Tag Archives: skrtel

Martin Kelly signs new deal at Liverpool

Kelly commits to Liverpool as young defender signs new long-term deal at Anfield

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

16:20 GMT, 8 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:15 GMT, 8 February 2013

Martin Kelly has signed a new long-term contract at Liverpool following weeks of negotiations over a deal.

The defender, who travelled to the European Championships with Roy Hodgson's England side, expressed his delight at extending his deal.

He told the club's official website: 'When you play in the Liverpool shirt, you have to show the fans what it means. I just love playing and trying my hardest for the supporters and for my family.

Pen to paper: Martin Kelly signs his new deal at Liverpool with Ian Ayre (right)

Pen to paper: Martin Kelly signs his new deal at Liverpool with Ian Ayre (right)

Crocked: Kelly has not played for Liverpool since September, when he picked up a knee injury

Crocked: Kelly has not played for Liverpool since September, when he picked up a knee injury

'Being a Liverpool supporter myself, it's brilliant to put the shirt on and I'm doing what I have loved doing since I was a kid. I'm over the moon.

'Today shows the faith that the club have in me and that the hard work I have put in since I was young has paid off. Hopefully I'll put the injuries behind me.

'We have excellent medical staff here, who are going to work me and keep me on top of my injury. I'll be coming back even stronger.'

The 22-year-old joins team-mates Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling, who have all signed new contracts at Anfield since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers.

Kelly has made seven appearances for the club this season, but hasn't played since September, when he suffered cruciate damage during Liverpool's match against Manchester United.

Mersey XI for 2012… combined Liverpool and Everton side

Mersey XI for 2012: Find out who makes the cut for our combined Liverpool-Everton side

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UPDATED:

15:56 GMT, 28 December 2012

It has been another dramatic year on Merseyside. Trophies have been won, managers have gone, big signings have arrived and the banter between supporters remains as fierce as ever.

But, given the way both teams have performed over the last 12 months, if you were to pick a team that comprises both Liverpool and Everton players, who would make your final cut History suggests a Mersey XI would be dominated by Red shirts but is that now the case

This time last year, Mersey Beat put forward its Liver-ton team of 2011. It was as follows…

Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Lucas, Marouane Fellaini, Maxi Rodriguez, Leon Osman, Craig Bellamy, Luis Suarez.

That was seven Reds, compared to four Blues. Will that be the case now

Here, for your arguing and debating, is the class of 2012. Some choices are obvious, others less so. The system we have chosen is 4-1-3-2, so there should be plenty of goals.

GOALKEEPER…

TIM HOWARD – Everton’s No 1 takes the gloves off Pepe Reina. /12/28/article-2254232-1687D968000005DC-44_634x416.jpg” width=”634″ height=”416″ alt=”Net gains: Tim Howard is the rock at the back for Everton” class=”blkBorder” />

Net gains: Tim Howard is the rock at the back for Everton

RIGHT-BACK…

GLEN JOHNSON – The lazy argument to put forward about Johnson is that he can’t defend. That simply isn’t the case. Whether he has been played on the left or in his natural position on the right, his performances through the year have generally been high class.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS…

PHIL JAGIELKA and DANIEL AGGER – Everton’s vice-captain has stamped himself as one of England’s best and has claims to be first choice at international level, now that John Terry and Rio Ferdinand are out of the picture. Agger, meanwhile, has enjoyed his best year at Liverpool and regularly showed why Manchester City made a 20million offer for him.

Inspirational: Phil Jagielka

Hardman: Daniel Agger

No way past: Phil Jagielka (left) and Daniel Agger have been solid for their respective sides

LEFT-BACK…

LEIGHTON BAINES – The upward trajectory Baines has been on shows no signs of tapering out. A sign of how good he has been comes from the fact that a legitimate debate can be held over who should start for England: him or Ashley Cole. The first name on Everton’s team-sheet.

HOLDING MIDFIELDER…

DARRON GIBSON – Is this the most contentious selection He was rather unheralded when arriving from Manchester United but he has been crucial in Everton’s development. His range of passing and discipline has been outstanding.

Central figure: Darron Gibson has been an inspired signing for David Moyes

Central figure: Darron Gibson has been an inspired signing for David Moyes

RIGHT-SIDE ATTACK…

LEON OSMAN – That he was given a first England cap in November shows how well Osman has played this year. David Moyes described him recently as having “happy feet” and when he gets on the ball, he is always capable of making something happen.

LEFT-SIDE ATTACK…

STEVEN GERRARD – Finishing a momentous year in which he won his 100th cap in style, been back to his best in recent weeks and – significantly – looks fitter than he has in recent seasons. Was England's top performer at Euro 2012.

Leader: Steven Gerrard still commands the park for Liverpool

Leader: Steven Gerrard still commands the park for Liverpool

ATTACKING MIDFIELDER…

MAROUANE FELLAINI – Some colossal displays over the past 12 months, the highlights being his bullying of Manchester United in August and his domination of Arsenal in November. Hugely effective in both an attacking and defensive role. Obvious choice.

CENTRE-FORWARDS…

NIKICA JELAVIC and LUIS SUAREZ –
Surely this selection cannot be debated Jelavic has stripped the art
of striking down to its most basic form. Shoot and score. A man with ice
in his veins, he rarely looks like missing when presented with a chance
and the 5million it cost to sign him from Rangers was superb business.
As for Suarez, his importance to Liverpool simply cannot be
underestimated. A genuine world class talent and a frequent scorer. What
more could you want

Hitman: Nikica Jelavic

Deadly: Luis Suarez

Deadly: Nikica Jelavic (left) and Luis Suarez are among the Premier League's most clinical strikers

So, then, the roles are reversed. This time it’s seven Blues, compared to four Reds.

Do you agree Let us know your thoughts.

More of the same in 12 months but, for now, Happy New Year to you all.

Liverpool must improve in the Premier League after defeat to Stoke says Brendan Rodgers

We won't move up the table without consistency, says Liverpool boss Rodgers

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UPDATED:

16:24 GMT, 27 December 2012

Brendan Rodgers admits that Liverpool's season is in danger of being derailed by a lack of consistency.

Four days after dispatching Fulham 4-0, the Reds lost 3-1 against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium in a lacklustre performance.

Prior to the victory over the Cottagers, Rodgers' side had suffered a surprise loss at home to Aston Villa and the Northern Irishman accepted the up and down nature of their results was hindering their attempts to move up the Barclays Premier League table.

Sloppy: Rodgers believes Liverpool must put together a run of wins if they are to achieve their goals this season

Sloppy: Rodgers believes Liverpool must put together a run of wins if they are to achieve their goals this season

'Consistency is the biggest thing for the group,' he said.

'We were terrific at the weekend but you have to be able to put some runs of games together – if not you will make two or three steps forward and then take one or two back.

'Maybe that has been the nature of the group over the last couple of years.

'We are looking to improve that and there is an awful lot of work to do.'

Rodgers blamed the concession of soft goals for the defeat, which extended their winless run at the Britannia Stadium to five matches.

Battle: Despite taking the lead through Steven Gerrard, Liverpool were overrun by a combative Stoke side

Battle: Despite taking the lead through Steven Gerrard, Liverpool were overrun by a combative Stoke side

Steven Gerrard had put them ahead from a penalty awarded after just 32 seconds but Jon Walters scored twice either side of a Kenwyne Jones header as the Potters ran out worthy winners.

'We were 1-0 up at a difficult place to score goals and we wanted to gain the initiative from that,' he added.

'But the goals we conceded were very soft and if you do that it is always going to be uphill in terms of getting a result.

'The first one is unfortunate as Martin Skrtel slips and Walters finished well, but the other two goals… we have to be better than that.

Match winners: Jon Walters scored two either side of a Kenwyne Jones goal to clinch the victory for Stoke

Match winners: Jon Walters scored two either side of a Kenwyne Jones goal to clinch the victory for Stoke

Match winners: Jon Walters scored two either side of a Kenwyne Jones goal to clinch the victory for Stoke

'It is not all about football. You have to earn the right to play, particularly coming here.

'I have no doubt about the characters we have but it was too easy.'

Stoke boss Tony Pulis said the way his side responded to their early setback reflected the confidence and character within the team as a whole.

'It was a great result and performance,' he said.

'I thought the response after going a goal behind after just 30 seconds was absolutely fantastic and epitomises what the group are about at the moment.

We've played games where we've created more chances and finished 0-0 so we have been creating the chances but not been taking them.

'We have tremendous respect for Liverpool and we are very proud to host a game against such a great club and when you beat them it gives you great delight, it is always special.'

Walters' second, controlling a flick-on from Jones on his chest and volleying past Jose Reina, was the pick of the goals, and took the striker level with Ricardo Fuller as the club's all-time leading Premier League scorer with 18.

'It was a great finish and I am very pleased for Walts,' Pulis added.

'His commitment to the group is fabulous and he is a good player as well.'

Jonathan Walters praises Stoke"s character as they comeback to beat Liverpool

Walters praises Stoke's character as they come from behind to beat Liverpool

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UPDATED:

22:28 GMT, 26 December 2012

Two-goal hero Jonathan Walters hailed his side's character and work ethic after Stoke recovered from a nightmare start to claim a 3-1 Barclays Premier League win over Liverpool.

There were only 32 seconds on the clock when Luis Suarez won a penalty which Steven Gerrard converted to put Liverpool ahead at the Britannia Stadium.

However, Stoke stormed back and within 10 minutes had turned the game on its head through goals from Walters and Kenwyne Jones, and then a second from boyhood Everton fan Walters just after half-time sealed the victory for Tony Pulis' men.

Never give in: Jon Walters and Liverpool's Suso battle for the ball

Never give in: Jon Walters and Liverpool's Suso battle for the ball

Walters was full of praise for his side after they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches, telling Sky Sports 1: 'We all work for each other, right from the back to the front. It was a full team effort from us today and a great win for us.

'We haven't conceded many this year, and to concede so early…but we've always got fight in us, and there was never any chance we were just going to lie down and take it.

'So from 1-0 down we showed great character to get back into the game and some good play from all over the team, especially the second half.'

Jumping for joy: Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal

Jumping for joy: Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal

Double salvo: Walters (second left) netted twice for Stoke

Double salvo: Walters (second left) netted twice for Stoke

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers felt his side should have done much better with all three goals they conceded and, as a result of their defensive failings, said they did not deserve to get anything out of the game.

He said: 'It was a great start for us, when you come away from home it's great to go a goal up, but we just gave away poor goals tonight. I think all three goals were actually quite straightforward to defend.

'Obviously Martin Skrtel slips (for the first), which is unfortunate, but the other two goals we've got to do much better than that. So that was the disappointment really.

Where did it all go wrong Brendan Rodgers watched his side take the lead and then lose the game 3-1

Where did it all go wrong Brendan Rodgers watched his side take the lead and then lose the game 3-1

'We got into some good areas but ultimately when you come to places like here, which is a difficult place to come, you've got to defend better or else you get nothing, and we probably deserve nothing because of that.'

Rodgers also praised Stoke and the work being done by Pulis.

'I've always said they probably don't quite get the credit they deserve. Tony's done a brilliant job here, keeping them in this division and keeping them progressing,' he added.

Liverpool 4 Fulham 0 – match report

Liverpool 4 Fulham 0: Jol's men crash and burn as Downing turns on the style

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UPDATED:

20:59 GMT, 22 December 2012

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing had a rare day to remember at Anfield as his first Barclays Premier League goal for the club wrapped up a comfortable victory.

Only last week the England international had admitted he may leave next month after manager Brendan Rodgers said he could go.

If that was the incentive to put himself in the shop window it worked as he registered his first league assist in setting up Steven Gerrard – after Martin Skrtel's opener – and capped his performance with a goal of his own before Luis Suarez added an injury-time fourth.

Reds in raptures Liverpool will be smiling over Christmas after a comprehensive victory

Reds in raptures Liverpool will be smiling over Christmas after a comprehensive victory

Good start: Martin Skrtel fired in after some poor defending to get Liverpool on their way

Good start: Martin Skrtel fired in after some poor defending to get Liverpool on their way

Match facts

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Fernandez Saez, Suarez, Downing.

Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling, Wisdom.

Booked: Glen Johnson.

Goals: Skrtel 8, Gerrard 36, Downing 51, Suarez 90.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson, Dejagah, Berbatov.

Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega, Frei, Tavares.

Booked: Karagounis, Dejagah.

Att: 44,570.

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Latest Premier League results, fixtures and table

The 20million signing has been held
up as an example of Liverpool's wastefulness in the transfer market over
the last few years.

Previous manager Kenny Dalglish
certainly did not get his money's worth out of the winger and Rodgers
has so far hardly attempted to as this was only Downing's sixth Premier
League start of his reign.

He has mostly been confined to the
Europa League and has even been played at left-back occasionally as
Rodgers tried to find some use for him.

But in a more familiar advanced
right-wing role he was able to showcase some of his talent with his
first assist and goal in 17 months and 45 league matches at the club.

In fairness Fulham, who have won just
one of their last nine league matches and only one of their last 10 away
from home, were very accommodating and festively came bearing gifts
aplenty.

Martin Jol's side left gaping holes
all over the pitch and, unlike Aston Villa last week who were rewarded
for all their harrying and hustling with a 3-1 win, Liverpool had plenty
of time to take advantage.

As a result they moved up to eighth in the table, their highest position of the season, and five points adrift of the top four.

Unlike the previous week when
Liverpool dominated the opening half-hour but failed to score and paid
the price they got the break they needed early on.

Lashed home: Martin Skrtel's strike flew past Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal

Lashed home: Martin Skrtel's strike flew past Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal

Doubling up: Steven Gerrard tucked home the second goal with a cool finish

Doubling up: Steven Gerrard tucked home the second goal with a cool finish

Gerrard's eighth-minute corner picked
out Skrtel, who had barely moved, and with former Reds full-back John
Arne Riise slow to close down the Slovakia international he brought the
ball down and smashed a volley past Schwarzer.

The centre-back was then required in
the penalty area he is more comfortable in when he slid to block former
Liverpool reserve Alex Kacaniklic's shot.

Daniel Agger's miss from just three
yards – blazing into the top tier of the Anfield Road stand from Luis
Suarez's cross – may have resurrected fears about not being clinical
enough in front of goal.

Leading the way: The Liverpool skipper celebrates his goal with Luis Suarez (and below)

Leading the way: The Liverpool skipper celebrates his goal with Luis Suarez (and below)

Gerrard celebrates with Suarez

Gerrard celebrates with Suarez

Goalkeeper Jose Reina almost making a
mess of Kieran Richardson's swerving shot, diving one way and having to
save with his legs, served as another warning.

But those insecurities were put to bed in the 36th minute with Downing's first significant intervention.

The England international's
brilliantly-disguised reverse pass from the edge of the penalty area
deceived everyone except Gerrard.

Liverpool's captain seized on the
flatfootedness of Fulham's defenders to clip a shot across Schwarzer and
just inside the far post.

Impressive: Brendan Rodgers will be delighted with his side's performance

Impressive: Brendan Rodgers will be delighted with his side's performance

In on the act: Stuart Downing fired home the third

In on the act: Stuart Downing fired home the third

Suso scuffed a shot wide and Suarez
fired straight at the goalkeeper before the interval but within six
minutes of the second half the result was put beyond any doubt.

Gerrard, who had one of his better
days spraying passes all over the field, picked out Downing on the right
wing and he cut inside before blasting home a shot which appeared to
release months of pent-up frustration.

Taking the plaudits: Downing played extremely well as Liverpool romped to victory

Taking the plaudits: Downing played extremely well as Liverpool romped to victory

Down he goes: Suarez falls to the ground

Down he goes: Suarez falls to the ground

The 28-year-old played like a man with
a point to prove at times and saw another blistering drive sail just
over the angle of crossbar and post.

Schwarzer did well to block Gerrard's
close-range shot a Liverpool continued to press, Reina did less well
with Berbatov's long-range effort which squirmed from his grasp and
required Skrtel to clear.

But that was a rare moment of concern
on what was a trouble-free evening as Liverpool recorded only their
fourth home league win of the season when Suarez side-footed home in
added time for his 11th league goal of the season – equalling his tally
from the whole of last season.

Hard times: Dimitar Berbatov (right) was ineffectual as the Cottagers struggled

Hard times: Dimitar Berbatov (right) was ineffectual as the Cottagers struggled

Martin Skrtel tattoos Liverpool fans to raise money for Hillsborough families

Liverpool defender Skrtel inks Hillsborough tattoo on fan in bid to raise cash for families

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UPDATED:

17:16 GMT, 18 December 2012

Martin Skrtel turned out to be a natural tattoo artist when the Liverpool defender took part in a charity inking session to raise money for the victims’ families of the Hillsborough disaster.

In a show of solidarity, 96 football fans bustled into a tattoo studio in Liverpool to take part in the challenge, and one was even willing to let first-timer Skrtel try his hand at inking his his back.

The event was organised by tattoo artist Will Holmes, but special guest Skrtel wasn’t prepared to leave him in the lurch when it came to inking some of the fans.

Scroll down for video

Dab hand: Martin Skrtel coloured in the numbers 96 on Barry Nicholls' back

Dab hand: Martin Skrtel coloured in the numbers 96 on Barry Nicholls' back

The Slovakian defender helped tattoo the back of an employee of the football club, Barry Nicholls, according to the Liverpool Echo.

Barry said: ‘Martin agreed to come and pledge his support, which we were really pleased about.

‘We thought he had done tattooing before, so to find out he hadn’t when he turned up was a little alarming.’

The 28-year-old Skrtel, who has plenty of tattoos himself, seemed pretty competent as he put some colour into an eternal flame on the back of his brave volunteer.

But Barry was in safe hands, as Skrtel was coached through his first-time inking by an expert.

Skrtel said: 'Before I came here I didn't know a lot about Hillsborough but once I got used to being at the club, I started to understand what had happened.'

Brave man: Barry Nicholls volunteered to allow Skrtel to colour a tattoo on his back

Brave man: Barry Nicholls volunteered to allow Skrtel to colour a tattoo on his back

'I think it is great that the Liverpool supporters and the club have stuck together to fight for justice for the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy.'

An impressive 1,000 was raised from tattoos as well as 500 for a shirt signed by Skrtel.

Demand was so high for the tattoos on offer at the Royal Ink Tattoo Studio in Anfield that they had to compile a reserve list for those who wanted to be inked for the cause.

All the money raised on the day will go towards the fight for justice for victims, survivors and families of the Hillsborough tragedy, which claimed 96 lives in 1989.

Former Liverpool players Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen, comedian John Bishop, musicians Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams have also joined forces under the moniker of the Justice Collective and released a charity cover of He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother in a bid to top the charts at Christmas to raise money for the worthy cause.

Bouncing back: Skrtel will hope Liverpool can improve after being beaten by Aston Villa at the weekend

Bouncing back: Skrtel will hope Liverpool can improve after being beaten by Aston Villa at the weekend

VIDEO Skrtl is a natural at more than just football!

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Rafa Benitez will add steel to Chelsea"s attacking flair

Man of steel Benitez can add to the artistry… and could lead Chelsea to title

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UPDATED:

23:42 GMT, 21 November 2012

Discipline. Roman Abramovich’s vision for Chelsea may be for them to sweep all-comers aside with a Latin swagger but without steel, the dream will never come true.

This is why Rafa Benitez could yet be the perfect fit for Abramovich. Nothing matters more to the Spaniard than discipline. He demands focus and intense concentration, to always be thinking about the next step. It is why you will never see him cavorting on the touchline celebrating goals.

‘I think the manager is eternally dissatisfied because he wants more and more and more,’ Benitez once said.

Tightening up: Rafa Benitez can help shore up Chelsea's defence

Tightening up: Rafa Benitez can help shore up Chelsea's defence

‘I’m this kind of manager. I like to improve, to do better every time. Sometimes you know that you will need more time so you have to be calm but still you have to improve.’

Fernando Torres knows this better than anyone. After scoring a hat-trick for Liverpool, he returned to the dressing room only to have Benitez point out the areas of his game which had been lacking.

Together: Benitez and Fernando Torres

Together: Benitez and Fernando Torres

There was nothing malicious, it was just typical Benitez, always wanting more. Such traits will undoubtedly have struck a chord with Abramovich and it is the reason he has turned to him to re-ignite Chelsea’s season.

Chelsea have artists such as Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar, but it is the team’s defence that ultimately cost Roberto Di Matteo his job — no clean sheets since the start of October — and this is the area Benitez will prioritise.

During the four-year peak of his reign at Liverpool, between 2006-2009, they never conceded more than 28 goals in the Barclays Premier League. If Benitez finds the right balance at the back — it would be no surprise if he tries to sign Martin Skrtel in January — he could, perhaps, deliver the title.

But can he restore Torres to former glories Benitez has a better chance than anyone but it is worth remembering that Torres also thrived on his rapport with Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. He has not had that camaraderie with anyone at Stamford Bridge.

Brendan Rodgers hits back as Liverpool selection policy is questioned

Don't disrespect my players! Liverpool boss Rodgers hits back after selection policy is questioned

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UPDATED:

10:08 GMT, 9 November 2012

Brendan Rodgers has defended his decision to leave several key men at home for Liverpool's Europa League group stage defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow on Thursday night.

The 1-0 loss saw the Russian side leapfrog the Reds to gain top spot in Group A, leaving Rodgers' side with work to do in their final group games against Udinese and Young Boys if they are to qualify for the knockout stages.

Rodgers opted to leave the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez at home as he selected a side containing nine Englishmen with an average age of just 24, but he says he was impressed with the performance despite the result.

Pointless: Liverpool came away from Russia with nothing on Thursday night

Pointless: Liverpool came away from Russia with nothing on Thursday night

Pointless: Liverpool came away from Russia with nothing on Thursday night

Pointless: Liverpool came away from Russia with nothing on Thursday night

Defiant: Rodgers (left) defended his decision to leave the likes of Gerrard and Suarez at home

'Not at all. I think that is a little disrespectful to the players who are here,' the Northern Irishman told the Liverpool Echo when asked if bringing Gerrard and the others would have made a difference.

'They have been magnificent and I thought they did really well and we just got punished for a mistake. That led to us losing the game but I don’t think it was anything to do with Suarez, Gerrard, Joe Allen, Martin Skrtel or Daniel Agger not being here.

'It was just one of those things. We will take it as a team, we are disappointed but there are so many positives from tonight.'

Giant striker Lacina Traore netted the only goal of the game just before half-time in a match in which Liverpool dominated possession, and Rodgers felt his side were unlucky not to head home with at least a point.

Winner: Lacina Traore is mobbed after scoring the only goal of the game just before half-time

Winner: Lacina Traore is mobbed after scoring the only goal of the game just before half-time

'We are disappointed with the result. I thought the players put everything into the game,' he added.

'Tactically our concentration was very good. We controlled the game for 44 minutes and 50 seconds of the first half

'We made a bad mistake and got punished and that is the level.

'It was more of the same second half.

'We had chances and there is real disappointment in the changing room and I felt for the players.

'We were up against a good side with top players and we held our own. Some of the young players were terrific and we are disappointed not to have got something from it.

Home grown: Rodgers started with nine Englishmen

Home grown: Rodgers started with nine Englishmen

Home grown: Rodgers started with nine Englishmen

'It was a mistake late on in the half. We just have to do that better at defending it once he (Traore) has turned.

'That is something the players involved know themselves so it is nothing they need to be told.

'I thought the performance level was good on a difficult pitch but I thought the players played the system tactically very well.

'We just find ourselves unfortunate not to get something from a very difficult place.'

Liverpool to play Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard against Anzhi Makhachkala

Rodgers set to play Suarez and Gerrard against Anzhi ahead of Merseyside derby

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 24 October 2012

Brendan Rodgers is ready to gamble with Liverpool’s Merseyside derby ambitions by naming Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard in his side to face Anzhi Makhachkala.

Liverpool’s precarious position in Group A of the Europa League, coupled with the lack of depth in their squad, means Rodgers will ask his captain and leading striker to play on Thursday, even though it is 72 hours before the crucial trip to Goodison Park.

Rodgers has tended to make wholesale changes in cup competitions this season but, having lost to Udinese on Matchday Two, he is prepared to flood his side with familiar names, as he has no intention of sacrificing Liverpool’s place in Europe.

Captain's role: Steven Gerrard is likely to be selected to play

Captain's role: Steven Gerrard is likely to be selected to play

Defenders Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, who have not started a Europa League game together since a qualifier against FC Gomel on August 9, will be charged with keeping Samuel Eto’o under wraps and Rodgers’ assistant Colin Pascoe admitted Anzhi’s strength has forced Liverpool’s hand.

‘Anzhi are a strong unit,’ said Pascoe. ‘They are a big team with big players. We have swapped and changed things around a bit before but, looking at this game, it is very important for us. We will pick a stronger team than we played against Udinese.

Lack of options: Luis Suarez is one of Liverpool's only fit strikers

Lack of options: Luis Suarez is one of Liverpool's only fit strikers

‘It is a difficult (situation). After Anzhi we have got games against Everton, Swansea (in the Carling Cup), Newcastle, Anzhi away and then Chelsea. We will have to mix things up depending on the games. But we want to win this one. It is as simple as that.’

PROBABLE TEAM LINE-UPS

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Jones: Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Robinson: Henderson, Gerrard, Sahin: Assaidi, Suarez, Downing.

ANZHI (4-4-2): Gabulov: Carlos, Samba, Logashov, Gadzhibekov: Agalarov, Shatov, Boussoufa, Zhirkov: Eto’o, Traore.

Referee – Bas Nijheus (Holland)

Gerrard and Suarez were called into action during the game against Udinese but their presence could not stop Liverpool sliding to a 3-2 defeat that, even there are four games left in the group stage, has severely compromised their chances.

Should Liverpool lose to Guus Hiddink’s expensively-assembled squad, it is likely they will have to win their final three matches – which include trips to Moscow and Udine – to stand any chance of reaching the knockout stages.

‘Anzhi have lost one in 21 games overall this season,’ said Pascoe. ‘There’s only one way they are going to go and that’s Champions League. It’s a strong group but if you want to do well in every competition you have to beat the best teams.’

Is Stoke"s Ryan Shawcross good enough for England?

Shawcross watch: Is Stoke defender up to filling Terry's shoes in England set-up

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UPDATED:

21:16 GMT, 7 October 2012

Ryan Shawcross links up with England this week after being the beneficiary of circumstances but is the Stoke defender ready to fill the void left by John Terry’s retirement Sportsmail studied his sure-footed performance in the 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Shaw bet The Stoke man battles with Martin Skrtel

Shaw bet The Stoke man battles with Martin Skrtel

DEFENDING

He set the tone for his performance in the first minute, showing good anticipation to when a header in front of Luis Suarez and then blocking a shot from Raheem Sterling. Shortly after Stoke’s supporters sang 'Shawcross for England!' and he continued to grow in stature. There will be bigger tests than this – no Liverpool player, for instance, got in behind him – but he went about his job effectively and without fuss.

DISTRIBUTION

There have been questions over how Shawcross uses the ball but he never had the opportunity to answer them here. He only started three attacks and two of them were long balls forward to Peter Crouch. He is certainly not a ball playing central defender in the mould of Rio Ferdinand.

ORGANISATION

This was arguably the most impressive part of his game. He was constantly barking and cajoling his team-mates, telling them where to stand. Right-back Geoff Cameron received a flea in his ear from Shawcross after 35 minutes when he strayed out of position. Later in the game, when Liverpool tried to find a way through, Shawcross ensured Stoke kept their discipline.

Fall guy: Shawcross after a tussle with Luis Suarez

Fall guy: Shawcross after a tussle with Luis Suarez

TACKLING

He was booked for one mis-timed challenge on Suarez in the second half but he never found himself in a position where he had to make a last-ditch sliding challenge to cut out danger. He read the game superbly and was resolute whenever challenged. The handshake he received from Liverpool and England skipper Steven Gerrard at the final whistle was richly-deserved.

VERDICT

Should Roy Hodgson turn to him the forthcoming games against Poland and San Marino, there is no reason why he won’t acquit himself with credit. Could even be that training with better players elicits further improvement.