Monthly Archives: January 2015

Rodgers hails ‘lethal’ Sturridge

The Liverpool striker scored within 12 minutes of his return from injury as his side defeated West Ham

Brendan Rodgers lauded the impact of Daniel Sturridge as the England international made a goalscoring return from his lengthy injury layoff as Liverpool cruised to a 2-0 victory over West Ham.

The lively Raheem Sterling had already put the reds ahead before the introduction of Sturridge, who made sure of the three points with a thunderous shot from an acute angle.

Despite being out of action for five months, the striker didn’t look at all rusty and Rodgers was clearly delighted with his contribution.

“When he’s in that area of the field he’s shown for us over a couple of years here that he’s lethal. It was nice for him. He’s obviously been out a long time.

“He’s a top class player. I think he’s shown that in his career so far. He’ll get goals, today he was only on the field for 25 minutes and got one and went close to another. He’s worked hard and the first opportunity was a great first touch and finished it off with his second.”

Despite the goals of Sturridge and Sterling, Rodgers refused to put too much pressure on the pair and instead praised the overall team performance.

“I’m more concerned about the form of the team. I thought Adam Lallana was brilliant today. (Philippe) Coutinho’s two passes were phenomenal. Raheem is an outstanding talent and it was a brilliant finish from him. There is talents throughout the team with young players that are developing very quickly and it is good to see.”

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce conceded that the deal to sign Darren Fletcher from Manchester United is now off.

On any chance of resurrecting the deal before the transfer window closes, he said: “I really don’t know at this moment in time, there’s so much going at the club at the minute. Negotiations broke down this morning.

“Thank god the window shuts tomorrow, it’s a disaster. It creates problem for managers. Players are being tapped up. The sooner it shuts the better. Whether we get a replacement or don’t get Darren Fletcher is neither here nor there, it’s about the window being a really huge distraction to us all.”

Liverpool 2-0 West Ham: Sturridge scores on his return

The striker has been out of action for five months, but showed no signs of rustiness with an emphatic finish following Raheem Sterling’s earlier strike

Daniel Sturridge was on target in his first Premier League appearance since August as he rounded off the scoring in Saturday’s 2-0 win over West Ham at Anfield.

Sturridge has been plagued with groin and thigh injuries so far this term, but came off the bench to add to Raheem Sterling’s opener after the forward had given Liverpool the lead shortly after the break.

The mood was positive around Anfield prior to the fixture due to Sturridge being named on the bench and Sterling added to the feel-good factor by helping maintain Liverpool’s mid-season revival with a smart finish following a clever pass from Philippe Coutinho.

Chances continued to prove few and far between, but Sturridge’s return for the final 22 minutes gave Liverpool added impetus.

The England international then finished from close range to put the game to bed and extend Liverpool’s unbeaten run in the league to seven matches as the hosts leapfrogged Sam Allardyce’s side into seventh.

Andy Carroll made his first Anfield appearance since leaving permanently in 2013 and wasted little time in making his presence felt – the striker perhaps fortunate to escape punishment for catching Emre Can in the face with his elbow.

It was Liverpool who were on the front foot early on as Lazar Markovic went close from inside the area and Coutinho tested Adrian with a side-footed effort after some slick build-up play.

Despite struggling to create much of note on the attacking third, West Ham went closest before the break with Carroll’s header from inside the area after the half-hour mark.

Strong running from Sterling created a chance that Adam Lallana was unable to finish, while Markovic spurned another opportunity late in the half when he shot wide following careless play in possession from Stewart Downing.

The hosts’ pressure continued after the interval and Liverpool were rewarded when Coutinho’s clipped pass evaded James Tomkins and put Sterling clean through.

Sterling calmly slotted the ball past Adrian and things looked to have got worse for the visitors when Carroll appeared to hurt himself in a challenge with Can.

The striker returned to action having initially hobbled off, but was replaced by Carlton Cole after the hour mark.

Without Carroll’s presence up top, West Ham continued to struggle to gain a foothold in the game, while Liverpool introduced Sturridge to a rapturous applause from the Anfield faithful.

The striker – influential in Liverpool’s title tilt last term – needed just 12 minutes to score his first goal since the opening day as he slipped Coutinho’s ball past Adrian to seal the points.

It leaves Liverpool looking upwards at the European places, while West Ham remain without a win at Anfield since 1963.

Burnley: Ings will not be signing for Liverpool

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Liverpool-West Ham Preview: Allardyce backs Carroll to shine on Anfield return

The England international has not appeared against the Reds since leaving the club while Brendan Rodgers hopes to welcome Daniel Sturridge back at some stage of the fixture

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has backed Andy Carroll to cope with the pressure of making his first return to Liverpool since swapping Anfield for Upton Park.

Allardyce’s men head to Merseyside on Saturday hoping to preserve their position ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League table.

Seventh-placed West Ham hold a one-point advantage over Brendan Rodgers’ side following a first half to the season that exceeded expectations.

This weekend’s fixture marks Carroll’s first return to Anfield since joining West Ham on an initial loan deal that became permanent in May 2013, and Allardyce has urged the striker to play his own game.

“I hope he doesn’t try too hard because that can put you off your game,” he said. “But football is a team game, so we want everyone to do well and help each other out.

“I’m sure Andy would like to score and we’ll certainly do what we can to try and help him do that. I certainly don’t think he has anything to prove, everyone knows how good he is.

“He just needs to focus and prepare like he does for every game, keep a calm head and play his normal game.”

Carroll, who will be joined by Stewart Downing in facing his former club, has hit form since returning from an ankle injury – scoring five goals in 12 league appearances.

But Rodgers has no regrets about letting Carroll leave, insisting the towering frontman – who scored 11 times in 58 outings in all competitions after his big-money move to Liverpool from Newcastle United – would have seen opportunities limited.

“I felt in terms of how I play and how the team has operated over a couple of seasons, he would not have been a regular here,” he said.

While West Ham are reaping the benefits of having their in-form English striker fully fit, Liverpool continue to patiently wait for Daniel Sturridge’s comeback from a combination of thigh and calf injuries.

Sturridge could be in line for a return this weekend, although Rodgers says he will not gamble with his fitness.

“We have to be careful with him as he’s been out a long time, but to have him back for the second part of the season will make us a better team,” Rodgers said.

“In the last few days, and in particular this morning [Thursday], he was brilliant in training – really back to what we had seen before. I can tell he is happy and feeling very strong in his own body.”

Liverpool have question marks over the fitness of Mamadou Sakho (knock), while Alex Song, James Tomkins, Carl Jenkinson (all “knocks and bruises” according to Allardyce) and James Collins (back) are doubts for West Ham.

Rodgers: Liverpool won’t sign anyone in January

The Northern Irishman admits he would like to bring more new faces to Anfield in the winter window but believes he will have to make do with what he has until the summer

Brendan Rodgers has confirmed Liverpool are unlikely to make any new signings in January but insists contract talks with star man Raheem Sterling are progressing well.

Liverpool splashed out over €120 million on eight players in the summer in a bid to rebuild their squad in the wake of Luis Suarez’s €88m switch to Barcelona.

And while Rodgers admits he would like to bring more new faces to Anfield in the winter window, he believes he will most likely have to make do with what he has until the end of the season.

“If we get a positive result on Saturday [against West Ham] that’ll put us in a great position [to challenge for the Premier League’s top four],” the Liverpool boss told reporters.

“Every manager will always want more signings… I would want to be able to do one or two things.

“But I always said the likelihood was we wouldn’t sign anyone in January and it looks like that is going to be the case.”

But Rodgers was significantly more upbeat on the future of Sterling, who is currently in talks with Liverpool over a new long-term contract that will reportedly make him one of the highest earners at Anfield.

“It’s all in hand with his representatives,” the northern Irishman added. “He’s happy and sees his long-term future here. He’s a real sponge for learning.”

Balotelli ‘very disappointed’ by Liverpool drought – Raiola

The Italian has yet to score a Premier League goal for the Reds but despite talk of a return to Italy, the misfiring forward is determined to remain at Anfield

Mario Balotelli is “very disappointed” by his start to life at Liverpool, although he has no intention of leaving the club, according to his representative Mino Raiola.

The Italy international moved to Anfield from AC Milan in a €20 million summer deal but has struggled to hit the ground running on Merseyside, with his faltering form in front of goal leading to reports of personal unrest.

Balotelli has yet to score a Premier League goal in 2014-15 – indeed, he has netted just twice in all competitions – and Raiola admits that the striker has been unhappy with the way his Liverpool career has begun, though he insists that the misfiring forward has no desire to move.

The agent told Gazzetta dello Sport: “The plan is to continue at Anfield. I saw him Monday and told him: ‘You have a 4 year contract and I won’t bring you away. Or you leave Liverpool at 60-70 million, and I won my bet, or you’ll die there.’

“It’s the first time I make a speech like that to a player. I’ve seen him quiet, changed, different than Milan.

“Very disappointed with himself, too. He’s going through a bad time like he never had. In Liverpool he hasn’t his spaces: if you don’t make things as they want, you stay out. Then he was broken for eight weeks, he lost the rhythm.”

Balotelli has often been singled out for criticism this season but Raiola claims that the 24-year-old is simply the victim of “injustice” and that he is insecure.

“Of all the players I knew I’ve never met one forced to face the injustices suffered by Mario,” he added. “People do not know him, the truth is that Mario is an insecure boy, and due to his insecurity maybe he does stupid things.

“AC Milan needed a leader. Give the ball to Mario, he scores a goal, everyone is happy. But he is not a leader, and it is also wrong to ask him to be a leder.

“There are very strong players who have no leadership, others less strong but which have leadership.”