Monthly Archives: February 2013

Suarez my player of the year, says Rodgers

The 40-year-old boss praises the Uruguay international’s work ethic and quality in helping the side come through a difficult first few months this season when options were thin

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has declared that Luis Suarez is his player of the year this season.

The 26-year-old forward has been in exceptional form this season for the club, hitting 18 goals in the league so far while his tally stands at 26 goals across all competitions, leading to reported interest from Bayern Munich and other European giants.

With the club currently sat in eighth place in the league table with 11 games left to play this term, Rodgers believes that Suarez’s qualities have stood out all campaign during which they have come to rely on him for more than just goals.

“Who’s mine [player of the year]? Luis Suarez. He has been phenomenal. That’s not just an opinion as his manager,” the Reds boss told reporters.

“Luis had to play as the only striker we had for six months and hasn’t missed a single day of training. I couldn’t look further than Luis.”

Liverpool travel away to Roberto Martinez’s Wigan side on Saturday looking to maintain the pressure on the teams above them as they remain in the hunt for a European spot and Rodgers revealed that the side could be without Daniel Sturridge for the trip while Raheem Sterling could be rested.

He added: “Daniel has had a little knock but we’ll assess that in the next day and see how he is for the weekend.

“[Sterling] is a kid Sterling who’s got huge talent. I’ve got to make sure I protect him. He’ll need a wee rest, mentally and physically.”

Don’t miss out on your chance to win an iPad and football shirts in Goal.com’s Free Fantasy Football League

There are still 11 chances to enter Totel Football’s free Goal.com fantasy league with the winner walking away with an iPad 3 at the end of the season

It was an impressive start to the Goal.com free fantasy football league on Totel Football last weekend. Several players scored highly enough to have cashed in the real money game and the winner, username “Andy” amassed 98 points.

Rahul.92 was in second place with 96 points while Dexteralphonso, Janah and NanisLeftBoot were all tied for third, together with ABK5.

If you want to enter into this week’s competition for your chance to win an iPad or several other prizes, click here

Andy’s selection of Joe Hart in goal was inspired as the Manchester City goalkeeper not only kept a clean sheet against Chelsea, but also saved Frank Lampard’s penalty early in the second half which was crucial as Roberto Mancini’s side ran out 2-0 winners meaning the England No.1 earned 17 points in the process.

His defence included Rafael who was awarded 15 points for his eye-catching performance for Manchester United which included a superb goal as the league leaders took another step towards another Premier League crown.

Santi Cazorla’s double for Arsenal combined with Gareth Bale’s match-winning strikes on Monday did the damage in midfield for Andy’s team and despite the inclusion of Robin van Persie, Dimitar Berbatov’s winning goal for Fulham in the early kick off ensured he finished top of the leaderboard by two points.

If you didn’t enter last week then don’t worry. Totel Football will take your best 6 scores from the remaining 11 gameweeks to calculate the final overall leaderboard so there are plenty of chances to stake your claim for an iPad 3 while the four runners up will win a Premier League shirt of their choice.

You can read more about the competition here.

This weekend sees under fire Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez and his side host West Brom, a match which sees them face former Blues assistant manager Steve Clarke, who is now in charge of the Baggies. Liverpool travel to Wigan in Saturday’s late kick-off and the Reds should be well rested following a week off since their Europa League exit.  

Tottenham host Arsenal in a north London derby on Sunday afternoon which almost guarantees fireworks. Aston Villa-Manchester City is the final match of the gameweek on Monday.

You have until 16:00CET to enter your team this weekend as there is no early Premier League game so click here to visit Totel Football and enter your side for the next round of fixtures.

Anyone without a Totel Football account can sign up here.

Good luck!

Lucas backs Suarez to beat Van Persie & Bale to Player of the Year award

The 26-year-old feels the Uruguay international deserves recognition for his performances this season but expects competition from the Manchester United man and the Spurs star

Lucas Leiva believes Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez deserves the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award ahead of Robin van Persie and Gareth Bale.
The Uruguay international has been in fine form this season, netting 25 goals in 37 games so far, and is one of the favourites for the accolade.

And his fellow South American insisted that the forward is deserving of the crown after his “amazing” season that has, at times, single-handedly won the club matches.

“Luis will certainly be challenging for that award,” the Reds midfielder told the Liverpool Echo. “It has been such an amazing season for him. He has been scoring a lot of goals and showing everyone all the qualities he has.

“I just hope he wins because I think he deserves it after everything he has done this season.”

The Brazilian thinks that Van Persie and Bale will probably be Suarez’s main rivals, and is hoping that the Reds striker can maintain his good form until the end of the season.

“I think it’s going to be between Luis, Van Persie and Bale,” he added. “All three have performed really well and have scored a lot of goals.

“But we hope Luis has got the luck to win it. He has been so important for us and is a special player. It’s just so good to have him in our team.

“We just hope he can continue playing at this level and scores many more goals before the end of the season.”

Les Ferdinand: Video evidence and tough bans needed to stamp out diving

The former striker believes retrospective punishments would send out a “real message” as it would deter players from play-acting and would quickly eradicate the issue

Former Newcastle and Tottenham forward Les Ferdinand has insisted that plans to review video footage and issue strong bans would “eradicate” diving from the Premier League.

The Football Association are currently discussing the option of using video replays to retrospectively punish players after matches, something that could come into force next season.

The 46-year-old believes that the introduction of such initiatives would be a successful way of combating the “ugly” problem that has become a big talking point in football.

“If you ban these divers for a few matches then that will soon eradicate this problem

If you ban these divers for a few matches then that will soon eradicate this problem,” he told The Sun. “It is becoming part of the game and it really needs to be a problem we are well rid of — and this would help do that.

“Let’s face it, diving is rearing its ugly head every week or so. And what we have to do is get back to when people would only go down if they were on the end of a hard tackle.”

Numerous players have been accused of diving this season but some of them, like Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, who has been booked five times for simulation, insist they are just trying to avoid injury and not win a free kick.

Spurs coach Ferdinand defended players in the Welshman’s situation, and insisted that video evidence would enable the FA to single out the “blatant” divers.

He continued: “There is one problem — that is when players are running at such pace that they need to jump out of the way to avoid serious injury.

“That’s a separate issue. So it’s about making sure retrospective action just targets the blatant dives. They are the ones we are talking about that need to get stamped out.”

The ex-England international, who is among the top-10 highest all-time Premier League scorers with 149 goals in 347 appearances, then reiterated his claim that bans would sent a strong message while quickly addressing the issue.

“What it would do is send out a real message to the divers,” he added. “It says — it doesn’t matter who you are or who you play for, you have to be banned if you’re guilty of diving.

“I believe most problems in life can be solved by tackling them head on.”

Rodgers ‘expected’ Sterling’s form for Liverpool to falter

The Reds boss believes 18-year-old’s recent dip is down to the club’s busy fixture schedule and highlighted the need to “nurture” the youngster’s prodigious talent

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says he “expected” Raheem Sterling to plateau after an explosive start to life in the club’s first team squad.

The 18-year-old made his debut for the Reds last March but Rodgers has stepped up his exposure this term, affording him 23 Premier League appearances to date.

However, after an initial return of two goals and three assists before the turn of the year, Sterling has failed to carry his form in 2013 – a fact which Rodgers says is natural for a young player.

“This is a kid we’re talking about so we have to take a wee step back,” Rodgers told The Guardian.

“What he’s done since he stepped onto the pitch against Bayer Leverkusen in a friendly to Manchester City [for his league debut] as a 17-year-old, I dare you to look around Europe and tell me a 17-year-old who has made such an impact in one of the big leagues. There aren’t many.

“It is so mentally and physically draining this league. It hurts experienced professionals and this boy has just stepped up from the academy and played first team football and earned a contract off that.

“We have to nurture that and at times he’s got to have that mentality to keep learning.”

The former QPR trainee’s drop in form and the January arrivals of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have led to him being used more sparingly in recent weeks, starting just five of the Reds’ last 14 games.

Nevertheless, only the Merseyside club’s two most influential players – Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez – have featured more than the teenager this season, and Rodgers noted that the youngster’s contribution cannot be underestimated.  

He continued: “I was talking to him the other day about this, and if he didn’t kick another ball this season he’s had a good one. It’s a very physically demanding league and what you’re seeing now is more tiredness of the legs when before he could go up to people and take them on.

“That zip has gone and that’s down to fatigue. Was that to be expected? Yes it was.

“He will have experienced that before but not in the limelight like it is now. He’s made such an impact that everyone is looking at him now. But the job is to nurture him.

“He’s started his career at first-team level way before many get the opportunity. He’s still got lots of improvement to make in his game. Over the years we will look at his plan and development and act accordingly.”

Reina: I’m happy working with Rodgers

The Liverpool goalkeeper says he has a great relationship with the manager despite reports suggesting that the Spaniard could be on his way out of the club in the summer

Pepe Reina has praised the coaching of Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and insists he is happy working with the Northern Irishman.

The 30-year-old shot-stopper has struggled in his eighth season at Anfield, suffering a dip in form that has led to speculation that he could be on his way out of Merseyside.

But the Spaniard does not believe Rodgers’ methods have affected his form, and has lauded the former Swansea manager’s tactics and approach to the game.

“I have a great relationship with him,” Reina told LFC TV. “We have a lot of ideas in common and the way we see football is quite similar.

“Our understanding about tactics and feeling for football is very similar. I’m very happy with our manager.”

Reina was also full of admiration for the philosophy Rodgers is instilling, and believes the Reds, currently in eighth place in the league table, are capable of becoming a great side.

“It’s about learning and he’s certainly making sure we learn every day in training about ways to win,” the Madrid-born keeper continued.

“That’s important because at the end of the day, what you want to do is win.

“If you play good football, you’ll definitely be closer to winning more games. That’s where we are and my relationship with the manager is very good.

“If the players follow the philosophy we’ll definitely become a great side – a difficult and strong side to beat and a competitive one.”

Although Reina has always been adept at playing the ball out from the back he still feels that the change to a more possession-based style of football has had an impact.

“There is no doubt that I am more involved with my feet than before, but so is the whole team,” he added.

“The amount of passes in every game is higher and higher compared to last season. It’s a different style and I am happy with it.”