17/11/2010 – Wednesday’s Paper Round-Up

17 11 2010
Reto Ziegler

Image via Wikipedia

Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar has told Croatian agency Mediaservis he could leave if he continues to be left on the sidelines, but insists he would prefer to stay at White Hart Lane.

“I have to wait to see what Tottenham have to say, but as things stand, a transfer somewhere else is not that far away,” he said. “I am not angry or too disappointed. I believe that things will improve at Spurs. But if not then I will look for a club where I can play week in and week out.”

Meanwhile Kranjcar’s father Zlato, the manager of the Montenegro national team, claims his son has already made up his mind, telling another Croatian agency 24sata: “Niko is definitely leaving Tottenham. There just isn’t any sense to be sitting on the bench all the time.”

Chelsea are considering a January swoop for Benfica’s £25m-rated defender David Luiz with Alex and John Terry both facing spells on the sidelines with injuries.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is set to do battle with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as they attempt to land the services of Sunderland’s 20-year-old midfielder Jordan Henderson.

Mancini is also set to cut his losses on striker Emmanuel Adebayor and offload the striker to Italian club Juventus.

Liverpool are lining up a player-plus-cash offer for Borussia Dortmund hitman Lucas Barrios. Ryan Babel or Milan Jovanovic are believed to be the players involved.

The Reds are also believed to be closing on a £7m deal for Real Sociedad’s highly rated winger Antoine Griezmann.

Liverpool Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli is targeting Sampdoria full-back Reto Ziegler (above). The former Tottenham star’s contract expires in the summer and could be available at a knock down fee of £3million. The Reds are not ruling out trying to tie up a pre-contract agreement although they face competition from Juventus and Werder Bremen.

Bayern Munich legend Franz Beckenbauer says Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner would be a perfect fit for the German club.

Blackburn are poised to make a move for Standard Liege striker Mohammed Tchite when the January transfer window opens.

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has talked about the possibility of taking Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema on loan.

England coach Fabio Capello is using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to monitor players’ fitness levels after the team’s World Cup failure last summer.

Blackpool’s Charlie Adam is set to win his £25,000 contract dispute with the club this week over his fight for a ‘survival bonus’.

Karren Brady has promised West Ham fans the club will spend in the January transfer window in a bid for Premier League survival.

Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart thinks life under manager Harry Redknapp is much more exciting than the time he spent under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. “There are no long and boring speeches about tactics,” said the Dutchman.

Although Cardiff City forward Jay Bothroyd was delighted to have been a surprise inclusion in the England squad for Wednesday’s friendly against France, the 28-year-old’s call-up actually came three years later than he had aimed for.

The mooted appointment of Tottenham manager Redknapp as manager of the Great Britain football team for the London 2012 Olympics is being seen as the best way of persuading Wales to join England in providing players, such as midfielder Gareth Bale.

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has arrived back at Old Trafford half a stone lighter after his American boot camp experience to help him recover from an ankle injury.

For full stories, head over to the BBC website.

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Dirk’s Double Does the Damage – Match Report

22 01 2010

Liverpool’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night gave everyone at the club a much needed boost following the FA Cup 3rd round defeat to Reading. This said, it was the third win in four in the league which has helped lift the Reds to within one point of fourth placed Tottenham. Dirk Kuyt’s sixth minute opener gave the injury-ravished Liverpool a deserved lead after finishing well from Alberto Aquilani’s lay off. Injuries to Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Fabio Aurelio, Yossi Benayoun, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres meant that the likes of Kuyt and Aquilani really had to step up to the plate on Wednesday, which they duly did.

Kuyt firing his first goal of the game

Chances were few and far between in the first 45 minutes, with Tottenham’s first chance coming just before Kuyt gave Liverpool the lead when Pepe Reina did well to smother the ball away from Niko Krancjar and Jermain Defoe. The visitor’s best chance came just before half time when Wilson Palacios slid a ball through to Luka Modric but Reina stood big and did well to deny the little Croatian. Liverpool’s only other first half chances came late from Martin Skrtel and Sotirios Kyrgiakos. The Liverpool versus Tottenham fixture is normally one of the better ones in a Premier League campaign but neither side really managed to claim the ascendency in the early parts of this one.

The beginning of the second half saw Liverpool lose concentration which nearly, and perhaps should have seen Tottenham equalise through who else but Jermain Defoe. A lack of concentration and subsequent mix-up from Kyrgiakos and Reina led to Defoe pinching the ball from Reina’s feet and slotting home into an empty net, only for the Kop to breathe a huge sigh of relief when the referee’s assistant adjudged Defoe as being offside. Replays suggest it was a somewhat fortuitous decision. This was the wake-up call that Liverpool were lucky to get but the next chance fell to the hosts as Philipp Degen’s run and cross was met by the head of Albert Riera whose header rattled Heurelho Gomes’ crossbar. It was desperately unlucky and left the Anfield faithful wondering whether it was a chance that would later be rued. Philipp Degen was to be involved again shortly after Riera’s chance when he flicked on a cross to Dirk Kuyt who blazed over from close range.

Jermaine Jenas then went close after about 65 minutes but Pepe Reina was in inspired form to palm the ball away to safety. Liverpool really should have put the match to bed after that when Kuyt’s high work-rate was rewarded as he stole possession on the halfway line before feeding Philipp Degen who wasted a golden opportunity. Manager Rafa Benitez had some special praise for Kuyt’s contribution in his post-match press conference where he said, “he was working very hard and maybe he could have scored four today,” Benitez told reporters. “His commitment is always 100 per cent, so we are pleased for him”. Spectacular efforts were next to follow from Albert Riera and then Alan Hutton for Spurs but neither goalkeeper was called into action on these occasions. This was to be the last chance for the visitors who lacked creativity in the final third with Tom Huddlestone and Aaron Lennon both sidelined through injury.

Benitez must take credit for some inspiring substitutions in this game as the introduction of Maxi Rodriguez and David N’Gog sparked Liverpool back into life and commanding centre-back Sotirios Kyrgiakos went close seven minutes from time but his left footed half-volley was beaten away by Gomes in the Tottenham goal. It seemed as if Rafa was content to take the 1-0 victory as he introduced Stephen Darby to the right side of midfield in a bid to shore things up but it was fellow substitute David N’Gog whose lively play helped wrap up the points. He first turned delightfully on the edge of the box to force a smart save from Gomes before getting Sebastian Bassong in a mess as the Cameroonian defender felled the France under-21 international just inside the penalty area to give Dirk Kuyt the chance for his and Liverpool’s second. Kuyt smashed home the penalty only for Howard Webb to demand a retake after encroaching from Lucas Leiva among others. At the second time of asking, Kuyt switched sides and cooly slotted home his eighth goal of the season.

Kuyt and Lucas acknowledge the fans after Kuyt doubles the lead

After the match Rafa Benitez not only had praise for Kuyt, but the whole team including fringe players Philipp Degen, Martin Skrtel and Sotirios Kyrgiakos who have equipped themselves well in the last two league games. Kyrgiakos reminds me of Sami Hyypia and this was demonstrated well in his handling of Mamady Sidibie against Stoke City and Degen looked full of running against Stoke and Tottenham whilst providing good defensive protection to Jamie Carragher at full-back. After the game, Benitez said “it is difficult to stop Crouch and Defoe, so I think the combination of Kyrgiakos and Skrtel did well,” before adding, “I said before, the squad is not as bad as people have said. Today we were without six players, but the rest of the squad showed character. We have to be pleased because everyone was working hard and the players who have not played too many games did well.” Without wishing to bemoan our bad luck with injuries too much, I do agree with Rafa. Everyone is keen to remind us that we are having a terrible season, yet we are now just one point behind Tottenham who are said to be having a fantastic season so things cannot be all bad.

To conclude, I think the addition of Maxi Rodriguez will turn out to be a shrewd piece of business, but it is the fitness of Benayoun, Gerrard and Torres that will be the key if we are to make the top four this season. Any team would miss Gerrard and Torres as they are pure and simply world-class, but the Tottenham game has shown that the squad is not overly-reliant on two players and it is now imperative that we kick on; starting away to Wolves.

Mark Jepson.








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