New Years Day’s Back Pages

Well Happy New Year to everyone from This Is Anfield. Fortunately the fixture list has spared our hangovers this year and we don’t play Wigan til tomorrow afternoon. Today’s Premier League fixtures comprise of Arsenal v West Ham, Aston Villa v Tottenham (Setanta 17.15), Fulham v Chelsea (Sky Sports 12.45), Man Utd v Birmingham, Middlesbrough v Everton, Reading v Portsmouth. So technically we could finish the day 13 points behind league leaders Arsenal. Someone say it was a happy new year?

maschThe transfer window opens today and this morning’s Daily Mail claims Rafa Benitez may be left frustrated at his attempts to permanently sign Javier Mascherano:

The issue was at the heart of Benitez’s fallout with Liverpool’s American owners last month, and Tom Hicks and George Gillett have decided they cannot grant their manager’s wish.

Funds will be released for the on-loan Argentina midfielder’s signing during the summer, but Benitez fears Barcelona or River Plate may seize the opportunity to lure him away from Anfield. The Liverpool boss has been given the go-ahead to sign a central defender.

Similarly, Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Daily Post goes with a story about Mascherano’s desire to stay on Merseyside.

Mascherano is desperate to stay at Anfield after making a huge impact under Rafael Benitez, including an appearance in the Champions League final in May.

While the Liverpool manager wants to retain the player, it is understood the Anfield hierarchy will still wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to keep Mascherano.

And with Barcelona ready to make a bid for the midfielder, the Argentine has warned George Gillett and Tom Hicks that he may be left with no choice but to secure his future elsewhere.

‘œIt’s simple,’ said Mascherano. ‘œWith the time that has passed it will now be more difficult for me to stay here because I need to do something about my future.”

And finally, also from today’s Liverpool Daily Post:

Steve Bruce is ready to unleash Emile Heskey on former club Liverpool, claiming the Wigan ace is the best old-fashioned English centre-forward in the game.

What can I say? Steve Bruce, he’s got a big fat head.