Monthly Archives: December 2009

Fiorentina prepare bid for Liverpool attacker Babel

LYON, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 04:  Ryan Babel (C) of Liverpool battles his way through Michel Bastos (l) and Aly Cissokho (r) during the Lyon v Liverpool UEFA Champions League Group E match at the Stade de Gerland on November 4, 2009 in Lyon, France.

Liverpool winger Ryan Babel is interesting Fiorentina.

Babel has been put up for sale by Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez as he seeks to raise his own transfer funds for the winter market.

Corriere dello Sport says Fiorentina are preparing a bid for Babel, who they hope to get on the cheap.

The Dutchman could arrive as a replacement for Adrian Mutu, who is unsettled in Florence.

Referee got it right – Benitez

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Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez felt justice had been done after Stephen Ward was eventually sent off for Wolves in the Reds’ 2-0 win at Anfield.

Referee Andre Marriner initially booked the wrong player, Christophe Berra, but he finally realised it was Ward who should have received a second yellow card, and then a red, for a foul on Lucas Leiva just minutes after he had been cautioned for pulling Yossi Benayoun’s shirt.

The incident sparked an exchange on the touchline between Wolves boss Mick McCarthy and Benitez. McCarthy sarcastically applauded his opposite number as the officials finally arrived at the right decision to dismiss Ward.

That gave Liverpool the break they needed for Steven Gerrard and Benayoun to grab the goals to secure a vital win for the nervy Reds, but afterwards McCarthy questioned the role of fourth official Phil Dowd in the rumpus and suggested he had told Marriner about his error.

Benitez seemed to agree that Dowd became involved, saying: “The fourth official was saying, number 11, number 11.

“The referee got it right. The sending off changed the game, against 11 men it is difficult in the Premier League, but against 10 men who are soon 1-0 behind, the game becomes more open.”

Lucas: Villa clash crucial

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Lucas Leiva is hoping Liverpool can end 2009 on a high by claiming a victory over fourth-placed Aston Villa.

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The Reds closed to within five points of the Villans with a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Boxing Day – although Martin O’Neill’s men could restore their advantage with victory against Arsenal.

Lucas accepts Tuesday’s clash at Villa Park will be a difficult one, but the Brazilian is eager for Liverpool to continue to build momentum in their quest for a top four finish.

“We are happy because we really needed the three points,” he told Liverpoolfc.tv. “I think we played well and deserved to win. Now we have to build some momentum. We have an important game with Villa and we know that if we beat them we will be closer.

“Like I have said before, every game is like a cup final for us and we must keep working hard to try and win some matches in a row.

“Villa will be a really difficult game and we don’t have too much time to recover, but we will make sure we are ready and try to get the three points.”

Second-half goals from Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun clinched three much-needed points against Wolves after the visitors’ Stephen Ward was dismissed following two quick-fire yellow cards.

Lucas admits the sending off changed the game and feels Liverpool can now shake off recent criticism by rekindling their winning mentality in the second-half of the season.

“When you have one player more it is easier,” he said. “They were then forced to play with one striker. That worked in our favour and I think it was the right decision.

“After that we kept the ball better, created more chances and scored the two goals.”

He added: “When you aren’t winning or playing as well as you can then you are going to get criticism, that’s normal.

“We know we have a good squad and a good team. The key is to get our confidence back for the rest of the season.”

Benitez: I know Liverpool fans hurting

http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/incoming/article183521.ece/ALTERNATES/gallery-large/Liverpool+fans+hold+a+banner+of+manager+Rafa+Benitez.jpg

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez recognises the fans are hurting this season.

The Reds boss insists he has every confidence that a return to winning ways isn’t too far away and his first aim is three points on Boxing Day against Wolves.

Our fans are really important to us and we will try to do our best for them on Saturday and for the rest of the season,” Benitez told Liverpoolfc.tv.

They are always supporting the team and the players know they will be with them against Wolves.

We had an early kick-off at Portsmouth but we could hear our fans singing at half-time. We were really disappointed with the result and we have to do more for them.

To play too many games over Christmas is not the best because of the weather, but the game on Boxing Day is a good experience and we want to win it for our supporters.

Duo’s delight at World XI honour

Fernando Torres of Liverpool is congratulated by team mate Steven Gerrard (R) after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Wigan Athletic at Anfield on December 16, 2009 in Liverpool, England.

Liverpool duo Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard have spoken of their delight after they were named in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI for 2009.

The reds pair were included in the line-up after more than 50,000 professional footballers from across the globe voted for the best player in each position.

It’s a real source of joy and satisfaction as well a privilege to be in this XI,” beamed Torres.

All of us players try to reach the top and achieve our goals, and receiving this kind of recognition from your fellow professionals is something else, it fills you with pride.

“I want to keep battling to make sure I come back here.

“What’s more, this year I’ve made it without even winning a title. What I mean is, though collectively we’ve not had the best of luck, on a personal note the balance is right and I’m doing my job well.”

Gerrard added: “I feel really flattered and honoured, because it’s really special to be voted for by your colleagues.”

Torres and Gerrard’s inclusion was announced at the FIFA World Player Gala 2009 in Zurich on Monday evening.

Liverpool to deal in youngster Eccleston

Nathan Eccleston of Liverpool is challenged by Clint Dempsey of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on October 31, 2009 in London, England.

Nathan Eccleston is set to be handed a new long-term deal by Liverpool.

Sky Sports says Reds boss Rafael Benitez will hand Eccleston a new three-and-a-half-year contract extension as they look to keep hold of one of their academy’s rising stars.

The young Bury protégé, who is out of contract at the end of the season, was thought to be arousing interest from several Premier League rivals but will now stay at Anfield until at least 2013.