Reds recall Shelvey from loan following Lucas injury

TEENAGE midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is on his way back from Blackpool early after the Seasiders announced Liverpool had recalled him early from his loan with them. The recall follows on from last night’s injury to Lucas Leiva when the Brazilian midfielder was stretchered off twenty minutes from the end of the game against Chelsea with a knee problem. The recall has heightened fears that Lucas could be out for a lengthy period of time.
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Strength in depth takes the Reds a step nearer Wembley

Carling Cup Quarter Final – Result

Chelsea 0 Liverpool 2

ACCORDING to some, November is supposed to be Liverpool’s bad month. It probably has been at times, although last season it was maybe the best month out of all the dreadful ones under the manager the club had started the season with. This season the month got off to a bad start with a performance described by Kenny Dalglish as “unacceptable” in a goalless home draw against Swansea – and the fixture list showed two Chelsea games plus one against Manchester City to come before the month was out. An international break left a 15-day gap until the next match; poor planning by the football authorities left a 48-hour gap between the last two games of the month.

The worriers were worried, the pessimists were pessimistic, the critics had their knives sharpened and at the ready.

Those knives are back in the drawer now, November 2011 has ended well – those difficult games went Liverpool’s way.  Manchester City might have beaten last season’s champions 6-1 on their own turf but, like last season’s champions, they left Anfield far happier with a draw than Liverpool were. The other two games, both at Stamford Bridge, ended in victory for Liverpool. Chelsea’s boss is the one under pressure, Liverpool are in the semi-finals of the League Cup and improving with every game.
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Kenny taking the League Cup seriously, like Bob did

BOB PAISLEY was Liverpool’s manager for nine seasons and in every single one of those seasons the club won a piece of silverware.  The only major trophy to elude him was the FA Cup but that wasn’t through lack of trying. His first season was the least successful, Liverpool finishing runners-up in the league (two points behind Derby County) and the only silverware won was the Charity Shield right at the beginning of the season, in a game that saw Bill Shankly lead Liverpool out for the last time, three months after announcing his retirement as boss. Paisley would guide his men to another four victories in the season’s traditional curtain-raiser, as well as another one shared in the days when penalty shoot-outs weren out of favour for domestic fixtures.

That second-placed finish meant Liverpool went into the UEFA Cup the following season, the last time they would during Bob’s reign, and they won it. They also won the league, as they did in all but two of the seasons that followed until Bob retired; six league titles in all. The title in 1976 saw the Reds qualify for the European Cup, and as well as winning the league they would end the 1976-77 season winning ‘Old Big Ears’ for the first time on a famous night in Rome. And those two seasons without a league title, in 1978 and 1981, were made up for by Bob guiding his men to the club’s second and third European Cup triumphs. There was also time to bring home the European Super Cup in 1977.

When Bob arrived as manager Liverpool had never won the League Cup, a competition that had first been contested in 1960, and it wasn’t until 1981 that Bob got Liverpool’s name on the trophy. The competition became The Milk Cup the following season – and Liverpool won it again. In all Bob won it three times, in his last three seasons, before Joe Fagan came in and made it four in a row for the Reds (as part of a treble including the league title and the European Cup).

Liverpool took the competition seriously at this time, but then again so did all the other league clubs. It wasn’t until the beginning of the Premier League that certain clubs started to take the tournament less seriously, fielding much weakened sides safe in the knowledge that there wouldn’t be any punishment for doing so.

There were still complaints from certain managers until eventually a decision was made to give teams involved in European competition a bye to the third round. The change was made because of complaints about players having to play too many games – yet even after the change those same managers would use their fringe players or members of their youth squads, not the players they were using in European or league matches.

The final used to be in April, and although never quite having the prestige of the FA Cup it was still a big occasion and offered a chance to lift some silverware in the same place that the FA Cup would be lifted a month later. Nowadays the final is in February and only seems to be held in that same place because of the financial need for that place to stage a vast number of events, even FA Cup semi-finals, each year.

Carling announced they wouldn’t be renewing their sponsorship of the competition next season and it was hardly a surprise to hear that. The trophy that players were proud to win has been rapidly growing into the trophy that is less welcome than a 39th game. That much was demonstrated when it came to working out the schedule for this season’s quarter finals. Read more

The People quietly apologises to Andy Carroll and LFC

EVEN with the best of intentions people can make mistakes. And that includes The People, the Sunday tabloid from the same publishers as the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror. Did The People have the best intentions when they made a mistake in a story they ran about Andy Carroll?

If it was a genuine mistake, and this was pointed out, a genuine apology would at least make up for some of the damage their carelessness caused. And The People did apologise, as quietly as they possibly could. If you hunted long enough you’d find it in the printed edition. If you searched Google you’d find it in the online edition. If you were fast enough.

The People

The People, not big on apologies

For reasons known only to them the apology was removed from the online version of the site before that day’s edition could even be described as yesterday’s edition. So in case you did miss it, and perhaps as a reminder to the paper itself to be more careful in future, here’s the apology in full. Deep breath:

Last weekend we ran a story entitled “Do or Diet” in which we said that Liverpool have placed Andy Carroll on a 12 month regime to monitor his lifestyle, dietary and drinking habits. This is incorrect. The Club have confirmed that Andy has not been placed under any such regime and we are happy to set the record straight. We apologise to Liverpool and Andy for the error.

That’s it. The full apology. Just an error. They’re so happy to set the record straight that they print it as small as they can get away with and delete it from their website as fast as they possibly can.

This was the same paper that went to town on the return of Kenny Dalglish by claiming Liverpool were doomed for bringing him in to replace the man they’d backed (Roy Hodgson) so it probably sticks in throats that Kenny proved them wrong. But that was opinion, something they’re entitled to as long as it’s marked up as such and something we can all laugh at if it later turns out to be way off the mark. This wasn’t opinion, this was a lie, a lie designed to do nothing but harm someone.

At a time when the press, in particular the tabloids, are under so much scrutiny it’s perhaps an indication of how safe some elements still feel they are from the consequences of printing their lies or setting out to hurt people in whatever way they think looks nice on their increasingly downmarket pages.

Their ultimate safety is in the sales figures of the papers they write for and until they wake up to the fact that lies won’t go unnoticed, that they aren’t the only voice people hear when stories are told, they’ll continue to see their sales figures fall and those jobs won’t be as safe as they thought they were.

If they haven’t even got the balls to apologise properly and prominently for a false story designed to hurt someone then they can’t exactly be surprised to find readers become former readers. Better papers, or funnier comics, are available.

Downing and Hendo return for LFC v Man City

Today’s game between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield will be played amidst much sadness following the news that Gary Speed had died this morning at the age of 42. Speed was Craig Bellamy’s manager at Wales and played for Kenny Dalglish at Newcastle. He grew up supporting our neighbours Everton who he would later play for and be captain of. Tributes have been paid by Charlie Adam and Xabi Alonso amongst many more at the loss of a man who was hugely respected in the game.

Before today’s kick-off Liverpool had already planned a minute’s silence before kick-off in memory of Brad Jones’s son Luca, who died nine days ago.

Craig Bellamy won’t be involved today, understandably.

The only other change Kenny has made to the side that beat Chelsea last weekend is to put Maxi Rodriguez on the bench, with Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson the two chosen to return to the starting line-up. This means he has decided to stick with the same back four so Jamie Carragher is again on the bench. Andy Carroll is amongst the subs.
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Liverpool v Manchester City

Manchester City visit Anfield today looking for a win to increase their gap at the top of the Premier League to seven points.

Liverpool go into the game in seventh place with every team above them, other than today’s opponents, having played yesterday. Any points for Liverpool today would see them move up into sixth place. A draw would move Dalglish’s side ahead of Arsenal on goal difference; a win would see them level on points with fifth-placed Chelsea but unless it’s a win by seven goals Chelsea would still have the better goal difference.

Goal difference is unlikely to be a worry for the side from Manchester this season, they go into this one having scored 31 more than they’ve conceded after just 12 games. One of those games was against their neighbours United, who were on the wrong end of an embarrassing 6-1 drubbing. Another was against Spurs, one of the teams above Liverpool, who were on the wrong end of a 5-1 defeat against City just a few weeks before embarrassing Liverpool 4-0.
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In tribute to some little heroes

HE’D JUST set up the winning goal and was standing with the goalscorer, in front of the Sky reporter, ready to hand him the man of the match champagne – but Charlie Adam had one thing he really wanted to say.

“I’d like to dedicate the win to Brad Jones who had a difficult week losing his son. That one was for you big man and we are all thinking about you.”

Brad, Dani and Luca

Brad, Dani and Luca

One of Liverpool and Australia’s goalkeepers, Brad joined Liverpool shortly after learning his son Luca had been diagnosed with leukaemia. That news came to him whilst out in South Africa with the Socceroo’s World Cup squad and was the kind of news any and every parent dreads to hear. Luca was just four years old. He underwent treatment and kept fighting, fighting for over two years in the end, but that fight sadly ended last week.

Those extra two years of life came thanks in a large part to stem cell transplants that Luca received, a type of transplant that can only come from donors, donors that have to be a match for the patient. Brad and his partner Dani have campaigned tirelessly throughout the time since Luca first fell ill to help publicise the desperate need to get people on the register and in turn increase the likelihood of other sufferers getting a match.

In the UK the register is run by an organisation called Anthony Nolan and they campaign for money (to help fund the work they do) but more importantly for donors.

It’s not always easy to find money but it isn’t too difficult to get yourself on the register. Anthony Nolan will send a special container (they call it a ‘spit kit’) which you spit into. You send this back and they can add you to their register of donors of bone marrow and blood stem-cells. It’s as easy as that.

Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancer, people who need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. The charity began in 1974 when Anthony Nolan’s mother set up the world’s first bone marrow register. By matching willing donors with those who desperately need one of these transplants Anthony Nolan help two people every day. Money donated to the charity is used to maintain the register, to help in the bid to recruit more donors and also to help fund research into ways of helping future sufferers of this awful illness.

Luca in his Liverpool kit

Luca in his Liverpool kit

Luca’s treatment was painful; chemotherapy and then a stem cell transplant, with more chemotherapy and further bouts of illness to follow, but he was only able to try and fight that battle because of the kindness of those who have joined the register. Liverpool’s players and staff wore black armbands on Sunday, as did those from his former club, Middlesbrough, the day before, in tribute to Luca and in support of Brad, Dani and all of Luca’s family. It was a touching tribute, as were Charlie Adam’s words straight after that game, but perhaps the most fitting tribute anyone can make to Luca is to make the effort to get on this register. It could save someone’s life, a child’s life.

It’s not hard to get on the register but there has been a shortage of people willing to get their names on it, and no doubt the reasons for this vary. According to Anthony Nolan,  43% of 18-25 year-olds said they were reluctant to register because they thought donating would be painful.

Yet, as Anthony Nolan point out: “In fact, more than 80% of donors today do so via a process where stem cells are taken from the blood stream.” They quoted 25-year-old Callum MacDonald-Wood, a donor from Leeds, who said: “Donating was a bit like giving blood. I was hooked up to a machine that took the blood out from my arm and filtered it, then the blood went back into my body via my other arm. It took about four hours, but there was no pain. I could have saved someone’s life.”

If you are chosen as a donor you won’t be doing this every week – you might not even do it twice – but you’ll be doing it in the knowledge that you’ll be saving someone’s life when you do. The people Anthony Nolan needs most is men aged between 18 and 30. At the moment only 12% of the donors on the register are.

Elliot Wild with Brad Jones

Elliot Wild with Brad Jones at the LFCtv studios

One little boy who wasn’t fortunate enough to receive a transplant touched the hearts of Liverpool supporters across the world earlier this year. The need for more people to get on the register couldn’t have been made any more obvious than when a match couldn’t be found in time for nine-year-old Elliot Wild to receive a stem-cell transplant. He made an appeal on Liverpool’s TV channel and captured a lot of hearts when he interviewed Pepe Reina for the channel.

Elliot and his family set up a recruitment drive, with a lot of help from Brad and Dani, which helped encourage over a thousand people to join the register. Those efforts were amazing but sadly a donor for Elliot wasn’t found in time and he lost his own fight in March. Brad and Dani were close to Elliot and his family and Elliot’s mum, Jackie, told the Echo of her sadness at Luca’s passing: “I have spoken to Dani, it is so awful. Life is cruel. They were a great support to us and our efforts to get a donor.”

On the same day as Luca lost his battle Elliot’s story was shown on national TV as part of the BBC’s Children In Need programme and he touched yet more hearts, with Elliot’s family invited down to the studios.

Elliot’s story was told to help raise awareness of the needs of Claire House, a place that is vitally important yet desperately short of funding for its work. Claire House is a 10 bedded hospice for children and young people with life limiting, life threatening conditions from across Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and the Isle of Man.

The impact was huge, said Jackie: “We went to the night in London and while we were in the green room we were told they had received a record amount of calls for one film – about 40,000 in the space of five minutes.” During the Children in Need programme it was mentioned that Claire House are unable to open two of their beds due to a lack of funding. Anything you can do to help will be received with heartfelt gratitude.

Libby O'Brien's dad is raising funds for Claire House

Libby O'Brien's dad is raising funds for Claire House

For more of an idea of what Claire House do see the page set up by Dave O’Brien who lost his daughter Libby in 2008. Libby had been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer aged just 16 months in April 2008. After much therapy and numerous surgical interventions the family were given the heartbreaking news that the cancer couldn’t be cured. “Having spent a family respite weekend at Claire House in May 2009 we decided that we wanted to be at Claire House for Libby’s end of life care,” said Dave.

“The care shown to Libby during her last 8 days was nothing short of excellent. But much more than that was the care shown to us all as a family during what was an extremely distressing time. The most important aspect of this time was that Libby’s medical needs were completely taken care, this allowed my wife Pip, son Ben and I the unforgettable opportunity to be nothing more than her Mummy, Brother and Daddy.” Libby died on the 15th of August 2009 aged 2 years, 8 months and 8 days.

Dave O'Brien

Dave O'Brien

Dave has come up with the novel idea of going without alcohol for a year to help raise awareness and funds for the hospice. You can donate through the page he has set up as he comes to the end of that year: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/daveobrien. Please also take some time to watch the video he made as a tribute to Libby’s short life.

There is much heartfelt gratitude to those who join the Anthony Nolan register. You could save a life, so please find the time to order a ‘spit kit’ and get yourself on the register.  Go here to get started: Anthony Nolan – What you can do – save a life.

A spit kit

A potential donor being shown how to use the kit

If you do want to help Anthony Nolan financially one way to do it is through Dani’s JustGiving page at justgiving.com/Dani_Lawrence.

If you’re based outside the UK and want to become a donor you’ll be able to find details of similar registries in your own country through this link: www.bmdw.org.

In memory of Luca, Elliot and Libby.

Meet some heroes: Cally on Bold Street, Pepe at Liverpool One

Liverpool legend Ian Callaghan played for Liverpool 857 times, scoring 68 times. Current Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has played 324 times for the Reds. This week the duo will be signing books at two separate events a quarter of a mile apart on the same evening.

Having made his debut six days after his eighteenth birthday in 1960, Callaghan (or ‘Cally’ to give him the name he’s known best by) made his final appearance on a Liverpool team sheet as an unused sub 18 years later as Liverpool picked up their second European Cup at Wembley. He was booked just once in his whole career and was never sent off; a gentleman on and off the pitch and one of the few thoroughly worthy of the “legend” tag.

Current Liverpool goalkeeper Reina (or ‘Pepe’ to give him the name he’s known best by) has appeared 232 times in the league since being signed from Villareal by Rafael Benitez in 2005. Undoubtedly the most important Reds signing in many years he continues to make a difference that wins matches, even as recently as Sunday in the Reds’ 2-1 win at Chelsea. He won an FA Cup winners medal at the end of his first season and a Champions League runners-up medal at the end of his second before the impact of the turbulent ownership situation sent the club veering off course. Without that turbulence it’s likely he’d have more medals to put alongside the winners medals he got for Spain from the 2008 European Championships and 2010 World Cup.

Two branches of Waterstones in Liverpool are hosting the book signings, on Thursday night, and if you time it right you should be able to get to both events.
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Maxi, Bellamy and Suarez start for LFC v Chelsea

Kenny Dalglish has named his side to take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Maxi Rodriguez makes a surprise but welcome return and Craig Bellamy starts the game with Andy Carroll on the bench. No room in the starting line-up for Jamie Carragher or Stewart Downing who are also both on the bench.

Dirk Kuyt also starts in what looks a strong attack-minded line-up for the Reds. Carragher has missed recent games due to a calf injury but was reported to be fully fit and available for this one.

Chelsea have two former Liverpool forwards on their bench – Fernando Torres doesn’t start and will have Nicolas Anelka for company. Raul Meireles also on the bench for the home side, less than three months after leaving Anfield.
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Chelsea v Liverpool

Chelsea play host to Liverpool in the day’s only Premier League fixture this afternoon with both sides looking to pick up points to move them closer to the targets they’d set out to try and reach before the season began.

For Chelsea that target would have been the league title, with Andre Villas-Boas installed to repeat his success in Portugal. They are currently in fourth place with Manchester City sitting on top with seems already to be an unassailable lead, at least from Chelsea’s perspective, with a gap of 12 points and 22 goals between the two rich-men’s playthings. Chelsea do have a game in hand on Chelsea and would close the gap to nine points, moving up to third (overtaking yesterday’s Man City victims Newcastle) with a win today. In reality the season still has a long way to go.

Liverpool’s target was top four and the Reds go into today’s game in seventh place, meaning defeat today would give the usual critics the opportunity to jump on the club, and its manager, amidst cries of the season being over after just 12 games. A win would guarantee Liverpool moved up the table, how far up the table would depend on the margin of victory. 1-0 would be enough to overtake Arsenal for sixth, 2-0 would be enough to move above Spurs (who play tomorrow) into fifth and a rather unlikely 3-0 would actually be enough to move above Chelsea and into the top four.

A draw would leave both sides in the same spots as this morning.

Liverpool have Jamie Carragher available for selection again having missed Liverpool’s last two-and-a-half games with a calf injury. Liverpool haven’t conceded a single goal in that rather brief spell meaning there might be something of a dilemma for Dalglish – does he stick with the same back four as last time out or does he re-introduce the vice-captain? Although Carragher has missed games in the past when fixtures have been close together and a manager felt he’d benefit from a rest, his absence from the starting line-up today would be a brave decision to make. Carragher returned from a shoulder injury in the same fixture last season, the game that also saw Fernando Torres make his Chelsea debut having left Liverpool for £50m at the end of the January transfer window. Torres will be looking to wipe the smiles off the faces of Liverpool fans who didn’t exactly take kindly to the manner of his departure.

The absence of Steven Gerrard, still recovering from an ankle infection, could give Carragher an extra boost when Kenny weighs up his options and works out who he wants to name as captain for the day in what is always a controversial fixture.

Luis Suarez came back from Uruguay with a back problem picked up in the game against Chile, the game he scored four goals in, but Liverpool are hopeful that he’ll be fit. He also came back to find the FA had charged him, in a statement filled with “and/or”s, over the allegations made by Patrice Evra over a month ago.

For Chelsea Didier Drogba is fit again after a minor arm operation and they also have Daniel Sturridge available for selection.

With the two sides having played so many times in recent years (28 times in seven years, but who’s counting?) the word “revenge” will never be too far away. Chelsea’s plastic flags (given out free by the club to try to build up an atmosphere) have embarrassed many of their fans but have also helped build up a certain amount of bad blood between the clubs. That all began when Jose Mourinho was boss but from Liverpool’s point of view the feelings toward the London club don’t even approach the levels of the true rivalries.

The two managers have no history with each other and Fernando Torres had already made his mind up about leaving long before Kenny Dalglish was installed as boss but “revenge” may be sought by one person in particular. Raul Meireles was a popular signing – arguably the only one of Roy Hodgson’s brief reign – but was allowed to leave at the end of the transfer window. His agent had spoken towards the end of last season of a gentleman’s agreement over an improved contract – but that “gentleman’s agreement” had been with the old ownership regime, a regime not exactly led by gentlemen. No improved contract was offered but as the pantomime of the transfer window came close to the end and with him featuring and scoring in Liverpool games it looked like he was staying. The speed with which the last-minute deal was done to take him to Stamford Bridge suggests it was one that had been worked on for some time. Should Meireles perform well today the usual critics will have predictable ammunition.

Chelsea haven’t managed a goal in five of the last seven meetings between the two sides, although that hardly stretches a long way back in time. At Stamford Bridge they’ve only scored in one of the last four games between the two sides, but with so many changes at both clubs that doesn’t exactly count for a great deal. Keeping a clean sheet will be tougher for Liverpool today than it was in that second half against Stoke and the league games against West Brom and Swansea, so today has to be about looking to get something from their efforts at the other end of the pitch. The woodwork has been mentioned as many times as the strikers and the stats suggest LFC have been pummelling their oppositions’ goals.

Kenny’s record against Chelsea as a manager sees him unbeaten in the 11 matches he’s taken charge of against them, eight of which were wins, but of course it’s only a stat and it only includes one game against the Russian-owned Chelsea. And both of Liverpool’s wins over Chelsea last season came courtesy of goals from the two players they have since sold to Chelsea.

As any old-school manager would tell you, the stat that matters is the one that comes under the heading of “result”.

The charges against Suarez and the allegations against Terry mean there’ll be a side-show to today’s fixture but during the game itself that circus will be forgotten. However the referee will still have his work cut out – Chelsea are top of the card charts this season with 28 yellows and three reds, but Liverpool aren’t too far behind with 18 yellows and two reds. The ref is Martin Atkinson who received a lot of criticism for sending Jack Rodwell off in the Merseyside derby, a decision later overturned by a three-man FA panel.  Atkinson has officiated one other LFC game this season, the 2-0 win for the Reds at the Emirates, where he sent Emmanuel Frimpong off. This is the first time he’s refereed a Chelsea game this season.

Kick-off: 4pm GMT

Teams: 

Chelsea (possible): Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Meireles, Lampard, Sturridge, Torres, Mata

Liverpool (possible): Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Enrique, Lucas, Adam, Kuyt, Suarez, Downing, Carroll

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