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GUARDIAN – Liverpool prosper from flexible philosophy of Brendan Rodgers | Paul Doyle

The Premier League side have become title challengers on the back of frequent changes in tactics and personnel, with opponents never knowing what shape his team will start withIt was José Mourinho who branded Arsène Wenger a “specialist in failure” but Brendan Rodgers’s actions could give those words more clout. Despite not benefitting from the “financial doping” that Wenger says falsifies the Premier League title race, Rodgers, in only his second full season at Anfield, has guided Liverpool into a position to do what Wenger has been trying and failing to achieve for the last 10 years: win the league with a swagger.The purpose of the comparison with Wenger is not to aim a gratuitous kick at the Frenchman but rather to acclaim a manager who has an equally strong commitment to playing attractive football but has applied it with greater intelligence.Liverpool may ultimately fall short of top spot this season and could even finish below Arsenal but the progress made by the club in the last year bears testament to the methods of a manager with whom the Merseyside club can look forward to an exciting future.The rise of Liverpool from seventh place last season to title challengers at the sharp end of this one is often presented as a triumph of Rodgers’s master plan.That is not quite right. Yes, the 41-year-old has a philosophy but things have not panned out precisely as he foresaw and perhaps the most admirable aspect of his work in the last year has been the extent to which he has adapted to circumstances, opponents and his own mistakes, all while retaining a clear identity.Where Arsenal are constrained by Wenger’s dogmatism, Liverpool have prospered from Rodgers’s flexibility.The former Swansea City manager was quick to realise that “the right way” is the wrong way if it does not work. And he has then found the right way – or rather the right ways, since one of the hallmarks of Liverpool this season has been the frequency with which they have changed formations or personnel from game to game or within games, using slightly different means to reach the same end.The most obvious quality that Rodgers has added to Liverpool this season is penetration. This season they have scored 25 more goals than they had done at the same stage last term, despite averaging 3% less possession per match: they have attacked with greater speed, unhinging defences with devastating movement and technique; players’ imagination flourishing in space wrought by the manager’s design. Opponents never quite know what shape Liverpool will start with.He introduced a three-man defence to get Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge firing together when the Uruguayan returned from the ban that ruled him out of the first five matches, and since then Liverpool have also lined out in 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2.At Southampton at the start of this month Liverpool began with a diamond in midfield for the first time this season and took an early lead. Southampton then threatened to equalise so Rodgers switched to 4-3-3 and regained the initiative, Liverpool running out 3-0 winners. He then redeployed the diamond at Old Trafford and cruised to another 3-0 win.In January Liverpool were trailing 2-2 at home to Aston Villa before Rodgers sacrificed his playmaker, Philippe Coutinho, and brought on Lucas Leiva to lay the platform for a fightback to 2-2. “For me the system is irrelevant,” he said after that. “But the style will always be maintained, to control and dominate games.”Rodgers is derided for spouting David Brent-style soundbites but in fact his utterances are another manifestation of his efficiency. He condenses his thought to easily digested units. His tinkering is borne of the same efficiency. He is not a self-regarding manager who changes for the sake of it. Liverpool, indeed, have made fewer substitutions (71) than any other team in the league this season.Rodgers’s mid-game changes tend to work but, with a limited squad that was not reinforced in January, he only makes them when necessary – and that is not very often because his original game plan is usually the right one, as shown by Liverpool’s superb first-half record, the best in the league.Further evidence of the clarity of Rodgers’s vision and communication is the extent to which individual players have improved under him to better serve the collective. His coaching works. Sturridge and Jordan Henderson have consistently shown the potential that only flickered under others.So few people, meanwhile, saw the potential in Jon Flanagan that what distinguished him in the Liverpool reserves was that no lower league clubs sought him on loan, yet the 21-year-old has filled in at left-back with gusto in recent months. Flanagan has won the same number of tackles as Southampton’s new England international left-back Luke Shaw has this season, despite playing in only half as many matches.The list of player improvements goes on – and it has been needed because although Liverpool have been spared a European expedition this season, they have still had to work around the absences of key players, with Suárez banned for the first five matches, Sturridge and Coutinho enduring significant injury lay-offs and full-backs falling like dominoes.Rodgers has had to improvise and ensure his players do so as well. They have usually obliged. Raheem Sterling has evolved from a rapid and tricky winger into a rapid and tricky winger with the poise and precision to function also as a bona fide playmaker, diluting the dependency on Coutinho.Joe Allen has redefined his game to re-emerge from the sidelines in recent weeks – the midfielder, a decaffeinated additive last term, has given the side real pep by nearly doubling the number of tackles he makes per match (from 2.53 to 4.42) this season to overtake the figures of Liverpool’s most prolific tackler last season (Leiva, 4.33), thereby softening the impact of the loss of Lucas to injury.And it is not only young players whom Rodgers has nurtured: Martin Skrtel seemed destined for the Anfield exit but has become the club’s most dependable centre-back, which is just as well as the £16m signing Mamadou Sakho has been out injured for long periods. And, of course, Steven Gerrard has performed his new deep-lying midfield role with a considered effectiveness that is unlikely to have come to him naturally.Not everything is rosy in the garden. The defence retains a brittleness that suggests there is only so much improvement even a top coach like Rodgers can wring from some players and further investment in the summer will be required.And Rodgers’s investment record is not spotless, as Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, for instance, have yet to justify the millions spent on them, although giving up on them now would be premature.For Rodgers has restored hope to Liverpool through skill, imagination and realism.LiverpoolBrendan RodgersLuis SuárezPremier LeaguePaul Doyletheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Brendan Rodgers warns Steven Gerrard of impact of another yellow card

• Liverpool captain has seven yellows from last 10 appearances• Rodgers: ‘We are nowhere near the finished article’Brendan Rodgers has advised Steven Gerrard to tread carefully in Liverpool’s next four games with his influential captain at risk of a two-match suspension from the Premier League title race.The Liverpool midfielder received his ninth booking of the season in Saturday’s 6-3 win at Cardiff City and will incur a two-match ban should a 10th arrive before the next cut-off date, which is up to and including 13 April. Rodgers’ title challengers play Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Manchester City in that period and the Liverpool manager has spoken to the captain about avoiding a costly suspension.Gerrard was booked only twice in 21 club appearances from the start of the season but has collected seven yellow cards in his last 10 outings for Liverpool, a period that has seen the 33-year-old drop into a holding midfield role with considerable success. Lucas Leiva is now fit again following a knee injury and offers experienced cover for Gerrard in the holding role but, with Liverpool pursuing a first league title since 1990, Rodgers wants his commanding captain available at all times.The Liverpool manager said: “We just have to cope with the situation. I have spoken to him about it and we just have to be that extra bit careful. I think he has been very unlucky. His last two bookings have been unlucky. The one against Manchester United should never have been a booking.”He won a header that was very difficult to win and he was unfortunate against Cardiff at the weekend because he committed a foul which also should not have been a booking.”We didn’t help him because we gave away the ball so cheaply. He has been unfortunate picking up some unnecessary bookings that were not through him. It’s a role he can play and he will find a way, I’m sure. He just has to be a bit more cautious but he is clever enough to get through that.”Liverpool host Gus Poyet’s relegation-threatened team on Wednesday and hope fierce rivals Manchester United do them a favour before then by taking points off Manchester City at Old Trafford on Tuesday.Rodgers skilfully avoided stating his support for United but said: “We’re training at Anfield in the evening so I will settle down and watch it after that. I’m really looking forward to it. Whatever the result that’s best for you, then you always root for that don’t you? But I am more concerned with how we do on Wednesday to be honest.”Rodgers believes the three goals conceded at Cardiff demonstrated Liverpool are not the finished article this season but is adamant the club are on course to end an arduous wait for a 19th league championship. “We haven’t won it for a long time and it may or may not be this year but there is no doubt we are on the right road to winning a title here,” he said.”We are nowhere near the finished article but while we are learning and improving we will hopefully continue to pick up the points.”We are enjoying the moment and the football. We still have a hell of a way to go to be near where I want us to be but we are certainly making strides and are on the right path. It is by no means the finished article but we are evolving and I take great pride in that.”It is about consistency and doing it year after year. I feel there is still quite a lot of improvements to make. We have been asked questions in games and have come through and I am sure we will be asked many more questions.”Rodgers, who confirmed he expects Fabio Borini to resume his career at Anfield once his season’s loan at Sunderland ends, added: “It’s lazy to say we concede cheap goals. The aim is to win playing attractive football.”Every manager will tell you if you come up against an opponent who shows no fear in their game and can flood forward in numbers and get goals that is always what can make you think and you know you need to set your team up to counter that.”LiverpoolSteven GerrardBrendan RodgersSunderlandAndy Huntertheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Gus Poyet dreams of sealing long-term deal for on-loan Fabio Borini

• Sunderland manager praises forward’s professionalism• ‘Buying him from Liverpool would be fantastic’Gus Poyet will do everything in his power to turn Fabio Borini’s loan deal from Liverpool into a long-term contract this summer but accepts that he may be rebuffed.Since arriving at Sunderland last summer the Italian forward has impressed, endearing himself to supporters by scoring in two derby wins against Newcastle and accepting his relocation to the left wing without complaint.”The good thing with Fabio is he has become a hero, he has really got into the club, the fans,” said Poyet. “He’s a top professional. He’s always on time. He’s always trying to be better in training. He’s that type of person, he’s always looking after what he’s eating or what he’s not eating.”When Poyet succeeded Paolo Di Canio as Sunderland’s manager last October he initially struggled to find a place in the team for the 22-year-old but he swiftly corrected the error of his judgment.”In the beginning it was me. I put my hands up,” said the Uruguayan who, with Steven Fletcher sidelined by an ankle injury, is now debating switching Borini to a central attacking role, possibly as soon as /Saturday’s vital game at Norwich City. “It was my fault Fabio was not playing. Now, if he’s not the first one you pick, he’ll be the next one.”Buying him from Liverpool would be fantastic but I don’t know if it’s going to be possible. It’s out of our hands but we like him a lot and we will try. People will say the price is going up but he’s an important player; he’s been great.”Adam Johnson has also enjoyed some purple patches in a Sunderland shirt this season but Poyet does not entirely agree with his winger’s assertion that it is almost impossible for players based in the north-east to break into the England squad.”I know what he means but I don’t think it’s a south, a west or a north-east situation, it’s about performing – and the best players usually play in the best teams,” said Poyet, who believes it is “natural” that Roy Hodgson’s squad is dominated by players from the Premier League’s top eight clubs. “It’s not about location. It’s about showing something special, showing that you’re a star. If you perform well and you are consistent you are going to get there.”SunderlandLiverpoolGus PoyetTransfer windowLouise Taylortheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Brendan Rodgers keen to reward Jon Flanagan with new Liverpool contract

• Former Liverpool academy product has been ‘a revelation’• ‘We spoke about him going on loan but no one wanted him’The Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan is to be awarded a new contract this summer having resurrected his Anfield career under Brendan Rodgers.The 21-year-old has established himself as a key part of Liverpool’s title-chasing team, in the right and left full-back positions, and Rodgers has compared the defender to a young Steve Nicol following Sunday’s accomplished performance at Manchester United. Flanagan enters the final 12 months of his existing Liverpool contract at the end of the season but will be offered a long-term extension in recognition of his growing influence at the club.Rodgers confirmed on Thursday: “Jon will be given a new contract. Come the summer he’s got another year so he will definitely be given a new deal in the summer, no question. He has been outstanding. He reminded me of Steve Nicol against Manchester United on Sunday – a right-footed player on the left side, steady, aggressive, no fear; he’s been a revelation, and particularly in the big games. It’s great when you see a young player develop like that. You can see the confidence he has now. He has made himself an important member of the squad.”The Liverpool-born academy product made his first-team debut under Kenny Dalglish almost three years ago but did not kick on and played only twice in Rodgers’ first season in charge. Since returning against Arsenal in November, however, Flanagan has developed into a consistent and confident defender, one who Liverpool’s manager believes could have a long-term future at left-back.Rodgers added: “If he keeps his focus and keeps working well he can do that. He was only born in ’93, he’s only very young, but his performance levels are so mature. United had to change [Juan] Mata over at the weekend. He booted Mata over to the other side and then [Adnan] Januzaj as well. He’s not easily fazed.”I think the biggest thing for me has been his temperament; that is one of his attributes. He never really featured for me at all at the start. There was José Enrique and others considered in front of him but the most impressive thing for me was that the kid just kept going. He showed his determination. We spoke a number of times about him going out on loan but no one came in for him on loan. That didn’t faze him. He went away with the reserves to Seville and was pushing skips through the airport.”How I work is I will always give players an opportunity. I will never disregard players early, they will always have a chance to show that they care and they can improve and that is what he has done. I had Gareth Southgate down here yesterday and he was raving over him. He is a wonderful young talent but in order to stay at that level he needs to focus and concentrate on staying in the team.”Rodgers expressed dismay at Flanagan’s exclusion from both England’s Under-21s, managed by Southgate, and the senior side for the international friendlies at the start of the month. But, after the meeting with the Under-21s coach, he is content for the defender to concentrate on Liverpool’s pursuit of a first league title since 1990.”He [Southgate] has obviously got Jack Robinson at left-back and I think he has more or less kept the same squad for the Under-21s,” said the Liverpool manager. “I think for young Jon it is more a case of focusing on his Liverpool career. That, first and foremost, is what he has craved over the last few years. He thought the opportunity might have passed him by but now he is grabbing it with both hands and doesn’t want to let it go.”You can see the hunger and his quality in his performances. We had another debrief of the United game this morning and you could see the quality in his one-touch passing. It was excellent.”LiverpoolBrendan RodgersAndy Huntertheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Steven Gerrard urges Liverpool owners to offer Brendan Rodgers new deal

• Manager is approaching final 12 months of three-year deal• ‘He has been a revelation’ says Gerrard after defeat of UnitedSteven Gerrard has called on Liverpool’s owners to award Brendan Rodgers a new contract “as soon as possible” in recognition of the stunning transformation he has overseen at Anfield.Rodgers has taken Liverpool from seventh in the Premier League last season into contention for a first title since 1990 but he is approaching the final 12 months of his contract without talks opening over an extension. The 41-year-old signed a three-year deal when he replaced Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager in 2012 and the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, have an option for an extra year on the same terms. FSG must inform Rodgers by a specified date next season whether they intend to exercise the option but a new, improved deal is expected to be signed before that stage.The Liverpool manager is prepared to delay contract negotiations until the summer rather than invite distractions to his team’s title challenge, a pursuit enhanced by Sunday’s comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Manchester United at Old Trafford.However, Gerrard has voiced surprise at the absence of a offer to Rodgers, described by the Liverpool captain as the finest man-manager he has encountered in football. The 33-year-old said: “I have been absolutely blown away by his sessions, his tactics and his maturity in the job and I am learning off him every single day.”When you become an older player you look to see how the manager does certain things and he has been fantastic for myself personally. I am sure the rest of the players would echo what I am saying. I am absolutely delighted he is here and I just hope that there is a lot of movement now in Boston [home to FSG] because they have got to get him signed up as soon as possible.”Gerrard, who scored twice at Old Trafford, added: “When players are in this situation with a year to go and you want to keep hold of them so desperately, then the club reacts really quickly and gets it sorted. For me, I think he deserves a very long contract here and he is perfect for this club.”Rodgers’s conviction on the way forward for Liverpool was unwavering throughout a difficult start to his Anfield reign while his tactical nous, that has enabled Gerrard to flourish in a holding midfield role, was again in evidence against David Moyes’s aimless United on Sunday.”He has been a revelation,” the Liverpool and England captain said. “He keeps tweaking and tinkering with the formation and making little subtle changes to personnel and tactics, and it is coming off from week to week. He is a young coach who has been there and earned the right to be Liverpool manager. From week to week he is helping us improve and get better, and he has been an absolute breath of fresh air to this football club.”He manages every single player differently, he knows we have different characters in the dressing room and his man-to-man, one-on-one management is the best I have known.He makes you go out on the pitch feeling a million dollars with confidence and belief, and he is a very confident manager. When you play for Liverpool you have to accept pressure, you have to take it on the chin and perform. But when you have a manager who is making you feel good, but who is also not scared to give you a good one-on-one telling-off as well, then he has the perfect ingredients.”Liverpool are four points behind Chelsea with a game in hand and welcome the Premier League leaders to Anfield on 27 April. Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City have also to visit Anfield, while Liverpool’s four remaining away games are against teams in the bottom half of the table.Gerrard said: “As a team we have to keep making statements. A lot of the so-called experts questioned us before the United game. ‘Are we capable of coming to Manchester United and beating a good team – one that has been performing quite well of late besides the Olympiakos game?'”I think we answered the question with flying colours. Not just that, but we were slightly disappointed it wasn’t a five- or six-goal thrashing because the way we performed from start to finish, with everybody in the team contributing, was magnificent.”Steven GerrardBrendan RodgersLiverpoolFenway Sports GroupAndy Huntertheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Manchester United 0-3 Liverpool: five talking points | Jamie Jackson

Brendan Rodgers’ words of warning for the Old Trafford club seemed prescient as his three amigos lived up to their billing as lethal entertainersMatch report: Manchester United 0-3 Liverpool1 Swaggering Liverpool walk their talkEleven minutes into the second half, and with the visitors leading from two Steven Gerrard penalties, their manager was regaled with “There’s only one Brendan Rodgers”.In this moment the Northern Irishman’s words in the build-up to the 190th encounter between the clubs felt sagacious, not hubristic. Then, Rodgers had warned Manchester United would struggle to attract top-line players if they failed to qualify for the Champions League this season, as Liverpool have since 2009-10.For Moyes, his own pre-game offering was left sounding hollow. “From what I see everyday positivity is growing around the AON Training Complex. What goes on there is completely different to what people perceive the situation to be at Manchester United.”2 Robin van Persie goes missing againAfter last week’s interview in which the Dutchman gave assurances he would be at United next season and wanted to stay beyond his current contract, Van Persie turned in another unconvincing display to follow that at West Bromwich Albion last week.As then, Moyes must have been tempted to replace him with Danny Welbeck but when he finally decided to change things on 75 minutes it was Adnan Januzaj who was hooked for the England striker.Before kick-off Van Persie said: “My target now is to get stronger, better and more productive each game. Most importantly, I want to help the team win games as that’s what this club is all about.”With nine games remaining time is ticking on this ambition.3 Liverpool’s three amigos shineLuis Suárez, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge are three players who illustrate the gulf in pace, intelligence and quality between Liverpool and United.This campaign’s headline story at Anfield has been how Sturridge has finally turned potential into consistent contribution. Yet less heralded but as exciting for Liverpool fans has been the re-emergence of Sterling on an upward trajectory that, at 19, had him trusted by Rodgers with the No10 berth for English football’s most seismic encounter.This was further evidence of how Liverpool have become English football’s must-see act due to the fluidity allowed the manager by this trio, with the move that led to Liverpool’s opening penalty showing this: Sterling passed to Sturridge whose cross was collected by Suárez before Rafael da Silva handballed.4 Moyes has to get transfers right this summer On show were Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, two players recruited by the manager for £64.1m who, not for the first time this season (and probably not the last), wandered around like two kids in a game played by adults. Most of the latter were on the Liverpool side so the Belgian and Spaniard can hardly carry the can for another toothless United display. But their disappointing contribution illuminated how poor Moyes’s recruitment has been and how, if he wishes to keep his job, he dare not make a mess of his buying in the close season.Both Fellaini and Mata look like what the advance notices said they would be: square pegs in a round hole and the sight of Fellaini being replaced in the second half was no surprise.5 The curious case of the United high ballMissing In Action: the midfield of the 20-times champions. Last definite sighting –last season as the Reds romped to the title by 11 points. As the contest developed and Liverpool dazzled United with their ever-morphing pass-and-move style the eye searched for any sign of encouragement for the David Moyes project. Yet all that was consistently seen were high balls punted in hope rather than conviction.What the watching Diego Maradona thought of the route-one stuff would fascinate. More pertinent to United’s cause is what Moyes’s thinking is with this tactic. On Friday he said: “Overall we won’t change the traditions, the style, what’s expected here at Manchester United. We’ll try and follow all of them through.” This display belied the claim.Manchester UnitedLiverpoolJamie Jacksontheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Manchester United 0-3 Liverpool | Premier League match report

For Manchester United and David Moyes, there is probably only one redeeming feature and it is that their own supporters are still holding off from open mutiny. Even now, outplayed by their oldest rivals, drifting further into mediocrity, the frustration and confusion and genuine shock manifested itself only in a loud, defiant show of support. At another club, they would be hounding the manager out by now.They were abysmal, completely out-thought and out-done by a Liverpool side that passed the ball with much greater speed and intelligence and clambered back above Manchester City into second place in the Premier League.Steven Gerrard initiated the ordeal with two successful penalties and, though he put a third one against the post in the second half, there was still plenty of time for another wretched day for Moyes to descend into even more of a mess. Nemanja Vidic was sent off for the third of the penalties and, soon afterwards, Luis Suarez was gleefully turning the ball past David de Gea.There is now a 43-point swing in Liverpool’s favour between these sides over the last year and, on this evidence, nobody should be reckless enough to assume their title challenge will simply melt away. Brendan Rodgers’s team are four points behind Chelsea, with a game in hand, and still have to play them at Anfield. He is right, strictly speaking, when he says Chelsea and Manchester City are the more likely champions but Liverpool are playing with confidence and momentum and passing the ball in a way that was simply too much for their latest opponents. “We’re going to win the league,” their supporters were singing before the end. In the worst moments, Moyes’s team seemed to get everything that is expected of them inside this stadium.No side with Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj as its frontline should be this bereft of ideas or poor on the ball. Yet this is not a one-off. It was both shocking, yet not absolutely surprising, and the indignities continue to pile up for Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor. “David Moyes is a football genius,” was another chant from the away end. It has been the soundtrack to his season, and it might even get worse before it can possibly get any better. One certainty is that Olympiakos, with a 2-0 first-leg lead, will not be discouraged about their chances of completing the job on Tuesday.They were lucky, too, that the referee, Mark Clattenburg, opted to show leniency to Rafael da Silva after his handball had given Gerrard his first chance from 12 yards. A minute earlier, Rafael had been booked for a scything challenge through the ball of the Liverpool captain. A yellow card is not mandatory for a handball penalty offence but a deliberate one, preventing Suarez from going around him, really ought to have seen Clattenburg reaching for his pocket again.For Liverpool, it did not hugely matter. Rodgers had set up his team with a midfield diamond, with Raheem Sterling operating at its tip, just behind Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. That front three wreaked havoc and Liverpool might actually have had four penalties bearing in mind the moment early on when Jones and Marouane Fellaini both had a nibble at Suarez’s ankles. That chance arrived from Mata losing the ball on the halfway line and the tone was set. This, more than anything, must be the greatest concern for United’s supporters. Their team was so careless on the ball. Liverpool, in stark contrast, shimmered with self-belief. Gerrard dominated midfield with Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen, to the point there were callous cheers from the Stretford End when it was announced Fellaini was being substituted.Gerrard’s second penalty arrived inside the opening minute of the second half, after Phil Jones had barged over Joe Allen. Just like the first, Gerrard took it brilliantly to De Gea’s left. On the third occasion, he went the other way and this time he misjudged his shot. United were incensed because it appeared Sturridge had dived over Vidic’s challenge but the real story here was not of injustice. It was of the confirmation that Liverpool have caught and overhauled their old enemy.United were hopelessly lost in those final exchanges, culminating in Suarez controlling Sturridge’s miscued shot to complete the home side’s misery.Premier LeagueManchester UnitedLiverpoolDaniel Taylortheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Daniel Sturridge says friction with Luis Suárez helps Liverpool

• Most visible clash between strikers came in Everton win• ‘Everyone’s pushing to get the best out of each other’Daniel Sturridge believes that it does not matter that he and Luis Suárez are hard on each other during matches, saying that their occasionally fiery relationship has been a crucial factor in Liverpool’s title challenge rather than harming morale.Suárez and Sturridge have formed a devastating partnership this season, scoring 24 and 21 goals respectively in all competitions, and their form has helped lift their team to second in the table. Liverpool, who visit Manchester United on Sunday, are seven points behind the leaders, Chelsea, but have a game in hand.Yet there have been arguments. The most notable incident came in the 4-0 victory over Everton in January, when Suárez could not hide his anger with Sturridge for failing to set him up for what would have been a tap-in. The clash did not lead to them falling out. Suárez’s constant desire for perfection does not bother Sturridge, who said he could be just as demanding. The England striker added that Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers were the same but said that striving for perfection is what makes a team successful.”I’m demanding,” Sturridge said. “Stevie’s demanding. Everyone’s demanding. It’s not just Luis that’s demanding of the players. The manager’s very demanding of the players. It’s important that everyone’s demanding if you want to be successful and everyone’s pushing each other to get the best out of each other, and that’s what we all try to do.”Sturridge, who joined Liverpool from Chelsea 13 months ago, has learnt a lot from Suárez in the past year. “He works tirelessly,” the 24-year-old said at the Fifa World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola. “I think we combine very well. He’s someone who wants to win, and I want to win, we both enjoy to score goals, both like to assist each other. I think we’ve both got three assists for each other, so we look for each other and we give each other opportunities and we work as a unit. I enjoy playing with him.”Sturridge is expected to lead the line for England at the World Cup finals, yet Roy Hodgson was criticised for using him in a wide role against Denmark last week, with Wayne Rooney starting in the middle. Sturridge scored the winner after Rooney had been substituted but believes that they can play together.”Myself and Wayne have been training hard together – we get on very well off the field and have a lot of banter together,” said Sturridge, who will be on the opposing side on Sunday. “When we get on the pitch we do the job the best we can and work for each other and the country. We just want to try to help the country be successful, that is the most important thing for everyone.”We have had a lot of banter about things at England. Wayne is a very nice guy and he is someone who helps me out a lot, he helped me score my first goal for England at Wembley when he gave me the penalty against Montenegro and he has been so helpful.”LiverpoolDaniel SturridgeLuis SuárezJacob Steinbergtheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Luis Suárez ‘very happy’ at Liverpool with or without Champions League

• Striker admits he wants to sample special Anfield nights• ‘To finish in top three would be incredible,’ says UruguayanLuis Suárez believes that Liverpool are primed to end their four-year wait for Champions League football but he said that his future at the Merseyside club does not depend on their qualification for Europe’s elite competition.Suárez endured a turbulent summer when he made it clear that he wanted to leave Liverpool for a club that played in the Champions League. There was the protracted saga with Arsenal, with Liverpool rejecting two offers from them and making it plain that they would not sell at any price.Yet Suárez has refocused at Anfield, not only to enjoy what he calls the finest season of his career but to agree to a new long-term contract last December. He scored his 24th goal of the season in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Southampton and he has been a driving force in Liverpool’s push for a top-four finish. They sit second in the table, only four points off the leaders, Chelsea.”I’d actually prefer not to win this Golden Boot and for Liverpool to qualify for the Champions League this season,” Suárez said, in an interview with FourFourTwo magazine. “Any player would miss the Champions League. We’ve not been good enough since I’ve been here to qualify, but this could definitely be our year”.”It would be a frustration not to get fourth because we’ve done everything possible and given our maximum to qualify. Everyone says Champions League nights at Anfield are amazing – memories you guard forever. It would be an unforgettable experience and it’s been too long since that happened. I think to finish in the top three, which is still possible, would be incredible with the players we have in the squad.”Suárez was asked whether he would stay at Liverpool if they fell short of the Champions League. “I think so,” he said. “I signed my new contract because I’m very happy here and I want to stay where I’m enjoying football and life. Playing in the Champions League isn’t dependent on that.”He added: “This is my best season yet. I feel in a very good place, physically and mentally. Every day, I feel better in this club. I hope to continue down this path because we want Champions League football for Liverpool and, personally speaking, I want to continue that mentality throughout the World Cup with Uruguay.”Luis SuárezLiverpoolDavid Hytnertheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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The Guardian

GUARDIAN – Daniel Agger believes Raheem Sterling can make England World Cup squad

• Liverpool winger can handle pressure in Denmark friendly• Agger says ‘Sterling has qualities England could use’Daniel Agger is confident that Raheem Sterling can handle the pressure of senior international football as he targets a place in England’s World Cup squad. Agger, who will be in the Denmark defence that faces England on Wednesday night, said: “He can handle the pressure, or else he would not play for us, for Liverpool.It’s a great opportunity for him. If he continues what he is doing right now I cannot see why not make the World Cup squad. He is a great, great talent and has some qualities England can use.”Despite finishing second in their group to Italy, Denmark did not qualify for the play-offs and so missed out on this summer’s finals in Brazil. Their coach, Morten Olsen, has brought a mixed squad to London, with the Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen doubtful because of a back injury.Nevertheless, Agger feels the Danes can make a statement with a solid display at Wembley. “We obviously know that it is a strong team we have to play, but we have come here to win and we want to win,” he said.”This is a great experience for young Danish players to come to this beautiful stadium.”We have players who play in England, but all of the players here have grown up watching English football.”Agger is hoping for a chance to switch off from Liverpool’s title challenge for a few days.”I think as a footballer you have to look at the next game, and the next game is against England for Denmark, so I can put that away for a bit, and as soon as that game is finished, back to Liverpool,” he said.The striker Nicklas Bendtner is expected to feature at Wembley despite not being a regular at Arsenal. The 26-year-old was on the verge of leaving the Gunners in the summer, but had looked in good form before being sidelined by an ankle injury.Bendtner now appears behind fit-again Yaya Sanogo in the pecking order, but will continue to try to force his way back into Arsene Wenger’s plans.”If you can find a footballer who says he is happy to sit and watch and not play, then I think he needs to find a different job. I want to play, there is no doubt in my mind,” he said.”I am fit and ready, am training well. That I am not selected is up to the manager, it is not up to me.”All I can do is train well, which is what I am doing.”If the manager chooses differently, then that is up to him.”Both Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are hopeful of making it into Hodgson’s final 23-man squad for Brazil.Bendtner said: “How they have played recently, I would have thought so.”Alex has come back really strong since his knee injury and has scored a lot of important goals for us.”Arsenal slipped four points behind leaders Chelsea following defeat at Stoke.Bendtner, though, insists the Gunners are not about to throw in the towel.”It will be difficult, there are a lot of good teams, but I am sure we will be fighting to the end to win,” he said.LiverpoolEnglandDenmarkWorld CupFriendliestheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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