Monthly Archives: October 2012

Liverpool captain Gerrard apologises to Everton over ‘long ball’ criticism

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has apologised to Everton and Stoke after criticising David Moyes’ team for playing long-ball football in the 2-2 Merseyside derby.

The England midfielder was frustrated after the Toffees came from two goals down to draw at Goodison Park on Sunday, and claimed Everton’s style of play resembled Stoke’s aerial approach.

However, after reviewing the game, Gerrard believes he went “too far” in his criticism of his rivals, confirming he has the “utmost respect” for both David Moyes and Tony Pulis.

“Just to clarify, I’ve watched the game again, and I’ve seen some of Everton’s matches this season, and what I said in relation to their style of play went too far,” he told reporters.

“It wasn’t my intention to disrespect Everton or Stoke for that matter and I certainly didn’t intend any disrespect to their manager or players.

“I have the utmost respect for David Moyes and Tony Pulis and the job they have done at their respective clubs.”

The 31-year-old admitted his reaction was partly down to his anger at Luis Suarez’s late effort being incorrectly ruled out for offside, and feels the Uruguayan has been unfairly treated in recent weeks.

He added: “I was frustrated by the disallowed goal from Luis [Suarez] when I spoke and also some of the things that have been said about Luis in recent weeks which haven’t been fair in my opinion.

“As captain I have a duty to stand up for our players when I feel they are unfairly singled out.”

Everton defender Phil Jagielka had earlier responded to Gerrard’s criticism by accusing Brendan Rodgers’ team of “passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.”

England risk losing out on Raheem Sterling as Jamaica make late bid

England are facing a tug-of-war battle with Jamaica to secure the international future of Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling.

The 17-year-old represented Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 side earlier this year and was an unused substitute during the Three Lions’ World Cup 2014 qualifying clash against Ukraine earlier this month.

However, the former QPR youngster remains eligible to represent the country of his birth and is willing to listen to the pitch Jamaican president Horace Burrell plans to make when he flies to England this week to discuss the youngster’s future.

“Based on the Fifa rules Raheem is still eligible for us. We think it is worthwhile to speak,” Burrell told reporters.

The Football Association had looked set to secure the teenager’s future when he was called up by Roy Hodgson but Sterling is reportedly interested in representing the Reggae Boys having been born in Kingston where he spent the first five years of his life.

The winger’s mother has expressed her desire for her son to play for the country of his birth and Sterling will listen to Burrell’s pitch, leaving the FA sweating on his decision.

Sterling has made an impressive start to his Premier League career and has thrived under new Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers, scoring his first senior goal against Reading a fortnight ago, becoming the Merseysiders’ second youngest competitive goalscorer behind Michael Owen in the process.

Jagielka hits back at Gerrard’s criticism of Everton: We do not believe in passing it around for half an hour like Liverpool

Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard’s criticism of Everton’s style of play during the 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday, saying Brendan Rodgers’ side “pass around for half an hour for the sake of it”.

Luis Suarez was controversially denied a late winner in the fiery Merseyside derby after wrongly being flagged offside – and an angry Gerrard was critical of Everton’s tactics claiming: “There was one team here who came to play football and win the game and that was us.”

However, Jagielka suggests David Moyes’ side are simply using the strengths of their forward players in the air, and laughed off Gerrard’s attack by suggesting Liverpool’s tactics are less efficient than his team’s.

“If Stevie says we are a long-ball team, then I’m not going to deny the fact,” he told reporters.

“But do we play them for the full 90 minutes? No. When you have someone like Marouane Fellaini who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there, why wouldn’t you do that?

“We don’t believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it. We won’t start to look to put in a thousand passes a game. If we need to play forward to [Fellaini] to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what? That’s what we’ll do.”

Jagielka believes the fact Gerrard is speaking about Everton proves his side have got the red half of Merseyside worried: “I suppose you could say it’s a back-handed compliment. Stevie must have thought that Liverpool were in a game to come out with such comment.

“It does make you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it – that must be that we are doing something well.

“It’s a little bit disrespectful to players like Baines, Ossie [Osman] and Kevin [Mirallas] who are players who do create a lot of chances for us.

“This season is the most goals we have scored, the most chances we have created, and in the derby we had more possession and more chances. That’s why we can take it with a pinch of salt.”

Liverpool – Swansea City Betting Preview: Back a draw at half-time at Anfield this evening

Swansea City’s visit to Anfield will have more of an edge to it than most Capital One Cup ties this week, given the links between the two clubs.

Brendan Rodgers’ defection from south Wales to Merseyside in the summer means the Swans will be desperate to show their former manager they are still a capable unit without him, although their results this season so far speak volumes, with the side sitting a point and a place above Liverpool in the Premier League.

The Anfield club’s underwhelming start to the campaign means a decent showing this evening is vital and expect Rodgers to field a relatively strong side. Bet365 have certainly factored that into their analysis and price a home win at 4/9 (1.44) while Swansea are offered at 7/1 (8.00) and the draw can be backed at 16/5 (4.20).

Since their opening day demolition of QPR at Loftus Road, Swansea have struggled on the road, losing all three of their subsequent away games in the Premier League.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have won only one of their five league matches at Anfield this season – failing to score on two occasions.

If neither side is in great form, then neither side will want to lose and a tight match could well be in prospect.

Under 1.5 goals in the first-half at 1/2 (1.50) looks highly likely given that it has paid out in every home
match that Liverpool have played in the Premier League this season, but the price means it will only attract punters looking to invest for a modest return.

Instead, back the draw at half-time at 6/4 (2.50) which looks like a much more attractive option. This bet has paid out in three of Liverpool’s last five home games, as well as in Swansea’s last away match at Manchester City.

For a value bet try backing the first goal to come between 61-70 minutes at 18/1 (19.00). Swansea’s last five matches have seen four goals scored during the period and for a small value punt it could prove profitable.

Sign up for up to £200 in free bets and back Phil’s selections for this match

Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.

Gerard Houllier hails Rodgers’ influence at Liverpool

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has praised the influence of Brendan Rodgers as the current boss of the Premier League side, insisting that the future looks bright at Anfield.

The Frenchman, who enjoyed a successful spell with the club between 1998 and 2004, saw the 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby and liked what he saw from the new man.

“Brendan plays the right way and I’m pleased he’s given a chance to some of the young players. Some are very good,” Houllier told The Sun.

“Liverpool posed a major problem to Everton in changing the system in the second half and I thought Brendan was very clever. It really helped the team and in the end they probably could have won it.”

The 65-year-old led Liverpool to a domestic cup treble in 2001 during his spell at the club and added the European Super Cup to the trophy cabinet later that year before being replaced by Rafael Benitez in 2004.

Houllier was also happy with the youngsters coming through the ranks at his old club, claiming that they can develop into star names at Anfield.

“Raheem Sterling could be a major player,” he continued.

“Suso, Andre Wisdom and Joe Allen are all good. The future looks bright.”