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ESPN – Skrtel hardly deserving of a new contract at Liverpool

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol reacts to ESPN FC blogger David Usher's Liverpool player ratings, where he does not agree with Emre Can's defensive mistakes. The message Liverpool attempted to convey was that lessons had been learned. They had left it too late to open negotiations with Steven Gerrard about an extended deal, which scarcely gave their iconic captain the sense he was wanted, and saw him decide to depart Anfield. So there would be no repeat. Three first-team regulars are contracted until 2016. They would escalate talks and ensure they wouldn't run the risk of losing Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson or Martin Skrtel. Sterling is the…

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ESPN – Football fans need to stop expecting the unexpected in the FA Cup

Captain fantastic Steven Gerrard scored a superb brace against minnows Wimbledon AFC to put the reds through to the next round, this came only days after it was announced he would leave Liverpool for new climes at the end of the season. The FA Cup Third Round is frequently considered to be all about giantkilling, whereas it's actually all about the possibility of giants losing. It might be a pedantic distinction, but it explains a great deal about the negativity surrounding the competition in recent years. The ideal FA Cup tie is, inevitably, a non-league side at home against a high-flying Premier League club. The Third Round draw didn't quite provide that this time around, although Yeovil (bottom of League One) and AFC Wimbledon…

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ESPN – Three Points: Raheem Sterling the hero as Liverpool edge Burnley

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE: Raheem Sterling (62') Burnley 0-1 Liverpool BURNLEY, England — Raheem Sterling's second half goal was the difference as Liverpool picked up a valuable 1-0 away win at Burnley. Here are three quick points from their Boxing Day clash at Turf Moor… 1. Sharp Sterling helps Liverpool win ugly Brendan Rodgers is a proponent of the beautiful game but there can be little doubt that his side won ugly at Turf Moor. Liverpool were nowhere near as fast or as fluent as they had been in possession against Arsenal on Sunday, let alone as potent as…

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ESPN – Is this improvement at Liverpool or a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes?

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes his players are returning to their best form despite defensive mistakes in their match against Arsenal. These are relatively hard times to be a Liverpool fan and in times of struggle people always want to see some progress. Absolutely any cause for optimism will be grabbed tightly with both hands. Economists used to call them “the green shoots of recovery”. There may be trouble and woe almost everywhere you turn but one tiny fragment of quality can be nourished. The only problem is when people believe in it so completely they almost blot out the rest of the picture. LIVERPOOL LATEST – Three Points: Skrtel the hero vs. Arsenal – Player Ratings: Lallana, Coutinho lead LFC – TOTW: Silva, Austin, Benteke feature – Jolly: Liverpool, Arsenal look beatable – Transfer Talk: Torres could be set for Anfield return – Capital One Cup semis: LFC vs. Chelsea Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers…

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GUARDIAN – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers rallies to defence of Arsène Wenger

• Brendan Rodgers backs ‘a real statesman of the game’• Liverpool manager backs his team to adapt tactically• Arsène Wenger: 5-1 loss to Liverpool is ‘scar in your heart’Brendan Rodgers has criticised the Arsenal fans who took a banner to the recent game at West Bromwich demanding Arsne Wenger’s resignation, claiming that such a key figure in football in this country deserves more respect. “Wenger has been amazing, for Arsenal and for football in general,” the Liverpool manager said.“As a manager you get criticised when you don’t win games but some of the personal stuff he gets is disgraceful. He fell over in a train station and people were filming it and printing it, but that’s the modern world, unfortunately. What happened at West Brom the other week was really poor. He is a leading figure in football, a real statesman of the game.” Continue reading…

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ESPN – For different reasons, Liverpool and Arsenal aren’t meeting expectations

ESPN FC's Tommy Smyth gives his betting odds for Arsenal and Liverpool, where he explains the best option would be to side with the Gunners. Raheem Sterling, left, is managing the Prem pressure fairly well, Alexis Sanchez is thriving. Both players' teams, though, are not living up to expectations. While Arsene Wenger was at least occasionally joking in his Friday news conference, Brendan Rodgers seemed genuinely abrasive. Gone was the charm so often associated with the Liverpool manager, so too the long descriptive lines about his team's style of play. Rodgers was abrupt, to the point and occasionally on the attack. He was also defensive of some of his players, particularly Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli. In other words, Rodgers was everything off the pitch that his team need to…

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