English Premiership

Reds ready to hit peak form

2014-10-31 07:35
Brendan Rodgers (AFP)

Newcastle, United Kingdom - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes his players are finally starting to gel on the pitch ahead of their Premier League clash with Newcastle at St James's Park on Saturday.

The Reds have yet to convince in the early part of the campaign following the addition of several new players after selling Uruguay forward Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

Liverpool, who were runners-up to Manchester City last season, are nine points behind leaders Chelsea in seventh place in the table after nine games.

But Rodgers claims he has seen signs in recent matches that his side is taking shape and performances will improve as a result.

"The players that are available are working very, very hard and we're still learning about each other," he said.

"I think that sometimes goes amiss - you get new players in and with not as much preparation time, you're learning about them in games.

"I can see each day the relationship growing within the players and the connection.

"That's what we've been trying to do and gradually as each day goes by, I sense and feel we are getting better.

"Rickie Lambert, who hasn't had many opportunities, his goals will come. He's working tirelessly every day and had some nice touches against Swansea the other night.

"Young Lazar Markovic playing on the left hasn't featured so much, but we brought him in for the longer term. He'll get games in this period because we've got confidence he'll be a big player for us.

"Those players will get a chance and hopefully they can take that chance."- Controversial Balotelli -

Rodgers also claims he does not have to shield Mario Balotelli from players in opposition teams who try to wind him up during games.

The Italy striker, who is set to start against Newcastle, had a confrontation with Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey during their League Cup clash in the week.

"I don't have to protect Mario," Rodgers said. "He's fine. There's no concern."

Liverpool will be without striker Daniel Sturridge who is still recovering from a calf problem that is also likely to force him to miss their trip to Real Madrid in the Champions League and next weekend's clash with Chelsea at Anfield.

Defenders Jose Enrique (knee), Mamadou Sakho (hip) and Jon Flanagan (knee) are all absent along with midfield playmaker Suso (groin).

Meanwhile, Newcastle approach the game with their confidence restored after three successive victories that have tempered the criticism of their manager Alan Pardew.

Pardew looked certain to be dismissed only a month ago, but an impressive sequence of results in October have made his position secure, at least for the time being -- although the 53-year-old seems reluctant to take credit for the transformation.

"I don't think it's that important, if I'm honest," he said.

"What is important is that we're winning games again and that's what the fans want to see.

"I think we have a group that could excite them this year. There is a lot of pace in the squad and it's about getting it on the pitch and using it in the right manner, which we are doing at the moment.

"It's a nice transitional period for us. We have had a couple of very good teams here in my time, but last year it kind of fell away for us and we are trying to build a new side.

"It takes time to bed in, but we are starting to find our feet."

Pardew will give a fitness test to striker Papiss Cisse (knee)and midfielder Cheick Tiote (shin), while defender Davide Santon (knee) and midfielder Siem de Jong (thigh) are still some way short of a return.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

23 October 2016
Manchester City v Southampton, Etihad Stadium 14:30
Chelsea v Manchester United, Stamford Bridge 17:00
29 October 2016
Sunderland v Arsenal, Stadium of Light 13:30
Manchester United v Burnley, Old Trafford 16:00
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth, Riverside Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City, The Hawthorns 16:00
Watford v Hull City, Vicarage Road 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City, White Hart Lane 16:00
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 18:30
30 October 2016
Everton v West Ham United, Goodison Park 15:30
Southampton v Chelsea, St. Mary's Stadium 18:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Will Jose Mourinho lead Manchester United to the English Premiership title in 2016/17?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.