Monthly Archives: October 2012

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.”

Manchester United & Tottenham join Arsenal in race for Wilfried Zaha

By Greg Stobart

Manchester United and Tottenham have joined the race for Crystal Palace sensation Wilfried Zaha who now looks certain to seal a January move to the Premier League.

Arsenal are also strongly considering a bid for Zaha while revealed earlier this month that Manchester City and Liverpool have already made enquiries for the winger.

Steve Rowley, Arsenal’s chief scout, was joined in the stands at Palace’s victory over Leicester last weekend by senior scouts from United and Spurs, with the Premier League big-hitters ready to battle for the 19-year-old’s signature.

Zaha, who played a starring role against Leicester, is considered the most talented player in the Championship and has already made 107 appearances for Palace having made his debut at the age of 17 and become a first-team regular.

The England Under-21 international is under contract until 2017 and Palace co-chairman Steve Parish has claimed it would take £20 million to lure him away from Selhurst Park, although the bidding is more likely to start at around £10m in January, with foreign clubs also expressing an interest.

Liverpool and Spurs are keen to improve their wide options and are long-term admirers of the Football League’s 2011-12 Young Player of the Year, while United, City and Arsenal are all looking to snap up the best young talent in the country.

With such a scramble for his signature, Zaha’s next club could come down to the finances involved, although the versatile forward is a boyhood Arsenal fan.

He is the latest Palace academy graduate to attract the attention of the big Premier League clubs, following John Bostock, Victor Moses and Nathaniel Clyne.

Follow Greg Stobart on

Allen provides glimpse into Liverpool future on and off the pitch

By David Lynch

Wednesday evening is certain to be an emotional one for Joe Allen as he faces Swansea City – the club he joined as a nine-year-old – for the first time since departing.

The Capital One Cup clash between the Swans and Liverpool will mark just the 83rd day since the midfielder’s move to Anfield was confirmed, and an eyebrow-raising £15 million fee was sent in the other direction.

However, in that short period, the 22-year-old has done everything possible to assuage fears about his costliness, rewarding the faith shown in him with a series of impressive performances.

Comparisons with former Reds man Xabi Alonso are already being quietly whispered on the Kop, even though they are often tempered by the admission that the Welshman is not yet in the Real Madrid midfielder’s class.

What is without question, though, is that Allen is going some way to compensating for the absence of his metronomic predecessor – something Liverpool have singularly failed to do since the Spaniard’s 2009 departure.

Charlie Adam had once been expected to fill that rhythmic void in the centre of the park, though in truth it transpired that the Scot marched to a very different beat. But Allen has finally picked up the slack, providing a constant out ball for his team-mates and showing a remarkable desire to take the ball in the sort of tight spaces where British players often wish to eschew responsibility.

In fact, he already boasts a 92.5 per cent pass accuracy in his first nine games for the club, a statistic which sees him outperforming all of his midfield colleagues, including international stars such as Steven Gerrard and Nuri Sahin.

Yet, for all these predictable passing plaudits, the Camarthen-born midfielder was forced to convey a very different side of his playing personality during Liverpool’s most recent fixture. Allen had to call on every ounce of his oft-commended character as he found himself engaged in a personal duel with man mountain Marouane Fellaini during the Merseyside derby.

He may not have won many headers against a player 10-and-a-half inches taller than him, but the midfielder did not shirk his responsibilities when the ball was within his reach. Allen had the highest tackle success rate of any man on the pitch, all this whilst boasting his side’s best pass completion figures in the cauldron of Goodison Park.

That 2-2 draw – a game of unerring commitment with some moments of real quality – arguably provided fans with their best look yet at every asset Allen possesses. At his best, the Wales international is a look into what Brendan Rodgers wants his side to become; he presses at the right times, monopolises possession and plays without fear.

And yet, the 39-year-old manager believes his prodigy can continue to improve – once shifted to his rightful position upon Lucas Leiva’s return.

On the topic, Rodgers told reporters: “When you see him further up you get another 50%, but because he knows how I work I have to play him deep so that he can dominate the ball.

“He’s got more to come; when Lucas comes back and I can push Joe into that role you’ll see a different player again because he’s so dynamic.”

Whilst Allen’s boundless potential will of course excite Liverpool fans, it is perhaps the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, who will derive the most pleasure from his development. Their financial model dictates that players must be purchased young and at a price which offers the chance of return should the Merseyside outfit ever find themselves facing an Arsenal-style exodus.

Allen is the perfect representation of that, meaning he now embodies the club’s long-term philosophies both on and off the pitch better than anyone.

Follow David Lynch on