejected that move at the last minute.

Gerrard still regards Mourinho as the best manager around after years of success with Porto, Chelsea, Inter and now Spanish champions Real Madrid.

“I would like to play for Mourinho, the Special One,” Gerrard said.

Gerrard has reaffirmed his commitment to the Reds though, having nearly linked up with Mourinho on three occasions.

On Chelsea’s initial move for him in 2005, he said: “Liverpool weren’t really challenging at the time, so there was something to think about.”

“But I ended up saying ‘no’ and a year later I said ‘no’ again. But he came back when he arrived at Real Madrid two years ago.”

“I look at some players who get interest from clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona and they cause absolute wars to get out and get there.”

“But that has never been me and, again, it just wasn’t going to happen.”

Reds braced for Premier League hearing

Liverpool braced for Premier League hearing

Liverpool are braced for a Premier League hearing following a complaint that the club illegally approached Clint Dempsey during last summer’s transfer window. The complaint was originally made by Dempsey’s former club Fulham in July following comments from Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.

Dempsey ended up opting for a move to White Hart Lane after Tottenham entered the running late in the transfer window, but Rodgers made no secret of his admiration for the American forward and it was believed until the last minute that a move to Anfield was on the cards.

Fulham believe that these comments constituted an illegal approach, and made a complaint to the Premier League. Despite the potential transfer to Liverpool collapsing they did not drop their complaint, and the Telegraph reports that the Craven Cottage club is ‘intent on calling Liverpool to account’.

The Reds could be hit with a fine or points deduction if they are unable to defend the charge, though any points deduction would be likely to be suspended.

Owen sticks his oar in – again

Owen sticks his oar in - again

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen has defended Fabricio Coloccini after the Newcastle player was sent off in the 1-1 draw at Anfield on Sunday.

Coloccini was shown the red card for a late challenge on Luis Suarez in the closing minutes of the game, with replays showing that – although there was minimal contact – the defender’s foot was high.

Owen – who has played for both Newcastle and Liverpool in his career, and is now contracted to Stoke City – believes the sending off was unjustified, as Coloccini tried to pull out of the challenge. And the former Kop hero – who has done little to endear himself to LFC fans since leaving the club – was quick to have his say on Twitter.

“Not having that at all. He didn’t touch him and to say there was intent is laughable,” Owen tweeted.

“Let me tell you, he kicks a moving ball a thousand times a day and doesn’t miss it once. If he wanted to connect with a standing leg then he wouldn’t of missed.

“He pulls out at the last minute and doesn’t touch him. Not having that’s a red at all.”

This is not the first time Owen has attempted to stick the boot in on his former employers, perhaps though with no league starts or goals since joining Stoke he should be focusing on what is left of his own career

Goal scoring issues

goal scoring issues

So we reach 10 games into the season, a quarter of the season has flown by already and it sees us return with a meagre 11 points. We have not even posted three victories from those 10 games which is a disappointing return considering the opposition we have faced along the way. Of those teams we only have amassed more points so far than four of them:-

Sunderland (9pts)
Norwich (10pts)
Stoke (9pts)
Reading (5pts)

We have played six of those 10 games at home. A return of six points from a possible 18 in the fortress Anfield proves a little fine tuning is certainly required for an upturn in fortune.

Last season we hit the woodwork a number of times and missed so many chances to prove that the problem was a little more deep rooted than just bad luck. We amassed just 27 points at home all season a return that shows little immediate signs of improving this term

Of the 13 goals scored in the league this season we have just seen five different goal scorers Suarez (8), Gerrard (2), Skrtel, Sahin and Sterling. Last season when goal scoring and finishing off teams proved an issue we ended the season sharing goals between 13 players with goals coming from:

Suarez (11)
Bellamy (6)
Gerrard (5)
Rodriguez (4)
Carroll (4)
Kuyt (2)
Henderson (2)
Skrtel (2)
Adam (2)
Johnson (1)
Agger (1)
Coates (1)
Shelvey (1)

I think we have a different issue this year; we are missing the likes of Carroll, Kuyt, Bellamy and even Rodriguez. Despite their limited playing time you always felt they may grab us a goal. They have all moved on and not been replaced in terms of the goals they can bring to a side.

It is far too early to judge Borini yet, although he doesn’t look as if he will make a huge dent into that tally, Joe Allen certainly won’t and Suso and Sterling are probably going to be players that won’t start every week at present as they are still plying their trade. So although hopeful they will add to the total, I am certainly not expecting a glut of goals from them.

How does our goals record compare to the top scoring sides in the league this season?

Manchester United (25 goals -13 different goal scorers)
Chelsea (22 goals-10 different goal scorers)
Fulham (22 goals-9 different goal scorers)
Everton (19 goals-8 different goal scorers)
Man City (18 goals-9 different goal scorers)

Before we plough into the issue of who is to blame and point fingers at the owners for not strengthening, Brendan Rogers for not replacing or Kenny Dalglish for wasting money on inferior players (three of the arguments I have picked up from individual papers today) let’s focus on where we maybe going wrong and where can we put it right?

Watching the Newcastle game yesterday I thought I would analyse a bit of our attacking play to see if I could shine an insight into how we can improve this goal scoring issue to get us further up the league and a few more points in the bag. On the overview of yesterday’s game I hear the same moans and groans – we dominated the game, if we had a goal scorer we would have won the game. Our approach play was positive although our goal actually came from a long pass where Suarez got between two defenders to apply a clinical finish. Let us have a look at a few statistics and compare the first half to the second (which is in brackets)

Left Central Right
Entries into the final third
8 (13)
4 (5)
6 (9)
5 (6)
2 (4)
Chances created
0 (1)
1 (3)
2 (3)
4 (4)
1 (0)
0 (1)
0 (1)
0 (2)
1 (4)
0 (3)
1 (2)
1 (3)
Ball out of play/dispossessed
3 (3)
2 (0)
2 (0)

If you pick up the papers this morning you will see that we had 20 shots with 12 shots on target, although apart from the Suarez goal I cannot recall Tim Kruhl having many other serious saves to make. There was the miss from Shelvey and a couple of efforts from Suarez but that apart, has Kruhl pulled off a number of world class saves to keep Newcastle in the game? Simple answer no. I looked at our ability to get into the final third and create chances as I feel the 12 shots on target does not tell the full story.

We have entered into the final third a total of 45 times throughout the game when we are looking in wide areas how many times we got a cross into the box

Entries into final third

The table shows that we were more successful down the left where Raheem Sterling is more of an orthodox winger who will get crosses into the box. For all these crosses our chance creation percentage was poor, too many crosses were cleared, blocked, dispossessed or went out of play.

What does this tell us?

• The qualities of our crosses were poor?
• We lack confidence in the final third
• We do not have enough options in the box

I think all of these three possibilities are true. Firstly we do not reach the intended targets when we get into the final third. We do lack belief in the final third. We do not get enough players into the box giving us another option. When Newcastle scored they had three options to pick out in the box giving our defenders decisions to make. When we got into their box we did not commit enough options. Far too often we do not make it easy enough for our attackers giving them a number of different options. This involves midfielders getting into the box as well as attackers, something we are absent of doing so far. I think when we address this situation more goals will be scored and more points gained. Until then though if you’re looking to place a first goalscorer bet then it looks like there’s only one man who could get you a return from your money – Luis Suarez. For now it seems as though you might as well put all your money into a slots machine if you were thinking about betting on someone else, you’d probably get a better return. Standing only one goal behind Robin Van Persie on top scorers for the league (and way ahead of Fernando Torres), the bookies are giving pretty good odds on him to take the Golden Boot this season. And let’s not forget to keep a mental note on the ‘offside’ winner in the derby a couple of weeks back. You won’t have to contend with bad linesmen at the slots and with a huge array of different games you can always find something to suit your mood at Lucky Nugget – either stick with football in the slots game “Game on” or go for something completely different and try your skills at a card game such as poker or Blackjack.

Liverpool 1 – 1 Newcastle United


By jpa90, 04-11-2012, 19:34:03

Liverpool earned a point in a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United at Anfield in a game that the Reds will have felt they should have won. Despite dominating possession for much of the game, Liverpool failed to exploit the chances that they created and Newcastle took the lead through Yohan Cabaye. Luis Suarez rescued a point for the home side but Liverpool could not find a winner in a game that celebrated Steven Gerrard’s 600th career appearance for the Reds.

A fast-paced start saw Liverpool dominate possession with a series of well-worked attacks. The visitors did well to defend several early corners, despite being unable to hold on to the ball. It was Luis Suarez who was the closest in the first 20 minutes; the Uruguayan narrowly missing the target with an in-swinging free-kick and seeing his close-range shot blocked by Tim Krul’s foot.

Brendan Rodgers will have been impressed by his team’s desire from the off and it was evident that the Magpies were aware of this. Papiss Cissé and Demba Ba provided good hold-up play and allowed Newcastle to test Liverpool’s back line. There were very few clear-cut chances for the visitors in the first half but Liverpool struggled to capitalise on the chances that they created.

As the first half drew to a close, Liverpool’s defence switched off and they paid the ultimate price. Both Jose Enriqué and Raheem Sterling were unable to stop a powerful run down the right channel from Hatem Ben Arfa and his delivery into the box found Cabaye unmarked at the back post. The Frenchman smashed his shot past a helpless Brad Jones, giving Newcastle the lead going into half time.

The Reds will have been frustrated at their failure to score despite being in control for the majority of the half. After withstanding several dangerous attacks, Newcastle had given themselves a significant boost of confidence that they hoped would see them through the second half.

No doubt feeling that the scoreline once again was unrepresentative of their performance, Liverpool started the second half unchanged. Despite a rogue sprinkler drenching a small portion of the Anfield crowd, the Liverpool fans ensured that the players stepped out to the same volume of encouragement as they had in the first half.

Shola Ameobi replaced Ba who limped off almost immediately after the restart and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was aggrieved that Sterling was not given a card for a dangerous challenge on Cissé. Liverpool were playing with determination to equalise and Krul once again denied Suarez with a good save ten minutes into the second half.

Nuri Şahin found an angle deep in the Newcastle half but saw his shot skip just wide. Much of the game was being played in the visitor’s half as Liverpool piled on the pressure. A long ball over the top from José Enrique found Suarez who took the ball down on his chest and shrugged off Fabricio Coloccini. He calmly knocked it around Krul and stroked it into the back of the net, making it 1-1.

Suarez’s goal injected some belief into the team and Liverpool stepped up the pressure. A golden opportunity was presented to Jonjo Shelvey shortly after when Suarez fed him the ball 12 yards out after working hard to get into the box. Shelvey did not get a good connection on the ball and Krul made an easy save.

Suarez was again the provider in another dangerous Liverpool attack when he found Sterling unmarked in front of goal. The midfielder’s shot was blocked however, but it was clear that Liverpool were hungry for a winner. In committing several men up front, Newcastle took advantage of a thin Liverpool defence and Jones got down well to save a low shot from Ben Arfa after the visitors worked a counter-attack.

The referee was yet to produce a card until he gave Coloccini a straight-red with less than ten minutes left for a late lunge on Suarez. With a man up, Liverpool were relentless in their attacking approach but Newcastle were working hard to thwart any attempts on goal. Krul’s concentration was key for the visitors as he twice prevented Shelvey from producing a late winner. The cross-bar saved the goalkeeper’s blushes however when a deflected free-kick bounced over him and off the frame of the goal.

In what seems to be a familiar story, Liverpool have taken a point away from a game which they largely controlled. The visitors’ concentration was admirable throughout the game and they will be pleased not to have conceded late on. Liverpool and Newcastle look ahead to their mid-week Europa League games against Anzhi Makhachkala and Club Brugge respectively.

Kopworld man of the match: Luis Suarez

Rodgers not expecting easy transfer window

Rodgers not expecting easy transfer window

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said it will be difficult to find top players to sign in January despite having the funds to bring in new faces, but reaffirmed his determination to strengthen the squad in the upcoming transfer window.

“We’ll have funds and I’m in talks with the owners at the moment, along with our recruitment team. January is always a difficult window. You don’t get too many top, top players.” said Rodgers. “Clubs will be unwilling to move on players but we have to scour the country and the world to try to get the types of players that are going to be available and correct for our model of play.

“Obviously we are limited in what we can bring both in terms of availability of players and financially but there is no doubt we need to do that.

“Our scouting team are working hard to identify those talents and who might be available. There is no doubt we need that support (from new players) in January and I am very confident we will be able to do that.”

The Reds boss also dismissed speculation linking him with a move for Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, who is out of contract in the summer.

“There is nothing to say [about Walcott]. He is an Arsenal player and it is all speculation about many players at the moment”

Sunday’s visitors Newcastle have been fairly successful in the transfer market since Alan Pardew’s arrival, and Rodgers was quick to praise the setup at St James’ Park.

“Scouting at any club is very important. Obviously Alan has gone in there and Graham Carr, as chief scout, has had a big responsibility in getting the players in,” he said.

“I think they have bought in really well. Cabaye is a terrific player, an excellent passer of the ball, and the boys up front have done well for them.”

Injured pair may return for Newcastle clash

Injured pair may return for Newcastle clash
Injured pair may return for Newcastle clash

Liverpool will leave a decision on the fitness of Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson until the last minute ahead of Sunday’s game with Newcastle United.

The Reds will continue to monitor the pair over the next 48 hours in the hope that they can be passed fit for the Premier League clash at Anfield.

Spanish goalkeeper Reina suffered a hamstring problem whilst with his national team last month and aggravated the injury on his return to training last week – resulting in Brad Jones enjoying a rare spell between the sticks.

Johnson was taken off halfway through Liverpool’s Europa League tie against Anzhi Makhachkala just over a week ago with a tight hamstring and did not feature against Everton or Swansea.

Given his history of hamstring problems Rodgers is keen not to rush Johnson back, whilst with the recall of Alexander Doni – who was given time off for personal reasons – he appears to be ready for Reina to spend a bit more time out. But with an extra day to prepare the squad there is a possibility of both players being fit to return for Newcastle’s visit on Sunday if the medical staff deem it will not be a risk.

If neither player is able to make it back into action this weekend it appears that both will be in contention for the crucial match against Chelsea the following Sunday.