Liverpool could be in line to pull off a shock loan move for Barcelona forward Isaac Cuenca. Liverpool have been linked with a possible move for Cristian Tello or Alex Sanchez from the Spanish club but Tello has signed a new contract while Sanchez’s agent has ruled out a move to Liverpool.
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson admits his lack of goals had been preying on his mind but hopes the confidence gained from his crucial Europa League winner will be reflected in future performances.
The 22-year-old struck midway through the second half against 10-man Udinese when he drove a pass from Suso under the body of goalkeeper Daniele Padelli.
With rivals Young Boys beating Anzhi that strike was the difference between Liverpool going through to the last 32 and getting knocked out.
And after a difficult few months on the fringes of the team Henderson believes only his third goal in 65 appearances since his £16million move from Sunderland is just the tonic he needed.
“It is always nice to get goals and it was a good moment for me to score,” he said.
“I have missed a few good chances in games so it was nice to put one away and hopefully I can keep scoring from now on.
“I have always tried to improve my goalscoring. Even when I’ve been getting good chances of late I’ve not put them away so I started to think I need to score and I’ve managed to do that so I’m happy.
“I think if you score goals then it does give you more confidence.
“You have to keep working hard, keep doing the things you have been doing and it will pay off in the end.
“It is always nice, no matter what type of goal or when it is, to score goals personally and for the team.
“I think everyone is delighted with the performance and the result and for me, personally, I am delighted with the goal.”
Progression to the last 32 could have been snatched away with the final kick of the game, however, as veteran forward Daniel di Natale fired over the crossbar.
That would have been harsh on a Liverpool side who, despite manager Brendan Rodgers’ decision to field weakened teams throughout the competition, have grown over the months.
It could hardly be called a classic European away display as Udinese, who had Giovanni Pasquale sent off for a second bookable offence with 11 minutes to go, had too many chances but it was enough to guarantee involvement after Christmas.
“I think overall we are pleased with the performance,” added Henderson.
“We went into the game knowing we had to win to go through and that is what we managed to do and everyone is pleased with the outcome.
“We managed the game well and towards the second half we kept the ball quite well and we are delighted with the win.
“I think we deserved to win the game and go through. They had one or two chances and Di Natale had a good one at the end but fortunately for us it went over the crossbar.
“I think we are going from strength to strength every week and we are improving.
“It is important for Liverpool to be involved in the knockout stages of European competition.
“When February comes (and the competition restarts) we will have improved a hell of a lot and we can kick on from there but our main focus now is Sunday against West Ham.
“Hopefully the win will give everyone confidence going into that game.”
Liverpool’s pre-match preparations for the Hammers clash were disrupted slightly when they were unexpectedly forced to stay overnight in Italy.
The team were scheduled to fly back to Liverpool last night but a problem with their plane meant they were unable to take off and they had to spend the night in a hotel.
Coaching staff tried as best they could to keep the post-match routine to which the players were accustomed and Press Association Sport understands they undertook a pool recovery session this morning ahead of their return flight which is expected to see them arrive back mid-afternoon.
The team are due to travel to London tomorrow.
Liverpool U21s play their final game of 2012 when they take on Crystal Palace on Friday afternoon and you can watch the whole game exclusively live on LFC TV and LFC TV Online from 12.45pm GMT.
Kick-off is at 1pm but for the best build-up to the game join Matt Critchley alongside former Reds Mark Wright and Neil Mellor.
After the 2-1 win over Fulham on Monday, Alex Inglethorpe’s side will be hoping to sign off the calendar year with another victory after an impressive first part of the season.
Liverpool are the only unbeaten U21s team in the country and have already won their section of the Barclays Premier U21 league.
Liverpool side will face Blue Square Premier opponents in the FA Cup third round.
Matt Rhead’s last-minute equaliser for Mansfield in the 3-3 second-round draw with non league counterparts Lincoln means the two sides must replay next week for the honour of hosting one of the giants of the English game.
Lincoln are aiming to reach the third round of the FA Cup for only the second time in 14 years, while Mansfield last qualified for that stage in the 2007-08 season.
Liverpool finished runners-up in the competition during the last campaign, losing 2.1 to chelsea in May’s final at Wembley.
A Daniel Agger header ensured all three points for a dominant Liverpool side over Southampton at Anfield. In a game that saw the welcome return to action of Lucas Leiva, the reds created the better chances whilst commanding the lions share of possession and in the end were unlucky not to add to their tally,
Liverpool started brightly and dominated the early play and Shelvey bobbled an early effort straight at goalkeeper Gazzaniga. Then Johnson flicked a Suarez pass across the face of goal, before Gerrard had a shot charged down and fired wide from a quickly taken free-kick.
Gazzaniga then denied both Shelvey and Suarez, who made justifiable claims he had been pulled back by Jack Cork, before the Uruguayan international latched onto Reina’s long kick and beat the goalkeeper only for Yoshida to clear for a corner.
2 minutes before half-time Suarez won a free-kick at the edge of the penalty area after being flattened by Ramirez. Suarez crashed the resulting kick of the bar, which fell to Johnson who crossed into the penalty box for Agger to head into the top corner from 10 yards out.
Southampton came out with a different attitude for the second half as Liverpool struggled to maintain their first half dominance.
Liverpool’s first real effort in the second half was midway through it, when the marauding Enrique linked up with Suarez before poking watching his poked effort deflect wide by Shaw.
Enrique also had a drilled half-volley batted away by Gazzaniga, With Liverpool becoming increasingly desperate to score a second Luis Suarez tried to punch Gerrard’s cross, resulting in the striker being booked, which will rule him out of next week’s trip to West Ham.
Suarez flashed a shot wide in added time, but Agger’s goal proved to be the difference.
‘I don’t think there has been a clear change in his game in terms of what I have asked him to do,’ said Rodgers. ‘What Steven has been over the years is the player who makes the difference. He may not have had the goals this season that he has wanted but he still been effective.
‘There has been nothing more or less I have asked in terms of defensive responsibilities. Of course we want the midfield players to score goals, to get in the box and gamble. When Steven has done that he is fantastic – look at the goal against Manchester united.
‘He has done terrific for us. He has obviously had to take on more of a mantel because this is a much younger group. I think that is the biggest thing this year: there is probably a bit more responsibility on him in relation to looking out more for the team.
‘But he has been brilliant I have got to say. He has been fit, playing games and recovering really well. I am so happy to have someone like that in the group because he is a phenomenal player and a great presence for us. It’s great to have a player of that ability in the group.’
Rodgers will come face-to-face with Gylfi Sigurdsson for the first time tonight since the Icelandic international rejected a move to Liverpool in favour of Tottenham.
Sigurdsson, though, has only made five Premier League starts and would have played significantly more had he gone to Anfield.
‘All we can do is present to players the opportunity to come to a great club like this and give them the idea of what we are hoping to achieve,’ said Rodgers.
‘Having worked with him before and knowing his strengths, his ability to play in that no10 role, this would have been a good opportunity for him where he evolve.’
Martin Skrtel, meanwhile, is hoping for better fortune. White Hart Lane has been a bogey ground for the Slovakian defender in recent years and last September he received the run-around from Gareth Bale after Kenny Dalglish used the central defender as a right-back.
Skrtel endured a shaky start to the current campaign but has been in much better form recently and he is determined to help Liverpool stretch their unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League to a ninth game.
‘I certainly don’t want to repeat what happened season because it was horrible,’ said Skrtel, reflecting on a 4-0 defeat. ‘I didn’t play in my own position and I ended up getting sent off. The year before I broke my jaw after banging heads with Carra but that is football.
‘I have to forget about these things and look forward. The expectations when you are at Liverpool are always high and that’s still the same. All we are doing is going from game to game and trying to get as many points as we can and hopefully at the end of the season we can be in the top four.’
Liverpool are in “advanced talks” to re-sign Blackpool winger Tom Ince, according to reports on Wednesday.
Ince left Liverpool for Blackpool 18 months ago, having failed to make the breakthrough into the first-team and with his contract set to expire. A compensation package was agreed between the two clubs for the son of former Liverpool midfielder Paul.
The Telegraph report that as part of that deal Liverpool will receive 35% of any fee Blackpool get for 20 year old, effectively meaning they can sign the England under 21 international for less than any other club.
Ince has 11 goals in 18 appearances for Blackpool this season and is reportedly a target for man united and Tottenham.
The thought of Ince and Raheem Sterling down the wings for Liverpool would be enough to unsettle full backs in the Premier League!
Sky Sports recently revealed that Liverpool is interested in another Barcelona product in the form of current Sporting Lisbon winger Jeffren Suarez.
Suarez left Barcelona after finding playing time hard to come by but has not had much success in Portugal either.
Last year he made just 15 appearances for the club and so far this year he has featured eight times.
Like any Barcelona product, Suarez would be good on the ball and bring a good level of individual creativity but his lack of success at his two former clubs does pose some questions.