Monthly Archives: September 2014

Everton concerns grow over Mirallas injury

Manager Roberto Martinez admits that “the signs are not good” for the Belgian forward after he was stretchered off during Saturday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield

Everton manager Roberto Martinez says that “the signs are not great” as the club await news on the severity of an injury to Kevin Mirallas.

The Belgian was carried off on a stretcher during the first half of Saturday’s Merseyside derby after pulling up with a hamstring problem.

Mirallas was clearly in pain as he left the field, although a full diagnosis of the injury to his right leg has yet to be made and the Toffees are hopeful that he can make a swift recovery but Martinez concedes that the 26-year-old could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

He told the club’s official website: “These type of injuries, sometimes you need over 48 hours for the inflammation to go down.

“We had a few scans and we are going to carry on [Tuesday]. It isn’t a straightforward diagnosis but obviously the signs are not great.

“We are going to make sure we are clear with the problem. It’s not normal when Kevin Mirallas feels something like that and has to come off in the game. We know then that it is something serious.

“We need to make sure we get the full report before we know exactly what is wrong with Kevin. He has always been a very fit boy who is always ahead of schedule and we hope this time it is going to be exactly the same.”

Mirallas had made an impressive start to the campaign, making the timing of his injury all the more frustrating for Everton.

Martinez added: “His game has gone from strength to strength and the way he had started the season had been really positive. He was scoring goals and being a real threat in everything we do going forward.

“We are going to miss him so that is why it is so important that the medical team work well with his rehab and make sure that, when he comes back, he comes back refreshed and stronger. We have plenty games left for him to be as influential as he has already this season.”

Everton are set to make late decisions on whether to include recent injury victims Seamus Coleman, Sylvain Distin and Steven Pienaar in their squad for Thursday’s Europa League match against Krasnodar, a fixture which Mirallas will definitely miss.

Under-fire Mignolet shrugs off Valdes to Liverpool reports

The former Barcelona goalkeeper has been repeatedly linked with a move to Anfield but the beleaguered Belgian is adamant he only feels pressure from himself

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet insists he is not concerned by criticism of his performances and reports that Victor Valdes could be set to take his No.1 spot at Anfield.

Belgium international Mignolet has kept just one clean sheet so far in the 2014-15 campaign, most recently conceding late on in the Merseyside derby in a 1-1 draw with Everton.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and ex-Manchester United captain Gary Neville were both highly critical of the 26-year-old’s positioning for Phil Jagielka’s equaliser during Sky Sports‘ ‘Monday Night Football’ programme.

But Mignolet is adamant the only pressure he feels is from himself and is refusing read much into persistent reports linking Valdes – currently a free agent as he recovers from a serious knee injury – with an imminent move to Anfield.

“If I had to look into all the players who are linked with Liverpool, then there would be another team on the pitch. Every week there would be a different 11 playing,” Mignolet told the Liverpool Echo.

“If you play for a big club, you have to accept that is the way it is, but I don’t read anything into that. I am here to play my game and to do my best every week. I can only work hard in training, be positive and make sure I play well.

“The only pressure is what you put yourself under. What is pressure? Pressure is what is happening in Iraq at the moment where there is a war. That is pressure,” the 14-time international said.

“We are football players and we are here to do our best. I can only do my best, work hard in training, be positive and confident and believe in myself. That is the only thing I can do.”

Sturridge out of Liverpool’s crunch Champions League clash with Basel

The 24-year-old has not featured for the struggling Reds since picking up a hamstring injury on England duty and has not travelled with the rest of the squad to Switzerland

Daniel Sturridge has been ruled out of Liverpool’s crucial Champions League clash with Basel on Wednesday.

Manager Brendan Rodgers had hoped Sturridge would recover from a hamstring problem sustained on England duty in time to travel with the rest of the Reds squad to Switzerland, but the 25-year-old has only just resumed full training.

Sturridge will instead remain at Liverpool’s Melwood training complex in a bid to get himself fit in an attempt to feature in Saturday’s Premier League encounter with West Brom at Anfield.

Mamadou Sakho has also been left out of the travelling Reds party in response to his decision to leave Anfield prior to Saturday’s Merseyside derby when it emerged he was not included in Rodgers’ matchday squad.

Liverpool sit top of Group B having battled to a 2-1 win over Ludogorets, but know another three points against Basel could prove decisive with two matches against European champions Real Madrid still to come.

Basel-Liverpool Preview: Sturridge in contention to face giant-killers

The England international, out of action for almost a month, could return for the trip to St Jakob-Park, a venue where the Swiss side have claimed the scalps of Chelsea & Tottenham

Daniel Sturridge could be in line to give Liverpool a welcome boost ahead of their Champions League trip to Basel on Wednesday.

Sturridge has not featured in his club’s last five matches after sustaining a thigh injury while on international duty with England at the beginning of September, and Brendan Rodgers’s side have struggled in the absence of a player who has netted 36 goals in 52 appearances since moving to Anfield.

The Merseysiders’ unconvincing start to the new campaign has heralded just seven points from their opening six Premier League games and they required an injury-time penalty from captain Steven Gerrard to beat Ludogorets 2-1 in their Champions League opener a fortnight ago.

But their talisman Sturridge is edging closer to a much-anticipated return – with Rodgers revealing in the aftermath of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday that the 25-year-old could feature in Switzerland.

“He wasn’t really close for this game [the Merseyside derby],” said the Northern Irishman. “I’ll see how he is [for Basel]. He wasn’t far away for Everton, but he certainly wasn’t fit enough to be on the bench.

“Daniel is obviously a top talent – and he’s not far away from being back playing.”

Sturridge is one of a number of Liverpool players currently struggling with injury, and Rodgers looks set to be without Emre Can (ankle), as well as Glen Johnson and Joe Allen (both knee), at St Jakob-Park.

Mario Balotelli, who scored his first Liverpool goal in the victory over Ludogorets, is likely to lead the line once again, though will be hoping he is more clinical on Wednesday than he was against Everton, where he had 10 efforts on goal without scoring.

In contrast to Liverpool’s domestic struggles, Basel go into Wednesday’s clash top of the Swiss Super League.

However, Paulo Sousa’s team were thumped 5-1 by Real Madrid in their first group game as the reigning European champions ran riot in the first half at the Santiago Bernabeu.

That result makes Wednesday’s fixture even more crucial for Basel, with Sousa’s men widely expected to be in a two-way battle with Liverpool for second place in Group B behind Real.

History is on Basel’s side, though, as Liverpool – and Gerrard in particular – do not have fond memories of St Jakob-Park.

A below-par Gerrard was substituted at half-time in his side’s last visit to Basel back in November 2002 – a game Liverpool needed to win to qualify from their Champions League pool.

Basel stormed into a 3-0 lead after just 29 minutes and, although a second-half fightback enabled Liverpool to draw 3-3, that was not enough to prevent their elimination to the Uefa Cup.

Some 12 years on, Gerrard – the only surviving member of that Liverpool team – is sure to be determined to make amends for what he has labelled one of the worst performances of his career, while Basel’s recent victories over the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham show they are still no pushovers.

Evra: I’ve no grudge against Suarez

The full-back says he was eager to set a good example following the racism row with the striker and believes Juventus can win the Champions League

Patrice Evra insists he does not hold a grudge against Luis Suarez following the racism row during their Premier League days.

Suarez accrued an eight-game ban and fine after being found guilty of racially abusing Evra during a Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United at Old Trafford.

“Suarez called me negro seven times. I’ve had bananas thrown, I’ve had shouts from behind me, but I’ve never taken it on board: it’s the ignorance of those who are afraid of something different, I understand that,” Evra told La Repubblica.

“Suarez, however, was an opponent and I was going to react to him. I asked myself: what should I do? Give him a punch that would be seen around the world, that will earn a two-year ban, that all the kids will see?

“I forgave him. I also voted him as the best player in the Premier League. A player doesn’t hold a grudge, and the man does not concern me, whether he is racist or not.”

Evra was involved in controversy with the France side at World Cup 2010 following a significant bust-up with coach Raymond Domenech, which prompted player strikes and ultimately a ban from international fixtures for the Juventus man.

Evra has made it clear that he felt he was doing his duty as captain by taking the fall-out from the incident, explaining:  “With Domenech in 2010, I did what the group decided a captain should do. I told them to go on holiday; that I would take the flak.”

The 33-year-old also believes Juventus can go all the way in the Champions League as he aims to reach a remarkable fifth final in the competition, having previously played in three for Manchester United and one for Monaco.

“I live in the present, because the past is regret and the future is anxiety. I don’t sell dreams to the fans, but – why not? It’s a competition so crazy that it seems incredible to have played in four finals,” he added.

I’m not finished yet – Gerrard

The Reds skipper admits that he has been inhibited by opponents at times this season but believes that his performance against Everton proves that he still has plenty to offer

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has hit back at his critics, insisting that he is far from past it after his side’s 1-1 draw with Everton.

The 34-year-old has been criticised for his performances this season as the Reds have struggled with just two wins in six Premier League games.

Gerrard had appeared to put his side on track with a fine free kick in the 65th minute of Saturday’s Merseyside derby, only for Phil Jagielka to equalise with a stunning half-volley at the death, and, after one of his better showings this season, the Liverpool skipper said that those who had written him off had spoken too soon.

“I’ll agree with the constructive criticism and I’ve been stifled in a couple of games when people have followed me around and I haven’t been able to shake them off,” he told the press.

“But then some people take it too far and say ‘he’s 34, he can’t run and he’s finished’.

“I can still compete with the best players around. It’s nice to remind people that although I’m 34, I can still run, I can still play and I can compete with the best players around.”