Rush: Suarez deserves player of the year

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Liverpool legend Ian Rush believes Luis Suarez deserves to be crowned player of the year for his performances this season.


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The sensational run of goals has dried up for Suarez a touch recently, with just four strikes in his last eleven appearances.

But Rush, who managed an incredible 346 goals in 660 games for the Reds, believes the Uruguayan has performed consistently all season, and provided the spark that has seen Daniel Sturridge net in his last eight games for the club.


And despite the negative publicity that has often surrounded Suarez during his time in England, Rush believes it is time his efforts on the pitch are recognized.

Rush said: “Suarez is my player of the year for the entire year. He is a joy to watch and his work rate is incredible, which has affected Sturridge. He is putting a real shift in as well, and not just when Liverpool have the ball.

“I am so glad we can talk about Luis’ football and nothing else. He knows what he has done. He has apologised.

“Luis has signed a new contract and you can tell by the way he plays he loves playing for Liverpool. The supporters love watching him and hopefully he will be there for a long time to come.”


Rodgers set for new deal?

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Brendan Rodgers is set to be offered a new contract worth £2.5m per year, according to reports in today’s press.

Rodgers 3Rodgers had said earlier this month that there had been no contact from the club regarding a new deal, but a report in the Metro today claims that situation has changed, and that Liverpool owner John W Henry called the Northern Irishman this week to assure him that contract talks would soon be underway.


Should the cited wage of £2.5m per year be correct, it would make Rodgers one of the league’s highest paid managers.

After being met with scepticism by some on his arrival in 2012, the Liverpool manager has won the majority of fans over with the performances of his side this season – with the Reds still only four points from the top of the table and looking in good shape to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Should Anfield find itself playing host to Europe’s premier competition once again next season, there would be few that could argue the manager’s pay-rise was unwarranted.

Mourinho claims Reds have advantage

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Jose Mourinho believes Liverpool have a “big advantage” in the Premier League title race – because the Reds don’t have to play in the Champions League, unlike his Chelsea side, Manchester City and Arsenal.

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Liverpool are now just four points behind leaders Chelsea after they snatched a 3-2 victory at Fulham with a stoppage time penalty following Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with West Brom on Tuesday.

After being asked about Liverpool’s title credentials, Rodgers claimed they were a “chihuahua” after Mourinho’s analogy that Chelsea are just a “little horse”.

“I am sure it is a four-horse race now,” Mourinho is quoted in the Daily Mail.

“They have a big advantage because they don’t play in the Champions League. If Brendan has a chihuahua it is one that trains a lot and rests a lot. The other dogs, they don’t train a lot because they play a lot and they don’t rest because they play every three days.

“And when the Barclays Premier League goes to the crucial point, we all will have to play Champions League at the same time.


“To play, for example, like we are going to do in Istanbul against Galatasaray on the Wednesday, Fulham on the Saturday.

“Brendan’s chihuahua doesn’t do that. During the week it sleeps, eats and trains a little bit. So I have to say his chihuahua is a privileged one. Next season he will see what it is like to play in two, three, four competitions. This season he has this privilege which gives him a big advantage.”

Mourinho went on to claim that his side are at a disadvantage because they don’t have a top class striker – Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o have scored just eleven league goals between them, compared to 23 for Luis Suarez and 16 for Daniel Sturridge.

“If you are talking about the team that looks really solid, the team that defends well but at the same time creates a lot – that is my team.” he said.

“But when I say we’re not the top candidate everyone thinks, “Here he is again”, with what you like to call the mind games. But it’s just my feeling.

“The matches I have lost were matches we should have won. They were the easy ones to win. The match against Everton was so easy to win but we couldn’t score a goal out of I don’t know how many chances. But we conceded and we lost.

“We went to Newcastle; it was so easy to win. In the first 30 minutes we hit the post, we had chances but we lost the game. We went to Stoke; it was so easy to win. Against West Ham we had 25 shots on goal.

“We are a team that if we had that last “click”, that click is to put the ball in the net, then I would say to you that we are favourites. Our team is going in a very good direction but at this moment I would not say we are favourites, but we are candidates.”

Skrtel: The three points are everything

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Martin Skrtel insisted the three points was more important than the performance after Liverpool twice came form behind to beat Fulham 3-2 at Craven Cottage.

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The Reds put in another shaky defensive performance, falling behind twice through a Kolo Toure own goal, before a poor attempted clearance from Skrtel gave Keiran Richardson the chance to make it 2-1.

Goals from Daniel Sturridge, Phillipe Coutinho and a last gasp Steven Gerrard penalty gave the Reds a crucial three points, which Skrtel insists is more important than anything else at this stage of the season.

“We are all happy because it wasn’t an easy game for us,” the Slovakian centre-half explained.

“We were losing twice and got back into the game to get three points. We’re very happy about that. We know that the performance wasn’t the best, but the most important thing is the three points.

“We can defend better; we conceded two goals and a few times we didn’t do our job. But I think we showed the spirit and desire to win. At the end of the day, we got the three points. At this stage of the season, that’s the most important thing.

“They did well; they were defending well and trying to play on the counter-attack. The pitch and the wind also helped them because it wasn’t possible to play in those conditions.

“But the conditions were for both teams. If they carry on with the performance they showed today, they can get out of the relegation fight.

“We don’t want to talk about the title – there are still too many games to play. We are going from game to game, trying to get as many points as we can and then we’ll see where we finish at the end of the season. Our main target is to get into the top four and I hope we can get there.”

Gerrard: We must learn from our mistakes

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Steven Gerrard said Liverpool were delighted to have come away from a tough game at Fulham with three points, but insisted the team must learn from their defensive mistakes.

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Gerrard cooly converted a last minute penalty to give the Reds a crucial three points, after Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho had previously leveled the game.

The result moves Liverpool to within four points of league leaders Chelsea, but Gerrard insists they must learn from what was at times a shaky performance, if they are to cement their position in the top four.

“It’s a great win for the lads. I got the final penalty, which is an important spot-kick, but it was about the character and determination we showed today,” the skipper said.

“I don’t think we defended well enough but we showed plenty of guts and we never gave up. If you do that, more often than not you get the breaks – and we got one in the end. It was a great win for us.

“Against Arsenal, we showed how much class we’ve got. We showed we’ve got talent all over the pitch; at home, with the atmosphere behind us, you don’t have to motivate yourself – you just go out and perform, and more often than not you play well.

“But coming away on a Wednesday night, windy, on a difficult pitch, away to Fulham is a big test for the team. We’ve passed it but we still have to learn from our mistakes and defend better on the road if we’re to finish in the top four places.

“We’re in the mix. It’s still early days, there’s a lot of football to be played and we’re not going to get carried away. But we are in good form. We feel as if we’re dark horses.

“We just carry on playing and trying to win as many games as we can. We have the advantage, in a funny way, of no European football, because we have just got the league and FA Cup to focus on.”

 

 

Henderson: I had confidence in Cottage comeback

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Jordan Henderson has revealed he always felt confident Liverpool would comeback to claim the three points against Fulham last night.

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The Reds found their unbeaten record in 2014 under severe pressure in West London last night, twice falling behind, through a Kolo Toure own goal and a Keiran Richardson effort in the second half.

Daniel Sturridge leveled with his 16th Premier League strike of the season in the first half, and Phillipe Coutinho made it 2-2 with 18 minutes to play.

It was left to Steven Gerrard to fire home the winning penalty on 91 minutes, to see the Reds close the gap on league leaders Chelsea to four points.

And Henderson insists he was always confident of coming away from the game with three points, despite a couple of difficult moments.

“It’s a great result for us. To go behind twice and come back and get the three points was massive for us,” Henderson said.

“We really showed our character to fight back like that. Even when we were 2-1 down, we still thought we could win the game.

“We always kept believing that we could win it. We knew there was still time. We kept pressing and thankfully got the goal. Dan did really well to draw the foul and win the penalty, and Steven stuck it away brilliantly.

“We’re delighted with the result and now we need to recover and get ready for the FA Cup tie at Arsenal on Sunday. It’s a competition we want to do well in and we want to kick on again.”

 

Rodgers: If Chelsea’s a little horse, we’re a chihuahua

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Brendan Rodgers celebrates Liverpool's comeback

Brendan Rodgers has told Jose Mourinho Liverpool are a chihuahua if Chelsea are the ‘little horse’ in the title race.

Brendan Rodgers celebrates Liverpool's comeback
Brendan Rodgers celebrates Liverpool’s comeback

The Reds closed the gap on league leaders to Chelsea to just four points, courtesy of a last minute Steven Gerrard penalty to earn all three points at Fulham.

Mourinho has continued to write off his multi million pound squad as title contenders, labeling them ‘the little horse’ in the three horse title race.

And Rodgers joked: “We might be the chihuahuas that run in between the horses’ legs!”

Liverpool twice came from behind at Craven Cottage to level through Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho, before Gerrard sealed the three points with a 91st minute penalty.

Rodgers was full of praise for the performance of his skipper, who also set up the first goal for Sturridge with a sublime pass with the outside of his foot.

Rodgers said: “Steven is peerless in many aspects of football.

“He was brilliant against Arsenal, dictating the game, playmaking from behind and his pass for the first goal here.

“There’s no greater person than Steven Gerrard to take a penalty right at the end to get the three points and he tucked it away really well.”

“I thought he was everything, he really led well from the back.

“When you see someone like that it gives the team a lift, and the players at the back need someone like that next to them because it then elevates their game.”

 

Fulham 2 – 3 Liverpool

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Brendan Rodgers celebrates Liverpool's comeback

Liverpool left it late to secure victory against Fulham at Craven Cottage, with a 90th minute Steven Gerrard penalty finally ensuring the three points for Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged side from the one that had seen off Arsenal so efficiently at the weekend, and fans’ hopes of more of the same were high.

It didn’t start well for the Reds though, as they found themselves on the back foot from the first whistle. With just one minute on the clock, Ryan Tunnicliffe forced Simon Mignolet to save at full stretch with an early warning shot.

Just as Liverpool were starting to get a foothold in the game, disaster struck. Kieran Richardson fired a drilled ball across the box that looked to be simple enough to clear, but Kolo Toure managed to completely mishit his attempted clearance – slicing the ball straight into the back of his own net.

Kolo Toure own-goal
Kolo Toure puts the ball past his own keeper to gift Fulham the lead

Luis Suarez tried to respond immediately – his deflected effort almost getting the better of Maarten Stekelenburg – but the visitors failed to maintain the tempo and were on the back foot for the most part.

But the Reds were able to find a way back into the game against the run of play shortly before half time. Gerrard flicked an exquisite outside of the boot pass into the path of Daniel Sturridge, who made no mistake in slotting home to continue his record of scoring in every game since returning from injury.

The timing of the goal seemed to knock some of the fight out of Fulham, and Liverpool started the second half the more lively of the two sides. Five minutes into the half Suarez sent Stekelenburg scurrying with a free-kick that flew narrowly wide.

The away side continued to press, with Sturridge and Suarez both looking lively – and the Uruguayan number seven saw one shot from the edge of the area bounce back off the post. The most Fulham could manage in response was a speculative Steve Sidwell effort from inside his own half.

Despite the run of play, it was the Cottagers who found the next goal – and again it was somewhat gifted to them by the Liverpool defence. This time it was Martin Skrtel’s turn to slip up as he failed to clear his lines, leaving Richardson free to tap the ball in at the far post.

A common theme of this season’s Liverpool side has been their refusal to go down without a fight though, and within ten minutes they were level again. Philippe Coutinho showed good feet to work some space for himself on the edge of the box, and fired a curling shot past the outstretched hand of Stekelenburg.

The momentum was with the away side, and minutes later Suarez raced through on goal in search of a winner. The forward clashed with the Fulham ‘keeper though, leaving his opponent poleaxed. Stekelenburg was no longer able to continue, and after receiving lengthy treatment on the pitch was replaced by David Stockdale.

With eight minutes remaining, Rodgers brought on Joao Carlos Teixeira in place of Raheem Sterling – handing the youngster his senior Liverpool debut. The Reds pushed on for a winner, and Coutinho saw his long-range effort sail narrowly wide.

Brendan Rodgers celebrates Liverpool's comeback
Brendan Rodgers celebrates
Liverpool’s comeback

Time looked to be running out for the Reds, but eventually a decider did arrive. Sturridge was brought down by Riether on the left edge of the penalty area, leaving Phil Dowd with no choice but to point to the spot.

Gerrard stepped up to calmly fire his spot-kick past Stockdale to confirm a remarkable comeback that sees the Reds move to within four points of the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Liverpool unchanged for Fulham game

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Brendan Rodgers has named an unchanged side for the trip to face Fulham tonight.

After the 5-1 demolition of Arsenal on Saturday the Reds have the opportunity to close the gap on those above them this evening with Chelsea only able to get a 1-1 draw with West Brom last night along with Manchester City’s home game with Sunderland being postponed tonight. Second place Arsenal face Manchester United at The Emirates.

The Liverpool starting XI: Mignolet, Flanagan, Cissokho, Toure, Skrtel, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Suarez, Sturridge.

Substitutes: Jones, Agger, Kelly, Allen, Moses, Teixeira, Aspas.

Mourinho wary of Red’s title threat

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Jose Mourinho has claimed Liverpool have the advantage in the title race as they do not have to worry about European competition this season.

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The Reds can close the gap on Mourinho’s Chelsea tonight to four points at the top of the Premier League with a win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Liverpool’s 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal on Saturday have seen Brendan Rodgers side labeled title contenders, and Mourinho has admitted the time has come to take the Reds title threat very seriously.

“People are asking if Arsenal might fall apart after what happened at Liverpool, but it can happen to any one of the three of us – any one – but not Liverpool, because they have this stability of playing one match a week,” he is quoted as saying in the Daily Mirror.

“If they lose a match or have an injury, everything is more stable. For all of us involved in the Champions League and Premier League race, facing match after match, you do find the concentration and the focus is split by the Champions League.

“You start to think about, ‘we don’t want to play this player because we have the Champions League [coming up]’ and ‘we want to rest this player or that one’. But none of us is free for that to happen.

“I would be disappointed if my team collapses and can’t keep the level, but if we keep this level, even if we lose points and matches and don’t win the league, I wouldn’t be disappointed.”

Mourinho went on to suggest that the fact Liverpool are not in Europe this season, will prove beneficial to them in the remaining 13 league games of the season.

“Liverpool are in a similar situation to us,” he said. “They didn’t start the season as top favourites, they have a couple of very experienced players, like Stevie Gerrard and the central defenders. They are also a very young team and are developing, with a manager who is very good. But the fact they don’t play Champions League is very important for them.

“When the Champions League comes, it’s a big thing for the other teams. Liverpool only play one match every week, and that makes a real difference at the end of the season, March to May. This can play a big role.

“People think the head-to-head matches are key but maybe the teams not in the top four will be very influential in the league. Normally, people are pushed to say Chelsea against Arsenal, or Arsenal against [Manchester] City, or Liverpool against City – that these are the matches that decide things, but maybe they aren’t.

“In other leagues, it is like that. [Real] Madrid against Barcelona decides the title. Benfica against Porto decides the title. It’s not the same situation here. The title is decided match after match.”