Man United vs. Arsenal: Szczesny Targets Victory

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has said that he is looking forward to end the week on a high with a victory over Manchester United at the weekend.

Arsenal, after losing to Chelsea in the League Cup seemed to be heading for a downward slide in their recent blistering form. However, they have bounced back with wins over Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund to put them in a strong position in both the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.

Another stern test beckons for the Gunners, as they will face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Although this United team will be without the famous Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, but they still represent a significant threat to the Gunners’ title ambition.

David Moyes has managed to overcome a poor start to the campaign to guide the club to 8 matches without a defeat, after coming under a lot of criticism for his poor displays at the start of this season.

Szczesny has said in an interview with Sky Sport “We are looking forward to Sunday now and we will be trying to make it a perfect week for us.

“There is not a better time for us to go to Old Trafford. We are very confident and enjoying our football, so we are looking forward to it.”

Arsenal have been previously criticised for not being defensively sound in the big matches, while they also appeared to lack resilience.

They have shown in the last two matches that they appear to be finding the balance that is required to win titles. They have kept clean sheets in the last two matches and Szczesny is looking forward to more of the same against United.

Rodgers Slams English FA For Suarez’s 10-Match Ban

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers criticised the English Football Association (FA) for punishing the man rather than the incident after striker Luis Suarez was given a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

Rodgers compared the punishment meted out on Suarez to two other biting incidents, including one involving England striker Jermaine Defoe.

He said that Suarez acted impulsively and said the club would help him to make sure there would be no repeat.

Meanwhile, Suarez is yet to lodge an appeal against the 10-match ban as he was given till Friday 1100 GMT to lodge an appeal.

It would be recalled that the 26 year old Liverpool striker  was suspended on Wednesday after he was shown to have bitten Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic on the arm during Chelsea-Liverpool weekend clash.

With the ban placed on the striker, Suarez will be out of action for Liverpool for the rest of the season and the first six games of next season.

Suarez is the second top scorer with 23 goals in the English Premier League behind Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie.

Reds Willing To Bid For Celtic Defender Efe Ambrose

One of Nigeria’s defenders at the just concluded Afcon 2013 tournament where Nigeria’s Super Eagles were crowned champions of Africa is been the talk of the press in Scotland.

The Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose who plays for Celtics we hear is being wanted by Liverpool to add to its defence line.

According to Metro, the 24 year old Nigerian who is rated to be worth £6 million prompted Liverpool to up their game in their interest for the player after the player impressed scouts with his performances at the African Cup of Nations.

Scouts brought the name of the Nigerian international back to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after the tournament.

Liverpool representatives have been dispatched to watch the £6million-rated 24-year-old during the Hoops’ title procession in Scotland, as they ‘step up’ their interest in the player.

Manager Neil Lennon is well aware of the interest in his player, but revealed that there is yet to be a concrete offer for the player, who is contracted at Parkhead until 2015.

“I know a few Ambrose fans. There is nothing concrete, but I am aware of the interest,” he is quoted as saying by the paper.

Liverpool aren’t full of options in defence, with veteran centre Jamie Carragher announcing earlier in the month that he’s to retire at the end of the season.

That leaves Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates as the manager’s options at Anfield in the summer, and Rodgers already appears to be looking at his options on Merseyside.

Valdes Not Leaving Barcelona –Report

Reports that Barcelona’s number one shot stopper; Victor Valdes could be leaving the Catalans for has been negated as it has been confirmed by the club management that Valdes will continue to man the goalpost for Barcelona.

He’s been the man behind the goalpost of the Catalans for over a decade now, but lately he’s been the subject of negative press, but despite the rumour mill that Valdes is no longer gaining favour from the club management and fans’ alike, the speculation was brought to rest by the club management after the rumour that the Spaniard does not have a future anymore with the Catalan club was tagged silly.

It all started when Valdes commented on his future saying he was not sure as he is yet to begin talks with the club on a new contract and the media latched on it saying he was not sure what the future held for him and Valdes’ loyalty to Barcelona was questioned.

The rumour got rife even more when Marca reported that Valdes’ agent, Gines Carvajal, stated that negotiations had not begun despite the words of Barcelona director Andoni Zubizarreta.

In fact, Valdes even stated that he would talk about his future with Barcelona when the time is right.

The pure speculation that Valdes could want a move away from the club has prompted clubs such as Liverpool to ponder a move for the Catalan keeper.

The media left out an important fact in the same interview the media claimed Valdes commented on his leaving Barca, when Valdes said that “My dream is to retire here…time will tell.” a statement that the club director; Andoni Zubizaretta had to look into after which he decided to clear the air on the speculations which had already lit up like a wild fire.

The Barcelona director clearly made known that Valdes has made no mention of wanting to leave the club.

Zubizarreta was also outspoken on the love that Barcelona has for Victor Valdes as it appears as though both parties involved want the keeper to remain at Barcelona.

Cole Joins Boyhood Club; West Ham On Free Transfer

England International midfielder Joe Cole has left the Reds; Liverpool to return his younger days club Wet Ham after he left the Anfield club on a free transfer.

Signing an 18 month contract with West Ham, Cole admitted having a miserable time in Liverpool after leaving Stamford Bridge to Anfield in 2010.

Cole won eight major trophies at Chelsea, including three Premier League titles, and played 56 times for England.

It was not so pleasant for Cole in his first match for Liverpool after he red-carded and the second match too where he missed a penalty, he was there after sent on a loan spell to French Team Lille.

Cole scored five goals in 42 matches in all competitions at Liverpool.

Cole’s first spell at West Ham from 1998 to 2003 was where he learnt the trade.

“This is where I learnt my trade (West Ham) and I’m happy to have another chance to be here.”

Abramovich looking to cut losses on Torres

Signed from Liverpool to Chelsea for a whopping £50 million, Spaniard Fernando Torres has always been topical since his arrival at Stamford Bridge making as he has proved to be the player the Blues can rely on.

An arrow head in the Blues team,in terms of formation, Chelsea’s Russian owner is considering to cut his losses on the £50 million man, tagging  Torres with an ultimatum of one more month to prove pundits wrong and deliver like he used to while he was at Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Abramovich is not sleeping with his two eyes as Chelsea moved on another striker to likely replace Torres and  Brazilian striker, Taison was the choice of the Stamford Bridge club,  as reports indicate that he will sign a £10 million deal next week ahead of the opening of the January transfer window.

Taison was at Stamford Bridge to witness the 0-0 bore draw with Fulham.

The 24-year-old, a former Internacional team-mate of Chelsea’s big money summer signing Oscar, was tracked in the summer. His name has come to greater attention this season following his spectacular Marco Van Basten-esque volley for his club Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League three weeks ago.

Benitez, on a short-term deal until the end of the season, still believes he can help Torres recapture the form he showed under him during his spell at Anfield.

When asked about Torres’ contribution in the back-to-back goalless draws over the past week, Benitez said: “We have had, maybe, five training sessions.

“It’s still too early. But for me we are watching things that are positive.”

Torres is currently on a run of 648 minutes without a Premier League goal, and has managed just one shot on target during Rafa’s first two games in charge.

Suarez is unstoppable – Liverpool Manager

Liverpool and Uruguay International; striker Luis Suarez has secured the backing of his manager Brendan Rodgers after he dismissed fears that the striker will be forced out of the English game by continuing criticism.

Since his leaving his former club Ajax for the English Premier League and Liverpool precisely in January 2011 the forward player has had to endure so much and with the last game played by the Reds, there’s no signs of them easing off.

Looking back, the Uruguay international was banned for eight matches last season after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, now he’s been accused of diving which from some quarters a sending-off from the game would have been the only option.

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge expressed his concern the 25-year-old could walk away from the club because of the hard time he gets from opposition managers and supporters but Rodgers rejected that.

And according to Rodgers “I think he loves playing in English football,” said Rodgers of Suarez, who only signed a new long-term contract at the start of the season.

“I speak with Luis regularly and he loves the passion and excitement of the game over here.

“What he is a player who is mentally very strong – as you can see from his time here the amount of stick he has taken.

“It is actually a driver for him. It really motivates him and he loves being at Liverpool: he loves the city, the club and the supporters so I can’t see that (being forced out) happening.”

Suarez answered his critics, and more pertinently David Moyes with a sarcastic dive at the Everton manager’s feet after his deflected shot brought the opening goal in Sunday’s Merseyside derby draw.

Rodgers has been impressed by the way the South American has shouldered the burden of being the club’s only fit senior striker and insists it is a privilege to coach him.

“I thought he was outstanding (against Everton). He is a breath of fresh air with his enthusiasm,” added the Northern Irishman.

“He is our only fit senior striker here and he was tireless against Reading and then we had to play a strong team against Anzi (in the Europa League).

“People maybe thought the condition of the team and him in particular would waver but the condition of the group, and particularly him up front, was amazing.

“He is a wonderful talent who will always provoke comments both positive and negative but the bottom line is he is a fantastic player.

 

“He is goal scorer and his goals to games ratio this season is fantastic.

“He is really inspirational for the group because he works hard every day and he is quality at that top end of the field: he genuinely is a world-class striker.

“It is a privilege to work with a player of that quality every day.”

After three tough games Suarez is likely to be given the night off tomorrow when Rodgers’ former club Swansea visit in the Capital One Cup.

Liverpool, the defending champions, came through the last round with a 2-1 win at West Brom having fielded a team with an average age of 24 years 10 days, while seven of the 13 players used that night were under 22.

The Reds boss has admitted league performances are his priority and so the side he puts out in this competition will be shorn of first-team stars and tomorrow is no different.

But he intends to pay every respect to the club he left in the summer, insisting the close relationship he had with Swans chairman Huw Jenkins remains strong and that actually helped when he went back to buy midfielder Joe Allen.

“It improved the Allen deal as I was able to speak to Huw and ask if there was a market for Joe and he came back to me and told me there was a possibility he could be sold,” he said.

“We became close both professionally and personally there and our relationship is still strong.

“Leaving there was sad but I knew I was coming to one of the biggest clubs in the world.

“We are not in contact as much – we would have spoken every day and had many great football conversations – but there is still that respect there and an admiration for the work they do.

“I always like to leave on good terms. There is no problem there.

“But we want to get through and nothing will get in the way of that.

“No sentiment gets in the way of wanting to progress to the next round.”

Van Persie’s spot-kick sinks unlucky Liverpool

Manchester United earned a much desired victory against a 10-man Reds of Liverpool at Anfield this afternoon as a Robin Van Persie late penalty did the magic for the Red Devils.

Jonjo Shelvey’s sending-off brought down the host’s team to 10 men but still managed to take the lead through Steven Gerrard’s volley seconds after the interval.

Shelvey robbed Ryan Giggs in midfield but as the ball broke free he launched himself at Jonny Evans and the inevitable outcome was a red card.

However, Rafael equalised soon after and Van Persie, one of three United players to miss from the spot this term, scored his fourth goal in as many games against the Reds – although three of those had come for former side Arsenal – nine minutes from time.

Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra shook hands in a show of unity before the game – the Liverpool forward had refused to shake the United defender’s hand in the league meeting between the sides at Old Trafford in February, having previously been found guilty of racially abusing Evra in the corresponding fixture at Anfield last season.

Second-half substitute Suso, making his Premier League debut three days after his first-team bow in Switzerland, saw his cross half-cleared to Glen Johnson. A tackle from Paul Scholes, on for Nani at half-time, succeeded only in diverting the ball towards Gerrard who volleyed home left-footed in front of the Kop.

It was short-lived, however, as within five minutes United were level when Shinji Kagawa laid the ball off for Rafael to brilliantly curl left-footed over Jose Reina and in off the far post.

Daniel Agger and Johnson collided to allow Antonio Valencia to race 50 yards into the area and although Johnson got back he could only bring down the Ecuador international. Van Persie drilled home – although Reina went the right way and almost made the stop.

Loaning Andy Carroll a great mistake – Brendan Rodgers

Manager Brendan Rodgers painfully admitted that Liverpool made the worst move as regards the loan move of Andy Carroll over the summer transfer window.

According to the loan deal, the striker will be spending the rest of the season on loan at West Ham after it appeared he didn’t fit into the former Swansea manager’s new scheme and tactics at the Merseyside club.

With three Premier League matches in his kitty this season, Rodgers has already conceded that loaning Carroll was a mistake, and one that the club could regret throughout the 2012/13 season.

Rodgers’ admissions about the star striker’s departure from the club could not have come at a more interesting time for the Reds, with owner John Henry penning an open letter to the club’s supporters as to the reasons behind their lack of summer transfer activity—particularly on the transfer deadline day, when it was revealed they would not be able to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham.

Henry stated that the club would not be drawn into “expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years and went out to state they would not be making similar transfer mistakes to those made in the past few seasons.

On one level, not so much—the real mistake is the fact that they did not manage to sign another striker to add to their team this summer. The exit of Carroll on loan this season to try and regain some Premier League form is okay, as long as the Reds aren’t left a striker short for the remainder of the season—which it appears they have been.

Luis Suarez cannot be expected to shoulder all the attacking responsibilities, and Joe Allen simply will not be as effective as he could be at Anfield following the departure of Carroll—the same could also be said for Raheem Sterling.

Liverpool’s mistake was not ridding themselves of the £35 million signing; their mistake was not adequately replacing him with another striker and leaving themselves a man down for the remainder of the 2012/13 English Premier League season.

Podolski on target as Arsenal cruise past Liverpool

Arsenal kick-started their Premier League season at the expense of Liverpool with new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla both opening their accounts in a comfortable 2-0 win at Anfield.

Two 0-0 draws following the sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United had raised questions over Arsenal’s firepower but Podolski answered them with an emphatic finish before halftime to put the visitors in charge.

Spaniard Cazorla sealed the points after 67 minutes to leave Liverpool’s new manager Brendan Rodgers reflecting on just one point from his first three league matches in charge.

Arsenal, who are yet to concede a goal this season, moved up to seventh in the fledgling Premier League table with five points while Liverpool languish fourth from bottom.

Later on Manchester United face an away trip to Southampton while Newcastle United are at home to Aston Villa.

Liverpool signs Moroccan Oussama Assaidi

Moroccan winger Oussama Assaidi has been signed by Liverpool  from his Dutch club Heerenven.

Oussama, 24, signed a long-term deal after passing a medical at the club’s Melwood training ground today as he becomes the third signing for the club under the new manager Brendan Rodgers the first two players being Fabio Borini and Joe Allen respectively.

Oussama said he is very happy with his signing as he will be playing with a big club like Liverpool and he has always had a good feeling about the deal ever since he first spoke to the coach on the phone.

Although, Liverpool manager Rodgers admitted that it may take Assaidi a while to settle in but he believes if given time to settle in properly, the winger will be a success.

Capital One, new sponsor of English League Cup

The English League Cup known to football lovers and English Club Football lovers alike as the Carling Cup due to Carling’s sponsorship of the cup has been taken over credit card company; Capital One and will also be known as Capital One Cup from 2012-2013 as the new title sponsor for the next four seasons as the new deal has been signed and agreed upon.

The league cup has called Carling Cup since 2003 when Carling took over the sponsorship of the knock-out tournament.

The tournament which is between English club sides is a less prestigious cup if compared to the FA cup but advantageous for the winner of the major cup who gets a spot in the year’s Europa league.

The draw for the 2012-2013 first round will be made on June 14.

Richard Heaselgrave, chief commercial officer of the Football League, said it is a very great way for the 2011-2012 seasons to end as sealing the deal with Capital One is good news for the League.
This year’s competition was won by Liverpool who beat Cardiff City in a dramatic final after a 2-2 score line after extra-time went to penalties.