Posts Tagged ‘Brendan Rodgers’

Football

Arsenal update: Ashley Williams talks begin, Stephan El Shaarawy interest

By Stefano on April 16th, 2013

Goal.com has just unveiled one of their exclusives and they claiming that Swansea’s central defender Ashley Williams, or at the very least his representatives, visited the London club for talks about his future.

Arsenal are reportedly very keen on the Swansea captain as they seek to bolster a defence that has pretty much undermined any chance they had this year of a Premiership title shot.

The site also suggests that Arsenal are keeping tabs on Marseille centre-back Nicolas N’Koulou, 23, who is apparently looking for a move from the French league this summer.

Of course Arsenal will face strong competition from Liverpool for Williams’ signature. The player has a connection with the Red manager Brendan Rodgers. However Arsenal may be able to offer Williams Champions league football, and at 29 the player may be sorely tempted.

Meanwhile there are murmurings, reported by Touchline Talk, that Arsenal, are also tracking Stephan El Shaarawy’s situation at AC Milan.

Apparently the player appears to be unhappy after two years at the San Siro, and could be on his way out in the summer.

Arsenal and Man City are possible destinations, as is Napoli who may need to replace Edinson Cavani (another player linked with both Man City and Arsenal) in the summer.



Football

Will Liverpool and Arsenal be competing for the same players this summer?

By Stefano on March 13th, 2013

There’s an interesting interview (reported by The Telegraph and others) where Brendan Rodgers talks about his transfer plans for next summer.

First up Rodgers doesn’t see a major restructuring of the team which has hit form recently.

“There is no doubt there is a natural rebuilding that will come with the likes of Jamie Carragher retiring. I am happy with the squad if I can then put another three or four quality players to it,”

In words that echo a certain Arsenal manager Rodgers states…

“It is quality we are after, not quantity. We see Coutinho and Sturridge’s quality in January, if we bring in another three or four players of that quality and add that to what we have got then we have got a strong squad.“You want between 20 and 22 players. I’m talking about two in every position and your three goalkeepers. Then below that having young players who can support that.

“Of course you have an ideal target, but we are getting to a situation now where, for me, you have to have three players and if one doesn’t come off you have to be comfortable with the other two. If you get one of those you are happy. There is a lot of terrific work going on with the scouting department getting those lists together.

There are more interesting parallels with Arsenal too. At the current time it seems unlikely that either side will be playing Champions League football next season which will mean that they are unlikely to compete with Europe’s big guns for the likes Jovetic and Cavani. Also, as Wenger knows all too well, both managers will be painfully aware that the Continent’s top sides could be targeting their marquee players.

One player that the two clubs are likely to tussle for is Ashley Williams, the in form Swansea centre back. Rodgers’ relationship with the player could give Liverpool the edge, especially if neither side has Champions League football on the table.

Williams would be a tailor-made replacement for Carragher bringing solidity and leadership to the heart of the Liverpool defence.

There are several other players that both clubs could be competing for.

Ajax’s Christian Eriksen will be on his way to the Premiership next season and could interest both sides. Arsenal are also very keen on another possible Liverpool target Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona and Bilbao’s controversial centre back Fernando Amorebieta could end up at the club that doesn’t land Williams.

The big question for Rodgers is how much money he feels he needs to spend to create a squad that will be challenging, at the very least, for Champions League football next season. The interview suggests that he will have a £20 million kitty. Is that enough? If  Rodgers wants more then the club will have to sell players. There are fringe players, like the out of form Skrtel, who could prise some cash, but there remains the option of cashing in on the club’s prize asset – Luis Suarez.

It would be massively unpopular with the fans but Suarez’s sale could add a significant wodge to that the cash reserve. Bayern Munich are rumoured to be interested in the player while the Daily Mail reported recently that Atletico Madrid are targeting Suarez to replace Radamel Falcao should he leave the La Liga side.

It might free up funds for the club to launch a bid for Xabi Alonso of Real Madrird, who could rejoin the club he spent five seasons with to finish his career. The 31 year old has certainly been in sparkling form for the club. Rodgers would also have to invest heavily in a new striker or two.

Is it a gamble worth taking?

It will be interesting to see of the club manage to offload flop striker Andy Carroll this summer. Liverpool paid £35 million for the player and it will be fascinating to see how much of that money that manage to recoup.



Football

Have Liverpool found their winning midfield combination?

By Stefano on March 8th, 2013

A midfield trio of Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard appears a little too cautious on paper, but their collective performance in last week’s comprehensive 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic will have encouraged Brendan Rodgers, who likes to fill his sides with as many passers as possible.

Rodgers had been using a 4-2-3-1 formation featuring four outright attackers since the arrival of Daniel Sturridge in January; and that seems his long-term plan. Brazilian Coutinho impressed against Wigan and deserves another start, so if he, Luis Suarez, Stewart Downing and Sturridge (injured last weekend) are all used against Spurs, Rodgers will be forced to drop one of his central midfielders.

But Rodgers will be keen to ensure his side aren’t overrun by Tottenham in midfield. Although Mousa Dembele is sitting deeper now Scott Parker (rather than Sandro) is his midfield partner, he still offers directness from the centre of the pitch. Gylfi Sigurdsson, who played under Rodgers at Swansea last season, impressed last weekend against Arsenal by drifting inside from the left, while Gareth Bale will probably again be deployed in a central attacking position. Liverpool need numbers in the middle.

Therefore, the Lucas-Gerrard-Allen triumvirate will probably get another run-out this weekend, with Rodgers keen for Liverpool to dominate possession. It also means there’s the potential for an obvious attacking shift, a fourth attacker replacing Allen, should Liverpool need to get back in the game.

Read more: http://pickourteam.com/premierleague/news/08-03-2013/rodgers-set-for-midfield-trio-v-spurs/820335#ixzz2Mx6rC67d

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally published here.

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Football

Arsenal’s next captain? Ashley Williams? The Guardian thinks it could be on the cards

By Stefano on March 5th, 2013

Arsene Wenger has his eyes on Swansea’s captain and central defender Ashley Williams so says The Guardian.

There’s no mention of a source or a quote from Wenger but the paper says…

Wenger has identified the Wales captain as someone with the leadership qualities to control and organise Arsenal’s defence in a way more reminiscent of when the club built a large part of their success on having a dominant figure such as Tony Adams, Martin Keown or Steve Bould in the heart of their back four.

Interestingly the article also discusses Wenger’s lack of faith in his current trio of central defenders and suggests that the Arsenal manager was keen to bring a player in during the transfer window.

It also adds that neither Thomas Vermaelen or Per Mertesacker seem capable of taking charge of the Arsenal defence.

It concludes that Williams, who is contracted to 2015, would cost in the region of £8m and is also being tracked by Liverpool.

So, if this is true then why did Wenger not approach Swansea in the transfer window? Surely given Arsenal’s financial resources if he was that disappointed with his trio of centre backs he could have signed a player, maybe even Williams.

Arsenal clearly need as leader too though parachuting Williams in as not just as a new recruit, but also as a captain, sounds like it could be problematic.

So what do you think? It wouldn’t surprise me if Arsenal bid for the player in the summer, but he is just one on a long list of centre backs.

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Should Rodgers drop Carragher for Liverpool’s game against Man City?

By Stefano on February 1st, 2013

After receiving the man-of-the-match award for his fine performance against Arsenal, Jamie Carragher was asked if he was enjoying his current run in the side. “What, two games?” came the typically cheeky Scouse reply. He’s hardly cemented his position as a first-team regular.

But Carragher certainly performed well at the Emirates, dealing with Arsenal’s long balls towards Olivier Giroud in open play, and barking instructions at the rest of the defence, encouraging them to push up as

Arsenal passed the ball around the defence, forcing opposition attackers away from goal. That suggests Carragher is content to play a high defensive line despite his declining pace, although Theo Walcott got in behind a couple of times, which will have worried Brendan Rodgers.

Rodgers must now decide whether to start Carragher away at Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, or recall Martin Skrtel. He had an interesting game in the reverse fixture against City; having opened the scoring with a towering header, his suicidal backpass in the final minutes was intercepted by Carlos Tevez, denying Rodgers his first Liverpool win.

Despite Carragher’s impressive showing, it’s difficult to see how he’d be able to cope with Sergio Aguero’s incredible acceleration, particularly with Tevez stretching the defence in the opposite direction. Skrtel hasn’t been at his best this season, having been Liverpool’s star man in 2011-12: and although the Slovakian is better in the air than on the ground, a combination of he and Daniel Agger seems logical against the threat of Aguero.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.



Football

Liverpool’s tactics against Arsenal – some interesting decisions for Brendan Rodgers

By Stefano on January 29th, 2013

A peculiar feature of Liverpool’s difficult away games under Brendan Rodgers is his tendency to completely change his side’s formation at half-time: away at Everton, Chelsea and Manchester United he’s dramatically altered his side after an underwhelming first-half performance. Now, especially after the weekend embarrassment at Oldham, he’s under pressure to get it right from the start.

Following the arrival of Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini’s return from injury, plus Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson’s good form, Rodgers has plenty of experienced players to call upon. As a result, Raheem Sterling will predominantly be a substitute for the rest of this season, while Suso is no longer a regular, and instead on the periphery of the squad.

Sterling, Borini and Joe Allen were omitted from the side that convincingly defeated Norwich 5-0 at Anfield ten days ago, and none did anything against Oldham to suggest they deserve a place in the side for the trip to Arsenal. Sterling would be a risk defensively, Borini isn’t yet 100% fit following his injury lay-off, while Allen has been in poor form.

The natural approach would see Rodgers revert to the side that faced Norwich: Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard sitting deep, then Downing, Henderson and Luis Suarez behind Sturridge. But will Rodgers be brave enough to play that system at the Emirates, considering Arsenal’s tendency to dominate possession? I can’t help feeling that he’ll will want some extra passing quality in the centre of the pitch, and might start Allen: this is surely a game made for him, despite his recent form.

That would probably mean Henderson dropping to the bench, with Downing on the left and Suarez cutting inside to join Sturridge. With so many versatile options, Rodgers’ tinkering is understandable, but he needs to get things right at Arsenal.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.



Football

Liverpool fans. Is it time to say goodbye to Brendan Rodgers?

By Stefano on January 28th, 2013

Our Liverpool FC corespondent, David Owens, thinks that Rodgers could be two games away from getting the push

Hours after Liverpool’s humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of Oldham, it is easy to go route one and call for the head of the manager… after all that’s what modern football is all about isn’t it? Time was when managers had what was called time – amazing to think Slur Alex Ferguson went 4 years before winning a trophy and gave the United faithful the delights of Ralph Milne to enjoy…. Will his successor be given such a luxury (time not Ralph Milne!). Liverpool fans have always given managers time – but that all changed last season when our owners decided that a trophy, and a cup final were not enough compared to a poor league finish in 8th and so our manager was sacked, giving in my eyes carte blanche for fans to expect the same treatment to all managers – I mean, they were the ones mentioning progress, Champions League etc etc not us!

In truth the time to properly assess Rodgers is at the end of the season. He has the benefit, if you could call it as such, that for half the season he was working with one hand behind his back only having one striker, a situation for which he was not wholly responsible. That said, this defeat will heap a whole cart load of pressure on him and sadly all now of his own making.

Liverpool of late have been playing well, scoring goals and looking slick in terms of passing and tempo. However, all of the good work done is being destroyed, and then some, by some absolutely disastrous team selections – selections which in terms of their regularity and awfulness ask serious questions of Rodgers’s suitability as Liverpool manager. Many of Liverpool’s recent defeats come back to selection. Now you could say that most defeats do, but it is the lack of sense or thought in some of these selections which ask questions, and don’t get me started on the tactics.

For example, Stoke City away, no place for the likes of Suso or Stewart Downing – but both started and were ineffective. Liverpool spent far too much time tippy tapping the ball around their own penalty area and allowed Stoke to hassle them down. Sadly Stoke away is a game for men, and a team willing to put a shift in, you play a bit more direct and play them at their own game.

The game at Old Trafford, Liverpool were not at the races for 55 minutes – when Manchester United are clearly struggling at the back and any team attacking them have half a chance, what does Brendan do, sets up his team to sit back and soak up pressure…. Granted he did change things at half time but too late.

And so to today, cold wet Lancashire day, a big tough limited Oldham side – and what does Brendan do… include slight slender players not used to this sort of pressure bowl – Coates, Allen, Sterling, Borini, Robinson… just totally ludicrous selections, handing on a plate to Oldham a massive slice of initiative.

Add in some serious questions of the buys Rodgers has authorised – £15m for Joe Allen looks worse value than £14m for the improving Henderson, £12m for Borini looks laughable not to mention the waste of time that was Sahin, and Rodgers has some crawling to the fans to do… it is OK for some to say we must back him and trust him – but first of all you need to earn the right, and every time he buys a packet of trust, he washes it all away with poor decisions.

This is where the equation at year end really takes a strange turn. In my eyes, and I think 95% of fans eyes – even Arsenal fans, the most important decider on a season’s success is silverware. Liverpool won a cup last season and were arguably a whisker from a second ( I still think Carroll’s header was over the line in the FA Cup final). However by finishing a poor 8th in the league, our owners said it was not enough – even for a legend of the club, and Kenny Dalglish was sacked…. So what is Brendan’s minimum requirement from the owners? … and, what is it from Liverpool fans, keen to cut him some slack but desperate to see progress.

Brendan’s only hope of a cup is now the Uefa Cup, but with potentially 2 awkward trips to Eastern Europe ahead, and his habit of playing a few younger lads, it seems to indicate it is not priority number 1 – he may have to change that now as now as a lack of silverware will place a very sharp focus on league form. Liverpool fans overlooked 8th last season because we won a trophy… no trophy means a European place is a must in terms of a league finish. This may still yet be 6th place if the FA Cup is won by Arsenal / Man U / Man C or Chelsea as all 4 are likely to be top 6… if you include Everton and Tottenham in that list, Liverpool are at the moment fighting West Brom for 7th… unacceptable. So what can Brendan do to get into that top 6, can he break into the top 4?

Much will depend on the next 2 fixtures – Arsenal and Man City away. 2 defeats and I would say Liverpool fans ire will be palpable… if we are still in touching distance then slack will continue to be cut.

Given though no one really knows what is going on in our owners mind’s as they do not seem to say much, we can only go on their actions at the end of last season – and the dreaded Champions League word was mentioned – so with potentially no trophy this season and 4th possibly a pipedream come Sunday of results are poor… I’d say Brendan could well be inundated with offers of getting his coat for him.



Football

Liverpool update: Bayern Munich in shock move for Luis Suarez. New bid for Philippe Coutinho

By Stefano on January 22nd, 2013

Luis Suarez’s electric form for Liverpool hasn’t gone unnoticed in Germany. The latest club to be linked to the Uruguayan is Bayern Munich who are apparently, well The Express says, are lining up a £40 million move for the player.

However before Liverpool fans get too concerned the source of the rumour is Spanish newspaper Sport (as reported by The Express) which mentions that Suarez is on Guardiola’s wish list along with Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani and Edin Dzeko.

Guardiola may have great connections but he is hardly going to sign all those players? The Metro does however suggest that Suarez is his main target.

Suarez has been electric in front of goal this season, netting 20 times in all competitions for the Reds.

The same paper also reports that Inter Milan’s Philippe Coutinho could soon be a Liverpool player with the Italian team apparently ready to accept the club’s £8 million bid.



Football

Is Daniel Sturridge the answer to Liverpool’s striking problems?

By Stefano on January 4th, 2013

Our new Liverpool FC correspondent David Owens thinks Sturridge has a role to play, but there is still a lot more work to be done.

There was a time “back in the day” when 15 players was all you needed in a season to win a First Division Championship – kids, ask your dads or check the internet, and you will find that in season 1978/79 the then European Champions Liverpool FC only used 15 players all campaign to win the Championship, and 2 of those players only played 2 and 4 games. This was indeed also a record breaking season of 68 points won (when it was 2 points per win – this would now equate to 98 points), and 16 goals only conceded in 42 games no less. Ah the good old days…

The world has indeed changed in the 34 years since then, mainly that the Championship is now the Premiership. Significantly though, the intricacies of the modern game in terms of club ownership, management structures, agents, player contracts, transfer deadlines all make the game a lot more difficult to run than it should be – a necessary evil sadly. It was this complication that meant that one of the most celebrated and mass supported football clubs in the world were left at the end of the 2012 summer transfer window with an embarrassingly inadequate number of proven quality forwards to cope with the demands of a Premiership season in the modern era.

The specific reasons for this, and where any fault lies is only known by those involved, and could be speculated on until the cows come home – in short a lack of true club leadership, sound advice and very poor planning all contributed – and to be honest, Liverpool FC find themselves lucky to be handily placed in 8th and still with an outside chance of gaining a 4th place Champions League qualifying spot, so coveted by Arsene Wenger each year. Liverpool are fortunate that this is a poor Premiership, that the emergence of Raheem Sterling has been premature, but mainly indebted to the outstanding form of the usual suspects Messrs Gerrard and Suarez.

However, Brendan Rodgers has got his act together, work was done in December and on 2nd January, Liverpool fans received a new year’s gift that was much expected in the form of Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea for the highly common transfer fee of £ undisclosed….. Problem solved?

Let’s look at this question in 3 ways – Player, Team, Squad….

Is Daniel Sturridge the right player? A difficult question to answer because at 23 you can hardly say he has been a regular anywhere – as a kid at Man City he showed many glimpses of his clear talent; at Chelsea initially he hardly seemed to get a kick, yet surprisingly scored 5 in 20 games while winning Premiership and FA Cup winners medals; he spent a successful 6 month loan at Bolton when in most Bolton fans eyes he kept them in the Premier League for one more year – and his goal record of 8 goals in 12 games is indeed impressive – as was his pace and power and clear ability shown in a struggling poor side. He finished last season with 13 goals in total, again impressive given he was third or 4th in line behind Anelka, Drogba and Torres and played many of his games in a wider role under AVB and Di Matteo. His performances for Team GB last summer again reminded fans of his abilities… so based on all that, at 23, Liverpool have spent their cash on an English striker with the best years ahead of him, with experience, with a knack of goals and hopefully a point to prove.

Will Sturridge fit into the current first XI? – Good question, Luis Suarez – the Premier League’s top scorer has been playing fantastic all season as a central striker, Sturridge is a central striker – despite his over-use out wide by Chelsea. Given Brendan Rodgers’s desire to develop a 4-3-3 type system at Anfield it would appear a conundrum – or does it? Teams rarely play the same XI week in week out, so there will be weeks they play together and some they don’t. The key to this question is Suarez. Love him or loathe him you cannot deny him – Suarez is a player, he never gives up, must be a nightmare to defend against, but in truth is a very frustrating central striker. Suarez loves to roam, he goes where the ball is, tries to cause mayhem and make something happen for the team – but there have been far too many times this season when Liverpool have needed a striker to finish off the results of Suarez creative efforts, so there is every chance a place for Sturridge in the first XI will improve the team’s output and results, with him as the central figure of the attack, and Suarez in tandem roaming, creating and scoring.

Where does the Sturridge signing leave Liverpool’s squad… in a word or 2 – still short. Look at Man U – 4 high quality strikers, Man City 3 or 4, Liverpool now have 2. Even with summer 12 purchase, the Italian Fabio Borini nearing fitness after injury, reality is it is still only 2, because even Brendan Rodgers admitted Borini was one for the future. Another “for the future”, Adam Morgan, is being loaned out to Rotherham for experience, and the once “for the future” Danny Pacheco now seems in that bracket of “surplus to requirements”, so the expectation and hope of Liverpool fans is for another signing or loan deal in the forward department – indeed I believe a majority of Liverpool fans would not be unhappy to see Andy Carroll back, although he may carry too much media focus to return just yet. Of course the assumption is that the rest of Liverpool’s squad is up to scratch, which in reality it is not. There is a lack of regular goals from midfield; more creativity is needed in the squad; better defensive cover and despite recent returns to form and promise shown, Messrs Henderson, Downing and Enrique need to show a higher standard more consistently, in more games with more assists and more goals to finally cement a place as first team options who you trust to deliver.

So is Daniel Sturridge the answer for Liverpool FC, not really…. But take yourself back to your school days and those exam questions you’d get which started “this is a 3 part question”… Brendan Rodgers has just answered part “a” pretty well, however answers to parts “b and c” will be tougher, are worth more marks, and so may take more time to solve, and in truth he may need the input of the owners to fully solve them in terms of cold hard cash…. And the ownership situation is one for another day.

However, another run of 8 goals in 12 games from Sturridge, coupled with a better consistent team performance could yet deliver Liverpool some form of European Football next season, and if it is the Champions League, then the Sturridge signing could well be the catalyst to something significant.

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Is Micah Richards going to be Brendan Rodgers’ next big signing for Liverpool?

By Stefano on January 4th, 2013

Liverpool have already made one of the key signings of the window in snapping up Daniel Sturridge, but it seems that Brendan Rodgers’ spree isn’t going to end there.

A few papers are reporting that the Liverpool manager is back on the case renegotiating the return of Thomas Ince from Blackpool with a fee of around £5 million.

But Italian source TuttoMercato (reported here by Goal) also says that the Reds are keeping close tabs on Man City defender Micah Richards.

The England defender has only had a few opportunities at Man City this season, after injuring his knee in October, and seems to have fallen off manager Roberto Mancini’s radar. Even when he was fit, like at the end of last season, his chances were limited. Mancini has an embarrassment of riches at the back and some papers are even linking Joleon Lescott with a move away from the club possibly to Aston Villa.

Liverpool already have an England player at right back in Glenn Johnson, but Richards would be a very useful centre back for Rodgers.



Football

Transfer update – Liverpool sign Sturridge which means Ba move to Chelsea back on

By Stefano on January 2nd, 2013

Big news in the last hour. Liverpool FC have confirmed that they have signed Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge. There is no news yet on the terms of the deal but Sturridge has said

“I am humbled and happy to be here. Brendan Rodgers said he sees me here for a long time – and I also see myself here for a long time. I’ve not signed here to play for a couple of years and then move on.

“I’ve signed to be here for as long as possible. It’s a humongous club – for me, one of the biggest in the world – and to have the fans and world-class players we have here is amazing.”

Sturridge scored 13 times for Chelsea last season, including 11 in the Premier League, but an injury has limited his role this year.

Sturridge’s transfer means that the Demba Ba move to Chelsea is apparently back on. Newcastle United issues this on their website an hour or so ago.

The club have given the player permission to speak to Chelsea FC and therefore he will not be included in the squad for tonight’s (Wednesday) game against Everton.

Chelsea are thought to have made an offer in excess of £7 million which triggers Ba’s release clause. Infostrada recently tweeted “Demba Ba (36) has scored 2x as many PL goals since arriving in PL in Jan 2011 than Fernando Torres (18) since his move to #CFC in Jan 2011.”

So Chelsea fans – is this the striker you have been waiting for?

 



Football

Who should start on the wings for Liverpool against QPR? Sterling, Suso or Downing?

By Stefano on December 28th, 2012
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Raheem Sterling’s impact for Liverpool this season has been highly impressive, but the young winger desperately needed a break from first-team duties. Signs of fatigue were creeping into Sterling’s game in recent weeks, while the psychological impact of being thrust into the media limelight can’t be underestimated, especially for a youngster that has shown signs of indiscipline. Constant speculation about his new contract didn’t help matters.

But now, Sterling is fresh having been only a substitute in the matches against Fulham and Aston Villa, and his new contract was signed last week. Brendan Rodgers will want to rotate his side after the disappointment against Stoke on Boxing Day, and Sterling is the obvious player to come into the side, providing a burst of pace and energy on the flank.

But if Sterling plays, which winger should Rodgers drop? Stewart Downing was quiet against Stoke, but was genuinely excellent against Fulham, and deserves a run in the side. Suso, meanwhile, was relatively quiet in both matches, and like Sterling, shouldn’t be overplayed at this early stage of his career. Rodgers has been determined to protect the young Spaniard: he’s started eight matches but hasn’t completed the 90 minutes in any, and will probably be rested against QPR.

Sterling and Downing can both play on either flank, but the former should get plenty of joy against QPR left-back Armand Traore, who is talented technically but woeful in a position sense, leaving too much space between himself and the centre-backs. Sterling’s decision-marking isn’t yet up to the required standard, but if he skips past Traore, he’ll have plenty of time to decide what to do next.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.



Football

Atletico Madrid’s tricky winger Arda Turan tracked by Arsenal and Liverpool

By Stefano on December 28th, 2012

The latest news from Arsenal is that the club are apparently interested in signing Atletico Madrid’s Turkish winger Arda Turan.

Turkish paper Millyet says that the player’s agent Ahmet Bulut has received offers from both Arsenal and Liverpool, and the Turkish midfielder wants to continue his career in the Premier League.

Wenger (and Rodgers) was clearly reminded about what a talent the player is when he starred during the Madrid club’s recent thrashing of Chelsea in the Super Cup.

He is 25, plays on the left wing – an area where Arsenal have struggled this season with Lukas Podolski – and owing to the perilous financial nature of Spanish football he could end up costing less than £10 million.

He would also be a good player to link up with Santi Cazorla and certainly works harder tracking back than Podolski. He also has plenty of pace, something that is sorely lacking in the current Arsenal team.

From a marketing perspective it would be a very wise move to sign a Turkish player too. The area to the east of the ground is home to many Arsenal supporting Turks and Turkish Cypriots who would be hugely excited about one of their own starring at The Emirates.

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