Liverpool v Notts County - Capital One Cup Second Round

Another Kolo Touré blunder has Liverpool behind early at Fulham – Watch Live

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Liverpool fans hoping the Kolo Touré project ends soon have more ammunition for their arguments, with the another error by the veteran defender giving last place Fulham an early lead at Craven Cottage. Despite nice work from Lewis Holtby and Kieran Richardson down Fulham’s left, there was little beyond defender error to explain the eighth minute own goal goal.

Holtby, having drifted wide left, played a perfectly weighted ball behind the defense for a charging Richardson, who tracked the pass down just before the byline, well wide of goal. The winger’s hopeful ball across to top of the six-yard box met a well-positioned Touré.

Without any Fulham attackers near him, the Ivorian defender had plenty to time to take a touch, if he wanted. Even playing it first time, the ball represented an easier clearance than Touré’s likely to see throughout the rest of today’s match.


But instead of firing the ball upfield, Touré shanked his attempted clearance into his own net, looking more like a low-level AYSO player than somebody playing at the highest level of English soccer. Seeing the ball go off the outside of his right foot and into Simon Mignolet’s goal, Touré could do nothing but stare incredulously at his second major embarrassment in three games.

On Feb. 2 at The Hawthorns, a 67th minute Touré pass across the top of his penalty area was intercepted by Victor Anichebe, who was left with an uncontested shot on Mignolet. The goal gave West Bromwich Albion a 1-1 draw – Liverpool’s only blemish in their last four games.

With Daniel Agger just returning to health and Mamadou Sahko injured, Brendan Rodgers has few options in central defense. But if Agger, on the bench today, can regain match fitness ahead of Sunday’s visit to Arsenal, the Liverpool’s painful Kolo Touré project may be over soon.

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.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

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.