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PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Arsenal vs Norwich, Aston Villa vs Fulham, Everton vs QPR, Reading vs Liverpool, Southampton vs West Ham

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Follow all the action as it happens

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

01:00 GMT, 13 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:16 GMT, 13 April 2013

It may be FA Cup semi-final weekend, but there's still plenty of Premier League action to enjoy with five 3pm kick-offs on Saturday afternoon: Arsenal vs Norwich City, Aston Villa vs Fulham, Everton vs Queens Park Rangers, Reading vs Liverpool and Southampton vs West Ham United.

Join Adam Shergold for all the goals as they go in from 2pm.

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Arsenal vs Norwich City

Aston Villa vs Fulham

Everton vs Queens Park Rangers

Reading vs Liverpool

Southampton vs West Ham United

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2.02pm LIVERPOOL team news versus Reading – Brendan Rodgers has made one change from last weekend's goalless draw with West Ham United, with Daniel Sturridge coming in for Stewart Downing.

Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Sturridge, Suarez, Coutinho
Substitutes: Jones, Assaidi, Downing, Coates, Suso, Shelvey, Skrtel

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READING team news vs Liverpool
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Morrison, Mariappa, Kelly, Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, Hunt, McCleary, Pogrebnyak
Substitutes: Taylor, Harte, Pearce, Carrico, Le Fondre, Blackman

2pm Hello and welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of this afternoon's five Barclays Premier League matches.

The FA Cup semi-finals may take centre stage this weekend, but there's still plenty at stake in the top flight, particularly in the relegation battle.

Stay with us for all the team news, coming up shortly.

Premier League Saturday afternoon action

D.A. Points wins the Shell Houston Open

DA Points wins Shell Houston Open to book his place at the Masters

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

01:00 GMT, 1 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:12 GMT, 1 April 2013

DA Points found form out of nowhere to claim victory at the Shell Houston Open by a shot and book his place at the Masters.

Points had missed three cuts in a row and seven of his last nine heading into the Texas event, but hit his stride straight away, claiming the lead after the first round.

And he stayed in contention throughout the week, carding a six-under-par 66 today, inclduing a pressure putt on the 18th, to hold off Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel and win by one stroke on 16 under.

All smiles: points celebrates with his hard-earned trophy

All smiles: points celebrates with his hard-earned trophy

'It's been a realy tough year, a tough
start,' he said. 'To have a putt to win – you want that starting out
every week. I would have liked it to be a little closer, but I've been
putting really well.'

Points came out on top after a
dramatic day, which saw a host of players move in and out of contention
and was extended because of a rain delay late on.

Stewart Cink and Bill Haas went into the day as joint leaders, but neither in the end was a serious contender.

Haas dropped two shots on the front
nine and in the end finished level par for his final round, while Cink
could muster only three birdies. An eagle on the last would have seen
him into a play-off with Points, but he found sand and ended up with a
bogey to sit in a share of sixth on 13 under.

Among the other contenders, Stenson
and Horschel hit contrasting 66s and were left to see if Points would
slip up on the final hole.

Weather delay: Bad weather delayed play on the final day

Weather delay: Bad weather delayed play on the final day

Weather delay: Bad weather delayed play on the final day

Stenson needed four birdies in his
last five holes to hit the mark, while Horschel could not find the shot
he needed at the back end of the course, parring each of the last five
holes.

The good news for Stenson was that his
performance was enough to earn him a place in the world's top 50 and an
invitation to the Masters.

Adding to the drama was a near
three-hour delay in play, with only a handful of players still out on
course and Stenson the clubhouse leader, caused by a downpour in
Houston.

Points held his nerve, though, saving
par on each of his last two holes using a putter he revealed earlier in
the week was one he had taken from his mother when he was younger and
had refurbished this week in an attempt to improve his play on the
greens.

Happy days: D.A. Points celebrates winning the Shell Houston Open

Happy days: D.A. Points celebrates winning the Shell Houston Open

Get in the hole: D.A. Points celebrates his par putt on the 18th green

Get in the hole: D.A. Points celebrates his par putt on the 18th green

'I was firing on all cycliners,' he said. 'I'm proud of myself that the rain delay didn't put a stop to that.'

Dustin Johnson produced the round of
the day, a seven-under 65, to finish in a share of fourth on 14 under,
alongside Ben Crane, while a 67 saw Brian Davis finish as the leading
Briton on 13 under, two strokes aherad of compatriot Lee Westwood.

Rory McIlroy managed a third straight under-par round to finish four under overall.

He told www.pgatour.com: '[There are]
lot of positives to take from it. I've learned a few things as well that
I can bring into next week and obviously looking ahead to Augusta, too.

'It's been a productive week.'

Lewis Hamilton warned by Sir Jackie Stewart not to get carried away with own importance – F1

Don't get carried away with your own importance, Lewis! Legend Stewart fires warning to Mercedes star

By
Ian Parkes, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

15:48 GMT, 29 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:01 GMT, 29 January 2013

Sir Jackie Stewart has urged Lewis Hamilton not to get carried away with his own celebrity if he is to propel Mercedes forward this year.

Hamilton last week embarked on a new era in his Formula One career at Mercedes after six seasons with McLaren, a team he initially joined at the age of just 13.

There is no doubt Hamilton has taken a significant gamble, but the need to savour pastures new has been his driving force in signing up to the German manufacturing giant for the next three years.

Lewis Hamilton

Sir Jackie Stewart

In black and white: Lewis Hamilton must find the right balance to win titles, according to Sir Jackie Stewart

It is also almost certain Hamilton will enjoy greater freedom off track than was the case at McLaren, considering the emphasis placed on sponsorship commitments by the Woking-based marque on their drivers.

However, three-times champion Stewart feels Hamilton needs to make sure such liberty does not go to his head.

Hamilton can boast a pop-star girlfriend in Nicole Scherzinger and an array of friends from the music world, while there are suggestions he is planning on making his own music.

Bearing in mind Hamilton's desire to transform Mercedes into a winning team, Stewart is hoping the 28-year-old does not let his focus drift elsewhere.

New kid on the block: Hamilton ended his lengthy association with McLaren to join Mercedes on a three-year deal

New kid on the block: Hamilton ended his association with McLaren to join Mercedes on a three-year deal

Stewart said: 'Personally, if I'd been Lewis, I wouldn't have left McLaren. 'But as a 28-year-old, he should know what he is doing now.

'You just have to be damn careful you don't get carried away with your own importance, your own celebrity, or your own schedule outside of being in the cockpit. It can be quite intoxicating.

'What Lewis needs to do is have more consistently good drives, never mind the mechanical issues, and he shouldn't be distracted, something he should keep in the back of his mind.

'It's about who you hang out with, what you do in your off time, how you are committing your off time towards your real time – and your real time is being a racing driver.'

Famous faces: The British racer can boast a pop-star girlfriend in X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger

Famous faces: The British racer can boast a pop-star girlfriend in X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger

Such efforts will be noticed by team principal Ross Brawn, who has been accustomed to working with one of the greats in seven-times champion Michael Schumacher.

Although the last three years failed to produce the results hoped for by Schumacher prior to stepping back into retirement, the German was renowned for his meticulous and methodical nature in working with his engineers.

Stewart added: 'The Ross Brawn factor is important. 'He knows how to do it, and Lewis will have to work with him and depend on him, and Lewis, in time, will have to deliver.

'Ross has worked with drivers who have really delivered. He worked with Schumacher from Benetton all the way through, and he knows how much Michael put in.

'Therefore he will think Lewis will have to put as much into that team, time-wise, commitment-wise, not just race-time wise, as Michael did.

That's going to be quite demanding, but there's no reason why he shouldn't go straight in and be competitive up front, not at all.'

With just one victory in the last three years, though, since Mercedes returned to F1, the pressure is on both Brawn and Hamilton to deliver.

'Daimler (Mercedes' parent company), are only interested in being up front and being the best,' said Stewart.

'If they're not going to be that, it's a five-minute decision for the Mercedes-Benz board to withdraw from motor racing if there's another recession and they're not selling cars. 'In that respect, they're slightly vulnerable.'

Stewart Downing concentrating on Liverpool"s team display

Downing thrilled with Liverpool's superb display as they put Cottagers to the sword

|

UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 22 December 2012

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing preferred to focus on an excellent team effort rather than his own performance after inspiring the Reds to a 4-0 rout of Fulham tonight.

Downing registered his first league assist for the Merseysiders 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.

Despite a stellar performance, the England international played down his role as Liverpool bounced back in emphatic style from last week's 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa.

Nice work: Stewart Downing (second left) is congratulated after scoring

Nice work: Stewart Downing (second left) is congratulated after scoring

'Coming off a bad result against Villa, we let ourselves down, and the manager said we had to bounce back tonight and I thought we did that in style,' he told ESPN.

'I'm just trying to work hard and take the opportunity when I'm given it. I'm here to play and as long as I get the opportunity I'll try my best.'

Both Downing and defender Skrtel are now desperate to use the win as a springboard to greater things after Liverpool moved up to eighth in the Barclays Premier League.

'I think we've been a bit nervy at home at times but I think it's time to get a ruthlessness at home,' said Downing.

'The goals you've seen tonight are four quality goals and it's a case of doing it consistently and not now and again.

'We need to kick on in the new year and climb the table.'

Slovakia international Skrtel added: “We've got a target for the top four at the end of the season and now we just want to be as close as we can.'

Only last week Downing had admitted he may leave in the January transfer window after manager Brendan Rodgers said he could go.

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.

Rodgers was quick to hail the 28-year-old tonight, however, and insisted he never wanted Downing to leave Anfield.

'Stewart's been brilliant, he's a real good guy. I want him to be a part of the group here but at his age, we talked at him playing regularly and if the opportunity had come for him to go then him and I would look at it,' said the Northern Irishman.

Tucked away: Brendan Rodgers hailed the winger after a good showing

Tucked away: Brendan Rodgers hailed the winger after a good showing

'But the reaction from that conversation six or seven weeks ago has been outstanding.

'He's played a lot of games and today I thought he was brilliant.

'If he keeps playing like that then he'll be in the team so there's no need for him to leave to get a game.

'I always have wanted him to stay. it's not about me pushing him out the door, he's a quality player.

'When you arrive in the latter part of your twenties and you want to be playing regular and obviously he wasn't at the time.'

Simmer down: Downing hit back at the critics with a man-of-the-match performance

Simmer down: Downing hit back at the critics with a man-of-the-match performance

Of his side's overall performance, Rodgers added: 'We performed as well as that in a lot of the games to be honest but never always got the result.

'Today was outstanding in every element of our game.'

Martin Jol admitted Fulham had let themselves down.

'We conceded cheap goals and then we played against ourselves because there were too many disappointments,' said the Dutchman.

'Overall it wasn't good enough.'

Liverpool 4 Fulham 0 – match report

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

|

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)

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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

Liverpool v Fulham live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Liverpool v Fulham – as it happens from Anfield

|

UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 22 December 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to conclude Saturday's action. Just two points separate the mid-table sides as Martin Jol's outfit will aim for a repeat of their 1-0 win at the Reds in May. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Liverpool 1-0 Fulham (5.30pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel,
Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez,
Downing.
Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling,
Wisdom.

Goal: Skrtel 8.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether,
Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson,
Dejagah, Berbatov.
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega,
Frei, Tavares.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Click here for the live Premier League table

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21min: Finally some sting from the visitors. Moments after Skrtel has another header saved at the back post, Fulham counter.

Ashkan Dejagah breaks into the box but after feeding Alex Kacaniklic, the midfielder sees his eventual shot blocked.

19min: So sluggish are Fulham that Martin Jol is on the edge of his technical area demanding his side close the ball down more. Liverpool remain as comfortable as you can be.

16min: Fulham can barely string two passes together and their problems could get worse as Sascha Riether has been limping around the pitch in the last few minutes.

13min: Excellent strike from Stewart Downing, whose 20-yard rocket is tipped behind at the near post by Mark Schwarzer.

So fine was the touch that the officials missed it and a goal kick is given.

11min: And there has been no response from Fulham who have given the Liverpool defence very little to worry about. This could be a long afternoon for the Cottagers.

8min: GOAL! LIVERPOOL 1-0 Fulham

Fulham survived the first corner but their atrocious marking is soon shown up again.

A Steven Gerrard corner finds Martin Skrtel free inside the box, who lashes home a strike to make up for his own goal in this fixture last May.

6min: Liverpool win a corner following a jinking run from Jose Enrique, but Jonjo Shelvey's cross is headed over by Daniel Agger.

3min: A quiet start with neither side looking particularly threatening on the ball so far. A decent sized crowd at Anfield also seems very quiet.

Kick-off: Away we go.

17.27: The teams are out at Anfield.

17.24: But Liverpool can move into the top half of the table and into eighth with a win today.

Fulham have 11th place to aim for with three points that would take them above the Reds.

17.21: As touched upon, both sides spectacularly crashed last weekend. Liverpool suffered a shock 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa, while Fulham suffered the ignominy of being the first team to lose against QPR after a 2-0 defeat at Loftus Road.

Back in the side: Suso is recalled for Liverpool

Back in the side: Suso is recalled for Liverpool

17.18: Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers spoke to ESPN before the game:

'We have been making steady progress on and off the field. Last weekend was a big disappointment but we have worked well and will look to take three points in a difficult game.

'Joe Allen has played double the amount at this stage than last season but it's important I use him wisely, like wise with young Raheem. I have terrific players chomping at the bit and here is the opportunity for them to do well.'

17.13: Martin Jol certainly believes Fulham can win today but the Cottagers boss conceded his side may be a little short in midfield, speaking before kick-off.

The Dutchman pointed out that Dimitar Berbatov will be the key player for the west London side going forward.

17.10: Full line-ups from Anfield:

Liverpool v Fulham
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez, Downing. Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling, Wisdom.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson, Dejagah, Berbatov. Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega, Frei, Tavares.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

17.05: Teenage winger Raheem Sterling is on the bench the day after signing a new long-term contract as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers makes two changes for the visit of Fulham.

Sterling and Joe Allen are both rested, as Rodgers had suggested this week, with Jose Enrique fit again after a hamstring injury and Suso making his first league appearance since being hauled off after 36 minutes against Wigan on November 17.

Fulham make three changes following last weekend's defeat at QPR with former Liverpool reserve Alex Kacaniklic recalled along with Giorgos Karagounis and Ashkan Dejagah.

17.00: I know it looks like a run-of-the-mill mid-table clash to conclude the last Saturday before Christmas but I can assure you it is much more than that.

In Liverpool v Fulham we have two sides that suffered crushing defeats for different reasons last weekend and both will be desperate for a morale boosting win going into the hectic Christmas schedule.

Conclusion: Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to bring an end to Saturday's action

Conclusion: Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to bring an end to Saturday's action

Celtic manager Neil Lennon says he was inspired by meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson

Tea and pancakes with Sir Alex inspired us! Celtic boss Lennon reveals reason behind Euro run

|

UPDATED:

15:21 GMT, 21 December 2012

Neil Lennon has revealed that drinking tea and eating pancakes with Sir
Alex Ferguson was the secret to Celtic’s magical run to the knockout
stages of the Champions League.

The Scottish champions beat Barcelona on a famous night at Celtic Park – and reduced Rod Stewart to tears – and have drawn Juventus in the first knockout stage of the tournament.

But it was a visit from Manchester United and former Rangers manager Sir Alex Ferguson that inspired Celtic’s success in the group stages.

Cheers boss: Neil Lennon says a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson inspired Celtic

Cheers boss: Neil Lennon says a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson inspired Celtic

Lennon told the Guardian: ‘He gave us two hours of his time, which he didn’t have to do, and I thought it was a brilliant gesture. It was in the privacy of a room at the training ground, just myself and my backroom staff, some tea and pancakes.

‘He was in great form. He has given us little tit bits along the way for the Champions League games. I’m not saying that has got us over the line, but every little bit helps.

‘He was one of the only managers to write me a letter when we won the championship in May and I’ll be eternally grateful to him for that, as well.'

The away win over Spartak Moscow in Group G, along with the narrow defeat by Barcelona in Catalonia, were seen as proof of Celtic’s ability to hurt teams on the break.

Hooping mad: Celtic will play Juventus in the Champions League last 16

Hooping mad: Celtic will play Juventus in the Champions League last 16

With Juve going to Glasgow on February 12 before the return leg in Turin on March 6, Lennon feels his team have a chance to cause another shock.

Lennon also revealed that winning the league with Celtic has finally made him feel settled at the club, after having to endure all the criticism that comes with the role.

‘Old managers make mistakes; Wenger makes mistakes, Ferguson makes mistakes, Mourinho makes mistakes. So what do people call them

‘Before winning the league, I felt like I was on probation. It has been a massive year for me, personally.’

Brendan Rodgers has given Stewart Downing permission to leave Anfield

Rodgers gives Downing permission to end his Anfield nightmare

|

UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 15 December 2012

Stewart Downing is ready to end his Liverpool nightmare after claiming that Brendan Rodgers has told him he can leave.

The England international will consider his options in the January window after struggling to make an impact this season.

Exit: Stewart Downing (pictured) has claimed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has given him permission to leave in January

Exit: Stewart Downing (pictured) has claimed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has given him permission to leave in January

The rise of 18-year-old Raheem Sterling limited his options at the start of the season and although he has been more involved in recent weeks by the Liverpool manager, Rodgers has favoured playing full-back Jose Enrique on the wing and Downing at left back.

'The manager has said I can leave if I want to,' Downing said in an interview in the Liverpool matchday programme ahead of today's game with his former club, Aston Villa.

'But then all of a sudden I've come back into the team, it's a strange situation.

'I've played for a long time and there are spells when you can be in and out of the side.'

Downing has suffered a poor run of form since his 20million move to Liverpool in summer 2011, and has still failed to register a single Premier League goal for the club.

He added: 'At the minute I'm trying to play as many games as possible.

'If that doesn't happen I'm at an age where I can't be sat around. I need to play and the manager understands that.

'That's how the situation is and we'll have to see what happens in January or the summer.'

Permission: Reds boss Brendan Rodgers (pictured) has been playing downing at left back in recent weeks

Permission: Reds boss Brendan Rodgers (pictured) has been playing Downing at left back in recent weeks

Damien Comolli defends Kenny Dalglish"s transfer record at Liverpool

Comolli defends Dalglish's 110m Liverpool spending spree… as it emerges they missed out on Ba, Giroud and Kagawa

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UPDATED:

09:57 GMT, 14 December 2012

Former Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli has defended Kenny Dalglish’s transfer record at the club despite the fact that many of his signings are no longer part of Brendan Rodgers' plans.

In his time at the club Comolli oversaw an estimated 110million spending spree as Liverpool aggressively pursued Champions League football.

And since the Frenchman departed Anfield, Dalglish has also left, while his high profile signigs Carroll has been loaned to West Ham, Charlie Adam and Craig Bellamy have departed, Stewart Downing will leave if a buyer can be found in January, and Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson and Sebastian Coates have had doubts raised against them.

Mixed reviews: Liverpool signed Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in the same transfer window

Mixed reviews: Liverpool signed Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in the same transfer window

DALGLISH'S SIGNINGS

ANDY CARROLL (35million)
LUIS SUAREZ (22.8million)
JORDAN HENDERSON (16million)
CHARLIE ADAM (9million)
STEWART DOWNING (20million)
JOSE ENRIQUE (5million)
SEBASTIAN COATES (7million*)
CRAIG BELLAMY (free)

*Estimated fee

That leaves Luis Suarez – an 18m signing from Ajax – as the only player who still plays a key role at the club.

Goals have been one of the main problems for Liverpool over the last few seasons and while he does not confirm names, the likes of Demba Ba, Olivier Giroud and Shinji Kagawa all were linked with moves to Anfield but all eventually moved elsewhere.

But Comolli defends his record at the club, speaking to the Daily Express, he said: ‘We did 26 deals and to think we wouldn’t make any mistakes in such a huge number of deals in and out would be totally unrealistic.

Defending his role: Damien Comolli says the signings he made should be judged over the long term

Defending his role: Damien Comolli says the signings he made should be judged over the long term

‘I do not think we made any mistakes on the players going out and whether we made mistakes on the players who came in, time will tell. I am very uncomfortable for players to be judged after six, eight or even 12 months. Sometimes it takes two or three years.

‘In two or three years you can say, ‘Damien and Kenny, you were wrong’. Or you can say, ‘They just needed time’.’

The 35m move for Carroll is one of the moves that has attracted the most criticism, but again, Comolli is quick to defend the actions of the club.

Demba Ba

Demba Ba

Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud

Shinji Kagawa

Shinji Kagawa

He added: ‘If you want to talk about the Carroll deal, the situation was quite clear.

‘The way we looked at it, we were selling two players – Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel – and we were bringing two in – Suarez and Carroll – and we were making a profit and the wage bill was coming down considerably as well. It was a four-player deal.

Parting ways: Kenny Dalglish won the League Cup but owners Tom Werner and John W Henry decided to go a for Brendan Rodgers this season

Parting ways: Kenny Dalglish won the League Cup but owners Tom Werner and John W Henry decided to go a for Brendan Rodgers this season

'Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher for Torres. The difference between their first and final bid is double.

'They [FSG] asked me what the risks were and I said if things don’t go well you’ll lose something on Andy, but it is difficult to measure whether you will make money if things go well because Liverpool aren’t a selling club and he could be here for the next 10 years.’

Daniel Sturridge and Thomas Ince move closer to Liverpool switch

Sturridge and Ince edge closer to Liverpool switch as Rodgers plans 18m winter raid

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UPDATED:

00:16 GMT, 12 December 2012

Liverpool will unveil a new 18million strike force in January after taking significant steps to securing deals for Daniel Sturridge and Thomas Ince.

It has been Brendan Rodgers wish for Liverpool to get their business in the New Year done early and they now are on the brink of landing their two prime targets.

Chelsea forward Sturridge is expected to cost Liverpool in the region of 12million, while they will have to pay Blackpool in the region of 6million to take Ince back to Anfield 18 months after letting him leave for 250,000.

Double bubble: Sturridge and Ince look set for a switch to Anfield

Double bubble: Sturridge and Ince look set for a switch to Anfield

Double bubble: Sturridge and Ince look set for a switch to Anfield

Sturridge, who is currently in Japan with Chelsea at the Club World Cup, almost joined Liverpool in August but did not want to move on an initial loan deal. Rodgers, though, has remained an admirer and his transfer will be completed when the window opens.

Ince, meanwhile, will also be brought in to ease the burden on leading scorer Luis Suarez. He left Anfield in August 2011 and has since made eye-catching progress at Bloomfield Road, winning five England Under 21 caps this season.

Rodgers said last month he was looking for players “who would really help take the club forward” and both 20-year-old Ince and Sturridge, 23, fit the criteria of players who Liverpool look to buy. Rodgers remains keen on Arsenal’s Theo Walcott but he would be a signing for next summer.

It promises to be a significant transfer window for how Rodgers shapes Liverpool’s squad. He remains on the look-out for a left-back, as Stewart Downing has been told he is free to leave if they receive a suitable offer.

But whether Joe Cole follows suit is not certain. The former England midfielder made a significant contribution to Sunday's 3-2 win at West Ham, scoring Liverpool’s crucial second goal and Rodgers has challenged Cole to maintain that form.

'I'm just going along game by game,’
said Rodgers. ‘It's not just about the games. Every player gets a chance
every single day to show what they are all about. Joe just has to
continue to look to get that consistency in his fitness. He's a terrific
lad and I feel for him at times. He's working so hard.’

Short on options: Liverpool are relying heavily on Suarez with Carroll out on loan

Short on options: Liverpool are relying heavily on Suarez with Carroll out on loan

Short on options: Liverpool are relying heavily on Suarez with Carroll out on loan

Cole has never given any indication that he wants to leave Anfield and has stated several times his determination to become a success on Merseyside. He hopes to use his performance at Upton Park as a catalyst for a prolonged spell in the squad.

'I am going in every day and just giving my all,’ said Cole. ‘That is all I can do. When I am called upon, I will do the best job that I can. My only focus is on the next game and trying to keep my place in the squad for when we play Aston Villa.

'We are trying to push on to get our third win in a row and take the club forward. The goal meant a lot to me because it came at a crucial time in an important game.

'It has been difficult recently but I have scored in my last two appearances and I want to keep the sequence going if I can.'

Attacking options: Rodgers knows he has to boost his front line

Attacking options: Rodgers knows he has to boost his front line