18/08/2010 – Wednesday Transfer Talk

18 08 2010

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=edgar+davids&iid=7990695″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/7990695/heineken-brings-uefa/heineken-brings-uefa.jpg?size=500&imageId=7990695″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /] Crystal Palace will attempt to lure former Ajax and Juventus midfielder Edgar Davids (left) to Selhurst Park. The Dutchman, 37, has been without a club since 2008 but is keen to settle in London.

Barcelona have invited Manchester City to make an offer for Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has fuelled speculation that he may be preparing a bid for Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell after he picked out the 19-year-old for praise.

The Blues are also planning a move for Real Madrid midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart.

Chelsea are refusing to give up in their pursuit of Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic..

Liverpool are to make a fresh bid for West Ham midfielder Scott Parker.

The Reds are also interested in Fulham full-back Paul Konchesky and are preparing a £3m offer for the 29-year-old.

Manchester United may bid for CSKA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev as a long-term replacement for 39-year-old Edwin Van der Sar.

Everton are close to sealing a £4m deal for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Marat Izmailov.

Ajax financial director Jeroen Slop has admitted that the club may have to sell stars such as striker Luis Suarez, centre-back Jan Vertonghen and goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg to balance the books. All three have been linked with moves to the Premier League.

Inter Milan are considering a move for Tottenham forward Giovani dos Santos.

Fulham manager Mark Hughes has turned his attentions to Monaco striker Eidur Gudjohnsen after his attempts to land Manchester City forward Craig Bellamy were foiled by Cardiff. Gudjohnsen, who made his name with Bolton and Chelsea, spent the second half of last season on loan at Tottenham.

Middlesbrough striker Mido has wrecked a possible loan move to Turkish side Kayserispor after he made an unannounced visit to inspect their training facilities.

Marseille are in line to sign Wigan winger Charles N’Zogbia, who has been told he can quit the Latics.

West Brom are interested in signing Aston Villa midfielder Steve Sidwell and are also keen on Lokomotiv Moscow striker Peter Odemwingie.

Aston Villa have made an approach for Polish side Jagiellonia Bialystok’s 22-year-old winger Kamil Grosicki.

Sunderland centre-back Anton Ferdinand is set for a loan switch to Fiorentina after a deal to join Palermo fell through.

Tottenham are likely to make an offer on Wednesday for French striker Loic Remy, with Marseille also chasing the 23-year-old.

Spurs are battling it out with West Ham for the signing of Paris St Germain midfielder Stephane Sessegnon.

West Ham manager Avram Grant is set to raid old club Portsmouth for utility player Marc Wilson.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=ryan+babel&iid=8337258″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/8337258/ryan-babel-liverpool-2009/ryan-babel-liverpool-2009.jpg?size=500&imageId=8337258″ width=”234″ height=”274″ /] Former England manager Steve McClaren will offer midfielder Ryan Babel (right) a way out of Liverpool after lodging a £9m bid to take the Dutchman to German side Wolfsburg.

Liverpool might consider using Babel as part of a swap deal to land FC Twente’s Costa Rican striker Bryan Ruiz

Blackpool are hoping to sign Everton striker James Vaughan on loan – with a view to a permanent switch.

Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng is on the verge of a switch to Italian side AC Milan.

Newcastle are facing competition from AC Milan for Marseille winger Hatem Ben Arfa.

Arsenal are also interested in 23-year-old Ben Arfa, with Gunners manager Arsene Wenger set to make a £12m move for the 23-year-old.

And Werder Bremen are another club who are keen on Ben Arfa and have offered Marseille £6.5m for the Frenchman.

Notts County striker Luke Rodgers is on the verge of sealing a move to Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls in the United States.

Stoke are eyeing a move for Frenchman Sekou Baradji, who has also been linked with West Ham.

West Brom are set to sign Lokomotiv Moscow striker Peter Odemwingie for £2.5m.

Middlesbrough manager Gordon Strachan is lining up a move for Ipswich forward Jon Walters.

Dundee United have told striker Francisco Sandaza, winger Danny Cadamarteri and midfielder Jeno Myrie-Williams they can leave the club.

Arsenal are in talks to sell 20-year-old defender Armand Traore to Benfica.

Inter Milan have not given up in their pursuit of Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt.

Former Netherlands star Ronald Koeman claims to be on Aston Villa’s shortlist to replace Martin O’Neill, who resigned as manager earlier this month.

Manchester City will still pay striker Craig Bellamy £2.5m in wages this season, despite sending him on loan to Cardiff for the whole campaign.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insists the door is not closed on Bellamy’s career at Eastlands.

Cardiff were threatened with the bailiffs on the same day they landed Bellamy.

Motherwell have threatened to put Cardiff out of business unless they pay the Scottish club the £175,000 they are owed from the sale of Paul Quinn.

Arsenal are to invite fans to buy shares in the club and play a role in its governance. Supporters will be invited to pay a minimum of £100 for one ‘fanshare’.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admits that he had never seen new striker Bebe play before the £7.4m recruit arrived at the club’s Carrington training ground.

For full stories, head over to the BBC website.

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Benfica 2-1 Liverpool – Match Report

3 04 2010

Benfica 2-1 Liverpool. It is a score-line I am sure many Liverpool fans will consider to be a decent result; myself included. That all important away goal courtesy of Daniel Agger gives us something to go back to Anfield with in the hope of another famous European night with the 12th man that is the Kop firmly behind us. The circumstances concerning the way we were leading but still lost makes the result a bit harder to deal with.

Daniel Agger’s clever finish from a Steven Gerrard free kick in the ninth minute got us off to the perfect start and drew comparisons to the goal that he scored against Chelsea in the Champions League in 2007. It was a goal that seemed long overdue for Agger who had threatened to get on the score sheet in the previous match against Sunderland. After this however, Benfica showed their class with Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo coming close on a couple of occasions and we rode our luck a little when he spooned an effort over from inside the six yard box. His next chance was with his head after an excellent delivery from in-demand Argentine winger Angel Di Maria, yet the outcome and the score-line remained the same. Further headed chances were spurned by newly capped Brazilian international Ramires before Cardozo missed another. It was Di Maria to threaten next for the home side when his fierce strike flashed narrowly over Jose Reina in the Liverpool goal. On another night we could have easily been three or four goals down.

Great Dane: Daniel Agger gives Liverpool the lead in the 9th minute.

For me, it was disappointing how vulnerable we looked defensively, especially aerially, and I recall mentioning at the time via Twitter how it was the sort of game Sami Hyypia would have relished. This is why I believe Sotirios Kyrgiakos will come into the side to partner Jamie Carragher in the heart of defence for the second leg with Daniel Agger shifting to left back to deputise for the suspended Emiliano Insua and the injured Fabio Aurelio. What was also disappointing was the amount of criticism aimed at Insua by Liverpool ‘fans’. It is important to remember that he is still just 21 years old and has been thrust into the side due to Aurelio’s constant injury problems and Andrea Dossena and John Arne Riise have both moved to Serie A with Napoli and AS Roma respectively. It is the same situation with Lucas Leiva. He receives more criticism than he is due and fans normally state how he cannot pass or tackle. He is currently the fifth most successful tackler in the Premier League with a success rate of 69% and before last weekend he was in the top five passers in the league. Not bad for a player who cannot pass or tackle.

The suspension of Insua has resulted in talk of ‘three at the back’ but for me this would not be the best option as Benfica like to make the most of their wide men; in particular Di Maria. A five man midfield would probably need wing backs and then we are back with the problem of who plays at left wing back. Where would Glen Johnson feature if we had to play with three at the back without wing-backs? It would seem foolish to leave him out of a game that requires us to attack from the off. My final point on three at the back would be that it has been a long time since we have played with this system. I believe that it takes time for players to adapt to a different formation and now is not the time to change in what could be a season defining game. I will leave the team selection to Rafa.

Back to the game and after chances aplenty from Benfica came the big talking point of the match. Brazilian defender Luisao’s wild tackle from behind on Fernando Torres resulted in Ryan Babel receiving a straight red card for touching Luisao in the face. It could be argued that Luisao should have received a straight red card for the tackle itself yet Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson deemed that a yellow card would suffice. The tackle was of a reckless nature which then saw Babel remonstrate with Luisao before touching, and note not hitting out at, the Benfica captain in the face. It is a silly thing to do in the modern game even though it seems petulant, Fifa laws state that if a player raises or puts his hand in another player’s face then it is red card. If contact is made from a player to another player’s chest or below then it is a yellow card. Take note Ryan to push Luisao in the chest next time! Down to ten men with the whole of the second half and part of the first still to play ensured that it was going to be difficult to contain an attacking Benfica side.

Fracas: Ryan Babel receives his marching orders.

The second half saw us start brightly but things got worse on the hour mark as Insua felled fellow Argentine Pablo Aimar in the penalty area. This stemmed from us failing to deal with Oscar Cardozo’s powerful free kick which had moments before rattled the post. It was Cardozo who stepped up and powerfully tucked his spot-kick into the corner of the net. Either side of the equaliser saw further incidents; however, this time they were in the shape and form of missiles from the Benfica fans behind Jose Reina in the Liverpool goal. The second of the two missiles left its mark on the pitch and resulted in the referee consulting his fourth, fifth and six officials after the Additional Assistant closest to the missile was left nursing a sore ear. Lets hope we can show the Benfica fans how to behave properly in the return leg without the need of missiles to intimidate officials.

With ten minutes to go, Angel Di Maria skipped to the byline and his cross struck Jamie Carragher on his outstretched hand and a second penalty was awarded. You could tell after witnessing two penalties and a red card that this was not to be our night and a seventeenth defeat in a disappointing season loomed. Paraguay international Cardozo stepped up again to coolly slot his penalty into the same side of the net after waiting for Reina to dive the other way. This took his tally to thirty this season which will inevitably link him with a big money move to Manchester City among others in the summer. I do not normally like to blame referees for the outcome of games but he appeared to favour the home side with innocuous tackles from us being given as fouls whilst Ryan Babel got kicked in the head in the first half without a free kick being given. Jose Reina also got booked for time-wasting with a goal kick yet he only had the ball for a mere six seconds. I have not even accounted for the number of fouls and kicks Fernando Torres received.

Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo

With this considered, we did have a few chances of our own. Fernando Torres had the best of the chances after being released by Dirk Kuyt in the latter stages of the second half but he uncharacteristically and agonizingly spurned the opportunity by dragging his one-on-one chance wide of the post. Torres was later left with a chance to run at David Luiz but the Brazilian defender matched him for pace and strength and thwarted the attack.

We managed to see out the last ten minutes without further scare and the away goal provided by Agger could prove vital in the return leg as they so often do. Two further positives are that Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres did not pick up a yellow card in the match which would have resulted in them being ruled out of the return leg through suspension. Providing and praying that we do not pick up any injuries against Birmingham City on Sunday, Rafa Benitez has a more or less full squad to choose from.

It will be tough in the second but a famous European night at Anfield always fills me with optimism and I would not be surprised to see us win 1-0.

Mark Jepson





So Long Rafa

15 01 2010

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Twelve points adrift in the Premier League, out of the Carling Cup, failure to progress in the Champions League and now out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle after an embarrassing defeat to Reading at Anfield. We should take nothing away from Reading as they deserved their win, but where does this leave us now? Shane Long’s extra time winner leaves us looking at the long road ahead.
 
In the space of nine months we have gone from title challengers, and almost winners, to scrapping for fourth place with Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham Hostpur. Furthermore, Birmingham, Sunderland and Stoke are all cranking the pressure on us. In these nine months, not too much has changed. Alvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso have left but they have been replaced by Glen Johnson and Alberto Aquilani. Whilst the off-field troubles are not helping, it’s Rafa Benitez’s tactics and team selection that are coming under scrutiny once again. His insistence on playing out of form players such as Emiliano Insua, Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt week in, week out is not helping. Insua for one not only looks out of form, but looks rock bottom for confidence. In fact I would go as far as saying that Gordon Brown will be more confident of delivering Labour a fourth consecutive election win than Insua will be of delivering a good performance for Liverpool. His positional sense, heading ability and lack of pace all leave a lot to be desired but the squad is too thin for changes. Players are leaving so that the wage bill can be trimmed but replacements are not forth coming. Our owners insistence on selling players before we can buy is having a harmful effect on the club. In January Andrea Dossena has gone back to Italy for a small loss, and Andrey Voronin has also finally left for Dynamo with Ryan Babel and Philipp Degen also open to moves. Yet just Argentina winger Maxi Rodriguez looks like arriving in this window and after last nights toothless performance, he must be wondering what on Earth he has signed up for. An already thin squad is getting thinner. Take into account the injuries we’ve had and things do not look like getting any better. Once Fernando Torres gets injured, it’s left to David N’Gog or Dirk Kuyt to fill the void and provide the goals and quite frankly, they’re just not up to task. Performances like last nights will also leave Marouane Chamakh wondering whether a Bosman move to us is in the summer really is a good idea.
 
At least Rodriguez has signed to give us some much needed width as once again we are looking desperate in the wide areas. I don’t wish to keep singling out Kuyt as I think he is a good player, but creative right winger he is not. The same goes for wide left as Babel doesn’t look interested anymore and Riera keeps picking up injuries. Aside from Jose Reina, Gerrard and Torres we look distinctly average. Failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League means offers may have to be considered for our last remaining top players which is why qualification is imperative. Each loss that we suffer tightens the rope that is hanging around Rafa’s neck.
 
Yet as mentioned, the financial situation at the club means that sacking Rafa is almost impossible at this time as he has not long started a new five-year deal. As well as this, who could do a better job with the limited resources he would have? Whilst I am not suggesting that Rafa has not had money to spend, when you compare it to what our Champions League rivals are spending it looks an unenviable job guiding us to next season’s competition. Apart from Guus Hiddink, there isn’t really an abundance of managerial talent waiting for jobs although I assume Gary Megson is looking for an immediate return to management. He might be in our price range too. Although we all dream of the Jose Mourinho’s of this world managing our club it seems that managing Liverpool in this day and age is not as desireable as it once was. 
 
So after Shane Long’s winner last night, our FA Cup exit leaves me saying ‘So Long Rafa’, we will never forget Istanbul 2005 and Cardiff 2006 but perhaps you have taken us as far as you can.
 
Mark Jepson







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