Liverpool host Aston Villa in Saturday’s late Premier League kickoff, with a win against the suffering Birmingham side almost a certainty. Those three points will be necessary to keep Everton and Tottenham from sneaking into fourth, with the sides a point and two points behind the Reds, respectively.
With Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea filling the top three spots in the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers knows it will be difficult to gain ground – but the Liverpool manager is not about to give up hope of playing in next year’s Champions League. To better his side’s chances, Rodgers has decided to shift club captain Steven Gerrard into a deeper midfield role, allowing him greater opportunities to orchestrate the game and control its flow.
Cynics might believe this is simply a move to extend the 33 year old’s playing career, but Rodgers insists he’s taking Gerrard’s playing style into account: “It’s not as simple as putting him back into that role because he’s Steven Gerrard; it’s because I think he’s got the qualities to play and operate in that position at a very high level.”
And with Daniel Sturridge and, of course, Luis Suárez racking up the goals for Liverpool, Gerrard doesn’t need to expend as much energy getting forward and trying to score. Instead, Rodgers will foster the captain’s other traits, looking to model him after Serie A stars Andrea Pirlo, who is 34, and Javier Zanetti, aged 40. From his deeper role, Gerrard will have better opportunities to coordinate his side, picking out passes to launch attacks while doing defensive work to break up opposition play.
Having their best players on the pitch will undoubtedly help Liverpool secure a Champions League position. But there’s no denying this move was made to help prolong Gerrard’s career as well. Does it matter? Of course not. The midfielder is still a quality player, and if changing his position both keeps the captain at his club longer and helps strengthen the side, it matters little what the main motivation is.
You decide: Liverpool face Villa at 12:30 p.m. ET. Catch it live on NBC, or live online via NBC Sports Live Extra.
At the risk of tooting my own horn, count me among the few who thought Hugo Lloris might’ve done a bit better on Eder‘s EURO winning goal.
It wasn’t a howler. But the French goalkeeper, one of the best in the world, seemed a tad slow to explode toward the right post when Eder let rip with a new legendary Portuguese shot.
[ MORE: Gameiro joins new club ]
It seems there’s good reason for this, as Lloris was injured just before the goal. Raphael Guerriero bent a gorgeous free kick off the cross bar, as you might remember, one that sent the goalkeeper clattering into the goal post.
This new video shows the Spurs goalkeeper favoring his right side or leg for the next minute, and that’s the leg he uses to drive his body low toward Eder’s bounding shot.
What do you think? Did it make a difference? Or was Eder’s shot plenty good on merit?
New England Revolution forward Charlie Davies is in remission after being treated for liposarcoma this Spring.
The 30-year-old striker took some time off from the team this Spring, and revealed his battle on Saturday.
[ MORE: Gameiro joins new club ]
According to the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, “Liposarcoma is a rare cancer of connective tissues that resemble fat cells under a microscope. It accounts for up to 18% of all soft tissue sarcomas. Liposarcoma can occur in almost any part of the body, but more than half of liposarcoma cases involve the thigh, and up to a third involve the abdominal cavity.”
Davies has had his fair share of obstacles to overcome, having been involved in a massive car accident in 2009 that lacerated his bladder, left bleeding on the brain and broke several bones.
He missed six months for then-club Sochaux, and struggled to regain the form that saw him score four goals in 17 caps for the USMNT. He enjoyed a renaissance last summer with 10 goals for the Revolution.
From a release:
“Today, New England Revolution forward Charlie Davies shared that earlier this spring he was diagnosed and treated for liposarcoma and that he is now in remission. It was important for Charlie to concentrate on his family and treatment during the past few weeks and the club honored his wish for privacy. The New England Revolution will continue to support him through full recovery and are looking forward to seeing him back out on the pitch. Any fans who wish to share support should tweet or tag messages to Charlie at @CharlieDavies9 or use the hashtag #CD9.”
All our best to CD9 and his family, who braved two children born three months premature.
Make no mistake about it, Jurgen Klopp has his team at Anfield.
The Liverpool manager, 49, took over for Brendan Rodgers in January and made some encouraging strides given that he was left with players who weren’t all designed for his system.
[ MORE: Januzaj wants United exit ]
Enter Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum. Bring on Ragnar Klavan and Marko Grujic.
Enter Klopp’s squad, from Sky Sports:
“This is my squad now,” Klopp said. “After all the transfers…this time it is my team. There are probably no players here anymore I don’t want. There are no signings I didn’t want, we have not sold anyone I didn’t want to.”
“I’m not afraid of making decisions – it’s part of the job,” Klopp added. “I am happy with my team now – all I can say is we will be a challenger.
That “not sold anyone I didn’t want to” part sounds a bit like some sour grapes from Borussia Dortmund, where Klopp watched several of his best skip town.
On a lighter note, Klopp cut a rug for a group of young fans at Liverpool, and the Reds were good enough to film it for us.
“If you do it long enough, you can fly”. Head down for some classic, but ultimately very misleading, Klopp.
Adnan Januzaj wants to leave Old Trafford permanently.
The 21-year-old has one club goal since his breakout 2013-14 campaign, when he scored four times in the season that saw him turn 19.
[ RANIERI: Mahrez will stay at LCFC ]
It wasn’t long ago that the debate on Januzaj’s stardom was not hyped as if, rather when. Countries were fighting for his international future, and United fans were rankled when he didn’t hit the pitch.
Now, it’s a surprise if he factors at all. Januzaj hasn’t played for Belgium since 2014, and made just 12 appearances during a loan stint at Borussia Dortmund last season.
The Daily Mail reports that Januzaj has told Jose Mourinho he’s ready to leave Manchester.
Sunderland have been tipped as a possible destination for Januzaj, who certainly carries a lot of potential. The 6-foot winger has also been whispered as a target of Ajax and Milan.