Monthly Archives: February 2014

Rodgers: Reina unlikely to return to Liverpool

The manager does not expect the goalkeeper to remain at Anfield, while he also called on his side to defend better after shipping three goals vs Swansea

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers does not anticipate an Anfield return for goalkeeper Pepe Reina when his loan deal at Napoli expires.

The Spain international has spent the 2013-14 campaign with the Serie A side after his parent club signed Belgian shot-stopper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland in the summer.

Reina recently declared that his future is uncertain amid rumours of a possible return to Spanish champions Barcelona, with whom he started his career, although he remains under contract at Anfield.

Rodgers, however, is convinced that the former Villarreal man will not ply his trade on Merseyside next season.

“He wrote a goodbye letter didn’t he?” Rodgers told reporters.

“Obviously Pepe made it very clear when he went to Napoli that he was looking to move because he penned a great big letter saying he was going to work with the best manager that he’d worked with Rafael Benitez and thanked him for his time for Liverpool.

“So, for me, it probably sounded like he’d made his decision there.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers has urged his entire team to take more defensive responsibility after witnessing them concede three goals in the dramatic 4-3 win over Swansea City last weekend – a result which means, of sides in the top half of the table, only Newcastle have conceded more.

“Defending is about everyone, it’s not just the back four and the goalkeeper,” he continued.

“We didn’t defend well enough as a team last week. We didn’t press the ball well enough at the top of the field.

“We didn’t keep the ball well enough, we didn’t make enough passes. It was more a collective issue than any individual. We need to defend better as a team.

“This is a team which is evolving and improving all the time. It was a huge task when I came here to improve our goal scoring and that’s something we’ve done. As this team grows we will improve in other aspects.”

Southampton-Liverpool Betting Preview: Sharp shooter Sturridge can stop Saints

Brendan Rodgers’ side have been in fine form in front of goal in recent weeks and our tipster is backing the Reds’ in-form English striker to find the net against the Saints

Liverpool claimed a dramatic 4-3 win over Swansea City at Anfield last weekend to keep alive their dream of claiming the Premier League title and Brendan Rodgers’ side will face another stern examination of their credentials when they take on Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday.

The Reds are chalked up at 21/20 (2.05) to claim another three points against the Saints this weekend while Mauricio Pochettino’s men can be backed at 13/5 (3.60) with the same firm to consolidate their place in the top half of the table with victory over Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Draw backers may be tempted by the 12/5 (3.40) quote on offer from Paddy Power that both sides are forced to settle for a share of the spoils this weekend.

Saints are unbeaten in their last five matches on home soil in all competitions but, with just one win in their last seven Premier League fixtures at St Mary’s, Mauricio Pochettino will know that his side will need to step up their performance levels if they are to halt the high-flying Reds.

Daniel Sturridge has been in sensational form for Brendan Rodgers’ men in recent weeks, having notched 11 goals in his last 10 matches for Liverpool and, with that in mind, the 7/2 (4.50) quote from Paddy Power for the 24-year-old striker to net first is likely to prove popular with punters. The same firm go 4/5 (1.80) that the England striker finds the net at any time on Saturday.

Sturridge notched twice against Swansea last weekend and, given the striker’s rich vein of form, the 16/5 (4.20) on offer from Paddy Power for the former Chelsea man to score at least twice against the Saints is decent value here.

The free-scoring Reds have found the net at least twice in seven of their last eight Premier League matches and could well overrun a Saints side that has managed just one clean sheet in their last eight league fixtures on home soil.

Therefore, the 8/11 (1.73) quote on offer from Paddy Power for Liverpool to score two or more goals, whilst skinny, appears to be a solid selection here.

However, punters should instead back the generous 4/5 (1.80) quote on offer from Paddy Power for the in-form Sturridge to add to his impressive goal tally for the Reds this weekend before he joins Roy Hodgson’s squad for their friendly against Denmark next week.


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Sakho and Lucas Leiva return to Liverpool training

The Brazilian midfielder will not be ready in time to face Southampton on Saturday but Brendan Rodgers could recall the Frenchman to the side after eight games out

Liverpool have been boosted by the news that both Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva have returned to first-team training.

Manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed on Thursday that the pair have rejoined the squad but only the Frenchman may be available for Saturday’s trip to Southampton as his team-mate continues his rehabilitation from a knee problem.

Sakho has missed Liverpool’s last eight Premier League games after sustaining a hamstring injury in the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in December and is set to undergo a late fitness test to determine if he can play at St Mary’s Stadium.

Lucas, meanwhile, will not feature on the south coast but is ahead of schedule in his recovery and Rodgers is prepared to be patient with both of them.

“We’ve obviously had a couple of players return to training,” the Northern Irishman told the press. “Young Sakho has trained this week, which has been great. We’ll see if it’s too early for him this weekend.

“And Lucas Leiva rejoined the group today, which was great.”

Long-term absentee Jose Enrique continues to be sidelined, although Rodgers is pleased with the way in which the full-back is recuperating from his knee injury.

“Jose Enrique is still out,” he added. “It has just been ongoing. He has obviously got the issue with his knee; he has come back after a good spell in America.

“He is rehabilitating well, there’s no timeline on it. I trust the medical team here, they are very good and will advise me when he’s nearly fit.”

Sterling & Shaw named in England squad to face Denmark

The Liverpool winger could win his second cap for his country while the likes of Jermain Defoe, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Steven Caulker and Tom Cleverley are also included

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and Southampton left-back Luke Shaw have been named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad to face Denmark, though there is no place for Gareth Barry or Adam Johnson.

Sterling could win his second cap for his country, having previously been selected for the 4-2 friendly defeat to Sweden back in November 2012, while it is the first time that Shaw has been called up after impressing with his performances in the Premier League this season.

Jermain Defoe, who officially becomes a Toronto FC player on Friday, is also named in Hodgson’s squad despite only making one Premier League start for Tottenham since December 7.

Everton youngster Ross Barkley is again named as part of the 30-man party although team-mate Barry, who was widely expected to be given the nod, has been left out along with Sunderland winger Johnson.

There is a place for Danny Welbeck, however, who returned for Manchester United against Olympiakos on Tuesday having previously been out of action since February 1 with a knee injury.

Arsenal midfield duo Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both included, while Glen Johnson is also selected, having returned to action for Liverpool in their 4-3 win over Swansea City.

Full England squad to face Denmark:

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster, Ben Foster, Joe Hart, John Ruddy
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Steven Caulker, Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw
Midfielders: Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshere
Strikers: Jermain Defoe, Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck

Suarez: Gerrard convinced me to stay at Liverpool

The Anfield captain described his team-mate as “the best forward he had ever played with”, which helped persuade the then wantaway Uruguayan to remain on Merseyside

Luis Suarez has revealed the “massive part” Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard played in convincing him to stay at Anfield.

The Uruguay international was embroiled in long-running transfer saga in the summer, with Arsenal making several unsuccessful moves to bring him to the Emirates Stadium after the former Ajax man had intimated he was ready for a fresh challenge.

Suarez, though, committed his future to the Merseysiders with a new long-term contract signed in December, and the Premier League’s top scorer credits the faith and support of Gerrard with persuading him to remain at the club.

“[Gerrard] played a massive part in convincing me to stay,” the 27-year-old told FourFourTwo.

“He didn’t talk about me, or through me, in the press, but in person.

“In those moments I forgot that he was ‘world football great Gerrard’, a Liverpool legend, but as a humble person who spoke to me with all his heart for hours.

“He said I was the best forward he’d ever played with, which given the amazing strikers that he’s played with at Liverpool, was amazing for me to hear. I’ll never forget that.”

Since renewing his deal with the Reds, Suarez has taken his league goal tally to 23 for the season and was even handed the captain’s armband recently – an honour he greatly appreciated.

“It was weird – strange,” he added. “I’d never imagined myself as Liverpool skipper. After everything that had happened with me, to retain the support of the club, the coach and my team-mates showed me they were happy to forget and forgive.

“It proved that my commitment to the club and to my team-mates is genuine and that I’m giving the maximum.

“Everyone here lives to help the club. Being Liverpool captain is something that validates you and makes you feel appreciated because there have been some fantastic leaders here.”

Reina yet to decide on Napoli future

The 31-year-old shot-stopper, who has been linked with Barcelona, says he will wait to go back to Liverpool before deciding his next move

Pepe Reina says his Napoli future will not necessarily be determined by the level of success the club achieves this season.

The Spain international goalkeeper is currently on a season-long loan at Stadio San Paolo from Premier League side Liverpool.

Spanish champions Barcelona – with whom Reina began his career – have been heavily linked with a move for the 31-year-old as they look to replace Victor Valdes.

Reina is yet to reach a decision on his future, though, and intends to return to Merseyside before making a judgement on his next move.

“I need to go back to Liverpool at the end of my loan and I will make my decision there,” he said ahead of Napoli’s Europa League last-32 second leg with Swansea City.

“My future does not depend on our results this season. We are having a good season, it’s a shame we have lost a few too many points at the San Paolo.

“Juventus’ season is overshadowing everyone a little bit. We hold the Europa League in high regard and we have a Coppa Italia final to play. We also must qualify for the Champions League.”

Napoli entertain Swansea on Thursday having secured a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium last week.

And head coach Rafael Benitez is looking for his charges to play at a high tempo to secure progression.

“Rhythm and speed will be the keys to winning tomorrow,” he commented. “We must also play with lots of intensity because we have seen that the away leg was played at a very high tempo.

“I don’t think possession is all important tomorrow. It will be more important for us to combine our defensive and attacking phases of play well, so that we are well balanced.

“We must be able to create chances to score without risking being hit on the counter-attack.”