Liverpool target derby joy


LONDON, October 15 – Arguably the most turbulent week in Liverpool's history won't seem quite so traumatic if Roy Hodgson's team can secure a much-needed win in Sunday's Merseyside derby at Everton.Losing 2-1 against tiny Blackpool at Anfield last month must have seemed like the lowest ebb for Liverpool supporters, who have seen their once-proud club — crowned champions of England 18 times and kings of Europe five times — spiral into chaos over the last 12 months.

But there was worse to come as the already bitter battle for control of Liverpool exploded in farcical circumstances in the High Court this week.

The power struggle pitting owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett against Martin Broughton, the man they appointed chairman with a view to finding a buyer for the Reds, has threatened to reduce Liverpool to a laughing stock.

Broughton’s attempt to sell the club to John W Henry’s New England Sports Ventures without Hicks and Gillett’s support sparked an angry reaction from the Americans.

The ensuing court struggle was set to reach a definitive conclusion on Friday but, whatever the eventual outcome, Reds defender Jamie Carragher insists it is just as important that Hodgson and his players take responsibility for the team’s current perilous position.

"We have changed the manager, we have changed the board and if things don’t change now, then the players will go too," Carragher said.

"Everything else has changed, it is just the players who have stayed the same."

Hodgson will have striker Fernando Torres and left-back Paul Konchesky back from injury, but the Reds won’t be given an easy ride by an Everton side desperately in need of points after their own slow start.

While the Merseyside soap opera rages on, at the top of the table there is little sign of anything disrupting Chelsea’s serene progress.

The Blues have endured plenty of off-field dramas over the last five years, but under Carlo Ancelotti’s diplomatic guidance, Stamford Bridge is a much calmer place and the champions sit four points clear of second-placed Manchester City after a superb opening to their title defence.

Ancelotti could be without injured duo John Terry and Frank Lampard at Aston Villa, however, and if Chelsea slip up, City will look to close the gap with a victory at Blackpool 24 hours later.

Despite a reported recent bust-up between captain Carlos Tevez and coach Roberto Mancini, City are now firmly in the title race.

But trips to less glamorous teams like Blackpool have often proved troublesome for the expensively assembled Eastlands outfit.

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway can only dream of having Mancini’s spending power but, bolstered by that famous win over Liverpool, his ninth-placed side believe they have nothing to fear.

"This is the match between the biggest opposites in the division — massive-spending City and us. You won’t get two more opposite ends of the spectrum," Holloway said.

Manchester United have squandered a succession of opportunities to stay in touch with Chelsea and now trail the leaders by five points.

Wayne Rooney’s poor form has contributed to United’s inconsistent results, but veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs still expects his side to end the season with silverware.

"I see trophies in this team," Giggs said. "The manager has had a lot of problems this season picking the team because a lot of the players have been fit.

"Look at the quality of those who are not even getting on the bench. It is not very nice for those lads, but it is great for the club and the team."

Fixtures (1400GMT unless otherwise stated)


Arsenal v Birmingham, Aston Villa v Chelsea (1630GMT), Bolton v Stoke, Fulham v Tottenham, Manchester United v West Brom, Newcastle v Wigan, Wolves v West Ham


Blackpool v Manchester City (1500GMT), Everton v Liverpool (1230GMT)


Blackburn v Sunderland (1900GMT)