Saturday, November 13, 2010

Matchday: Stoke vs Liverpool

Sotirios Kyrgiakos is likely to return for the visit to Stoke though according to Roy Hodgson the centre-back is still feeling after effects from the bout of tonsillitis which forced him out of matches with Chelsea and Wigan Athletic. Though their respective complaints have progressed the Liverpool manager says neither Joe Cole or Glen Johnson are in contention. Martin Kelly would probably return to the bench if Johnson were to return. Brad Jones is set to provide cover for Pepe Reina and be named as a substitute in place of Martin Hansen. Fabio Aurelio will join the Australian stopper as a replacement for his first involvement with the squad since late October. The Brazilian would make his first Premier League outing of the campaign if introduced. A late call will be made on Raul Meireles who left the field early during the week through illness. Daniel Agger remains a long term absentee. Stoke will welcome Ryan Shawcross back after the influential defender served a one-match suspension. Danny Higginbotham is expected to make way. Other than that change, plus the possible replacement of striker Ricardo Fuller with Tuncay, Tony Pulis is unlikely to alter the side which beat Birmingham City by the odd goal in five last Tuesday. Such a decision would see Jermaine Pennant face Liverpool for the first time since leaving Anfield. Mamady Sidibe has an Achilles tendon injury which may see him miss the entire campaign. The Reds may be unbeaten in their last four league matches but both sides have had testing seasons so far. The Potters can lay claim to some poor fortune and bad refereeing - with the exception of their midweek winner which appeared to include a handball in the build-up. Meanwhile, Liverpool have often been the architects of their own adversity. Though the Reds have also suffered poor decisions these have been isolated and there was a notable benefit from the officials in the opening goal at Anfield against Sunderland. The sides have met 120 times to date with Liverpool winning 61 games and drawing 33. 26 defeats have been suffered - 23 at Stoke - and just 14 victories have come in the Potteries. Three visits have been made to the Britannia Stadium. Liverpool debuting with an 8-0 win in the Worthington Cup which included a Robbie Fowler hat-trick during late November 2000. Since Stoke regained top flight status two seasons ago both Premier League matches have ended in draws. Stoke City from: Begovic, Huth, Faye, Shawcross, Collins, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington, Jones, Tuncay, Fuller, Walters, Sorensen, Gudjohnsen, Wilkinson, Higginbotham, Whelan, Wilson Liverpool from: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Konchesky, Poulsen, Gerrard, Lucas, Maxi, Kuyt, Torres, Jones, Jovanovic, Ngog, Spearing, Kelly, Shelvey, Eccleston, Meireles Referee: Martin Halsey Kick-off is at 5.30pm

Hicks Weaves Magic On Canadian PM

The former Prime Minister of Canada has claimed that former Liverpool owner Tom Hicks was subjected to a "character assassination" during last month's takeover. New England Sports Ventures (NESV) won the right to replace the Texan and business partner George Gillett at the Anfield helm but Brian Mulroney has accused the British media and business community of attempting to discredit Hicks in "an environment akin to a witch-hunt". Former chairman Martin Broughton along with commercial director Ian Ayre and then managing director Christian Purslow fought tirelessly in the High Court to see sanctions brought by Hicks and Gillett against NESV's takeover successfully lifted. But Mulroney, writing in yesterday's edition of The Times, claims that the current British Airways chief "took [Hicks's] asset against his will and devalued the club in a fire sale". Mulroney, who was Prime Minister of Canada between 1984 and 1993, is considered a friend of Hicks and branded the treatment of him as "truly disturbing". He claims that former owners Hicks and Gillett "dramatically increased the value of the club through considerable investment" and hired "a World Class manager" in Roy Hodgson as part of their increased spending on transfers and first- team personnel. After being defeated in London's High Court, Hicks is planning to take his case back to the courtroom prompting Mulroney's final parting shot, which asks: "how such a travesty of justice could have occurred in England, the birthplace of fundamental justice".

Hodgson Fires Warning To Johnson

Roy Hodgson has expressed frustration at Glen Johnson's form this term warning he should not count on remaining first choice for either club or country. Injury has restricted the right back to just one outing in the past seven club games and allowed those hungry for a run in the first team their chance. Johnson is expected to remain a key man in Fabio Capello's squad and could be picked for England's upcoming friendly with France. That may not be so straightforward domestically. Though Jamie Carragher has covered on the flank the 26- year-old has Martin Kelly snapping at his heels within the Liverpool squad. Without an improvement Hodgson warns that the man acquired from Portsmouth in the summer of 2009 could stay on the fringes at Anfield. "Johnson's the England right back, and if he plays like that, one would expect him to come back in," he said. "But then he'd have to play like the England right-back and up to now, to be quite frank, he's not performed - very often at least - to the level I'd expect of him. "You would have to ask him the question 'do you think you're playing at top form and are you playing like the best right-back in the country for your club?' "If he says yes, obviously we will have to agree to differ. And if he says no, then you'd have to ask the question why not?"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Liverpool Ready To Fight Chelsea For Armin Bacinovic

Liverpool are reportedly battling Chelsea to sign Palermo midfielder Armin Bacinovic. The 21-year-old Slovenian international has been earning rave reviews for his performances in Serie 'A' after joining in the summer, and a host of top European clubs are thought to have taken interest in the player. Reds boss Roy Hodgson is one of those reportedly monitoring the player, with talkSPORT claiming that Liverpool are 'locked in battle' with Chelsea for the player's signature. Bacinovic began his career at homeland club Maribor, making his debut in the Intertoto Cup as a teenager and staring in the Slovenian PrvaLiga for seasons to follow. The Rosanero signed the player in August this year after the sides clashed in the Europa League, and the defensive midfielder has made an instant impact with a couple of goals alongside combative performances. New Liverpool owners NESV have promised Hodgson money to spend in the transfer window, with a £35 million transfer war chest thought to be available at Anfield. 'Five or six' players are thought to have been targeted on Merseyside, with Hodgson linked with moves for Urbe Emanuelson, Juan Mata and Jonathan Reis all touted as potential Liverpool moves. A £12 million valuation has been placed on the player's head, and although AC Milan have been linked with the player, a Premier League move is thought to be the player's likely destination. Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will be monitoring the situation as the Stamford Bridge outfit look to strengthen further, but Liverpool are desperate to make signings and could make the first move for the player.