Reading v Liverpool: Hobbs handed first league start

Jack Hobbs makes his first ever Premiership start for Liverpool this evening at Reading, but not in place of Jamie Carragher as had been expected. Carragher is one booking away from missing the Manchester United match, and was injured last time out against Bolton so it was thought Rafa may have considered leaving him on the bench. Instead it’s Sami Hyypia on the bench and Hobbs lines up alongside Carragher, in a defence that also includes Alvaro Arbeloa and John Arne Riise.

Another surprise is Rafa’s decision to play three forwards for the game. Javier Mascherano and Momo Sissoko are in the centre midfield, with Steven Gerrard expected to play there too in a 4-3-3 which includes Voronin, Crouch and Torres up front. Then again with Rafa it’s never certain exactly what he’s planning until the players are actually out there.

It’s a very attack minded squad for Rafa, who’s also got Kewell, Kuyt and Babel on the bench.

Reading: 1 Hahnemann, 2 Murty, 5 Sonko, 16 Ingimarsson, 3 Shorey, 10 Hunt, 15 Harper, 6 Gunnarsson, 17 Convey, 9 Doyle, 12 Kitson
Subs: 32 Federici, 4 Cisse, 8 Lita, 22 Bikey, 24 Long

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 46 Hobbs, 6 Riise, 8 Gerrard, 20 Mascherano, 22 Sissoko, 10 Voronin, 9 Torres, 15 Crouch
Subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia, 7 Kewell, 18 Kuyt, 19 Babel

Referee: Andre Marriner

Ex-red Biscan returns to Zagreb

Former Liverpool midfielder Igor Biscan has moved back to his first club, Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb. Biscan signed a three-and-a-half year contract with the Croatian side on Monday, and will be able to play for them from January.

Biscan was signed by Gerard Houllier in 2000, for around £5.5m, as a central midfielder. In what became a pattern under Houllier, the player was rarely used, and when he was he was more often than not used out of position by the Frenchman. He spent a lot of time playing in the reserves as a central defender.

By the time he’d left the club in 2005, he’d become something of a cult hero, and had played a part in Liverpool’s fifth Champions League success, having been drafted into the first team by Rafael Benitez because of injuries for many of the Reds knockout games leading to Istanbul. Continue reading Ex-red Biscan returns to Zagreb

Good luck Ricky! – Reds stars’ message to Hatton

hatton-mayweather.jpgDespite being warned they can’t watch the fight live, two of Liverpool’s players sent messages of good luck to Ricky Hatton ahead of his showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jnr this weekend. The Manchester City supporter will be in Las Vegas fighting for the WBC welterweight title. Unfortunately for the Reds players who want to see the fight, Saturday-night prime-time for US viewers is around 4am Sunday-morning for UK viewers, and manager Rafa Benitez doesn’t want them staying up to watch it with the all-important Champions League clash with Marseilles looming on Tuesday.

Captain Stephen Gerrard said: “Best of luck mate. I hope you get what you want out of the fight. Everyone at Liverpool is rooting for you. Unfortunately we have a massive game on Tuesday so I won’t be able to watch it live – I will be recording it though.” Continue reading Good luck Ricky! – Reds stars’ message to Hatton

Capello story refuted, still no denial of Rafa sack claims

The story in this morning’s Daily Mirror that claimed Liverpool had been talking to Fabio Capello about the manager’s job at Anfield have been firmly denied by the club.

The Mirror reported that Capello had in their words been “tapped up” on two occasions by the Reds, but their story was not backed up with quotes. It read: “Fabio Capello has been ‘tapped up’ twice by Liverpool as Rafa Benitez battles to stay in command at Anfield. Capello claims he was contacted before and after last week’s Champions League win over Porto as boss Benitez’s relationship with owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks reached crisis point.” Continue reading Capello story refuted, still no denial of Rafa sack claims

Besiktas in 8-0 match-throwing allegations

Reports in Germany earlier in the week have filtered through to the English press today regarding allegations that Besiktas players were involved in match-fixing, the game in question being Liverpool’s record-breaking 8-0 win over the Turkish side. According to the reports, a late surge of bets were made on Besiktas losing heavily against the five-times champions, who they’d actually beaten in the home fixture.

There is no suggestion at all that Liverpool or their players were aware of the alleged fixing. Liverpool haven’t commented on the allegations because they say they’ve not been made aware of any. Continue reading Besiktas in 8-0 match-throwing allegations

Hobbs hopeful as Capello claims interest

Jack Hobbs could be in line for a full Premiership debut this weekend, with boss Rafa Benitez concerned at the injuries he has amongst his defenders. Jamie Carragher had to leave the game early on Sunday in Liverpool’s win over Bolton after worries he’d damaged his ribs again in a collision with Pepe Reina. Although he’s expected to be fit by then, he’s also on four yellow cards, and another booking would bring a suspension.

The match Carra would miss would be the showdown with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Suspensions from bookings apply seven days after the final booking, and with the United game delayed a day for TV coverage it means that would be the match he’d miss. So Rafa has to consider if it’s worth chancing the player being unavailable for such a game. Continue reading Hobbs hopeful as Capello claims interest

Result: Liverpool 4 Bolton 0

Barclays Premier League – 2nd December 2007 – Result

Liverpool 4 Bolton 0

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez: “The team had confidence and you can see that in the number of chances we are creating. We’re trying to keep the momentum, but we’re in good position, much better than last season. The second goal was important as it gave us more space and they had to change their shape.”

Bolton’s manager, Gary Megson: “It was a poor day for us, but we will pick up ourselves up. There will be no knee-jerk reaction. Given Nicolas Anelka’s status it was a poor miss, but there were many other things that didn’t go for us. I’m most disappointed about the first goal as we didn’t get our best headers on it. You learn from adversity and we’ll see how we react to this.”

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 4 Hyypia, 23 Carragher (46 Hobbs, 51), 6 Riise, 11 Benayoun, 8 Gerrard, 21 Lucas, 7 Kewell (19 Babel, 67), 9 Torres (18 Kuyt, 76), 15 Crouch
Unused subs: 30 Itandje, 20 Mascherano
Goals: Hyypia 17, Torres 45, Gerrard 56 (pen), Babel 86

Bolton: 22 Jaaskelainen, 3 Samuel, 5 Meite, 28 Michalik, 11 Gardner, 19 McCann, 8 Campo, 6 Speed, 14 Davies, 39 Anelka, 21 Diouf (7 Giannakopoulos, 66)
Unused subs: 26 Al Habsi, 10 Wilhelmsson, 16 Teymourian, 18 Alonso
Bookings: Diouf 11, Campo 61, Michalik 69

Stats: (Liverpool – Bolton)
Possession: 64% – 36%
Shots on target: 14 – 3
Shots off target: 9 – 3
Corners: 5 – 5
Fouls: 11 – 14

Half-time: 2-0

Referee: Steve Bennett
Attendance: 43,270

Teams: Liverpool v Bolton

Midfielder Lucas gets another chance to impress as Bolton pay a visit to Anfield today. He’ll line up alongside Steven Gerrard in midfield, with Javier Mascherano dropping to the bench. Harry Kewell starts on the left of midfield, with Andriy Voronin replaced in attack by Peter Crouch, scorer of Liverpool’s fourth on Wednesday. He’ll partner record signing Fernando Torres.

Former Reds Nicolas Anelka and El Hadji Diouf line up for Bolton.

Continue reading Teams: Liverpool v Bolton

Bid for legend Ray Kennedy signed shirt

kennedy-souness-dalglish.jpgA Liverpool legend is struggling with his health, and having come from a time in football when the trappings were far more modest than they are today, has even had to resort to selling his prized medals.

Ray Kennedy was signed for Liverpool by Bill Shankly for £180,000, but arrived on the day that the enigmatic Scotsman resigned. Bob Paisley took over the manager’s job of course, and converted Ray from striker to winger, where he excelled for the club. By the time his Liverpool career was over he’d scored 72 goals in 393 games. One of those was scored in the semi-final of the 1981 European Cup, a goal that helped Liverpool towards their third triumph in the competition. Continue reading Bid for legend Ray Kennedy signed shirt

Hicks: split rumours “rubbish”, no denial of Rafa sack story

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks says that rumours of him looking to sell his stake in Liverpool are “rubbish”, and that the stories about Rafa being sacked were a “misunderstanding”. But he’s not denied that he was planning to sack the manager.

Hicks spoke to the Echo’s editor John Thompson in an exclusive printed in today’s edition of the paper. The story seems clearly designed to put a positive spin on the owners’ relationship with each other – not surprising given the fact that good links to Liverpool Football Club help the Echo’s sales substantially.

Thompsons talks about Hicks attending an NHL owners’ conference with “close friend Gillett”. Thompson also writes that both owners have “clearly been taken aback by recent stories in the British media, including one that Rafael Benitez is facing the sack, which as far as they are concerned have no foundation in fact.” Unfortunately that statement from Thompson regarding the threat of Rafa being sacked does not come matched up with any quotes from Hicks to back it up. Continue reading Hicks: split rumours “rubbish”, no denial of Rafa sack story