Monthly Archives: March 2013

Rodgers: Liverpool do not need to sell Suarez

The Reds boss has acknowledged the importance of keeping the Uruguayan at Anfield but claims the club is under no pressure to allow him to leave in the near future

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has claimed that there is no need for the Reds to sell Luis Suarez despite persistent speculation linking the striker with a host of top European clubs.

Suarez played a key part in the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, winning the penalty that Steven Gerrard converted to put Rodgers’ team ahead.

The Uruguayan is in the running for player of the year honours but Rodgers says that there is no pressure that might force the club to cash in on their prize asset despite the fact that they look set to miss out on Champions League qualification once again.

“It is very important [we keep him],” Rodgers told reporters. “He is a wonderful player. We don’t have to sell him. There is nothing like that.

“He is very happy. We don’t need to sell him for the money. We are trying to build a good group here and we want to keep striving forward, so there is no need to sell him.”

Rodgers paid tribute to the 26-year-old’s display after a tiring week that included significant amounts of travelling to represent Uruguay during the international break.

“He was away on international with Uruguay, he came back late on Thursday, but was in training on Friday,” the coach explained.

“I’ve got to say I noticed how tired he looked; his face, his body, he just looked totally shattered. But he came in today and his willingness to work for the team and sheer quality were incredible. He frightens defenders.”

The Liverpool boss believes that Gerrard, meanwhile, can go on to emulate the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in enjoying a lengthy career at the top due to his day-to-day professionalism.

“Those guys [Giggs and Scholes], it’s not what they are doing now, its what they did earlier on, when they were 17, 18, 19 and 20,” he added.

“Look at Steven Gerrard, he has every chance to play until his late 30s. He never has a lazy day. He is a remarkable man. Look at his running level. Look at his fitness. He has been like that all season.

“He had to have an injection in his ankle, but he is a top, top player. His commitment to succeed at Liverpool is incredible, I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Gerrard’s current contract expires at the end of next season and Rodgers confirmed that the midfielder would be offered the chance to extend his stay at Anfield.

“That is something on the agenda,” he said. “That will happen in due course.”

Gerrard: Liverpool responded to Rodgers team talk

The Reds captain scored a penalty and made a vital goal-line clearance to help clinch an important win after his side fell behind in the first half

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was pleased with the Reds’ response to manager Brendan Rodgers’ half-time team talk after they came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa.

The visitors went behind after 31 minutes when a well-worked move was finished off by Christian Benteke, but Jordan Henderson and Gerrard scored second-half goals to turn the game on its head after the break.

The England midfielder felt Liverpool were unfortunate to be trailing at half-time and believes Rodgers’ advice put them on the right track to bagging an equaliser soon after the restart.

When asked what the manager told his team at half-time, Gerrard told Sky Sports: “Keep doing what you’re doing, play with more belief and take a few more risks in their final third and it came off today.

“After the manager spoke, that’s what you need to do, go out and score straight after half-time and that gave us the belief and confidence to go on and win the game.

“We had to show a lot of character and raise it a little bit after half-time but we felt a bit hard done by to be behind at the break.

“We thought we should have been at least level but found ourselves one down so we had to give and extra 10 per cent.”

Gerrard made a vital goal-line clearance to deny Benteke a second goal and admitted that the incident was just as important in sealing victory as dispatching the penalty won by Luis Suarez.

“One of my close friends before the game gave me stick about my hair and said I might score the winner with my head today,” he joked.

“The penalty was the winner but I think the headed clearance won us the game so he was right in the end. That’s what the celebration was about.”

The Reds now sit three points behind their Merseyside rivals Everton in the race to secure European football and Gerrard hopes his team-mates can mount a late push to improve their finishing position.

When aske about his targets for the rest of the campaign, he replied: “Just to win every game, finish as high as we can and maybe nick fifth or sixth. That’s what we’ll try and do.”

Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool: Gerrard penalty keeps Lambert’s men in the bottom three

A Steven Gerrard penalty completed the turnaround as Liverpool came from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League clash on Easter Sunday.

Christian Benteke had given the Villans a first-half lead although Jordan Henderson equalised immediately after half-time before Gerrard then stepped up, after Luis Suarez had been felled in the box, to convert what would prove the winning spot-kick.

Paul Lambert named an unchanged side from the win over QPR last time out while Brendan Rodgers welcomed back Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher, although Daniel Sturridge had to settle for a place on the bench.

Gabriel Agbonlahor squandered a glorious opportunity to give the hosts the lead in the 16th minute as he side-footed an effort from just seven yards out straight at Reina after Matthew Lowton had delivered a delicious low cross from the right.

Four minutes later and Suarez came close to adding to his 22 league goals this season as he picked up on a clever reverse pass from Glen Johnson and smashed high towards goal, forcing Brad Guzan to parry over the top of the bar.

But it was Villa that would take the lead after 32 minutes courtesy of Benteke. Agbonlahor provided the assist for his strike partner as he took down a long pass from Ashley Westwood with his thigh before the Belgian smashed a first-time half volley at goal that Reina could only help into the corner of his net.

Villa were nearly the architects of their own downfall shortly after, though, as Barry Bannan’s wayward pass towards his own goal only served to put Suarez through but the Uruguay international was denied by Guzan as he looked to slot his effort through the goalkeeper’s legs.

Liverpool again came close to forcing an equaliser before half-time as, in the 43rd minute, Stewart Downing and Philippe Coutinho worked a short corner between them before laying off for Gerrard to send a dipping right-foot shot towards goal that Guzan again did well to push away with his left hand.

The visitors didn’t have to wait long after the break to get back into the game, however, as, two minutes after the restart, Henderson raced onto a delightful through pass from Coutinho before steadying himself and lifting a composed effort over the advancing Guzan and into the net.

Liverpool then came close to taking the lead as Coutinho first struck wide following a clever run across Villa right-back Lowton before Johnson struck the post with a bending right-foot effort that flicked off Bannan before rattling the woodwork.

With the next attack, though, the Reds were in front. Suarez, so deadly in and around the 18-yard box, jinked inside Nathan Baker, tempting the young defender into a challenge and referee Lee Mason had little choice but to point to the spot where Gerrard made no mistake in slotting low to Guzan’s right.

Gerrard was then instrumental at the other end as he reacted superbly to head Benteke’s powerful header off the line before Lowton had Reina scrambling with a cross-shot that forced the Spaniard to tip over the crossbar.

Benteke did hit the net for a second time in stoppage time although the goal was rightly chalked off for offside and, as the final whistle blew, the result does little to ease Villa’s relegation fears, while Liverpool move to within three points of Merseyside rivals Everton.

TEAM NEWS: Sturridge drops to bench but Reina & Carragher return for Liverpool against Aston Villa

Lucas comes into midfield for the Reds after injury ended Joe Allen’s season, while Paul Lambert’s team make only one change after beating QPR 3-2 in their last game

Daniel Sturridge is on the bench but Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher return for Liverpool for their visit to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Luis Suarez starts in attack and is supported by Stewart Downing and Philippe Coutinho, while Daniel Agger is preferred to Martin Skrtel.

Lucas, meanwhile, returns to central midfield ahead of Joe Allen, whose season has been ended by a shoulder injury.

Paul Lambert’s Villa, meanwhile, also line up in a 4-3-3 formation with Andreas Weimann, Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor leading the line.

Ciaran Clark has a shoulder injury so Nathan Baker switches to centre-back and Joe Bennett returns at left-back. Otherwise, Villa are unchanged after beating QPR 3-2 last time out.

Aston Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett; Westwood, Bannan, Sylla; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor.

Subs: Given, N’Zogbia, Delph, Dawkins, El Ahmadi, Bowery, Lichaj.

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson; Downing, Suarez, Coutinho.

Subs: Jones, Coates, Skrtel, Shelvey, Sterling, Suso, Sturridge.

Van Persie is my Player of the Year, not Suarez – Vlaar

The Aston Villa captain thinks the prolific Uruguayan has overcome his diving reputation this season, but still believes his fellow countryman has been more decisive

Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar has revealed he is voting for Robin van Persie ahead of Luis Suarez as his PFA Player of the Year.

Along with Gareth Bale and Juan Mata, Suarez and Van Persie are considered front runners for the award, for which the voting closes on Tuesday.

But while Suarez is the Premier League’s top scorer, Vlaar has his reasons for hailing his fellow Dutchman as the best footballer in England this season.

“You could say it is because he is my mate, but I think we can all see how good Robin is, even if Suarez has more goals,” he told reporters.

“Overall, Manchester United are top of the League and he has made the ­difference.

“It was 15 points this week – that is ­unbelievable.”

Suarez’s reputation for diving is expected by some to count against him in the final reckoning for the award, and Vlaar admits the Uruguayan found himself in a similar situation in the Netherlands.

“You talk about the dives in England, but it was the same in Holland. What can I say? Things happen in a game, the story follows him,” he added.

“I remember there were some issues in the ­papers at home where it was talked about.

“But it has stopped here, just as it did eventually in Holland. I think his quality as a player has made that change.

“I think he wants us to talk about his qualities and he is doing the right things at the moment to make that happen.”

Aston Villa – Liverpool Betting Preview: Goals galore in this Easter Sunday clash

A resurgent Villa welcome Brendan Rodgers’ men to the Midlands and Hugh Wilson is backing goals and has an unmissable 9/5 value bet to feast on

After recording back-to-back wins in the Premier League for the first time this season, Aston Villa find themselves clear of the relegation places by three points.

Paul Lambert’s men have dug deep in the last couple of weeks to beat relegation rivals Reading and QPR, but they face a sterner test on Sunday against a Liverpool side still gunning for the European places.

The manner of victory in their last two matches has showed that there is still confidence in the side. Trailing against both Reading and QPR, Villa rallied to claim the three points in each game. Unsurprisingly, they are outsiders for this clash, with BetVictor pricing them at 4/1 (5.00) to make it three on the bounce.

Despite losing to Southampton in their last outing, Liverpool are right in the hunt for the European places. The Reds sit in 7th place in the league, three points behind bitter rivals Everton having played a game more.

Brendan Rodgers will see this as a great opportunity to get back to winning ways and potentially close the gap, with his side favourites at a short 3/4 (1.75) with BetVictor to win.

With Liverpool’s current away form of one win in their last seven away games, it’s worth avoiding this short price. The same firm offer the draw at 29/10 (3.90).

A bet that stands out in this fixture is over 2.5 goals at 4/6 (1.67). Both sides have been involved in some high scoring games recently, with this bet paying out in 17 of each team’s last 19 matches.

For those looking for more value, the anytime scorer market makes for interesting reading. Liverpool goal machine Luis Suarez is 37/40 (1.93) to net anytime, but this doesn’t offer enough value; the 4/1 (5.00) for him to score two or more is tempting.

However, it’s Aston Villa’s main man who provides the outstanding value. Christian Benteke has been a revelation since joining Villa, with the Belgian netting 10 goals in his last 12 games. The striker is 9/5 (2.80) to score anytime with BetVictor, with this price offering unbelievable value.

Sign up with Bet Victor for a free £25 bet and back Hugh’s selections for this match