12/22/2014 08:00:00 pm

Carra raves 'Amazing' £25m star could be the Prem's 'player of the year'. Agree?

Who is the Premier League's 'player of the season' so far? One thing's for sure, none of Liverpool's players are currently in the reckoning, but Anfield legend Jamie Carragher insists that Manchester United star David De Gea could be the first goalkeeper in almost 25 years to win the award.

In his column for the Daily Mail today, Carra hailed the £25m-rated Spaniard's 'amazing' performance against Liverpool, and tipped him to win the prestigious personal award:

"De Gea could be player of the year. He is now the [Premier League's] No 1, having just edged past Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois. If he maintains this consistency, it might be hard to overlook him".

As much as it pains me to admit, De Gea is having an excellent season for Man United, and he's big reason why Van Gaal's team are in the top four right now. That said, is he really more effective than Courtois?

* De Gea: 22 goals conceded in 17 games (1.3 per game)
* 5 clean sheets (29% of games)
* 50 saves (2.9 per game)

* Courtois: 14 goals conceded in 18 games (0.7 per game)
* 8 clean sheets (45% of games)
* 32 saves (2.1 per game)

In my view, Carra is vastly overstating De Gea's ability and impact. How can he be the best if he concedes more goals in LESS games, and (on average) achieves fewer clean sheets?

It's like arguing that Graziano Pelle is a better striker than Sergio Aguero, i.e. totally inaccurate. Pelle has scored some goals this season, but when it comes to numbers, Aguero is clearly the more effective goalscorer.

Courtois is clearly the more effective goalkeeper. Even allowing for Chelsea's superior defence, conceding only 14 goals in 18 games is superb, and is a mark of the Belgian's current superiority.

How does De Gea compare with Simon Mignolet? Actually, let's not go there...


12/22/2014 06:19:00 pm

Unbelievable: Is this most concerning moment of LFC's 2-2 draw with Arsenal?

There are many positives to take from Liverpool's 2-2 draw with Arsenal, but the club's defensive issues continue to impact the LFC's forward progress, and one particular incident during Sunday's game typifies the costly defensive frailty that's sabotaging the club's season.

The incident is so glaring that I'm sure most fans reading this know what I'm referring to before I even mention it.

Giroud's goal.

* It really is amateur hour. When the cross comes in, FIVE Liverpool players in the box, and not one of them is anywhere near Giroud.

 photo ScreenShot2014-12-22at165834_zpsfdd4124d.png

* At this level of football, it's an absolute travesty to allow a top-class striker this much time and space in the box.

* It's like there's an invisible barrier around Giroud, which LFC's players are incapable of breaching.

* No one takes responsibility; there's no communication, and no leadership, which are two of the biggest problems afflicting Liverpool's defensive efforts this season.

* I've watched the goal over and over, and it's just incredible how Giroud has so much time and space in the box. The video of this goal should be shown to kids as a prime example of how *not* to defend.

Rodgers should be livid with the manner in which LFC conceded that second goal, but in his post-match press conference, he didn't seem that angry about it. He told reporters:

"For the second one, we could have stopped it higher up the field before they break away and it comes in. There are always areas of the game that we can improve".

In my view, this is the worst goal Liverpool have conceded this season, and if the club continues to leak goals in this manner, then the team will languish in mid-table mediocrity for the rest of the season.

Rodgers claims that Liverpool 'do lots of defensive work religiously', but on Sunday's evidence, his defensive coaching strategy is failing miserably.

Who is most at fault for Giroud's goal?


12/22/2014 07:23:00 am

Rodgers is Wrong: Sanchez did not 'dive' against LFC, and here's the proof. Apologise?

In the aftermath of Liverpool's last-gasp 2-2 draw with Arsenal, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers publicly accused Alexis Sanchez of diving to win the free kick that ultimately led to the Gunners' equalizing goal. Is Rodgers right, or is it an extreme case of sour grapes?

During his post-match press conference, Rodgers' barked:

"I don't think it should've been a free kick.

"Sanchez dived once he realised he wasn't getting the ball, and the referee fell for it".

Regular visitors will know that I am vehemently anti-diving, and I've regularly called-out Liverpool players for doing it, but in this instance, Rodgers is totally wrong: Steven Gerrard clearly fouled Sanchez, and here's the irrefutable proof:

 photo ScreenShot2014-12-22at063711_zps6a6099bd.png

Gerrard's right boot is clearly flush against Sanchez's shin!

That kind of contact is definitely more than enough to knock a player off-balance, and anyone who's ever played football will be able to confirm that.

Sanchez could've gone down theatrically (like Luis Suarez, whom Rodgers repeatedly and disingenuously defended against accusations of diving) but the Chilean maestro tried to stay on his feet after the challenge, and for that, he deserves great credit.

As such, with the above image in mind, I don't see how anyone can credibly argue that Sanchez dived. In my view, Rodgers is out of order for publicly maligning the Chilean maestro (i.e. basically calling him a cheat), and if he has any class, he'll issue a similarly public apology.


12/22/2014 06:32:00 am

Transfer Shock: LFC keen to sign £20m striker Gerrard hailed as 'world-class'

In what has to be the most improbable transfer rumour this year, Liverpool are reportedly considering a January move for ex-Red Fernando Torres, whose top-flight career continues to nosedive in Italy.

According to Daily Mail today:

* Liverpool are 'seriously considering' a January move for Torres.

* The Reds are interested in a loan move, with a view to a permanent move.

At first glance, this rumour appears to be utterly ridiculous, but given Liverpool's transfer incompetence over the last five years, anything is possible.

Torres - described last month as 'world class' by Steven Gerrard - is finished; kaput; clapped-out. He will never again scale the heights of his Anfield glory days, and his time as a consistent goalscorer is well and truly over.

With that in mind, FSG should instantly sack anyone at Liverpool who even suggests £20m-rated Torres as a serious transfer option, and that includes Rodgers.

I don't see how anyone can construct a credible argument for signing an increasingly injury-prone striker who currently averages one goal every 600 minutes.

There's no point even analysing the issue any further; it's a non-starter, and anyone with any sense will reject the idea out of hand.

And there lies the rub: Liverpool's transfer policy is a shambles, and it's clear that 'sense' is the last thing Rodgers and his committee possess when it comes to identifying effective transfer targets.

I doubt there's any veracity to this particular rumour, though, so we can all relax in the knowledge that Liverpool will never make this kind of egregious transfer mistake...right?

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12/22/2014 01:45:00 am

Confirmed: LFC free to bring in 'monster' striker 'in January'. Total transfer fee is £16m

The Divock Origi transfer saga rumbles on, and although Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has publicly ruled out a january return for the young striker, it seems that Lille are willing to let him leave early...for a price.

When asked last month about Origi's status, Rodgers dismissed reports that the striker will 'come back early':

"The deal was put in place quite clearly in the summer that he would stay at Lille for the season, and then we would get him after that. As far as I'm concerned, that's still the case."

On Saturday, however, Lille Director Jean-Michel Van Damme confirmed that an early return for Origi *is* possible. He told reporters:

"Origi to Liverpool? We haven't received any proposal, but they could offer €7M in January"

If Liverpool spend another €7m (£6m) on Origi to quash his loan spell, then that will make his transfer fee £16m overall, which - like Markovic - is ridiculously inflated.

Liverpool desperately need a new striker, but I am totally against breaking Origi's loan spell. After spending £120m over the summer, Liverpool shouldn't need to rely on him for a mid-season boost, and the fact it's even being contemplated is just another sad indictment of Rodgers' abject failure in the transfer market.

As such, even if the opportunity exists, I hope Liverpool reject the opportunity to bring Origi back early, and just leave him alone to develop his game at Lille.

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12/21/2014 11:31:00 pm

'Tonight, I wish...': Borini reveals the reason behind Arsenal red card. LFC career-killer?

After almost a month in the Premier League wilderness, Liverpool striker Fabio Borini returned to the LFC squad for today's 2-2 draw with Arsenal, but after coming on as a second-half substitute, the Italian proceeded to get himself stupidly sent off, which could spell the end of his Liverpool career (such as it is).

After the game, Borini tweeted:

"Sometimes passion gets the better of you, and tonight I wish I had thought a little more"

Borini arguably deserved his red card, and I doubt many LFC fans will (credibly) argue otherwise:

In my view, Rodgers' treatment of Borini is a disgrace this season, and it's possible that Italian's pent-up frustration at being repeatedly ignored spilled out onto the pitch today. Borini was a transfer mistake from the start, but the reality is he's never been given a run of games, so his frustration is understandable.

Things could now get even worse for Borini, though - the red card will not endear him to Rodgers, and consequently, it may be even more difficult for him to get back in the team, (especially when Daniel Sturridge finally returns from injury).

That said, in his post-match press conference, Rodgers seemed magnanimous about the issue, and appeared to sympathise with Borini. He noted:

"It [the second yellow) was probably unfortunate. His [Borini's] foot was up, but it was harsh. We've got no complaints. We move on"

I wouldn't put too much stock in this, though. Rodgers is often a smiling assassin at Liverpool, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if this red card is the final nail in Borini's Anfield coffin.

Over the summer, Liverpool reportedly blocked loan moves to some 'very important clubs', but hopefully, the Reds will reverse this policy in January. Just let Borini leave already, even if it is on loan.


12/21/2014 09:38:00 pm

'A bad fit': £5m-a-year flop admits he signed for LFC 'at the wrong time'

When Joe Cole arrived at Anfield, he was heralded by many as the apparent missing link in Liverpool's formation. According to Roy Hodgson, senior players like Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher had endorsed the signing, and were excited about what he could bring to the team. Well, the optimism was laughably misplaced, though, as things just didn't work out, and in an interview this week, Cole has once again reiterated that he made an error signing for the club.

Back in 2012, Cole freely admitted that joining the Reds was a mistake. He told the BBC:

"If I could go back and change things, I probably wouldn't have signed for Liverpool. I don't mean that in a nasty way; it just didn't work. I came in at the wrong time; wrong style of manager; the team was low on confidence; the club was low"

Speaking to the Daily Star on Thursday, Cole echoed those thoughts once again:

"Liverpool was a bad fit for both sides to be truthful. You sign for a club and the owners who signed you leave. It was the right club at the wrong time.”

The gross hyperbole over Cole's signing was laughable. Apparently, he was just the player Liverpool needed to appease the likes of Gerrard and Torres; an experienced 'world class' (!) player who would exponentially improve the club's attack. Gerrard even compared him to Lionel Messi:

"Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better. I really fancy Joe for the [player of the year] award this season"

Ever the fantasist, Gerrard's comment here is almost as far removed from reality as Sean Dundee's contention that he was 'as fast as Michael Owen'.

Cole also enraged LFC fans when he later admitted that he felt 'no connection' with Liverpool, and maligned the club's status as one of the biggest teams in the country. He told ESPN:

"When I joined, the guy interviewing me said 'you've joined the biggest club in the country'. I just said 'yeah, if you put it like that, I suppose you're right. I didn't want to upset anyone so I just went along with it. But obviously they're not the biggest club in the country any more"

Cole's crass comments angered Liverpool legend John Aldridge, who accusing Cole of throwing a 'custard pie in the face of every Liverpool FC fan' with his 'disgraceful comments'. He told the Liverpool Echo:

"Liverpool fans always supported him, and ignored the fact he was pocketing £5m per year and that he was out injured with a twisted sock most weeks. We stuck up for him, so for him to come out with rubbish like that was a real kick in the plums".

I railed against Cole's signing from the start. For me, he was an imposter; a mercenary who came to Anfield for the money, and did absolutely nothing to endear himself to the fans. Indeed, during his spell at Anfield, he cost the club 157k a game and 1.2m a goal, which is just shocking.

Unfortunately, Cole turned out to be the catalyst for a long period of dud Liverpool signings, a negative, money-wasting trend that still continues to this day.


12/21/2014 03:11:00 pm

Confirmed line-up vs. AFC: BR dumps £15m star; surprise on the bench; injury woe for £20m signing

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has gambled once again for today's crunch clash with Arsenal, and for the second game running, full-backs Javi Manquillo and Alberto Moreno are dumped on the bench to facilitate the manager's ongoing experimentation.

The 343 formation worked against lower-league opposition, but will it work against a top-team like Arsenal?

FULL TEAM: Jones, Toure, Skrtel, Sakho, Lucas, Henderson, Markovic, Coutinho, Gerrard, Lallana, Sterling

SUBS: Mignolet, Enrique, Lambert, Moreno, Manquillo, Can, Borini

ARSENAL: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Alexis, Giroud, Welbeck

* Lovren is injured, so Sakho returns to the starting line-up for the first time in months.

* After weeks in the wilderness, Rodgers has deigned to grant Fabio Borini a place on the bench.

* Joe Allen seems to be the latest LFC player on Rodgers' hit-list as the Welsh midfielder is not in the match-day squad.

Probable formation:

------------------- Jones

------- Toure --- Skrtel ------ Sakho

--- Gerrard -- Lucas - Hendo -- Lallana

--------- Coutinho -- Markovic

--------------- Sterling

I like this kind of line-up as it contains six attack-minded players, but whether it'll be enough to down Arsenal remains to be seen.

My prediction: 2-2


12/21/2014 06:06:00 am

Molby tells BR: LFC can beat Arsenal by 'exploiting' €20m star's big 'weakness'

Last season, Liverpool annihilated Arsenal at Anfield, and that stunning 5-1 victory is one of the most memorable performances in years. Given LFC's poor form in the league, the chances of a repeat performance are incredibly slim, but Anfield legend Jan Molby believes there's one specific strategy that will pay dividends for the Reds tomorrow.

In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, Molby urged LFC's attacking players to put Arsenal's 'makeshift' defence under intense pressure, and singled out Raheem Sterling as the key man in 'exploiting' the Gunners' defensive deficiencies. He explained:

"I’d fancy Sterling against that back four, any day of the week. Mertesacker is one of the slowest central defenders around, and Sterling is one of the quickest forwards. Let’s use him, exploit that weakness and put Arsenal on the back foot again".

The key question is this: In what position should Rodgers deploy Sterling to 'exploit' €20m-rated Mertesacker? There are several options:

* Lone striker (like the Bournemouth game)
* Number 10 role.
* Left of a front-three/midfield 4
* Right of a front-three.

According to Rodgers, Sterling's best position is on the left, cutting in and taking players on. This week, he told ESPN:

"His [Sterling's best position is on the left, dipping inside, making runs in behind, creating one vs. ones. I put him in the position because I believe he can play in it"

Getting Sterling (and Markovic) in one-on-one situations with Mertesacker could be a fruitful source of chances for Liverpool, but he is (IMO) often wasted out wide.

Sterling isn't a John Barnes-type player, who can dribble past players at will - his pace is arguably his most important asset, and the best way to utilise that is to have him running in behind/playing off the shoulder of the last defender (like Sturridge does, for example)

Last Sunday, Sterling got into some great positions against Man United, and spurned several gilt-edged chances, and in my view, Rodgers should utilise him in the same position against Arsenal.

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12/20/2014 11:39:00 pm

Gerrard raves: Liverpool is the 'perfect' club for £31m attacker, and I 'hope he signs' a new contract

After a 17-game goal-drought (which curiously coincided with ongoing contract negotiations), Liverpool attacker Raheem Sterling is back amongst the goals, and with Arsenal to come on Sunday, LFC captain Steven Gerrard has made a public plea to the youngster to sign a new deal with the club.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Gerrard insisted that Liverpool is the 'perfect' club for £31m-rated Sterling, and explained why he 'hopes' the youngster 'signs a new contract':

"He’s going to play most weeks, the fans love him here. He can progress here and become a top, top player here so I hope the people around him give him the right advice. He’s got to keep learning, he’s got to keep wanting it"

My thoughts on the Sterling contract situation are well-documented, but once again: if he is 'happy' Liverpool (as Rodgers claims), then why is he holding the club to ransom and holding out for an insane pay-rise? Why is Gerrard forced to make a public plea for him to stay?

In my view, Sterling as no loyalty to Liverpool; like most players in elite leagues, he has loyalty to money, and that's it. If that's not the case, why is he stalling on signing a new deal? He's 19! How difficult can it be to accept £70k a week?

After his two midweek goals against Bournemouth, Sterling is flavour of the month again and Rodgers is doing his usual schtick of hyping him out of all proportion, but it's totally unwarranted.

This is lower-league *Bournemouth* we're talking about, not Real Madrid, Man United, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, or Basel, teams against whom Sterling failed to score. Those are the games that matter, but like all of LFC's attacking players, he failed to step-up.

Who cares if Sterling then breaks his duck against lower-league opposition? Is that going to help Liverpool qualify for the Champions League? Are those two goals going to arrest the club's poor form in the league?

Sterling deserves credit for his Bournemouth double, but unless Sterling actually scores when it matters (i.e. in the Premier League), then it's just another false dawn.


12/20/2014 08:30:00 pm

LFC line-up vs. Arsenal: Huge game-changing boost for LFC; BR to start £46m duo?

Liverpool face Arsenal at Anfield tomorrow, and once again, it's another must-win game for the Reds, who are quickly falling out of contention for a Champions League place.

After today's Premier League results, Liverpool are:

* 10 points off West Ham in 4th place

* 11 points behind Manchester United in 3rd.

* 6 points off the relegation zone.

* In danger of falling to 12th if Stoke win and LFC lose.

The midweek win against lower-league opposition is a welcome boost, but in the grand scheme of things, it means absolutely nothing.

Liverpool *should* be beating Championship teams, and in my view, the players don't deserve any extra credit for basically doing their jobs (for once)

The league is what matters, and a meaningless win against lower-league opposition is hardly going to compensate for yet another defeat in the league.

Against Bournemouth, Rodgers started the game without a striker, and left both full-backs on the bench; will he take the same approach against Arsenal?

It's possible, but after demolishing Arsenal 5-1 last season in the corresponding fixture, perhaps it's a better idea to go with what works, and in the game, Rodgers deployed a 433, with Coutinho playing deeper, and Sturridge flanked by Sterling and Suarez.

Obviously, SAS are not available now, but the same formation is possible:

----------------- Jones

Manquillo -- Skrtel -- Toure ---- Moreno

------------------ Lucas

---- Gerrard ------------- Henderson

--------- Markovic ---- Lallana

---------------- Sterling

* Coutinho is out of form at the moment, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Lallana replace him in the starting line-up. That said, if he still has broken ribs, then why play him and risk exacerbating the injury?

* Sakho is fit again, but in a back-four, there's no reason to interfere with a Toure/Skrtel partnership.

* If Rodgers opts for a back three, the Sakho will probably come in to replace Lovren, who picked up an injury midweek:

----------------- Jones

------- Skrtel -- Toure ---- Sakho

Gerrard ---- Lucas -- Hendo -- Lallana

--------- Markovic ---- Coutinho

---------------- Sterling

On the positive side, Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere, and Mesut Ozil, which is a massive, potentiall match-winning boost for Liverpool.

Predicting a 1-1 draw, Anfield legend Mark Lawrenson warned that the Reds 'cannot afford to lose', adding:

"I see this being much tighter, especially because these two sides are big rivals for the top four. If Arsenal win, they move eight points clear of Liverpool, which would be a big statement, while a Reds win would reduce the gap to just two points"

Lawro's former team-mater, Jan Molby took a much more optimistic view. In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, he enthused:

"Liverpool have Anfield on their side, and played well at Bournemouth in midweek, so there are things they can build on. I’m not for one second expecting us to be 4-0 up after 19 minutes, like last season, but I do fancy us, I really do"

My prediction: 2-2


12/20/2014 05:26:00 pm

Italy legend raves: €20m star 'contacted' by LFC this week is 'one of the best'

Liverpool are currently linked with a January move for Genoa 'stopper Mattia Perin, and according to Italy legend Dino Zoff, Liverpool will pull of a major transfer coup if the deal goes through.

Last week, Mattia's agent, Moreno Roggi, confirmed that Liverpool have enquired about the 22-year old Italian, and revealed the purported transfer fee:

"England? It's a possibility. We have been in contact with Liverpool [and] for Perin I can only imagine a future abroad. He is worth €15m or €20m, but only clubs from abroad can afford a goalkeeper that €20m".

When asked recently about Perin's ability, Zoff enthused:

"It’s going well, he’s young and can only get better: he is taking confidence that is essential for a goalkeeper. I think [Orestis] Karnezis and Perin are the best goalies in Serie A.”

Some info about Perin:

* Current contract expires in June 2017.
* 54 appearances for Genoa.
* Two loan spells in the last three years.
* One appearance for the Italy national team.
* Included in Italy's 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup.


* Genoa: 66 goals conceded in 54 apps (1.2 per game)
* 17 clean sheets (31% of games)

* Pescara (Serie B Loan): 66 goals conceded in 30 apps (2.2 per game)
* 5 clean sheets (16% of games)

* Padova (Serie B Loan): 39 goals conceded in 25 apps (1.5 per game)
* 5 clean sheets (20% of games)

* TOTALS: 168 goals conceded in 109 apps (1.5 per game)
* 27 clean sheets (24% of games. One every 4 apps)

Statistically, Perin is clearly not an upgrade on Simon Mignolet, whose Liverpool stats are very similar:

* 83 goals conceded in 62 games (1.4 per game)
* 14 clean sheets (23% of games. One every 4.4 games)

€20m for a goalkeeper who has a worse record than Mignolet? No chance; and Perin's agent is being wildly optimistic (to the point of delusion) if he genuinely believes that a top club will pay that amount of money for an inexperienced Serie A goalkeeper.


12/20/2014 11:15:00 am

'He'll get goals': Lawro hints at LFC 'interest' in 'brilliant' £10m star. Sign in Jan?

In October, Ex-Reds midfielder David Thompson urged Liverpool to think about signing 'Brilliant' former Spurs striker Jermain Defoe, and it appears that LFC legend Mark Lawrenson is also keen to see the ex-England international at Anfield.

Prior to Liverpool's latest goalscoring fail against Newcastle, Thompson tweeted:

"I would love to see Defoe come to Anfield in the [transfer] window He still has plenty of legs, and would really add to the squad"

Speaking to the BBC today, Lawro also hinted that Defoe is a good potential signing for Liverpool. He explained:

"Defoe should never have left the Premier League. He'll always get goals. I can imagine a number of clubs being interested in him. I wonder if Liverpool are among them - stranger things have happened."

Hmmm. If the answer to Liverpool's issues up-front is to bring in another 32-year old striker in the twilight of his career, then someone is asking the wrong question (!)

In a recent interview, Toronto General manager Tim Bezbatchenko confirmed that the club had received an offer for the striker, and conceded that the club will sell for the right price. He told reporters:

“Jermain has not asked to leave, but if you’re not 100 per cent committed in what we’re doing, then we have to sit down and talk. We'll expect 'a lot of money. More than we paid for him"

One of the biggest reasons to steer clear of Defoe is his injury history. Since moving to the MLS, he has been plagued with issues, and he readily acknowledged this recently, when he told the BBC:

"I've been playing 15 months without a rest so I think that's probably the key factor in me getting injuries. I need to shut down and rest my legs. And then we'll take it from there. We'll see what happens when I go home."

Injuries aside, is Defoe a better option than Lambert, Balotelli and/or Borini? Based on current form, it's not like he could do any worse.

That said, it's almost certainly a non-starter. Toronto have reportedly slapped a £10m price-tag on Defoe, and when asked about that this week, Toronto chief executive Tim Leiweke told reporters:

"We own his contract, so we're not going to give him away, and so we're in a good spot. This his will end well for TFC - I guarantee it. No Designated Player will leave and we go backwards on the capital invested. That's not going to happen".

Thanks but no thanks.


12/20/2014 12:55:00 am

Top Target: LFC favourites to sign 'massive' £15m star Carra hailed as 'outstanding'

The future of Liverpool star Steven Gerrard remains up in the air right now, and Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is reportedly planning for life without LFC's long-time captain. Who can fill the Gerrard-void when he leaves, though? According to reports this week, Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph is Rodgers' preferred choice.

Last month, The Mirror claimed:

"Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs are monitoring Delph’s situation. [Delph] is not happy about the direction of the club"

Today, The Mirror further claims that:

* Liverpool 'head the race' for Delph, and Rodgers sees him as a potential replacement for Steven Gerrard.

* Villa boss Paul Lambert may cash in on Delph next month to prevent him leaving for free in the summer.

£15m-rated Delph is currently stalling on signing a new 4-year contract with Villa, which means he'll be free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a new club in January.

Lambert is desperate to keep Delph at the club, and in a recent interview, he argued that the 24-year old midfielder is destined for greatness. He told the Birmingham Mail:

"He's been excellent over the course of the 18 months. There's massive potential there to be a really top player and if he keeps his feet on the ground, keeps learning, keeps doing what he's doing then we'll see where he goes"

Lambert also suggested that Delph can take Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard's place in the England team:

"With [Steven Gerrard] retiring, it gives him [Delph] the opportunity to get in. He has started the season really well so it's great for him and it's great for the club."

Reds legend Jamie Carragher is a fan of Delph, and in a recent column for Sky Sports, he hailed the midfielder's 'outstanding' talent, and argued that he deserves a regular place in the England team. Carra explained:

"Delph is playing every week for a big club [and] he gives a side real energy and aggression. Plus, because he is left-footed, offers you nice balance in the middle of the park, while he has strike on him, too"

Please, for the love of God, no more overpriced, under-achieving British players. Liverpool need an experienced, European-class midfielder to pick up the slack when Gerrard leaves, and although Delph is a good player, he is not (IMO) someone who can go straight into the first team and have a transformative impact.

Additionally, Delph's injury history is a major concern. Over the last four years, he's suffered seven injuries (including a cruciate ligament tear), and spent over 400 days on the sidelines as a result.

Delph may be Villa's current 'player of the year', but like Adam Lallana, he would be an expensive gamble, and when it comes to the crunch, his transfer fee will undoubtedly inflate to much more than £15m.

If Delph is genuinely Rodgers' choice to replace Gerrard, then it's yet another sad indictment of his judgment in the transfer market. Are we to believe that after 2.5 years in the job, Rodgers' answer to Gerrard leaving is...Fabian Delph?

Delph is a good option if the idea is to replace Lucas or Allen, but Gerrard? It really beggars belief, and it's choices like this that will ultimately cost Rodgers his job.


12/19/2014 10:00:00 pm

Monster Deal: LFC to make €63m offer for 'World-Class' star; Balague confirms transfer status

Dubious reports this week claim that Liverpool are preparing a whopping £50m (€63m) January bid for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, but is there any truth to this particular transfer rumour?

According to The Telegraph this week:

"Liverpool are ready to make a £50 million bid for Karim Benzema, [who is] happy to leave the BernabĂ©u"

Liverpool have been linked with 26-year old Benzema a few times in the past.

OCT 2014: reports in the UK and Spain claimed that Rodgers held talks with Real Madrid over the possibility of signing Benzema.

JUL 2014: The Daily Mail reported: "Liverpool have an interest in Karim Benzema. He would cost £40million and wages of around £200,000 a week...but it is not a simple deal".

FEB 2014: Spanish newspaper Marca claimed that Rodgers sees Benzema as a 'realistic target' if the Reds qualify for the Champions League this season.

FEB 2014: One of Benzema's reps allegedly 'informed' Liverpool that the French international was open to leaving Madrid at the end of the season.

2013: Benzema linked with cash-plus-player, swap deal with Suarez.

2011: Real Madrid reportedly rejected an LFC bid for Benzema on transfer deadline day.

Despite the ongoing speculation, Spanish football pundit Guillem Balague emphatically insists that there is no possibility of Benzema signing for Liverpool. He told Sky Sports today:

"There is no way Benzema would go to Liverpool. It is impossible. He is essential to the Real team and a favourite of President Florentino Perez.”

So there you have it!

Liverpool clearly need another top class striker, but I'm not convinced Benzema is the answer. The Reds need a Suarez-like player; someone with skill and invention who can create things for himself, rather than having to (mostly) rely on service, and Benzema doesn't fit the bill, especially for £50m.

To be fair, Benzema has stepped it up at Madrid over the last 18 months, and Gerard Houllier insists that he is in a golden period of his career. In a recent interview with Journal du Dimanche, the former LFC boss enthused:

"Benzema has always been a goalscorer, but he has improved [working] with his team-mates. He is not just a poacher. He is good at assisting and mentally he is very strong. He is now falling into the category of world-class players"

It's all moot anyway. After the summer's underwhelming transfer business - and Rodgers' overall ineffective performance in the transfer market - I find it hard to believe that FSG will hand the manager £50m for one player.

Plus, With the greatest respect to LFC, it's highly unlikely that Benzema will swap the Bernabeu for Anfield. Madrid are guaranteed to challenge for the top trophies every single year; Liverpool is a club in turmoil; barely able to guarantee a consistent top-four place, and led by a manager who is seemingly incapable of attracting top-class players.

Of course, money talks, but I can't see how Liverpool can attract a player of Benzema's stature to Anfield.


12/19/2014 07:52:00 pm

You're Wrong: Angry stars blast BR for 'harsh' & 'unfair' treatment of €12m LFC star

Last week, after 18 months of increasingly error-prone performances, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers finally dropped Simon Mignolet, and according the manager, the Belgian will be on the sidelines for an 'indefinite' period. Exorcising Mignolet from the first team is definitely the right decision, but not everyone feels that way, and three of English football's top goalkeepers have slammed Rodgers for taking such drastic action.

Explaining his decision to drop €12m-rated Mignolet, Rodgers told reporters:

"It is something that can happen to keepers, taking them out of the firing line to give them time to reflect. I spoke to him [Mignolet] and he accepted it. I just felt after the Basel game that I needed to make the change"

Rodgers is clearly convinced he made the right decision, but Tim Howard, Asmir Begovic, and John Ruddy disagree with his choice, and all three have shown solidarity with Mignolet this week:

Howard: "I feel for Simon [and] I don't agree with it [Mignolet being dropped]. When you take him out then you bring him back, there's a question as to whether the team and the fans have confidence in him. I think it's a hard road back. Sometimes there's no way back".

Begovic: "It's a little unfair [and] it's unfortunate for a goalkeeper, but that's how it is. Obviously, we as goalkeepers feel for anyone who gets put in that position. We feel for Simon and...realise it’s a difficult situation".

Ruddy: “I’m disappointed for him. To drop your number one goalkeeper is quite harsh but I’m sure Simon will bounce back, and when he’s back in the team he will prove him [Rodgers] wrong.”

The solidarity is understandable, but in my view, Rodgers decision is neither 'harsh' nor 'unfair. Mignolet is basically unchallenged at LFC, and over the last 18 months, he's been a guaranteed starter. He's had every opportunity to nail down the number-one spot his own for years to come, but the brutal truth is he's singularly failed to do that.

There's no room for sentiment; Mignolet deserves to be dropped, and he deserves to be replaced. Mignolet's overall record for Liverpool is 1.4 goals conceded per game, and the incremental regression of goalkeeping standards at LFC is obvious:

* 2010-11 - Pepe Reina: 50 goals in 50 games (1.0 per game) - 20 clean sheets.
* 2011-12 - Pepe Reina: 48 goals in 46 games (1.04 per game) - 14 clean sheets.
* 2012-13 - Pepe Reina: 43 goals in 39 games (1.1 per game) - 17 clean sheets;
* 2013-14 - Mignolet: 53 goals in 40 games (1.3 per game) - 10 clean sheets).
* 2014-15 - Mignolet: 30 goals in 22 games (1.4 per game) - 4 clean sheets)

Tim Howard's suggestion there may be 'no way back' for Mignolet is spot on; he is 26, and if he hasn't learned the basics by now (distribution, communication, command of the box etc), then it's unlikely that a huge transformation will take place in the future.

Mignolet had his chance, and in the words of Lt. Moe Tilden:

survey service


12/19/2014 05:22:00 am

Agent confirms: 'World class' €18m star is 'waiting for LFC' to make an offer. Exciting deal?

Three months ago, Bayern Munich star Xherdan Shaqiri confirmed that Liverpool tried to sign him during the summer (for €18m), and with the January transfer window only a few weeks away, Shaqiri's agent has given the strongest indication yet that he could be on the move.

When asked on Thursday about Shaqiri's future, his agent told reporters:

"At this age, he [Shaqiri] needs to play regularly, which is not currently the case. We are now waiting [for] Liverpool, Manchester United, Inter Milan and other top clubs”

In September, Shaqiri - hailed as 'world class' by Munich's Sporting Director Mattias Sammer - told reporters:

“Liverpool made a bid for me before the World Cup but Bayern put their foot down and told me, ‘We’re not going to sell you"

Soon after, The Mirror claimed that:

* Bayern have 'sounded out' LFC, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid over Shaqiri.
* The club is willing to loan out the attacker in January.
* The German giants want a €2m loan fee, with a €14m option-to-buy attached.

Shaqiri is averaging a paltry 32 minutes of pitch-time per game this season, and with the huge array of top players at the Allianz Arena, that's unlikely to change anytime soon. It's been this way for three season now, and for the sake of his own personal development, Shaqiri should (IMO) do everything he can to secure a transfer away.

Alas, if it comes down to a straight battle between Arsenal and Liverpool, then there's probably only going to be one winner. Arsene Wenger remains a huge draw for top players, and presence of players like Ozil and Sanchez at the Emirates will probably be a huge attraction. Plus, there's the London factor to consider, which is one of the main reasons Sanchez chose the Gunners over the Reds this summer.

That said, after wasting so much money over the summer, a €2m loan deal is just what Liverpool need. Shaqiri will have to prove himself to earn a permanent deal, and that means he'll have to play out of skin to achieve that, which can only be a good thing for the Reds.

Shaqiri's agent has basically issued a 'come and get me' plea to Liverpool, so the ball is now in Rodgers' court.

It'll be interesting to see how the Reds approach the situation in January...


12/19/2014 12:55:00 am

Sign ASAP? Euro Giants to sell £10m star whose 'dream' is to 'play for LFC'. He's a 'big fan' of the club

Borussia Dortmund have reportedly decided to sell attacking midfielder Kevin Grosskreutz, who once admitted that he'd love to play for Liverpool.

According to German newspaper SportBild this week:

* Dortmund are planning to sell 26-year old Grosskreutz in January, or next summer at the latest.

* The club wants to sell ASAP to stop him leaving for free in 2016.

£10m-rated Grosskreutz has been linked with Liverpool many times:

JUL 2012: When asked about Liverpool's interest, Grosskreutz admitted told Sports Image: "I love Borussia, but I cannot rule anything out. It would be a dream to play for Liverpool at some point. England is a dream for any footballer".

NOV 2012: Reds scouts watched him in action during Dortmund's Champions League game with Ajax. Soon after that game, the winger admitted that he's not happy at Dortmund: "Of course I'm not happy. Whoever is happy if he doesn't play is in the wrong business. I'm totally unhappy. I want to play, that's all that counts for me"

NOV 2012: Grosskreutz namechecked the Reds again in an interview with Bild: "Everyone here is aware I am a big fan of clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal, or Manchester United. It would be a great thing to play in the Premiership"

DEC 2012: Amid LFC speculation, Grosskreutz again hinted at a move to the Premier League: "Should I continue with my career in a foreign country at some point, the Premier League of England would be my top priority. I really like the way football is played over there"

JAN 2013: ESPN claimed that Grosskreutz 'may be moving to Liverpool'.

Some info about Grosskreutz:

* Versatile left-winger, but can play also left-back.
* Current contract expires: 2016
* 27 goals/37 assists in 233 apps for Dortmund.
* Goal every 8.6 games.
* Assist every 6.2 games.
* Goal/Assist every 3.6 games.
* 6 apps for Germany (No goals/assists)
* Rarely injured. Only 4 minor issues in the last 5 years.

Liverpool were interested once, so it's conceivable that Rodgers (if he's still a job) will take another look at Grozzkreutz. Given his apparent affection for the club, LFC should (in theory) have a big advantage when it comes to transfer negotiations, but is he a player who'll improve Liverpool?

To be honest, Grosskreutz's creative stats are not very impressive. One assist every 6.2 games is not going to improve the Reds. Plus, it won't be an improvement on the players already at the club. The likes of Hendo, Lallana, Sterling, and Markovic have similarly poor assist rates, and Liverpool needs attacking players who can offer much more on a consistent basis.

If LFC are to sign an attacking midfielder from the Bundesliga, Roberto Firmino is arguably a much better option.