to improve on the road
Rafa Benitez knows his side have to find a quick cure for
their travel sickness if dreams of Champions League
qualification are to be realised.
The Reds have the worst away record of any of the top nine
clubs in the Premier League, having not won on an opponent's
ground in six matches and taken just 14 points from 16 games
on the road.
Their previous worst league run came between August and
November in 2006 when they failed to win in seven.
But the problem extends further than that, and since beating
Everton at Goodison Park at the end of November, taking into
account all competitions, Liverpool have won just twice in
13 away fixtures - and that includes victory over Europa
League minnows Unirea Urziceni in Romania.
So a trip to Birmingham on Sunday does not exactly promise
an end to their troubles.
Former Red Zenden does
Liverpool a huge favour
The race for fourth place is heating up and Liverpool were
handed a massive helping hand by an old friend when Bolo
Zenden scored Sunderland’s third to inflict defeat upon
current fourth spot occupants Tottenham.
The Dutch midfielder, on as a sub, hit a sweet left-foot
volley after another former Anfield favourite, Peter Crouch,
had brought Spurs back into the game just minutes earlier.
Although, by that point the Black Cats should have been 4
up, with Darren Bent missing two penalties when already 2-0
Elsewhere, Aston Villa beat Bolton 1-0 to draw level with
Liverpool on 54 points.
Liverpool can put the pressure on with a win against
Birmingham at St. Andrews tomorrow.
(This is Anfield)
No way back for Riera at Anfield
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has indicated that there is
no way back for Spartak Moscow target Albert Riera at
The Reds have been trying to offload the Spanish winger
after his radio outburst at his manager's expense in his
homeland ahead of the Europa League tie
A move to Moscow has stalled, reportedly due to personal
terms, and Riera has since announced his desire to stay with
But Benitez, who is preparing his side for Sunday's trip to
Birmingham, has let it be known that the 27-year-old does
not have future on Merseyside.
"We still have some time until the end of the Russian
transfer window so we will see what happens," the Reds chief
told the Liverpool Echo.
"I didn't see his latest comments but for me, on the day
before a massive game when he was talking this way was
disappointing. It was especially so when he was saying
things that weren't true, so I was really surprised.
"I was really disappointed with his timing and the comments
themselves. He also said he wants to play, that's why he had
to go, but our fans are not stupid and they will know what's
going on. We'll see what happens now."
Hansen: Gerrard must
stay with Reds
Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen believes keeping Steven
Gerrard at Anfield is crucial to the club's aspirations of
Hansen insists holding on to the England midfielder
represents the Merseysiders' best chance of success in the
"Liverpool supporters love him, he is part of the place. If
he doesn't play there is something missing," said the Scot,
who won eight league titles and three European Cups with the
"It is just great to have players of the quality of Fernando
Torres and Gerrard in the team because with those two in the
team Liverpool can beat anyone."
Benitez frustrated by constant
Aquilani injury complaints
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has hinted at frustration over
Alberto Aquilani's constant injury complaints.
The Italy international is adamant he has injured the same
right ankle which kept him out for the first few months of
his Anfield career, as he recovered from surgery at Roma.
But Benitez implied much of the problem could be
The Reds chief said: "He was complaining of pain in his
ankle and said he couldn't train.
"We'll have to talk with the doctors to see what's going on
because at the moment we don't know. He has some pain and we
will just analyse that with the doctor. It's the same ankle
he did before.
"Some players maybe can manage with the pain, but some -
when they have
pain - cannot.
"When you talk of pain you never know, it depends on each
individual and that makes it really difficult."
Carra still confident
Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool can still reach the
Europa League semi-final.
The vice-captain says it is only half-time in the
quarter-final with Benfica and the Reds can overturn their
2-1 first leg deficit at Anfield.
"It's disappointing but it's still all to play for and only
half-time," said Carragher.
"The plan was to keep it tight and nick a goal, which we got
early on. Obviously the sending off has had a big part to
"To play an hour with 10 men is always difficult. It's still
disappointing but the result is not too bad.
"It's good to get the away goal but we have to capitalise on
that in the second leg to make it count.
"At the moment we're behind (in the tie), but a 1-0 victory
at home will be enough to see us through and if we can get
that, that's when the away goal will
Liverpool make enquiry
for Rangers' Danny Wilson
Rangers chief executive Martin Bain has confirmed that
Liverpool have made an enquiry about defender Danny Wilson.
The 18-year-old has been in talks about a new contract at
Ibrox but has yet to commit to an extension.
"Danny has been exceptional for us and where I'm at with
those negotiations is that we have made him an offer," Bain
told the club website.
"Liverpool have expressed an interest but a lot of clubs are
keeping abreast of Danny's situation."
Wilson has been a regular at the heart of the Rangers
defence this season, having made 22 appearances so far.
And he scored his first goal for the club in last weekend's
4-1 victory at Hearts.
He has a year of his current deal to run and manager Walter
Smith had expected him to sign a new contract with the
Scottish champions this week.
(BBC Sport Online)
Liverpool to discover Nabil
El Zahr compensation fate
Fifa has promised a decision in the "near future" over St
Etienne's claim for £160,000 relating to their training of
Liverpool's Nabil El Zhar.
The Moroccan international, now 23, joined Liverpool in
October 2006 and signed a new Anfield deal in July 2009.
The French club argues it is entitled to a compensation
payment as it helped develop El Zhar between 2004 and 2006.
"The investigation commenced in 2008," Fifa told BBC Sport.
"Investigation of the affair is now concluded."
El Zhar was with St Etienne between 2004 and 2006 on a
scholarship contract after he joined the Ligue 1 club from
Nimes Olympique, before moving to Liverpool at the age of 20
when he signed a professional deal.
"Given Liverpool's size, history and wealth we're
disappointed we haven't received compensation - €180,000
(£162,000) is 0.1% of Liverpool's turnover," St Etienne
sporting director Damien Comolli told BBC Sport.
"On top of that the player has recently signed a new deal so
they must be happy with him and his performances."
(BBC Sport Online)
McLeish backs Rafa
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish says Liverpool counterpart
Rafa Benitez would walk into another job should he leave the
club in the close season.
Speculation is rife that Benitez's days at Liverpool are
numbered, with the club struggling in their battle to win a
top four spot after a disappointing season.
A damaging defeat in Thursday's Europa League encounter at
Benfica added to the Reds' woes, however they have the
chance to put pressure on Tottenham - current occupiers of
the last UEFA Champions League place - by beating McLeish's
team at St Andrews on Sunday.
And the 51-year-old hailed the qualities of Spaniard
Benitez, insisting the Champions League winner has the
credentials to manage another big name side.
McLeish has clean bill of health
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish expects to have a full squad
to choose from for Sunday's home Premier League clash with
McLeish has no fresh injury worries as Blues look to defend
an unbeaten home record stretching back seven months
including draws with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
The former Scotland boss said: "We have a couple of little
niggles but we think everyone will make it."
Skipper Stephen Carr will be walking a disciplinary
tightrope for the games with the Reds and Manchester City
the following weekend.
Carr has picked up nine yellow cards this season and one
more in either of those fixtures before a Football
Association amnesty takes effect will result in a two game
Birmingham (from): Hart, Carr, Parnaby, Johnson, Dann,
Ridgewell, Gardner, Larsson, Ferguson, Bowyer, Michel,
Fahey, McFadden, Jerome, Benitez, Phillips, Taylor, Tainio.
Milan Jovanovic still
expects Liverpool move
Despite recent reports to the contrary, Standard Liege
striker Milan Jovanovic is adamant he will be joining
Liverpool on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Jovanovic, 28, has announced he will be joining the Reds on
the Bosman rule but the move is yet to be formally finalised
by the Premier League club.
Reports at the weekend suggested his move had stalled and
that the contract remains unsigned following doubts over the
position of Rafa Benitez, but Jovanovic says the only
outstanding issue is his work permit.
The Standard striker, who has scored ten goals in 25
appearances for the Belgian club this season, fully expects
to join Fernando Torres at Anfield in the summer.
"For me, it's sorted," Jovanovic said. "The only thing is
that my work permit is not yet in order. But I have until
June to get it. I'm at ease. Next season I will play
Ankle anguish for unhappy Aquilani
Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani is a doubt for
Sunday's Premier League trip to Birmingham as he is
struggling with an ankle problem.
The injury, similar to the one which he arrived on
Merseyside with in the summer after his £17million transfer
from Roma, ruled the Italy international out of the Europa
League tie against Benfica.
Maxi Rodriguez is likely to return to the starting line-up
having been ineligible in Europe but Martin Skrtel (foot)
and Fabio Aurelio (thigh) are no nearer returning to fitness
while Albert Riera remains frozen out after his row with
Liverpool (from): Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Insua,
Lucas, Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard, Rodriguez, Torres, Babel,
Ngog, Benayoun, Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Kelly, Degen, El Zhar,
Babel sorry for red card
Ryan Babel admits he feels guilty about his sending off
against Benfica after Liverpool lost 2-1 to the Portuguese
side in their Europa League quarter-final.
Babel felt the dismissal was harsh and he apologised to his
team-mates for leaving them to play for over an hour with
just 10 men.
"I have spoken to the lads and said sorry. But it is good
and I felt they were behind me. They fought all the way and
I am confident we can do well in
the next game."
Babel red baffles Rafa
Rafa Benitez admits it is 'difficult to understand' why Ryan
Babel was sent off in Liverpool's 2-1 Europa League defeat
Babel was dismissed just after the half-hour mark in Lisbon
after putting his hand in the face of Benfica defender
Luisao, who had just committed a poor challenge on Fernando
Liverpool were leading at the time of the incident and Reds
boss Benitez felt Luisao's tackle on Torres was a more
serious offence than the one which led to Babel's red card.
"I was surprised because a foul from behind is more serious
"I would like to analyse the foul before. And after, when
one player is shouting in front of the referee after he
already has a yellow card."
Lucas hails 'important' away goal
Lucas Leiva is hoping Daniel Agger's early goal in
Liverpool's 2-1 Europa League quarter-final first-leg loss
to Benfica could prove decisive.
Lucas told Five: "We are really disappointed. We started
really well in the game and scored an early goal. We created
some chances even with 10 men.
"Now we have to keep going and try to go through at Anfield.
The away goal always is important, we knew that."
Night of terror for Reds
Ten-man Liverpool were undone by two harsh penalty decisions
and an at-times shambolic refereeing display as they lost
2-1 to Benfica in a hostile Europa League quarter-final
first leg in Lisbon.
Daniel Agger gave his side the perfect start in the
ninth-minute but things took a turn for the worse when Ryan
Babel was dismissed on the half-hour for thrusting a hand in
Oscar Cardozo wasted numerous chances before converting two
spot-kicks but with an away goal Rafael Benitez’s side still
have hope for the return leg.
Lucas Leiva returns to the Liverpool starting XI for
tonight's Europa League quarter-final, first leg clash with
Benfica in Lisbon - listen live online from 8pm.
The Brazilian midfielder replaces the ineligible Maxi
Rodriguez as Rafael Benitez makes one change to the side
that beat Sunderland.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Insua, Lucas,
Mascherano, Kuyt, Babel, Gerrard, Torres.
Subs: Cavalieri, Benayoun, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Plessis, El
(LFC Official Website)
Riera's Moscow move stalls
Liverpool winger Albert Riera has back-tracked on his
"sinking ship" comments about the club after admitting his
plans for a move to Spartak Moscow have ground to a halt.
The Spain international was briefly suspended last month for
his outburst, in which he also criticised manager Rafael
Benitez for failing to communicate with his players.
"Negotiations with Spartak Moscow are stalled...my intention
is to decide my future in the summer," he told Spanish
"I want to continue my career at Liverpool because it is one
of the best clubs in the world.
"The feeling is spectacular, we have a great stadium and I
feel very good
"I speak with Fernando Torres and (Jose) Reina and agree on
the greatness of Liverpool."
Such apparent contrition is unlikely to convince Benitez to
welcome him back into the fold.
The Reds boss has not forgiven Riera, worried about his
World Cup chances, for so publicly trying to manufacture a
move at a crucial time of the season by misrepresenting his
relationship with him.
(Press Association Sport)
Statistics against Liverpool for
their trip to Birmingham City
For a man who likes his ‘facts’, Rafa Benitez will be pained
going into Sunday’s match at Birmingham City.
Under his charge, a Liverpool team has yet to defeat Blues
the Premier League.
The jinx runs to seven games and, for the sake of
Liverpool’s Champions League qualification challenge, he
knows it can’t go on.
Hansen predicts Liverpool progress
Alan Hansen is convinced Liverpool will clinch a place in
the Europa League semi-finals as Fernando Torres is back on
Torres heads into the first leg match against Benfica in
Portugal tonight on the back of scoring a brace in the
victory over Sunderland on Sunday.
Former Liverpool defender Hansen was impressed with the
He said: "If Liverpool are going to do anything in the
battle for fourth spot or the Europa League then obviously
Torres and Steven Gerrard have got to be fit. It looks as
though the two are fit.
"It was probably the best performance of the season on
Sunday. The form Torres has shown over the last couple of
matches proves that he is match fit.
"The sharpness is back, he scored a fantastic goal as well
as a great goal against Manchester United."
Rafa admits Reds weaknesses
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has admitted weaknesses in
his squad have cost the club dearly this season,
particularly in the Barclays Premier
Injuries - primarily to star striker Fernando Torres - have
played their part in a disappointing campaign which has seen
early exits from the title race, Champions League and FA
Some of Benitez's less-celebrated signings - the likes of
Albert Riera, Ryan Babel, Philipp Degen and David Ngog -
have failed to fully fill the void and that has cost the
team valuable points.
"Everyone knows we have a good 11. You can see some good
players on the bench but also others with less experience,"
said Benitez, whose side face Benfica in the first leg of
their Europa League quarter-final first leg
in Lisbon tonight.
"When you talk about the league the depth in your squad is
very important and we have had problems with injuries.
"It has been a difficult season for young players as well
because they have had to perform on the pitch when the team
is not doing well.
"The majority of the players have been fighting from the
beginning but the problem in football is you can be working
very hard but if you don't win people say you are not doing
(Press Association Sport)
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus says his
team and Liverpool FC are strongest
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus believes the strongest sides left
in the Europa League will meet when his team host Liverpool
in their quarter-final first leg tonight.
Jesus’ side are a potent attacking force with the likes of
Javier Saviola, Pablo Aimar and Oscar Cardozo proving
particularly impressive, but the manager believes his side
will need to be at their best at Estadio da Luz.
He said: “Liverpool are slightly different to Everton. At
the beginning of the season, Liverpool were strong
candidates in the Champions League and now they are playing
in the Europa League.
“Along with Benfica, they are the strongest team in the
competition, so the two strongest teams are going to play
each other and we are ready for it. They are very good
tactically and technically, but we are ready for them.”
(Liverpool Daily Post)
Benfica’s Luisao knows
how to stop Torres
Benfica defender Luisao claims he knows how to stop
Ahead of their Europa League clash tonight, the Brazilian is
confident he and his teammates can do the job against the
Reds who admits should be favourites for the tie.
"We will stop Fernando Torres. It will be easy if we stick
to our system 100 per cent and keep our concentration,” the
29-year old said.
"We will have two aims - to stop Torres from scoring and to
score ourselves. We believe we can do that and go through.
"We have our own goal king, Oscar Cardozo, and I warn
Liverpool that he can score in the big matches.
"We accept that Liverpool will start as favourites but we
are ready to give everything to reach the semi finals.”