Brendan Rodgers to face his son in FA Cup match

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When Liverpool host Oldham Athletic tomorrow in the FA Cup, it will serve as much more than a simple cup tie between Premier League giants and League One minnows.

Narrative is everything.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will face his own son in a family battle frought with redemption and friendly competition – along with actual competition.

Anton Rodgers, 20 years old and manning the central midfield for Oldham, has journeyed a long way to simply get the opportunity to play his father at legendary Anfield.

The young’in began in Chelsea’s academy before making his way to Brighton & Hove Albion (on his father’s advice) on his first professional contract. He fittingly debuted in the FA Cup against conference side Wrexham as a 63rd minute substitute.

Anton Rodgers plays for Oldham in their FA Cup win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

That was his only appearance at Brighton, before they shipped him off to Exeter for a 2-month loan and ultimately released him in May of this season.

Not, however, before a very difficult period in the family’s lives. Anton and three teammates at Brighton were charged – and ultimately cleared after a retrial – of sexual assault and voyeurism of a teenage girl during their time at the club.

“As parents, both his mum and I found it really, really difficult, especially when you know the innocence of your son,” said the elder Rodgers to the Guardian.

Now, with it all behind them, the pair can focus on not just their individual careers, but the relationship between the two.

But Brendan Rodgers is well aware of how fate can play a part in these matches. With Oldham having bombed Liverpool out of the Cup last season, the 40-year-old manager is taking no chances.

“It is also a situation that I will want the players to pay attention to,” said Rodgers, “because the footballing gods sometimes come into it as well. With the footballing gods, he could end up getting a goal.”

Now with Oldham, Anton has featured in seven league matches this season (two starts), and with Lee Johnson’s good relationship with the family, it’s certainly possible Anton could get a runout – if not a start – against his dad.

However much he plays, no question there will be a sense of family to the match’s atmosphere.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.