Monthly Archives: October 2014

Newcastle-Liverpool Preview: Pardew vows to attack

The under-pressure manager believes his side can take the game to the Reds after resting several players for their shock victory over Manchester City in the League Cup

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has vowed to send his resurgent side out to attack Liverpool in Saturday’s Premier League clash at St James’ Park.

The Tyneside club have put a dismal start to the season behind them by winning their last three matches in all competitions to ease the pressure on a manager who faced fan protests earlier in the campaign.

Newcastle’s latest success came at the expense of Premier League champions Manchester City, who were consigned to a shock 2-0 League Cup defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Few gave Pardew’s side any hope of progressing to the last eight when he named a much-changed side that included the likes of Rolando Aarons, Adam Armstrong and Ryan Taylor, who was making his first start since August 2012.

Out-of-sorts City were stunned, though, by goals from Aarons and Moussa Sissoko and Pardew is now plotting a fourth win in a row this weekend.

“We have protected ourselves a little bit for Liverpool [by making changes against City]. We can now attack that,” he said. “We have real confidence and belief and that’s very important in football.

“I’ve had some good games against Liverpool since I’ve been manager here and we’ve more than held our own. I’m pretty confident I know what Liverpool will do, I’m pretty confident I know what Brendan’s side is.

“I think I know him well enough to know how he’ll come and play but I think for us, I think we can surprise them because one thing’s for sure, Brendan won’t know my team.

“I’m pretty confident of what it’s going to be and I think it’ll be an entertaining game.

“I think he’ll have [Raheem] Sterling on the pitch, he’ll have [Adam] Lallana on the pitch, he’ll have [Mario] Balotelli, [Jordan] Henderson, [Steven] Gerrard, [Philippe] Coutinho all on the pitch.

“So I think Brendan is pretty happy with that.”

Pardew will be without midfielder Cheick Tiote (calf), while striker Papiss Cisse (knee) is rated as “touch and go”.

Rodgers believes Newcastle are starting to reap the rewards of keeping faith with Pardew and the Liverpool boss knows his side will be facing a team brimming with confidence on Saturday.

“It is great credit to the people at Newcastle,” he said. “I know Alan is a top-class manager. We know there are boards who change manager but Alan is very experienced, outstanding manager and he has got results.

“Where they are at now, on the back of three wins, they have a bit of momentum.”

Rodgers will be hoping Balotelli ends his Premier League goal drought after coming off the bench to inspire a dramatic League Cup fightback against Swansea on Tuesday.

The Italian striker scored his second goal for the club four minutes from time and Dejan Lovren headed the winner deep in stoppage time to secure a 2-1 win.

Liverpool will be without Daniel Sturridge (calf), Jose Enrique (knee), Mamadou Sakho (thigh), Jon Flanagan (knee) and Suso (groin).

Luis Suarez Ballon d’Or omission shocks Bartra

The Barcelona defender has expressed shock that his team-mate, who scored 31 goals in 33 league appearances at Liverpool last season, is not in the running for the award

Barcelona centre-back Marc Bartra says he is surprised that Luis Suarez is not on the Ballon d’Or shortlist.

The Uruguay international scored 31 goals in 33 appearances for Liverpool in the Premier League last season, with 12 being netted in 2014 for the English side with a further 11 assists.

But he has seemingly paid the price for his bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup in Brazil this summer, as he was kept out of action for a full four months, only returning last week, and has been left off the 23-man list.

Bartra believes the forward, who set up Barca’s opening goal for Neymar in the 3-1 Clasico defeat against Real Madrid, should be among the candidates for the individual accolade.

“I’m surprised,” Bartra told beIN Sports. “It’s true. I think he had a spectacular year. He’s a great player, he is one of the best strikers in the world and I think he deserves to be there [on the shortlist].”

The 23-year-old also talked about his side’s recent high-profile defeats – in Suarez’s return against Madrid and versus Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

“We couldn’t win against the toughest opponents so far, but I think the team is confident and eager to continue playing good football,” he added.

Gerrard: I could leave Liverpool

The Anfield club’s captain insists he will not be retiring in the summer, meaning an exit could be on the cards if he is not offered a new contract

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has revealed he is prepared to ply his trade elsewhere if he is not offered a new contract.

Gerrard’s current deal expires at the end of the season and the midfielder says talks over a new deal are yet to take place.

The 34-year-old has previously hinted he would be open to the idea of playing abroad following Frank Lampard’s move to MLS expansion franchise New York City.

And a departure from his boyhood club – where he has made over 480 Premier League appearances – could become reality if Liverpool decide not to offer the veteran new terms.

“I can only worry about this season ’cause I’m only contracted until May,” Gerrard told The Daily Telegraph.

“As it stands at the moment, I’m here until the end of the season and want to make the most of it. I certainly won’t be retiring this summer. I will play beyond this season.

“We will have to wait and see if that’s at Liverpool or somewhere else. That’s Liverpool’s decision. If they don’t come then I will see what’s out there.”

Gerrard has been a mainstay for Liverpool this term, playing in every Premier League match ahead of Saturday’s trip to face Newcastle United.

Rodgers: No need to protect Balotelli

The Liverpool manager insists he does not need to pay special attention to the fiery Italy international, who clashed with Jonjo Shelvey during their League Cup tie at Anfield

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he does not need to protect Mario Balotelli from other Premier League players following an on-pitch spat with Jonjo Shelvey.

Balotelli clashed with the Swansea City midfielder during the Reds’ 2-1 League Cup victory at Anfield, in which the Italy striker scored, but Rodgers claims he is unconcerned with the 24-year-old’s behaviour.

“I don’t have to protect Mario,” the Reds boss told reporters. “He’s fine. There’s no concern.”

Balotelli is likely to feature against Newcastle this weekend as he continues his search for a first Premier League goal for Liverpool, though the Reds will be without Daniel Sturridge.

The England striker has been struggling with a calf injury in recent weeks and Rodgers confirmed that the star would not be fit for this weekend’s clash, with Fabio Borini in line to replace him in the starting XI.

Jose Enrique will also miss out against former club Newcastle, whom Rodgers praised following their recent wins over Manchester City and Tottenham, which have alleviated the pressure on previously under-pressure boss Alan Pardew.

“Jose is still not available. It’s an issue with his knee, but we have no other fresh concerns,” he said.

“Newcastle were outstanding at Tottenham and thoroughly deserved their win at Man City.

“I know Alan is a top class manager. He’s experienced and talented. He has over 600 odd games now.

“I think the division as a whole is tight. Newcastle have some momentum, but we are coming into the game with confidence.”

Bigon: No possibility of Balotelli joining Napoli

The Partenopei were said to be weighing up a €12.5 million bid for the Italy striker, who has netted just twice so far for the Reds

Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon has rubbished reports linking the Serie A side with Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli.

It had been claimed that the Partenopei were considering a €12.5 million bid for the Italy international, who only moved to Anfield from AC Milan just before the close of the summer transfer window.

However, Bigon insists that Napoli would have no chance of signing Balotelli even if they were interested in the 24-year-old striker.

“They’re speaking about Balotelli in Spain, England and Italy but it’s not a possibility. Nothing of what has been said is true.

“It’s not a feasible line. I don’t think this is a real story, though the fact is that Mario remains a great player.

“The boy has just been bought by Liverpool and given what their coach is saying, he’s an investment for the future of the club.

“We can only wish Mario all the best on his English adventure.”

Former Manchester City striker Balotelli has endured a difficult start to his second stint in the Premier League but he netted his second Liverpool goal in Tuesday’s Carling One Cup win over Swansea.

Sturridge: My recurring injuries could be hereditary

The Liverpool forward admits that his family have always suffered with muscle problems while he also hopes to strike up a partnership with Mario Balotelli when he regains fitness

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge fears that the injuries which have ruled him out of much of the season could be hereditary.

The former Chelsea man has not made an appearance since England’s friendly against Norway in early September, having suffered from thigh and calf problems, and believes that injuries suffered by his family – including his uncle, former Derby County striker Dean Sturridge – could be linked to the issues that he has faced in recent years.

“I play my game as best I can but I’ve been unfortunate this season,” he told talkSPORT.

“Maybe it’s my body type, maybe it’s hereditary. Both my uncles had injuries and my dad had them as well.

“Maybe it’s the Caribbean vibes, maybe I have speed but maybe it makes you more vulnerable because of the fast twitch muscles and the speed at which you’re moving.

“I am vulnerable to muscle injuries. As long as I continue to work hard, everything will take care of itself.”

Sturridge’s absence has led to Mario Balotelli leading the line for Brendan Rodgers’s team but the Italian has come under fire, having only netted twice since his arrival from AC Milan in August.

The former Manchester City duo have only been paired together once due to Sturridge’s injuries, a game in which the Reds beat Tottenham 3-0, but the 25-year-old is hopeful their relationship off the field will translate to the pitch when he regains his fitness.

“We get on well off the field and in the changing rooms. We’re always laughing and joking,” said the England star.

“It’s not hugely important to be friends to have a great relationship with somebody and, if you’re not friends, you can still have a great partnership but you can also be friends and have a great partnership.

“Once I get back fit, I’m hoping we can strike up a partnership. Last season with Luis [Suarez] we had a great relationship up front and scored a lot of goals. Hopefully this season it will be the same.”