Tag Archives: Pepe Reina

Liverpool v Manchester United Preview

One of English football’s oldest and fiercest rivalry will be renewed this Sunday as Liverpool and Manchester United go head-to-head at Anfield.

The encounter promises to be an emotionally-charged affair, marking the Reds’ first home game since the recent report into the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy in which 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has already confirmed the Red Devils will offer any assistance possible in ensuring the day goes smoothly, calling for mutual respect from both sets of fans.

The lastest fixture between the two sides at Old Trafford saw Liverpool’s Luis Suarez refuse to shake the hand of Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during the pre-match hand-shake following a much-publicised race storm, but reports ahead of Sunday’s game suggest there will be no such incident at Anfield, with the players not expected to cause further controversy on such an emotional occasion. The two teams are also expected to release 96 red ballons before the match as a tribute to those who passed away in the disaster.

TEAM NEWS

Liverpool

Manager Brendan Rodgers will bring back his big names for the visit of Manchester United. Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Martin Kelly were rested for the 5-3 Europa League win at Young Boys but will return as they go looking for their first Barclays Premier League victory of the season. Forwards Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling, substitutes in Switzerland, are likely to start while midfielder Jonjo Shelvey pressed his claims for inclusion with a two-goal second-half cameo.

Manchester United

Winger Ashley Young has been ruled out for two to three weeks with a “bruised cartilage”, Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed. The 27-year-old missed out on the England squad for the World Cup 2014 qualifying double-header against Moldova and Ukraine this month, and Ferguson now expects to be without the player until October. The United manager has also ruled out Wayne Rooney but could feature next weekend, while Darren Fletcher would play from the start in Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup tie at home to Newcastle United. The Scotland midfielder came on as a substitute in the 1-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray in midweek, his first competitive outing since last November.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 185
Liverpool Wins – 62
Draw – 51
Manchester United Wins – 72

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

11-Feb-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
28-Jan-12 – FA Cup – Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United
15-Oct-12 – Premier League – Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United
06-Mar-11 – Premier League – Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United
09-Jan-11 – FA CUp – Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool – WDLDD
The Reds are yet to register a win in the Premier League this season under new manager Brendan Rodgers and he will be desperate to break that duck against their fierce rivals.

20-Sep-12 – Europa League – Young Boys 3-5 Liverpool
15-Sep-12 – Premier League – Sunderland 1-1 Liverpool
02-Sep-12 – Premier League – Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal
30-Aug-12 – Europa League – Liverpool 1-1 Hearts
26-Aug-12 – Premier League – Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City

Manchester United – WWWWL
United come into this match on the back of four back-to-back wins in all competitions and are sitting second behind Chelsea in the Premier League table.

19-Sep-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 1-0 Galatasaray
15-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-0 Wigan Athletic
02-Sep-12 – Premier League – Southampton 2-3 Manchester United
25-Aug-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-2 Fulham
20-Aug-12 – Premier League – Everton 1-0 Manchester United

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
The Uruguayan will surely be the one to watch when these two sides meet tomorrow at Anfield. Suarez has dominated all the talk in the last two games between these sides at Anfiedl, but for different reasons. His mesmerizing performance helped Liverpool outclass United in March 2011 while the incidents involving him and Patrice Evra made the headlines after the last league game. With the ability to produce something out of the extraordinary, he will be hoping to do his best to help his team beat their fierce rivals while his battle with Evra will also not go unnoticed.

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
The 28-year-old striker could not have asked for a much better start to life at Old Trafford. After scoring on his full debut against Fulham, with his very first shot, the ex-Feyenoord man then notched a hat-trick in the very next game against Southampton. Liverpool know all too well about van Persie’s predatory instincts after he scored both goals in the 2-1 win for his former side Arsenal at Anfield last season. Centre-back pairing of Agger and Skrtel will have improve on their showings so far this season if they are going successfully stop Dutchman from scoring.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Liverpool (4-3-3): Pepe Reina; Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique; Steven Gerrard (C), Joe Allen, Jonjo Shelvey; Fanio Borini, Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling.

The regular first teamers are expected to return after rested against Young Boys. Reina will start in goal, with Johnson, Skrtel and Agger to take back their regular positions. Jose Enrique might get the nod ahead of Martin Kelly in the starting XI. Gerrard and Allen will be back in place Henderson and Suso, while Shelvey is expected to keep his place in the side at the expense of Nuri Sahin, following his two goal second half cameo. Sterling will provide the Reds with natural pace and width on the left, while Suarez and Borini will complete the rest of the front three.

Manchester United (4-4-1-1): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic (C), Patrice Evra; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Nani; Shinji Kagawa; Robin van Persie.

Not many changes are expected to be made to the side that defeated Galatasaray at Old Trafford during the midweek. De Gea, Rafael, Vidic and Evra are all expected to keep their place in the defence, while Ferdinand will come in for Evans. The rest of the side is expected to be the same with Valencia and Nani on the wings and Carrick and Scholes in the centre of the midfield. Kagawa, who has excelled in the role behind striker, will start again behind Van Persie, who will lead the line on his own.

OPTA FACTS

  • 0 – Danny Welbeck has had 0 shots on targets in the Premier League this season, despite 10 attempts. 7 of them came in last week’s win over Wigan.
  • 2 – Nemanja Vidic has been sent off in his last 2 games at Anfield. 3 of his 4 red cards in the Premier League have been against Liverpool.
  • 2 – Liverpool have won just 2 of their 11 Premier League games at Anfield in 2012 (W2 D4 L5).
  • 4 – Robin van Persie scored both the goals in the 2-1 win against Liverpool for Arsenal at Anfield last season and has netted 4 times in his last 5 games against the Reds
  • 12 – Luis Suarez has created more goalscoring chances than anyone in the Premier League (12), but has yet to register an assist.
  • 75 – Liverpool have had 75 shots so far this season – the joint-most in the Premier League – but only 15 of them have been on target.

REFEREE

Name – Mark Halsey
Based – Lancashire
Age – 51
Games – 3
Yellow Cards – 6
Red Cards – 1

MATCH ODDS

Liverpool 7/4, Draw 9/4, Manchester United 13/8

PREDICTION

It has been an emotional week in the North West after the Hillsborough report’s release and the emotional atmosphere might play spoilsport. The two sets of players will have to rise above the occassion to make the game a football spectacle. These derbies are rarely open, free-flowing, end-to-end affairs, so expect a cage game until the first goal is scored. United are in form having won three of their four Premier League games, with summer signing Van Persie scoring four in his two starts. But Liverpool are a hard team to break down at home, especially against Manchester United and their ability to take their chances might decide the outcome of the game.

Predicted Score: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United

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Top Five Keepers Who Can Replace Reina At Liverpool

According to the reports, Liverpool have given Pepe Reina until January to prove his ability to fit into Brendan Rodgers’ new system, or face being sold.

Reina’s role as Spain’s second choice keeper has already been given to Barcelona’s Victor Valdes and his club career looks in danger of following the same path, but who could replace him at Anfield? Here, IntoTheTopCorner has a look at the top five candidates..

1. MICHEL VORM (SWANSEA CITY)

The Dutch international has been very impressive since moving to the Premier League from FC Utrecht a year ago. Vorm kept 13 clean sheets in 37 appearances last season and his performances won him the Fans’ Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and the Away Players’ Player of the Year awards. The 28-year-old worked under the current Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers at the Liberty Stadium last season. Good reflexes, good ball distribution and comfortable with ball at his feet, Vorm fits into Rodgers’s system perfectly.

2. CRAIG GORDON (FREE AGENT)

The Scotish international was once famously hailed as one of the best keepers in the world by Gianluigi Buffon, but with him currently being a free agent, it looks like no one is willing to take a gamble on the injury-prone former Sunderland stopper. Though a move to Liverpool would be a risk for the club, should they keep him injury free and get the best out of him, then it could be the bargain buy of the year.

3. JACK BUTLAND (BIRMINGHAM CITY)

Jack Butland’s performances for Team GB at the London Olympics 2012 has done justice to his hype that had build around him after being selected in the England squad for the Euros. The youngster has only played first-team football in League Two while on loan at Cheltenham Town, but was tipped for a move to one of the top Premier League sides this summer. Signing Butland would be a major gamble due to his age and experience, but he could develop into one of the top keepers in the world and occupy the number one spot for many years to come.

4. MAARTEN STEKELENBURG (AS ROMA)

The Dutch number one inherited the jersey from the former Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar upon his retirement from national football. Since then Stekelenburg has improved steadily and has also made AS Roma’s number one jersey his own ousting current Liverpool back-up Doni at the Stadio Olimpico. With the rise of Tim Krul in the last year or so, the Roma man may need to move elsewhere to fight off the challenge for the Netherlands number one jersey and a move Liverpool could be the best opportunity. He being a product of the Ajax academy, it won’t be difficult for him to adjust to Rodgers’ style of football.

5. MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN (BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH)

The German has got many scouts from across Europe excited with his performances in the Bundesliga over the past season. Just 20 years old, Ter Stegen has already made his debut for the senior Germany side and also saved a penalty from Lionel Messi in the recent international freindly. The young keeper forced himself into Gladbach’s starting XI while still a teenager and is a very exciting prospect for the future. His style of goalkeeping has been frequently compared to the great German keeper – Oliver Kahn

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Liverpool

Welcome to IntoTheTopCorner’s team-by-team preview to the new Barclays Premier League season. Here we look at Liverpool’s vital stats, their summer transfers and analyse their chances.

Manager: Brendan Rodgers.
Captain: Steven Gerrard.
Stadium: Anfield (45,276).
Last season: 8th.
Leading scorer (PL): Luis Suarez (11).
Odds: Title 25-1. Relegation 200-1.

In: Joe Allen (£16.7m, Swansea), Fabio Borini (£11.7m, Roma).

Out: David Amoo (Free, Preston), Alberto Aquilani (£7.7m, Fiorentina), Fabio Aurelio (Free, Gremio), Craig Bellamy (Free, Cardiff), Stephen Darby (Released), Henoc Mukendi (Loan, Northampton), Dirk Kuyt (£880k, Fenerbahce), Maxi Rodriguez (Free, Newell’s), Toni Silva (Free, Barnsley).

Kits

Key Man – Steven Gerrard
The talismatic skipper has been vital at the club for years and he showed that he is back to top form with his displays at Euro 2012 in Poland/Ukraine. If Gerrard could stay injury free whole season then it would be a huge boost for the Reds, as his presence in the team is of huge importance and he also can single handedly win games for his team, as he did in the latest Merseyside derby at Anfield – by scoring an hatrick.

Opening Fixtures
18-Aug – West Brom (A)
26-Aug – Man City (H)
02-Sep – Arsenal (H)
15-Sep – Sunderland (A)
23-Sep – Man Utd (H)
29-Sep – Norwich (A)

Probable Formation (4-3-3): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Allen; Downing, Suarez, Borini.

Verdit: New boss Brendan Rodgers has a huge task ahead of taking Liverpool straight back into the top four, but he should at least get the Reds playing the right way and if they can add a bit of the killer instinct, Anfield could well become a fortress for many teams once again. His purchases of Fabio Borini and Joe Allen could prove shrewd, as both have looked good in pre-season or during the Olympics. If he can keep Steven Gerrard fit, get the best out of Joe Cole and keep Luis Suarez out of trouble, the Reds could be back in contention for major honours. Personally, I don’t see Liverpool breaking the top four this season but would surely improve a lot under the new boss and finish higher than they did last season.

Prediction: 6th.

Liverpool’s Potential Summer 2012 Transfer Targets


Liverpool have had a very strange season. Their performance in the league has been very terrible and they ended the season in eight position behind their Merseyside rivals Everton. However, their performances in the cups have been very impressive, as they won the Carling Cup and reached the finals of the FA Cup.

This summer, big changes have been made at Liverpool. A new management is in place along with a new head coach. Kenny Dalglish was shown the door after a poor season and he was replaced by the impressive young Brendan Rodgers. No new players have arrived at Anfield so far this summer but the Reds’ squad has been boosted by the returns of Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani from their season-long loans.

HUGO LLORIS – LYON (GOALKEEPER)

There have been doubts raised over the future of Pepe Reina in the past couple of weeks. Reina has attracted some interest from Italy and has been linked with the likes of AC Milan and Inter Milan. Lloris is seen as a possible replacement for Reina, if the Spaniard decides to end his stay at Anfield. The Ligue 1 club are ready to sell the France skipper for a fee around €20m, but the Reds will face competition from the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham, who are also interested in the 25-year-old stopper.

JOLEON LESCOTT – MANCHESTER CITY (DEFENDER)

Despite the England man putting in some solid performances during UEFA EURO 2012 and having a very good previous season, Roberto Mancini is reportedly considering selling the former Everton player maybe because he isn’t glamorous enough to play for Manchester City. Lescott’s availability has interested Liverpool, who face the prospect of losing either Daniel Agger or Martin Skrtel. Lescott would be more than good replacement for either of them but price tag could be a stumbling block.

RASMUS ELM – AZ ALKMAAR (MIDFIELDER)

The 24-year-old midfielder has been linked with a move to Anfield ever since the end of last season but nothing at all developed. According to some reports, the Reds have cooled down their interest in the AZ Alkmaar midfielder since the departure of Kenny Dalglish. If Liverpool do sign Swede international, he would be a good addition to the squad and will cost the Anfield club in the region of £8m.

VICTOR WANYAMA – CELTIC (MIDFIELDER)

The Kenyan international has earned rave reviews during his spell in Scotland with Celtic and has attracted interest from many top clubs from Italy, Spain, France and England. The 21-year-old who is valued around £6m-£7m arrived at Celtic Park last summer, for bargain fee of £900k from Belgian side Beerschot. The Kenyan midfielder who surely be a good signing for the future but won’t be a certain first team option and more of a cover for Lucas.

MARK DAVIES – BOLTON WANDERERS (MIDFIELDER)

According to the gossip columns, the Reds are reportedly interested in the Bolton Wanderers’ midfielder Mark Davies. The 24-year-old England U-19 international, who got relegated with the Wanderers, has also been target by Aston Villa and Newcastle United. The £5m rated midfielder would be a decent addition and increase the depth of the squad, but surely not regular first choice option.

JUAN MANUEL VARGAS – FIORENTINA (MIDFIELDER)

The 28-year-old Peruvian international has been linked with a move to Anfield a lot in the past couple of months but nothing has developed at all. Papers suggest, the Reds are still interested in Fiorentina winger, who can also play as a left back. The Serie A club value Vargas around £8m and he would really be a great addition to the Liverpool squad – keeping in mind they need a creative winger with Stewart Downing failing in his first season – but his age could count against him.

ADAM JOHNSON – MANCHESTER CITY (MIDFIELDER)

Adam Johnson is another winger Liverpool are interested in signing this summer. With Downing and Henderson both failing to deliver on the wings, so naturally strengthening the wings is Rodgers priority this summer. Johnson has fallen out of favour under Roberto Mancini at Manchester City and is looking to leave the Etihad Stadium in search of some regular first team action. The England international has attracted many Premier League clubs but he won’t come cheap as the asking price is said to be around £15m.

GASTON RAMIREZ – BOLOGNA (MIDFIELDER)

According to the reports, the Reds are set to step up their interest in the Bologna playmaker having missed on signing Gylfi Sigurdsson. The 21-year-old is an attacking central midfielder with an eye for goal and was impressive for his Serie A side during last season. Ramirez is rated around £16m by his Italian club and has attracted interest from many European clubs in the past one year with Manchester City being one of them. A chance to play alongside his Uruguayan teammates – Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates – could swing him in favour of Anfield over City.

VICTOR MOSES – WIGAN ATHLETIC (STRIKER)

Having helped Wigan Athletic survive relegation and stay in the Premier League last season, the Nigerian is ready to move to an ambitious club this summer and the Reds along with a few other Premier League clubs are interested in signing him. Moses will be a good addition to the squad but his consistency is a huge question. Liverpool are interested in signing the pacey forward but the papers in UK suggest that the former Crystal Palace man is close to signing for Chelsea.

DANIEL STURRIDGE – CHELSEA (STRIKER)

The Chelsea striker is said to be unhappy at the lack of first team opportunities at Chelsea since the departure of Andre Villas-Boas. With Liverpool struggling for goals during last season and reliable Dutchman Dirk Kuyt leaving the club; a move to bring in some addition attacking options seems almost certain. The 22-year-old pacey forward – who can also play on the wings – will add something different to the Liverpool attack but the Reds will face some tough competition for his signature from both Tottenham and Arsenal.

DEMBA BA – NEWCASTLE UNITED (STRIKER)

With Liverpool in need of some striking reinforcement, the Newcastle United forward – Demba Ba is another name linked to the Reds this summer. The Senegal international had a fantastic start to last season and went on to score 16 goals in 36 matches in total. With the 27-year-old available for just £7m till the end of July, due to a clause in his contract, the Reds are expected to face some stiff competition from a host of Premier League clubs including the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United.

FABIO BORINI – AS ROMA (STRIKER)

Another striker linked to the Reds this summer is the former Chelsea and current AS Roma forward Fabio Borini. The 21-year-old Italy international is a known face to Rodgers having worked under him on loan at Swansea. Borini had a great time at the Liberty Stadium scoring 6 goals in 9 matches and later went on to become a hit with Roma. The young Italian, who has a £7m buyout clause in contract, will surely be a great signing for the Reds and will give the new boss with plenty of options upfront.

Chelsea v Liverpool – FA Cup Final Preview

Liverpool return to Wembley with their sights set on a cup double, while victory for Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final could be the first stage of a more significant success.

In a classic clash between North and South, seven-time winners Liverpool will be keen to get one over their biggest modern day rival, whom they have met an incredible 30 times in the last eight years. Chelsea have been the dominant force in the world’s oldest competition in recent years, winning three of the last five editions. Liverpool have already collected a trophy at Wembley this season though, having captured the Carling Cup by beating Cardiff on penalties and they now have a chance of becoming the first club to win the domestic cup double for a 2nd time.

The pair have previously met 9 times in the competition with Chelsea winning five of those ties and interestingly none of those meetings ever ended in a draw. But the Reds have beaten Chelsea in their last four clashes in all competitions, although the Blues will point to their impressive record of having lost just one of their last 33 FA Cup games. The added subplot provided by Fernando Torres only increases the drama surrounding the game and just over a year from his record £50m transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea, the mercurial Spaniard could strike a deadly blow to his former employers at Wembley. There has been a strong Italian flavour in recent years as Roberto Mancini lifted the trophy last year, 12 months after Carlo Ancelotti did the same with Chelsea and Roberto Di Matteo has a chance to make it a happy treble for Italian managers on Saturday.

Team News

Chelsea

The worry for caretaker manager Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo will be at centre-back, where David Luiz and Gary Cahill (both hamstring) are serious doubts to be able to partner John Terry at the back. The likelihood is that neither will be risked and Branislav Ivanovic will start alongside the Blues’ captain. Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard should return to the starting line-up after starting the midweek defeat by Newcastle on the bench, while Fernando Torres’ recent streak of form, including a hat-trick against QPR on Sunday, may not be enough for him to retain his place ahead of Didier Drogba.

Liverpool

Key men Pepe Reina, Steven Gerrard and Luiz Suarez were just three of nine changes for the lacklustre setback against the Cottagers and are certain to take their place in the starting XI this weekend. Andy Carroll, the Reds’ semi-final hero after his late winner against Everton, played the full 90 minutes in midweek having missed the resounding success against Norwich with a slight injury concern and should partner Suarez upfront.

Road to Wembley

Chelsea

3rd Round – Chelsea 4-0 Portsmouth
4th Round – QPR 0-1 Chelsea
5th Round – Chelsea 1-1 Birmingham
5th Round Replay – Birmingham 0-2 Chelsea
Quarter Finals – Chelsea 5-2 Leicester City
Semi Finas – Tottenham 1-5 Chelsea

Liverpool

3rd Round – Liverpool 5-1 Oldham
4th Round – Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United
5th Round – Liverpool 6-1 Brighton
Quarter Finals – Liverpool 2-1 Stoke
Semi Finas – Liverpool 2-1 Everton

Head to Head

29 Nov 11 – Carling Cup – Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool
20 Nov 11 – Premier League – Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
06 Feb 11 – Premier League – Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool
07 Nov 10 – Premier League – Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea
02 May 10 – Premier League – Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea

Form

Chelsea – LWDDW

Liverpool – LWLWW

Probable Lineups

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Meireles; Ramires, Lampard, Mata; Drogba.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique; Spearing, Henderson; Downing, Gerrard, Suarez; Carroll.

Odds

Chelsea – 11/8, Draw – 9/4,  Liverpool – 2/1

Prediction

The FA Cup final has become a traditionally cagey affair – four of the last five have ended 1-0 – and Chelsea know all about coming out on top in them, having reached three of those five finals and won every one.

Both teams have endured inconsistent and frustrating seasons but Chelsea have arguably shown more quality, particularly up front. They have more viable options in attack – if the battering ram that is Didier Drogba cannot break Liverpool down, then the resurgent Fernando Torres will surely relish the chance to further bury his demons against his former side. The stage may well be set for the Spaniard to make the difference off the bench and seal a familiar triumph for the Blues.

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool