Fabio Aurelio has set his sights on maximum points over Christmas as Liverpool look to put pressure on the Premier League leaders. Liverpool entertain Fulham tomorrow before a trip to Blackpool and home games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers. And Aurelio said: "It is very important we get a good result on Saturday, especially because we are playing at home. Hopefully we can start a run of great results and the team can get some wins together. We know Fulham are a tough team and we respect them, but we have to show them we are Liverpool, we are playing at home and need the three points."
Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, will meet with Carlos Tevez today in a bid to convince the Argentine striker to remain at Eastlands. Tevez submitted a transfer request earlier this week, but City's Italian coach is refusing to give up on his leading goalscorer, with the club stating the player, who has three-and-a-half years left on his contract, is not for sale. And if Tevez needs any more convincing of his club's ambition, he may ask his manager if there is any truth in the rumours that the Manchester side are set to offer Barcelona £85m for Andres Iniesta, their mercurial World Cup-winning midfielder.
Manchester United staff are pleased with the recent progress of Rafael da Silva, the right-back, but it has not stopped rumours emanating from the Portuguese press that Sir Alex Ferguson is preparing a bid for the Brazilian's compatriot Daniel Alves. The Barcelona defender's contract expires in 18 months and he has made no secret of his desire to test himself in the Premier League. Meanwhile, Lassana Diarra, the Real Madrid midfielder who has been a long-term target for the Old Trafford side, said yesterday he will consider his options in January. The Frenchman has struggled for first-team action under Jose Mourinho.
Speculation continues to surround a possible £200 million (Dh1.14 billion) takeover bid from the Qatari Foundation, but Alan Pardew, the new manager, is more concerned about keeping hold of Andy Carroll. The powerful forward has netted 10 league goals so far in his first season in the Premier League and has been linked to a host of clubs. But Carroll said: "I've always worked towards being where I am now and want to stay here." Meanwhile, 19-year-old Nile Ranger believes he could be the perfect foil for Carroll. The striker has yet to break into the Newcastle first team, but said: "It would be a dream to partner Andy. It could really work."
Peter Coates, the club chairman, confirmed Stoke City will make a move for Birmingham City's contract rebel Sebastian Larsson, but only if they fail to reach an agreement with Real Zaragoza to complete the transfer of on-loan winger Jermaine Pennant. Both Pennant and Tony Pulis, the coach, are keen to push the deal through, but Stoke will refuse to pay the Spanish side's £6m valuation. Meanwhile, Pulis has told Ryan Shawcross, his captain, not to fear the backlash as the defender faces Arsenal tomorrow for the first time since his challenge resulted in Aaron Ramsey, the midfielder, breaking his leg last season.
Nedum Onuoha, the defender on loan from Manchester City, has reiterated his desire to stay at the Stadium of Light ahead of tomorrow's clash with Bolton Wanderers. Steve Bruce, the manager, has lost Anton Ferdinand, Titus Bramble and Michael Turner to injury and Onuoha may have to operate at centre-half rather than right-back, but the 24-year-old is happy just to be playing. Bruce also praised the dedication of John Mensah, the centre-half on loan from Lyon. He told the Sunderland Echo: "John has been absolutely terrific for us recently - amazing when you consider he's been playing with a damaged shoulder."
Heurelho Gomes, the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper, is backing his side to progress to the quarter-finals - at least - when the draw for the Champions League knock-out stages is made today at 3pm UAE time. The Brazilian shot stopper was influential for PSV Eindhoven, his previous team, when they reached the semi-finals in 2005 before being eliminated by AC Milan. "This squad is much better than the one that I went to the semi-finals with. I think we can go far," he said. "We have a big squad, a strong squad, and of course we believed that we could get to the knock-out stages before we started the campaign."
West Bromwich Albion
Roberto Di Matteo has urged his men to snatch the initiative over one of their main competitors for Premier League survival in Sunday's high-noon showdown with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Victory would see the 11th-placed Baggies re-open a 10-point gap on their Midlands rivals, with almost half the season gone. And the Baggies boss insists that is his primary target in the Hawthorns derby against Wolves, who are 19th in the league. "The most important aspect is that they are our competitors in terms of trying to stay in the Premier League," said Di Matteo. "For that reason we want to try and win the game.
West Ham United
The London club's owners have given Avram Grant, the manager, three games to save his job, with Sam Allardyce lined up as a potential replacement, according to reports in the UK. Grant has presided over a dire start to the season that has resulted in the Hammers managing only 12 points from a potential 51. David Sullivan and David Gold, the joint owners, believe that if Grant has to go, they must replace him in time to give his replacement a chance to utilise the transfer window. West Ham sacked Gianfranco Zola at the end of last season and signed Grant on a four-year contract.
Next month's Asian Cup is set to hinder Roberto Martinez's hopes of Premier League survival as he prepares to lose two of his best players. Ali al Habsi, the Oman goalkeeper, may be on loan from Bolton, but he has supplanted Chris Kirkland in the Wigan Athletic net, while Tom Cleverley could be recalled by Manchester United when Park Ji-sung departs for Qatar with South Korea. Martinez said, however, that despite being pleased with al Habsi's performances so far this season, he will not pressure him to sign a permanent contract and is happy to wait until the summer.
Mick McCarthy is poised to make January moves to bring two former players back to Molineux. Robbie Keane, the Tottenham striker, and Joleon Lescott, the Manchester City defender, are both out of favour with their clubs and McCarthy believes he is well positioned to tempt them back to where their careers began. Lescott, who has confirmed he wants to leave, would likely cost in the region of £10m - less than half of what City paid Everton two seasons ago. Keane has failed to find form at Spurs since returning following a miserable six-month spell at Liverpool in 2008.