Thursday, 27 June 2013

Liverpool: Striker Iago Aspas joins from Celta Vigo - BBC News

Liverpool have signed Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas for £7m, subject to international clearance.

The club agreed a deal in principle last week and were just waiting for documentation before confirming the "long-term contract".

The uncapped Spaniard, 25, scored 12 goals in 35 league games for Celta this season as they avoided relegation from La Liga on the final day.

Aspas was a target for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers's old club Swansea.

He becomes Liverpool's second Spanish signing of the weekend, following the recruitment of Sevilla and Spain Under-21 forward Luis Alberto, 20, who has joined for a fee believed to be £6.8m.

They are set to be joined at Anfield by Simon Mignolet, with Liverpool expected to complete a £9m move for the Sunderland goalkeeper next week.

Earlier in the summer, Manchester City defender Kolo Toure, 32, agreed to join Liverpool on a free transfer.

Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan the subject of a £19.5m bid from Borussia ... -

Borussia Dortmund have made an offer of £19.5million for Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan - but his club want £25m.

The day after admitting they don't know where their star man is , Shakhtar Donetsk have announced a bid has been received from the German side.

The Ukrainians have not confirmed any such bid from Brendan Rodgers' Reds.

Shakhtar's chief executive Sergei Palkin told Terrikon: "I don't know where Mkhitaryan is, now; solely his agent knows this.

"Borussia offered $30m (£19.5m) for the midfielder. I contacted Mkhitaryan's agent yesterday. I wrote to him about the official position of the club.

"We are prepared to sell Mkhitaryan for €30m (£25m). This offer stands for the next 10 days. If Mkhitaryan wishes to leave, they have to pay this amount for him."

After failing to report for training at Shakhtar, a photo claiming to show the Mkhitaryan checking in to a London hotel appeared online on Tuesday evening.

The image fueled speculation that the 24-year-old was on his way to Liverpool, but regardless of its authenticity, it is certain they now face competition for his signature from Jurgen Klopp's team.

Watch this Football Spy video to find out just how to pronounce Henrikh Mkhitaryan's name - and why he could be such a hit at Liverpool.


Millions exposed by Facebook data glitch - BBC News

Personal details of about six million people have been inadvertently exposed by a bug in Facebook's data archive.

The bug meant email and telephone numbers were accidentally shared with people who would not otherwise have had access to the information.

So far, there was no evidence the data exposed was being exploited for malicious ends, said Facebook.

It said it was "upset and embarrassed" by the bug, which was found by a programmer outside the company.

Bug bounty

The data exposure came about because of the way that Facebook handled contact lists and address books uploaded to the social network, it said in a security advisory.

Typically, it said, it analysed the names and contact details on those lists so it could make friend recommendations and put people in touch with those they knew.

The bug meant some of the information Facebook generated during that checking process was stored alongside the uploaded contact lists and address books.

That meant, said Facebook, that when someone had downloaded their profile this extra data had travelled with it, letting people see contact details that had not been explicitly shared with them.

An investigation into the bug showed that contact details for about six million people were inadvertently shared in this way. Despite this, Facebook said the "practical impact" had been small because information was most likely to have been shared with people who already knew the affected individuals.

The bug had now been fixed, it added.

Facebook was alerted to the bug by a member of its "White Hat" program who checks the site's code for glitches and other loopholes. A bounty for the bug has been paid to the programmer who found it.

Security analyst Graham Cluley criticised Facebook's release of the information just before the weekend and said the disclosure had been more about "damage limitation" than making sure the information reached as wide an audience as possible.

Simon Mignolet completes £9m move from Sunderland to Liverpool - The Guardian

Paolo Di Canio has moved to reassure Sunderland supporters alarmed by Tuesday night's £9m sale of Simon Mignolet to Liverpool.

"Our aim is to build a competitive squad for the new season and this deal will give us further ability to strengthen the side," said Sunderland's manager after thanking the Belgium international for his heroics at the Stadium of Light last season. "I would like to assure our fans that there is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes."

Di Canio appeared to have Celtic's Fraser Forster lined up as Mignolet's most likely replacement but now it seems that the Republic of Ireland's Keiren Westwood, the outgoing goalkeeper's former deputy, will be given a chance to prove himself next season.

Sunderland still plan to sign another keeper and are monitoring Heerenveen's 24-year-old Swede, Kristoffer Nordfelt, who due to a release clause in his contract is available for £2m as well as PSV Eindhoven's 22-year-old Holland Under-21 international Jeoren Zoet.

Mignolet – who becomes the first Belgian to play for Liverpool – joined Sunderland from Sint-Truiden for £2m three years ago, swiftly establishing himself in the team. Di Canio had hoped to keep him but, with two years left on his contract and no agreement reached over an extension, the Wearsiders were unwilling to let their prize asset depreciate in value. The 25-year-old is moving for an initial £9m with the fee potentially rising to more than £11m.

"I'm delighted we have been able to sign one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League," said Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool's manager. The feeling was mutual. "Liverpool's a big club," said Mignolet who believes the switch to Anfield will enhance his chances of being his country's first-choice keeper at next year's World Cup finals in Brazil.

"To be the first Belgian to play for Liverpool is a big thing. This is a big challenge for me but that's what you want. You want to play in the big games, you want to play for a big club and to play with pressure."

Transport for London bosses pocket Olympic Games bonus windfall - The Guardian

Transport for London has paid £1.5m in bonuses to senior staff for the successful delivery of the Olympics, according to its annual report.

The transport body, which operates the capital's tube and bus networks, said it would pay deferred bonuses because record passenger numbers and reliability in 2012 meant "excellent management had really delivered".

Sir Peter Hendy, the transport commissioner, led the way with a £319,000 bonus on top of his £331,000 salary. But the base pay of the commissioner and his chief officers was frozen for a fourth consecutive year.

However, salaries for several directors of Crossrail – far from operational at the time of the Games – rose above inflation. The chief executive, Andrew Wolstenholme, pocketed more than £600,000, including pension contributions and a £123,000 bonus for eight months service in 2011-12, while programme director Andy Mitchell was paid a £222,000 bonus. With Crossrail executives included, the bonus pay for TfL executives in 2012 exceeded £2m.

The general secretary of the RMT trade union, Bob Crow, said the "outrageous" bonuses would influence upcoming pay claims at TfL. "With transport taking a massive hit in the spending review, and with jobs cuts and fare increases looming large, it is outrageous that the top brass across TfL are raking in combined bonuses of £2.5m."

TfL said the tube had carried record numbers of passengers – 1.23 billion people – with services more reliable than ever, while London's bus network was packed and the taxpayer subsidy substantially reduced. Tube and bus networks operated over 97% of the scheduled service.

The transport body said it had continued to deliver substantial savings while protecting frontline services, investment and concessionary travel schemes, and claimed passenger satisfaction on the bus and tube had reached an all-time high of 82% and 83% respectively.

Paralympic champion Lady Grey-Thompson, chair of TfL's remuneration committee, said: "London's transport network had a record-breaking year, with hugely improved reliability and tremendous support for a successful London 2012 Games under the gaze of the world. The excellent management team and staff have really delivered."

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "London's transport system is carrying more people, more reliably, safely and efficiently than at any point in history. We are also delivering impressively on one of the biggest investment programmes being undertaken anywhere on the planet."

Arsenal's Arsene Wenger is still wanted as Paris Saint-Germain coach even as ... -

Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed the capture of Laurent Blanc as coach - but left the door open for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to join them next summer.

Blanc, who won the 1998 Word Cup with France as a player and coached them at Euro 2012, has signed a two-year deal - a year, with an option for a further 12 months - to manage the new French champions following Carlo Ancelotti's move to Real Madrid as successor to Jose Mourinho.

But megabucks PSG still want Wenger to come home from England when his Emirates contract expires next summer.

And if Wenger finally agrees to join his long-time admirers, Blanc will be axed - regardless of his achievements next season.

It is set to place the Gunners' French coach at the centre of a tug-of-war between the two clubs.

PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi who tried to sign Wenger two years ago and at the end of last season, is also general manager of al-Jazeera Sport, which employs Wenger as a pundit.

Laurent Blanc
Firing Blanc: PSG's new coach faces the axe if Wenger shows interest


Arsenal are understood to be confident, however, of hanging onto Wenger by tying him to a new contract.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis has confirmed the club want to keep the 63-year-old, despite disquiet among fans over the team's performances and his failure to recruit big-name stars.

With Manchester United figurehead Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Wenger's 18 years in north London makes him by far the longest-serving manager in the Premier League.

But he is still seen as the man to take the club forward following the recent "escalation of financial firepower" that is set to see them smash their transfer record and wage structure to land Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.


Twitter road trips USA: Texas to New Mexico day two – as it happened - The Guardian

We've just emerged from the Caverns of Sonora, one of many caverns on the trip suggested by readers. Besides because it was recommended by usaprofessor5, we chose it because the caverns are quite literally in the middle of nowhere, and Sonora is the rough halfway point to Marfa. (Yes, we are making horrible timing.)

Discovered in 1905, the caverns are privately owned and are on the same land as a small campsite and general store. There are over seven miles of underground trails in the caverns, the longest in Texas, according to our guide, Patrick Hogan. The average tour is $20 and takes nearly two hours, but he gave us the improvised 45-minute version since our sidetracks to Banera and Imitation Stonehenge dragged out our plans a bit.

Inside the humid cave, we went nearly 180 feet underground to see different types of rare rock formations, the many-syllabled names of which escape me now. But Patrick showed us formations shaped into things we recognized: a pair of wolves, coral, a butterfly with a broken wing – and, because this is Texas, 'cavern bacon'.

Caverns of Sonora

While we had Patrick in such close quarters, we asked the Massachusetts native about Texas. 

Caverns of Sonora

What's the biggest misconception? "That everything is bigger."

The biggest truth: "The people are nicer."

We climbed out of the cavern just a bit ago and are on the 130-mile journey toward Fort Stockton. If there's anything we can quickly visit in town – there are rumors of a giant road runner statue – be sure to let me know.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard targeting pre-season return after recovery ... -

Steven Gerrard has boosted Liverpool - and England - by revealing he expects to be back for pre-season training.

Gerrard has spent the last six weeks recovering from a shoulder operation that ended his 201-13 campaign prematurely, and says his rehabilitation is going well.

The 33-year-old, captain of the Reds and the Three Lions, is expected to step up his fitness work when the Anfield giants report back to work on Tuesday.

He claims he is just a week or two away from taking part in full training.

"It's going well and I'm feeling strong," said Gerrard, speaking at his foundation's charity golf day in Portugal.

"I'm six weeks down the line with the rehabilitation.

"I'm not too far away - maybe a couple of weeks away from contact and being back in full training, if everything goes well.

"I'm looking forward to it."

Gerrard, who had played every minute of Liverpool's Premier League campaign before his operation in April, is desperate to return to action.

He is over the muscle injuries which blighted him in recent years and is excited about the new season, following the signings of Simon Mignolet , Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Kolo Toure - with the possibility of more to follow.

"It's probably the longest break I've had at this time of year," he said. "Being out of the game for six weeks is enough. I'm itching to get back."

Gerrard's fitness update is good news for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and England manager Roy Hodgson.

He will build up his fitness on Liverpool's pre-season tour of Australia, Indonesia and Thailand next month and will be hoping to take part in the games against Melbourne Victory on July 24 and Thailand four days later.

Gerrard will want to get some minutes under his belt before his testimonial, at Anfield against Olympiacos, on August 3 and should be in peak condition when Liverpool kick-off their Premier League campaign at home to Stoke on August 17.

Hodgson can also count on Gerrard, who missed the end-of-season friendlies against Ireland and Brazil, to lead England out in their friendly against Scotland at Wembley on August 14.

Which means Gerrard's name ought to be on the team-sheet for England's World Cup double-header against Moldova and Ukraine in early September.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Rent rises 'driven by London market' - BBC News

Rental prices have risen by 8.4% in England since May 2005, driven by an 11% increase in London, new official figures show.

Over the past 12 months, the cost of renting rose by 1.3% in England, 1.5% in Wales and 1% in Scotland, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This is the first time the ONS has recorded private rental costs, in what it describes as "experimental" data.

It plans to publish figures on average rental costs on a quarterly basis.

Regional picture

The data tracks rent changes in England since 2005 and the cost of renting in Scotland and Wales in the past couple of years.

During this latter period, a stalling UK housing market has generally pushed up demand for rental properties as first-time buyers struggled to get on the ladder.

The historical figures show that rental costs in England have risen steadily each year, except for falls in 2010.

Since May 2005, the change in rents has ranged from a 5.2% increase in the North East of England to an 11% rise in London.

In the past year, the cost of renting fell by 0.1% in the North East, and rose by 2.2% in London.

"Landlords looking to cash in on demand and turn a fast profit need to realise that tenants have an affordability ceiling. Rents can only go so high before people are priced out of an area altogether," said Matt Hutchinson, director of flatshare website

"This is especially true in London, which will become unaffordable for everyone but the wealthiest if current trends continue."

However, the British Property Federation (BPF) said the figures showed that the rising cost of renting was well below energy, food and transport price inflation.

"Private rents do not rise at the rate that is often perceived because most landlords do not raise rents every calendar year, but only when a tenant moves on, which is typically every 20 months or so," said Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the BPF.

UK annual house price inflation stood at 2.6% in April, according to the latest ONS figures.

But there are still huge variations across the country. Prices in London rose by 6% in the 12 months to April 2013, but in Scotland they fell by 1.2% and in Northern Ireland they were down 0.8%.

Arsenal hope to push through Gonzalo Higuain signing after Carlo Ancelotti ... -

"Real are one of the best clubs in the world, but there is no deal yet. When you're a kid, you dream about playing at a team like Madrid. If I leave one day, I'll be ready to move to a bigger club."

Radio Marte, a Napoli radio station, yesterday reported that Chelsea had already made an acceptable offer.

"We have received news in the office from a very reliable source that Napoli have sealed a deal with Chelsea for Cavani's sale," it said. "Rafa Benitez also gave the all-clear but before making the move official Napoli want to secure the striker who will replace Il Matador."

Chelsea have not commented on this report but there is a sense that Napoli are now attempting to create an auction and pressurise Real into coming forward with an offer.

Chelsea did yesterday formally announce the £18 million signing of Bayer Leverkusen forward Andre Schurrle.

The arrival of Ancelotti at Real will contribute to a general escalation in transfer activity across Europe over the next fortnight, with many of the main deals interlinked and dependent on the key managerial appointments. There will also be a push to get transfers completed before players return from their holidays during the next month. It was also significant yesterday that Laurent Blanc replaced Ancelotti at Paris St-Germain on a one-year deal, with the further option of a second season.

This again points very clearly towards PSG's desire to recruit Wenger once his Arsenal contract expires at the end of next season. Arsenal remain confident that Wenger will agree to extend his contract and oversee a significant escalation in the club's spending power.

As well as Higuain, Wenger is evaluating his options in central midfield, central defence and among his goalkeepers. Arsenal failed with a January deadline-day bid for Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue but have been monitoring other alternatives, including Celtic's Victor Wanywama.

Southampton had a £12 million bid accepted for Wanywama but that deal has collapsed due to the personal terms and agent fees that were being demanded. Liverpool are also interested.

"Their offer was way below Victor's expectations," said Ivan Modia, Wanyama's representative. "There is no chance of him signing the deal on offer and, in fact, both Celtic and Southampton were informed of this some time ago.

"We know there is interest from elsewhere and Victor is obviously open to those prospects. Nobody at Celtic can question his attitude and he is hopeful he can leave on good terms with the club."

Twitter road trips USA: Texas to New Mexico day three – live - The Guardian


We arrived in Marfa after 10pm, about four hours later than planned and two hours later than the office at our hotel, El Cosmico, stays open. We'd stopped for dinner at the nearby outpost Alpine and then pulled over on the way into town to see the famous Marfa mystery lights, so our arrival at El Cosmico was met with a key in an envelope and then some bumbling around in a pitch black field.

Marfa Lights
Marfa Lights

Since there's a film festival starting here today, we expected some late-night artsy crowd activity, but the grounds were quiet by the time Sarah found her safari tent and I unlocked the door to my trailer, dubbed Kozy Coach.

What followed was a night of toss-and-turn sleep in a trailer that seemed to retain all of the previous day's heat, until the temperature suddenly dropped to freezing in the early morning.

There's an outdoor trailer attached to our trailer; being able to watch other people eat breakfast and throw out trash over the top of my shower curtain was a new and different experience, and I am okay with never having it again.

It wasn't all uncomfortable. There are several quirky amenities at El Cosmico, including crickets, a soft bed, amazing pillows, an in-trailer toilet and Jo's gourmet coffee on the counter. Our trailer also has a deck, which we won't get much use out of as we prepare to hit the road.

Good Morning Marfa!

Next stop: A quick tour of Marfa, the drive to Fort Davis to see the observatory plenty of you recommended. Food suggestions today are welcome since every site on our list has been recommended by you.

Our eventual destination today is Roswell; it's about a five-hour drive away, so we're embarking on another busy travel day with plenty of stops in between - including a humungous rodeo in Pecos.

Jamie Carragher on why Arsenal must step up to the plate in 2013/14 - SkySports

Jamie Carragher is Sky Sports' newest signing.

The former Liverpool and England defender joins our team of experts alongside the likes of Gary Neville, Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness for a season where you can watch 116 live Barclays Premier League matches, more than ever before, in HD and on mobile and tablet devices only with Sky Sports.

As we count down to the new campaign, Jamie shared some of his thoughts on how some of the big clubs are shaping up.

Read on for his views on a big season for Arsenal and why they need a change of mentality and attitude in the coming season.

They've got to do a lot more than just reach the top four. Their aim has got to be to overtake Man United, Man City and Chelsea and make more of an impact at the top of the table.

I don't think there are any excuses now and I don't think there were before. Arsenal, the same as Liverpool, are a massive club.

Arsenal have obviously done better than Liverpool in terms of the Champions League but I'm not talking about Arsenal winning the Champions League or the league, I'm saying in the last eight years you'd expect them to win an FA Cup or maybe a League Cup.

It's been going on for so long now and it's been the same every year. They qualify for the Champions League and go out in the last 16 and fight to the end of the season to get in the top four. I'm sure the supporters would love to see them in Cup Finals and semi-finals. I think that's what they need to do.

They'll bring a few players in, as Arsene Wenger always does, but they've got to start getting the winning mentality back and get over the line in big games.

"They'll bring a few players in, as Arsene Wenger always does, but they've got to start getting that winning mentality back as they've had in the past and get over the line in big games."
Jamie Carragher

You never really expected Arsenal to win the big games in the last few years and that's something that they've got to overcome as well.

I think they can attract top players. They're in one of the nicest parts of the country, they've got a fantastic stadium and they've got a manager who has been there a long time so there's not a lot of chopping and changing.

People talk about them not offering the wages that other top sides offer because of the situation with the stadium, but that's getting healthier. They're in the Champions League as well, so I can't see that being a problem for Arsenal. They're one of the giants of English football.

They've lost certain types of players and characters that they had in the past. They haven't replaced the spine of the team that they had - Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell and the Invincibles.

Arsene Wenger is a master of the transfer market and he got a lot of those players for buttons really, but it's difficult to replace some of the best players in the world for peanuts.

It's difficult to keep coming back again - that's what Sir Alex Ferguson was so great at. Wenger has been there for so long and has built so many great sides, but it is difficult to keep doing it when there's two or three other teams in the league who are spending more than you and are also looking to take your best players.

It is a lot more difficult for Arsenal than it has been in the past, but that's the modern game and they have to deal with it - and I'm sure they'll be looking to get big, strong powerful players into the team.

That's what they need, especially in big games. At the moment you don't really expect Arsenal to go and win a big game.


""I don't think Wayne Rooney needs to move on at all. He's playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world in one of the best leagues in the world and I think the Premier League suits the way he plays the game."

Liverpool line-up? - SkySports

Brendan Rodgers: The Liverpool boss has been doing early business in the summer transfer window at Anfield

Brendan Rodgers: The Liverpool boss has been doing early business in the summer transfer window at Anfield

How could Liverpool be lining up in the new campaign? Manager Brendan Rodgers is doing his business early this summer in a bid to assemble a young, attacking squad who are capable of returning to the Premier League's top four. We assess how the first XI might look.

Simon Mignolet

Rodgers has been adamant the Belgium international has not arrived as first choice at the expense of Jose Reina but it seems unthinkable that would not be the case. It is unlikely any club would be prepared to spend £9million, the fee reported to have been agreed with Sunderland for the signing of Mignolet, on a player who will simply warm the bench. Likewise, Reina's form has slipped in recent seasons and he has also been linked with a return to one of his former clubs, Barcelona. At 24-years-old, Mignolet is six years younger than Reina, has built a promising reputation and joins Liverpool determined to earn a place as his country's No. 1 ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Glen Johnson

England's first-choice right-back will always have his occasional defensive lapses but he was one of the most reliable in his position in the Premier League last season. Having at first struggled to justify the £18m that former boss Rafa Benitez paid to Portsmouth in 2009, Johnson now looks completely at home at Anfield. Rodgers' fondness for attacking full-backs has brought the best out of the 28-year-old, who should now be at the peak of his career. Johnson clearly enjoys his opportunity to get forward and played the most minutes (3,630) for Liverpool in all competitions last season. With Martin Kelly's eventual return to fitness providing competition for places, Johnson will also know he needs to be at his very best to keep his place.

Kolo Toure

Martin Skrtel lost his place to the now-retired Jamie Carragher in the second half of last season and started just four Premier League games in 2013 as a result. Along with Sebastian Coates, the Slovakian does not seem to be trusted by Rodgers. Toure could therefore start the season with a first-team place if Liverpool do not sign another new centre-back. He is likely to be a back-up in the future but he has the experience of winning the Premier League with Manchester City and Arsenal amid what will be a young Liverpool squad. Rodgers could yet return to former club Swansea City for captain Ashley Williams while reports about Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Sporting Lisbon's Tiago Ilori, Feyenoord's Stefan de Vrij and Ajax's Toby Alderweireld are not going away. Kelly and Andre Wisdom are also excellent, versatile, homegrown options.

Daniel Agger

The classy Danish centre-back is another player who has thrived from Rodgers' desire to see his team pass the ball out from the back. With an 89 per cent success rate, Agger was second only to Steven Gerrard as Liverpool's best passer last season. He is also a fantastic defender and reads the game superbly. A previously injury-plagued Agger enjoyed his best campaign for Liverpool in terms of appearances in 2012/13, featuring in 39 games before planned back surgery was scheduled to provide long-term benefits. Agger is a certain first-choice and fans voted him as their favourite to replace Carragher as vice-captain.

Jose Enrique

The Spaniard is Liverpool's unquestionable first-choice at left-back and he featured in 35 games last season despite missing a lengthy period with a hamstring injury. Like Johnson, Enrique relishes the chance to get forward under Rodgers' attacking tactics and he scored one of the best goals of the past campaign against Swansea. Enrique's physical strength also makes him a formidable defender who often brushes less-imposing wingers aside with ease. If Liverpool manage to hold on to Luis Suarez, defender Enrique has an excellent understanding with the striker and that was demonstrated in his assist for the Uruguayan's wonder goal against Newcastle United.

Lucas Leiva

The Brazilian was a figure of derision in his early Anfield years but has since established himself as a firm favourite in the eyes of fans and Rodgers. After his serious knee injury in December 2011, a returning Lucas was incredibly unfortunate to suffer a thigh strain in the opening minutes of Liverpool's second league game of last season. But he made his next comeback in December 2012 and from then on again proved to be a key figure. The 26-year-old keeps things simple in terms of his passing and, despite a comparatively small stature, is tenacious in his tackling to mean he is the ultimate team player. Lucas can also be a useful communicator in a team with an increasingly Latino backbone.

Joe Allen

Rodgers' faith in the midfielder was questioned after some uninspiring performances following his £15m arrival from Swansea last summer. But it emerged Allen had been playing in the second half of the season with a shoulder injury which required surgery. The 23-year-old can therefore not be fairly judged until he has been given time to settle but he has Jordan Henderson competing for his place. It should also not be overlooked that Allen is in the early stages of his career. Allen would likely prefer to play further forward than in the deep-sitting midfield pair but he could be given some freedom to create when positioned next to the disciplined Lucas.

Luis Alberto

Stewart Downing was used predominantly on the right in 2012/13 and was among the top-five players under Rodgers in terms of minutes played after turning around his Anfield career post-Christmas. But the former Aston Villa man has still to truly justify the £20m that Liverpool paid in the summer of 2011. Youngster Luis Alberto would appear to be a far better fit for the Rodgers profile and could become a starter. The £6.8million signing from Sevilla, who can use either foot, can play anywhere across the attacking line and is comfortable being deployed just behind the striker. When on loan at Barcelona B last season, he scored 11 goals and made 17 assists in 38 appearances.

Steven Gerrard

Liverpool's captain marvel and Kop idol will inevitably keep his place. The days of his buccaneering running may have passed but he remains one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, with an eye for goal and the ability to pick a killer pass. England skipper Gerrard has undergone shoulder surgery this summer and so should be back to his best come the new campaign. Gerrard still managed to create 84 chances last season, second only at Liverpool to Suarez, and enjoyed a superb campaign in terms of appearances. He was at times used in a deep midfield role but is better further forward and remains the heartbeat of Liverpool as well as keeping a very important local element in the first XI.

Philippe Coutinho

The Brazilian took the Premier League by storm after his arrival in the January transfer window and the £8.5m paid to Inter Milan now looks like one of the bargains of the winter. Questions raised about Coutinho's ability to stand up to the physicality of the Premier League proved to be nonsense as his guile, balance on the ball and phenomenal passing caused no end of problems for opposing defences. Coutinho has been tipped to be Liverpool's most influential player in the new season and his form is bad news for Raheem Sterling. Five goalscoring assists in as many months at Liverpool is already a good return for Coutinho and he will remain a huge threat when drifting from an attacking left position or operating as a second striker in a two-man attack.

Daniel Sturridge

If Liverpool manage to keep hold of want-away Suarez over the summer, last season's second highest goalscorer in the Premier League will of course eventually be back in the starting line-up once he has served his 10-match ban. But in Suarez's absence, Liverpool will rely on Sturridge. The striker has his critics but 10 goals in just 11 league starts since joining from Chelsea cannot be argued with. Sturridge also relishes the spotlight of a central, lone striking role and that was demonstrated in his double in April's humiliation of Newcastle United and May's hat-trick against Fulham. Summer signing Iago Aspas is another possible striking option while Fabio Borini needs to try and save his reputation after an injury-hit first season followed his expensive £10.5m arrival from Roma. With Andy Carroll sold to West Ham United, Shakhtar Donetsk's Henrikh Mkhitaryan could soon arrive to add further competition for places.

What do you make of the team we've picked? Will Brendan Rodgers have similar ideas or are some of our selections way off the mark? Let us know your thoughts and pick your own Liverpool team for the new season by filling in the feedback form below?

Gibbs frustrated by England snub but insists his aim is to end Arsenal's ... - Daily Mail

By Jim Van Wijk, Press Association


Left back Kieran Gibbs will not let his own World Cup dreams get in the way of helping Arsenal's quest to end their long trophy drought next season.

Despite again being hampered by some injury problems and Arsenal also signing Spain defender Nacho Monreal in an 8.5million deal from Malaga during the January transfer window, Gibbs enjoyed a decent campaign for the Gunners, making 29 starts.

The 23-year-old, however, was not part of Roy Hodgson's squad for the end-of-season friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

Left back at home: Kieran Gibbs has said that he is disappointed he wasn't part of the England squad

Left back at home: Kieran Gibbs has said that he is disappointed he wasn't part of the England squad

After a superb 10-match unbeaten Barclays Premier League run saw Arsenal finish fourth and secure a place in the Champions League qualifiers, hopes are high that next season can finally bring Arsene Wenger's men a first piece of silverware since the 2005 FA Cup.

Gibbs maintains that even though all the international players will have one eye on the summer of 2014, that must go hand in hand with consistent performances at club level.

Speaking in the July edition of the official Arsenal magazine, Gibbs said: 'It has been my best season so far. It is a stepping stone for me and now I just need to build and stay fit. I am sure I can do more for the (Arsenal) team.

'I was hopeful of getting into the England squad (this summer), but I was not called up.

Famous faces: Gibbs has been spotted in Ibiza along with fellow Arsenal player Alex Oxlade-Chameberlain

Famous faces: Gibbs has been spotted in Ibiza along with fellow Arsenal player Alex Oxlade-Chameberlain

'I will just relax now and make sure I prepare myself physically for next season, ensuring that I go into it with a clear head.

'I am really looking forward to it and hopefully we can all make it a special one.'

Arsenal staged a remarkable recovery to overhaul Tottenham, having slumped as low as 10th following a home defeat by Swansea at the start of December.

Gibbs believes Wenger's side must use their momentum from the run-in to get off to a flying start when the new campaign opens, which will see the north London club face a crucial two-legged European tie in August.

'The dramatic finale to the season made us even stronger, and we will be going into the new one head on,' said former England under-21 international Gibbs, who was capped twice for the senior side under former manager Fabio Capello in the Autumn of 2010.

Bench: Gibbs may be struggling to keep his place in the Arsenal team due to the arrival of Nacho Monreal

Bench: Gibbs may be struggling to keep his place in the Arsenal team due to the arrival of Nacho Monreal

'We are aware that we need to produce next season and have to make sure we are confident about dealing with that expectation.'

Arsenal are to be busy in the summer transfer window, with the confirmation of the free transfer of France under-21 attacker Yaya Sanogo set to be confirmed when his contract with Auxerre expires on July 1.

Juventus' purchase of Carlos Tevez from Manchester City is expected to leave Arsenal as the frontrunners for Real Madrid's 25million-rated forward Gonzalo Higuain provided the sale is sanctioned by new manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini is another said to be on Wenger's radar, although both the 20million-plus transfer fee and 100,000-per-week club wage package could prove a stumbling block, even though Arsenal have plenty of cash reserves to bolster the squad.

Additional funds will, though, be freed up by the departure of more fringe players.

Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner is reportedly in talks with Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt while Hannover are keen to make Johan Djourou's transfer permanent after a loan spell last season. 

Morocco forward Marouane Chamakh, who failed to make an impact at West Ham, will also depart, with Spanish side Levante and former club Bordeaux both possible destinations.

Arsenal had already confirmed Andrey Arshavin, Denilson and Sebastien Squillaci will all leave when their contracts expire at the end of this month.

The comments below have not been moderated.

If you want to play for England I suggest you leave Arsenal

Don't worry m8, Cole hasn't got long left now, whoever is in charge next summer will be a fool to not call you and Jenks up. Both top draw full backs. Big season for the young lads.. Jack, jenks, gibbs, theo..predicting big things for you all over the next year Gd luck

The world cup is next summer, Gibs is a smart kid, he knows what to do. Won't be surprised if he makes the team next summer. If not, Cole is not far from international retirement. There is enough room for Baines n Gibs in the English team. I know its not a cause for stress for him, if anything its only a motivation for him.

Sucks for him that the only decent position we have covered is left back.

This guy is the type of player England needs more of. Technically he is superb (that volley against Swansea) and he has a very dynamic style. For me the future England No 1 left back.

Must admit, I would much rather Leighton Baines was playing for us - in football you have to actually deserve a call up - not that seems to worry Hodgson. Play a full season without time off for pathetic injuries, score a few goals and perhaps you might be considered - you also need to speed up and get involved more.

I am not being biased but i think he has excelled at left back this season. He has a great attitude too and if he stays injuryfree he will be an Arsenal and England regular

He's a super little fullback who is unlucky that Baines is around currently. He does have time on his side though and he can only get better with competition from Monreal (another top draw fullback).

Mate if you can play more than 3 games on the trot then maybe you've got a chance.

Leighton Baines is miles ahead of you. Keep trying and maybe in 2-3 yrs you will get a chance

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Higuain would be a big success at Arsenal, says Dixon -

The former England defender believes the Real Madrid striker would be the perfect fit for the north London club, while David Seaman says Maroune Fellaini would be a "great" signing

Arsenal legend Lee Dixon is convinced Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain would fit in well at the Emirates Stadium, should the club be successful in their approach for the 25-year-old.

As reported by Goal, the Gunners are close to finalising a deal for the Argentina international with Higuain having already agreed to a €118k-a-week salary with the north London club.

And Dixon believes Higuain, who scored 16 goals for los Blancos in La Liga last season, can be a huge success for Arsenal.

"If it comes off [Higuain signing for Arsenal], hopefully from an Arsenal point of view, he's quality through and through," Dixon told Sky Sports News.

"He will score goals there's no doubt about that. He will get chances at Arsenal because they do create chances, they play his type of game so I think he'll fit in really well."

Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini is also close to joining the Gunners, with Goal exclusively revealing the club had made a €26m bid for the Belgian, and former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman believes he would be an excellent addition.

"He [Fellaini] is a great player and Arsenal have got to change their ways a little bit to get the best out of the team," said Seaman.

"You've got to have your own strengths and he has certainly got a lot of them especially aerial strength. If he does join I think he'll be a great signing."

One player that could be leaving the Emirates is centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, who lost his place in the starting XI at the end of last season, but Dixon has backed the Belgian international to return to form.

"I think he [Vermaelen] should stay and fight for his place," Dixon continued. "We are now starting to see the fruits of Steve Bould's work over this last year.

"They were a lot more solid towards the end of the season and I think he can benefit from that because he's a great defender but as a team defender I think he's got things to learn and that's where Steve's knowledge will be utilised."

Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan facing club fine after skipping Shakhtar ... -

Henrikh Mkhitaryan appears to be trying to force through a move to Liverpool after being accused of going AWOL by his current club.

Shakhtar Donetsk are threatening to fine Mkhitaryan because, they claim, he has failed to report to their pre-season training camp in Austria.

The Armenia midfielder is said to be frustrated that his £23million switch to the Reds is being held up because Shakhtar do not own all of his rights.

He was set to fly to Merseyside last week for a medical before the problem arose, and remains keen for his move to Anfield to go through.

Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin is unimpressed by Mkhitaryan's no-show and warned he will be punished if he does not appear.

"Mkhitaryan did not come to the training session on Monday, but he had to," said Palkin. "We do not know why.

"If he does not join the team in the coming days he will be fined.

"Concerning Mkhitaryan's behaviour, I know that he does not have any problems with his team-mates and coaches and we have not heard from him about his intention to leave Shakhtar.

"All the questions about Mkhitaryan's behaviour should be addressed to him."

Despite the 24-year-old's desire to move to the Premier League, Palkin does not believe he is speaking to Liverpool behind Shakhtar's back.

"I am certain that the negotiations between them is just rumour," he said.

"No offer for Mkhitaryan has been made at Shakhtar."

Shakhtar are loathe to lose Mkhitaryan - who scored a Ukrainian league record 25 goals during the club's title success last season - and are under no financial pressure to sell because of their billionaire owner Rinat Akhmetov.


Palkin maintains Shakhtar have had no direct contact with Liverpool yet, but added they are open to offers.

The club understand the desire of some of their best players to change leagues, and they have already let Willian (to Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala) and Fernandinho (Manchester City) go this year.

"As you know, there have been too many different conversations about Henrikh Mkhitaryan," he said.

"But the situation has been strongly and artificially inflated. I can say that we have had no communication from any member of Liverpool.

"Henrikh is an important player in our team. Shakhtar want to keep him, but we are willing to listen and consider all proposals for his transfer.

"We have already parted with Willian and Fernandinho, but the club will not just sell players.

"Soon we will also strengthen ourselves with quality players, designed to replace those who have left."

Watch this Football Spy video to find out just how to pronounce Henrikh Mkhitaryan's unpronounceable name - and why he is such a coup.

AT&T sells out of HTC First Facebook phones - Register

Cloud based data management

Are you one of the silent minority that's still planning to buy a Facebook phone but just hasn't got around to it yet? You may be out of luck, as AT&T has reportedly sold out of its initial stock (and it won't be ordering any more).

AT&T had an exclusive deal with Facebook to offer the HTC First, the only Android handset to come with the social network's UI-skinning Facebook Home software bundle preinstalled. But in May it said it was ending the partnership, citing dismal sales.

That announcement came after AT&T had already slashed the price of the device to 99¢ when purchased with a two-year contract – down from $99.99 – leading many to the conclusion that the carrier couldn't even give the things away.

Apparently that wasn't quite the case, however, as Cnet received confirmation from AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega on Monday that the company had indeed cleared out its remaining inventory.

"We sold a bunch more when we lowered the price," de la Vega said in an interview. "We sold everything we had on that."

Just how many phones AT&T had to sell is unclear, but it can't have been particularly many. Shortly after the HTC First launch, some sources said the carrier had moved less than 15,000 units in the first week. If true, that's less than 1 per cent of the number of Samsung Galaxy S4s sold in that device's first week.

Sadly for Facebook, such poor results aren't surprising. In a recent survey of Android smartphone owners commissioned by mobile app development house Bite Interactive, 91.7 per cent of respondents said they weren't interested in owning an HTC First or any other Facebook Home–enabled mobe.

Only 45 per cent of the same group said they were even interested in downloading Facebook Home to their current devices.

"Facebook Home solves Facebook's needs for more user data, but what does it solve for its users?" Bite executive VP of operations Joseph Farrell said in a statement. "With Home, Facebook presents its desire to shift focus from 'apps to people.' However, it appears users are rejecting Facebook Home's assumed position of dominance as a layer above all other apps."

Those thousands who bought HTC First handsets needn't worry that their devices will become orphaned any time soon, however. Facebook continues to develop its traditional mobile app, which forms the core of the Facebook Home user experience, and it even says it's working on improving Facebook Home for its (rather few) fans.

One thing Facebook is in no hurry to do, however, is update the Facebook Home apps to support more handset models than they already do. Apparently, there just isn't enough demand. ®

Steps to Take Before Choosing a Business Continuity Partner

Most of London's new housing benefit claims are from working families - The Guardian

Working families who are struggling to afford spiralling cost of renting in London account for the lion's share of a surge in the numbers of households claiming housing benefit in the capital.

Nine out of 10 new claims for local housing allowance (LHA) in outer London are from families with at least one adult in work, a study has found, demolishing the myth that all claimants are "workshy" or "scroungers".

The study by the thinktank London Councils also found signs that the housing benefit cap is driving poorer families out of inner London areas to cheaper outer boroughs, sparking fears that an exodus could cause a shortage of school places in areas such as Haringey, Barnet, Enfield and Croydon.

Although ministers argued that the cap would curb the £20bn a year housing benefit bills and drive down rents, a surge in number of private sector rents in even the cheapest areas of London means benefit spending in the capital is continuing to rise.

The report says: "Low income working households in London are, in large numbers, in need of public subsidy to maintain themselves in accommodation in the city in which they work."

The buoyant rental market in central London means that landlords are refusing to drop rents below benefit cap levels, and increasingly are choosing not to let properties to people who are in receipt of benefits, the report says. The effect is to push up rents across the capital.

The biggest rent rise between March 2012 to March 2013 was in the borough of Richmond, west London (up 31%). But it was inner London where increases in the lowest quartile rents were most concentrated, up 23% in Wandsworth, 21% in Tower Hamlets, and 18% in both Hackney and Kensington and Chelsea.

There is evidence welfare changes are triggering an exodus to the suburbs of poorer families from the centre, where the highest concentrations of private rented stock are located. There was a 9% rise in the number of LHA claimants in outer London in the year March 2012 to March 2013, and a 2% fall in inner London claimants over the same period.

Jules Pipe, the chair of London Councils, said the government was in danger of creating a chaotic system where the only beneficiaries were landlords and letting agents.

He said: "Whatever the government's intentions, we're now starting to see real evidence that its reforms are having perverse side-effects. This is a wake-up call for the government to tailor its plans to London and so avoid hitting families, renters and taxpayers."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "Reform of housing benefit was absolutely necessary to keep housing benefit costs under control and there should be no presumption that housing benefit will always pick up the bill in areas of high and rising rents."

Young people in receipt of LHAs were among those hit hardest by the changes. Restrictions on what 18- to 35-year-olds can claim have seen over 3,000 people in that age group stop claims in inner London, where only three boroughs ? Lewisham, Newham and Wandsworth – have, in theory, properties affordable to young people under cap levels.

Housing benefit caps introduced in January 2012 set a limit on how much tenants can claim, ranging from £250 for a one bedroom property to £400 for a four bedroom property.

Around 850,000 London households are in receipt of housing benefit, 282,000 of them in private rented accommodation.

Microsoft: Half of all organizations will use 'Facebook-like' tools - Register

Ensure Ease of Recovery with Asigra's Agentless Software

Exactly one year to the day since Microsoft's $1.2bn acquisition of Yammer, Redmond says its plan to bring social collaboration to the enterprise has only just begun.

Yammer now has almost eight million registered users, Microsoft's SharePoint head Jared Spataro said in a blog post on Tuesday. That's an increase of 55 per cent in the last year, he said, and the number is only expected to increase.

Redmond predicts that by 2016, 50 per cent of large organizations will be running internal, "Facebook-like" social networks, and that 30 per cent of these "will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today."

To that end, Redmond says, "Microsoft and Yammer plan to weave social into the work people do every day, combining it with collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, video and line-of-business applications."

Big talk. But so far, customers have seen precious little of the promised integration of Yammer with SharePoint, Office 365, and other Microsoft properties.

Earlier this month, Microsoft gave a slight nod to Yammer-SharePoint integration by allowing Office 365 subscribers whose plans include SharePoint to replace the SharePoint Newsfeed with a feed from Yammer. But on Tuesday, Spataro said there is plenty more to come.

A Yammer app for SharePoint will arrive this summer, he said, and Microsoft will publish guidance on how to integrate the hosted Yammer service with an on premise SharePoint 2013 server.

Single sign-on between Yammer and Office 365, which will make navigating between the two services more seamless, is still on track to arrive by the fall, as previously announced. Also due around the same time are Office 365/Yammer profile-picture synchronization and a number of UI enhancements.

Within the next six to eight months, Spataro said, customers will be able to use SharePoint's search box to search Yammer conversations, and the Yammer app for SharePoint will allow admins to replace SharePoint site feeds with feeds from Yammer groups.

Screenshot of Yammer feeds hosted in a SharePoint 2013 site

The Yammer app for SharePoint will allow SharePoint sites to play host to Yammer feeds

The Yammer team will also be working on improving Yammer's messaging UI to make it easier to use the service as a primary communication tool, including making it easier to add parties from outside the organization to Yammer conversations, and adding the ability to follow Yammer conversations over email.

Microsoft is also localizing the Yammer interface into more languages, which should help to broaden its market around the world.

But as for what else Microsoft and Yammer might have in store beyond the next eight months, however, Spataro said he literally couldn't say.

"Because of the way we develop Yammer, even we don't know exactly what that will look like," Spataro wrote, referring to the company's unusual, iterative development model. "But what we can tell you is that we have an initial set of features we're working on today, and we'll test and iterate our way to enhancements that will make working with others easier than ever before."

Microsoft is expected to give further details on its plans for SharePoint and Yammer at its annual Build developer conference, which kicks off in San Francisco on Wednesday. ®

Customer Success Testimonial: Recovery is Everything

Koscielny hints at Arsenal stay as Bayern Munich and Barcelona lurk - Daily Mail

By Jim Van Wijk, Press Association


Laurent Koscielny has again reaffirmed his commitment to Arsenal - and believes the Gunners can use their superb end to last season as a springboard for success this term.

Koscielny, 27, impressed alongside Per Mertesacker at the heart of the Arsenal defence over a 10-match unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League which saw them overall rivals Tottenham to snatch fourth place and secure another shot at the Champions League.

Case for the defence: Laurent Koscielny became an integral fixture in the Arsenal backline last season

The France international has found himself linked with a summer move away from the Emirates Stadium, with European champions Bayern Munich touted as a possible destination.

However, the defender maintains his current focus is completely with the Gunners.

Speaking to French regional newspaper La Montagne, Koscielny said: 'I have four-year contract. For now, I am still at Arsenal.'

The Gunners recorded a memorable victory over Bayern in the Allianz Arena in March, where Koscielny scored the second goal of a 2-0 win in their Champions League last 16 second-leg clash.

Although it was not enough to secure qualification, it restored belief and kickstarted Arsenal's brilliant end to the campaign, with eight out of 10 victories.

Koscielny hopes his team can take that confidence into the new campaign, which will see them play a crucial Champions League qualifier in August.

'The second leg of the Champions League against Bayern Munich was a trigger for us,' he added.

'In the process, we almost won everything.

'The most important thing is that Arsenal is in the Champions League. It is super exciting to play against the best teams in Europe.'

The comments below have not been moderated.

Please kill yourself

Atzy, it was a very broad and obvious hint. =) DM just likes to play dumb.

Not many players in the world have Barca and Bayern after them, top player.

You have to stay lad, staying at arsenal is his best option or end up like cesc and song always on the bench at barca

Why would he leave when hes the first choice centre half for one of the best teams in europe? I swear dm has an agenda against Arsenal.

Great player, enjoy watching him. Hope he will stay and may be with an improved squad, challenge for some tangible silverware.

Player under contract stays with club. shocking.

DM can u do all us footy fans a big Favour and stop Writing about football altogether and stick to Writing about Andy Murray cos all english footy fans couldn't give a c..p about him

haha barca eat chit you can't have everything

Hes finally realised that hes rubbish and no one wants him so hes playing the whole Im loyal to Arsenal card

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Saturday, 22 June 2013

Simon Mignolet: Liverpool set to sign Sunderland keeper - BBC Sport

Liverpool are set to sign Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for £9m next week.

The Belgium international is expected on Merseyside in the next few days to undergo a medical and complete the formalities of the move.

The 24-year-old has played 101 games since joining from Belgian club Sint-Truiden for £2m in June 2010.

He kept 11 clean sheets in 40 appearances last season as the Black Cats narrowly avoided the drop.

Liverpool's current first-choice keeper Pepe Reina, 30, has been linked with a return to Spanish champions Barcelona, where he started his career.

The Reds have already agreed to sign 32-year-old Manchester City defender Kolo Toure on a free transfer and Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas, 25, for £7m.

Sevilla midfielder Luis Alberto, 20, is close to joining the Reds, while manager Brendan Rodgers is also tracking highly-rated Sporting Lisbon defender Tiago Ilori, 20, and 24-year-old Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shakhtar Donetsk.