Archive for March, 2013

Rodgers: Liverpool do not need to sell Suarez

Suarez and Downing


The Reds boss has acknowledged the importance of keeping the Uruguayan at Anfield but claims the club is under no pressure to allow him to leave in the near future

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has claimed that there is no need for the Reds to sell Luis Suarez despite persistent speculation linking the striker with a host of top European clubs.

Suarez played a key part in the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, winning the penalty that Steven Gerrard converted to put Rodgers’ team ahead.

The Uruguayan is in the running for player of the year honours but Rodgers says that there is no pressure that might force the club to cash in on their prize asset despite the fact that they look set to miss out on Champions League qualification once again.

“It is very important [we keep him],” Rodgers told reporters. “He is a wonderful player. We don’t have to sell him. There is nothing like that.

“He is very happy. We don’t need to sell him for the money. We are trying to build a good group here and we want to keep striving forward, so there is no need to sell him.”

“He was away on international with Uruguay, he came back late on Thursday, but was in training on Friday,” the coach explained.

“I’ve got to say I noticed how tired he looked; his face, his body, he just looked totally shattered. But he came in today and his willingness to work for the team and sheer quality were incredible. He frightens defenders.”

The Liverpool boss believes that Gerrard, meanwhile, can go on to emulate the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in enjoying a lengthy career at the top due to his day-to-day professionalism.

“Those guys [Giggs and Scholes], it’s not what they are doing now, its what they did earlier on, when they were 17, 18, 19 and 20,” he added.

“Look at Steven Gerrard, he has every chance to play until his late 30s. He never has a lazy day. He is a remarkable man. Look at his running level. Look at his fitness. He has been like that all season.

“He had to have an injection in his ankle, but he is a top, top player. His commitment to succeed at Liverpool is incredible, I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Gerrard’s current contract expires at the end of next season and Rodgers confirmed that the midfielder would be offered the chance to extend his stay at Anfield.

“That is something on the agenda,” he said. “That will happen in due course.

Rodgers paid tribute to the 26-year-old’s display after a tiring week that included significant amounts of travelling to represent Uruguay during the international break.


Inter vs Juventus SerieA Preview: Nerazzurri target Bianconeri double





Zanetti, Ranocchia, Chivu, Pereira
Gargano, Kovacic, Cambiasso


Palacio, Cassano


Barzagli, Marrone, Bonucci
L’stiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah
Giovinco, Quagliarella

In this second league installment of the Derby d’Italia, Inter will be aiming to once again spoil the Bianconeri party as Andrea Stramaccioni celebrates his year in charge of the Nerazzurri.

The young coach was appointed boss after Claudio Ranieri was dismissed following a 2-0 defeat to Saturday’s visitors last March, and while a similar scoreline would not spell the end of Stramaccioni’s tenure, it certainly would not ease the recent pressure.

The hosts haven’t been in a great form of late but will be buoyed by the 4-1 victory over Tottenham in the Europa League second leg clash.

Inter are forced to make two changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Bologna after Juan Jesus picked up a suspension and Dejan Stankovic has continued injury problems.

Influential goalkeeper Samir Handanovic should return to the starting XI, while Antonio Cassano could partner Rodrigo Palacio upfront. Fredy Guarin is still expected start despite missing his intended flight back from South America.

Meanwhile, Juventus will be hoping to at least maintain their nine-point gap at the top as time runs out for the rest of the chasing pack. Prevented from going 50 games unbeaten in November, the Old Lady will be determined to ensure their fierce rivals will not be celebrating this weekend.

A notable absentee for the visitors is Giorgio Chiellini, who may be rested as a precaution before Tuesday’s big Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.

Mirko Vucinic may also drop out of the starting XI and be replaced by top goalscorer Fabio Quagliarella, while there are no suspensions for coach Antonio Conte to contend with.

  • Inter pulled off a shock result in the previous meeting between the two teams in November, winning 3-1 despite going behind to an Arturo Vidal strike inside the first minute, ending Juve’s long unbeaten run of 49 games.
  • Andrea Stramaccioni’s record for his first year in charge of Inter reads: played 54, won 29, drawn 10 and lost 15, giving him a 54% win rate.
  • The previous clash between the two teams at San Siro was back in October 2011 with Juventus running out 2-1 winners.
  • Juventus have only won one in their last five trips to San Siro. Goals from Mirko Vucinic and Claudio Marchisio were enough to give them the three points that day.
  • The Bianconeri could go 12 points clear at the top if they win on Saturday and Napoli lose to Torino.
  • Fabio Quagliarella, who is in contention to start on Saturday, has never scored against the Nerazzurri and in 13 appearances against them has won just once.

Zaragoza vs Real Madrid LaLiga Preview: Los Blancos resume title chase at La Romareda

Modric celebrating


Zaragoza playmaker Apono is available for the Primera Division encounter against Real Madrid after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Romaric (thigh) also returns following a three-month absence but Stefan Babovic is suspended.

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas has recovered from a hand injury and could make his first start in goal since January.

Boss Jose Mourinho has no injury worries but is likely to rotate his squad in order to prioritise Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg clash against Galatasaray.

  • Zaragoza are on a 12-match winless run in all competitions and remain the only team in La Liga to have not won a game in 2013.
  • The Aragonese side have lost six of their last seven encounters against Real Madrid.
  • Zaragoza’s last victory came against Levante in the Copa del Rey on January 9.
  • Real Madrid are on a seven-match winning run in all competitions – their best sequence of results since January 2012.
  • Los Merengues need one more point to become the first club in Liga history to accumulate 4,000 points in 82 seasons of the Spanish top division.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo  has scored 21 goals in 20 appearances for club and country in 2013.


Manchester City vs Newcastle United EPL Preview: Mancini’s men looking for seventh-straight Premier League win over Magpies

Tevez celebrating




Zabaleta, K Toure, Kompany, Clichy
Y Toure, Barry
Silva, Tevez, Milner


Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Taylor, Santon
Tiote, Gutierrez
Marveaux, Sissoko, Gouffran

Roberto Mancini has a host of players returning from injury and is expected to make several changes from the 2-0 defeat at Everton on March 16.

Vincent Kompany is set for a return to the starting line-up after playing for Belgium during the international break, while Yaya Toure should return after illness. Sergio Aguero is also likely to make his comeback.

Newcastle United, meanwhile, have a trip to Benfica next Thursday and Alan Pardew could rest some key players, although Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Fabricio Coloccini (back) and Tim Krul (ankle) are out, while Yohan Cabaye (groin) is still a doubt.

  • A win for Manchester City will make it their seventh consecutive Premier League victory over Alan Pardew’s men.
  • City have beaten Newcastle 14 times in the Premier League; only against Aston Villa (18 times) have they won more.
  • Yaya Toure  has scored more league goals (three) against Newcastle than against any other Premier League side.
  • City have dropped seven points in their last seven league games at the Etihad Stadium, having only dropped six in the previous 36.
  • With 31, the Magpies have used more players in the top flight than any other side.
  • Newcastle have picked up just eight points on their travels this season; only Reading (five) have registered fewer.
  • Pardew’s men are the worst victims of late goals, having conceding 15 in the last 15 minutes of league matches; more than any other side.
  • The Magpies’ last – and only – win in the city of Manchester came against City at Maine Road in September 2000.

Arsenal vs Reading EPL Preview: Adkins seeks success in first game in charge

Arteta battling





Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal
Ramsey, Arteta
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla , Podolski


Kelly, Mariappa, Pearce, Shorey
Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff, McCleary Robson-Kanu

Arsenal were dealt a fresh injury blow on Thursday after midfielder Abou Diaby was ruled out for around nine months with a knee ligament problem.

Theo Walcott is out with a groin injury, while Jack Wilshere is still sidelined with an ankle problem. Kieran Gibbs is also doubtful due to illness.

Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici has been injured since the beginning of the month but may make the bench for this game as he regains full fitness following an ankle injury,

Reading boss Nigel Adkins, who is taking charge of his first game this Saturday, is likely to be without Danny Guthrie due to a knee issue and Jimmy Kebe, who has a groin problem.

  • Arsenal have won just 36% of their Premier League games without Jack Wilshere in the side, compared to 56% with him.
  • The Gunners have not yet lost a game in the Premier League that they have taken the lead in.
  • Arsenal have conceded just two goals after the 75th minute in Premier League games this season, the lowest in the league.
  • The Gunners have won all 11 of their previous meetings with Reading.
  • Reading have lost nine of their last 10 away matches in the Premier League.
  • Reading have lost their last five games, just two away from the worst run in the Premier League this season by any team, which the Royals also set.
  • Reading have conceded more Premier League goals against Arsenal than any other opponent in the top-flight

Talent Watch: Bernd Leno

Bernd Leno


Bernd Leno is a German footballer who plays for Bayer Leverkusen, as a goalkeeper. Germany have a rich history of producing goalkeepers over the past decade and at the moment there is something of a golden generation of up and coming talent with Ron-Robert Zieler, Thomas Kraft, Marc-André ter Stegen and now Bern Leno all waiting in the wings. Starting life out at VfB Stuttgart, Leno extended his contract in May 2011 until June 2014 and just a few months later was sent out on loan to Bayer Leverkusen in order to gain some first team football. Instantly establishing himself as a first-team regular, Leno became the youngest German goalkeeper ever to play in the Champions League in September 2011 when he featured against Chelsea. After a series of impressive displays many have earmarked Leno as a future international and his short stay was enough to convince Leverkusen to take him permanently which was confirmed in November 2011 in a deal which keeps him at the club until 2017.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Montpellier Ligue 1 Preview: Ancelotti’s men aim to consolidate top spot ahead of Barcelona visit





Van der Wiel, Alex, Thiago Silva, Maxwell
Lucas Moura, Matuidi, Verratti, Pastore
Lavezzi, Ibrahimovic


Congre, Hilton, El Kaoutari, Bedimo
Camara, Belhanda, Utaka

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti has insisted his side’s focus remains on Montpellier for now, despite the prospect of a Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona on the horizon.

Nevertheless, the Italian trainer is likely to field his strongest possible side, as they aim to pull further clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table as we enter the final phase of the season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was cleared to play in Tuesday’s game by Uefa, and he’ll also start against the champions on Friday evening, with Lucas Moura set to recover from the ankle problem he suffered three weeks ago against Nancy.

David Beckham is unlikely to feature having just returned from an ambassadorial trip to China, with Marco Verratti set to hold off Clement Chantome for a starting berth.

Outgoing Montpellier coach Rene Girard has no fresh injury worries, though his side appears considerably weaker when compared to the 1-1 draw the champions managed against PSG in November. Abdelhamid El Kaoutari’s run in defence continues, as Daniel Congre maintains his position in an unfamiliar right-back role.

  • Paris Saint-Germain‘s hopes of securing a first Ligue 1 title since 1994 look good, as they sit seven points clear of challengers Lyon, with just 24 left on offer.
  • Les Parisiens have won just two of their last 11 games against Montpellier at the Parc des Princes.
  • Nevertheless, PSG have found the net in each of the last 11 games against the champions.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been involved in more than half of his side’s goals in Ligue 1 – with 25 goals and 5 assists (30 out of 53).
  • Montpellier sit seventh in Ligue 1 after a fantastic recent run of form catapulted them to within six points of third-place Marseille. They have not won their last two games, however.
  • The champions have scored in all but one of their last 14 away fixtures in Ligue 1 this season.
  • Montpellier’s last five league games at the Parc des Princes have seen an average of 4.6 goals a game.