While discussing the return of Luis Suarez to the Liverpool lineup, manager Brendan Rodgers claims the star striker is “champing at the bit to play.”
Rodgers uttered the phrase without a bat of the eye, no doubt blinded by his delight at having the Uruguayan back in the squad following his 10 match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Invanovic.
The Uruguayan striker is likely to line up alongside Daniel Sturridge for the Capital One Cup match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
“It has been a really difficult time for [Suarez] not playing games,” Rodgers said.
“How he has prepared himself over the last number of weeks has been fantastic. He’s really champing at the bit to help the team. So he’ll obviously travel with us and I’ll reflect over the next 24 hours whether he starts or not.”
Speaking of Suarez’ quality and attitude, Rodgers explained that what’s past is past and the bottom line for the manager – who Suarez criticized in a newspaper interview and claimed to have said he could leave for a Champions League club – is that supporters want to see the striker with a red shirt on and fighting for the club.
“The great thing about this football club is no matter what a player has done – or supposedly said – the supporters are 150 per cent behind every player that pulls on that shirt and they back them to the hilt,” Rodgers said.
But Rodgers still couldn’t seem to get the biting theme out of his subconscious. “I have no doubt, having been out, [Suarez] will be even hungrier but his commitment and fight for the cause will still be the same.”
The Capital One Cup match between Manchester United and Liverpool kicks off Wednesday at 2:45pm ET.
Spanish outlet Marca claims that a number of North American sides are among the clubs chasing Fernando Torres.
The Spanish striker has only scored more than 11 goals once since 2009-10, and is uncapped since 2014. But that doesn’t mean clubs from China to to the U.S. and the UAE to Japan aren’t interested in the 31-year-old.
[ JPW: Recapping the top stories from an intense Premier League weekend ]
The Marca report claims three MLS teams are interested and also name drops the New York Cosmos of the NASL, who’ve recently brought Venezuelan legend Juan Arango on board.
It’s hard to imagine anyone outside the MLS rich sides taking a risk on Torres. Maybe Montreal would look to reunite him with Didier Drogba, and Torres certainly has experience combining with New York City’s David Villa. As for the third… Orlando City? Chicago?
Your guess is as good as ours, though it could be moot if this is solely about money. China continues to spend well.
Gabriel Agbonlahor is riding high, as the Premier League Player of the Week broke his duck this weekend and is thinking “great escape” for his Aston Villa side.
Villa has eight points in its last five matches, doubling its season total to 16. That’s still table bottom, but Remi Garde’s bunch would love to see their way out of the drop zone after a brutal start to the season under Tim Sherwood.
What would it take for Villa to pull that off, and avoid the first Premier League relegation in club history?
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Turns out, a lot.
There is no easy match in the next five, and Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are all on the schedule after that.
Villa next five matches
Feb. 14 – vs. Liverpool
Feb. 27 – at Stoke City
March 1 – vs. Everton
March 5 – at Manchester City
March 12 – vs. Spurs
The Villans do have three relegation six-pointers left, and two of those are at Villa Park with Bournemouth and Newcastle United. Villa also heads to Swansea City.
But Villa has to make up 12 points on the Cherries, 11 on Swans and eight on the Magpies. And while they are within two goals difference of Newcastle, they have eight goals to make up on Bournemouth and 11 to make up on Swansea.
That doesn’t include Sunderland and Norwich, sides four and seven points ahead of the Villans (though both have tricky runs left as well).
If Garde’s club is to make its escape, it will be close to unbelievable. That it will close with a match against Arsenal makes it even trickier, but that would be just the final impressive note in what could only be considered a Garde-conducted masterpiece.
What a weekend. Let’s relive it.
Round 25 of the Premier League provided plenty more thrills, shocks and excitement as two unlikely title contenders — Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur — are pushing ahead.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Our own Joe Prince-Wright recaps all the major headlines from what could turn out to be a pivotal weekend in the Premier League title race.
[ MORE: Latest Premier League news ]
Click play on the video below to join JPW as he battles the elements and checks in from outside Stamford Bridge in London following Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
Come for the goal, stay for the “Gol” call.
Or should we say the “Gol. Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Goool-Gol” call.
[ MORE: Angry Louis van Gaal rips journalists for “inventing” stories ]
USMNT defender Omar Gonzalez has opened his account for Pachuca with this 88th minute header, and it’s worth it if just for the auditory performance.
Gonzalez also pulls out the high-capacity weapon celebration, though he’s apparently opted to do the version closer to the “Scarface” finale (Spoiler alert).