Sunday 21 January 2018

Nolan eager to do Liverpool favour in halting City's march

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Paul Doyle

Brendan Rodgers invited great former players back to Anfield this season as he tried to rebuild the club but Liverpool's immediate future will be determined in part by players who they cast off and are now at West Ham.

The presence of Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush behind the scenes at Liverpool is supposed to inspire the current squad – but the performances of Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole will have a bigger bearing on Liverpool's title hopes today. Liverpool will be champions if they beat Newcastle and West Ham pull off an improbable win at Manchester City. Nolan will be doing his utmost to produce that favour.

"I would be celebrating with them!" replies the 31-year-old when asked how he would feel if he made Liverpool's dream come true by scoring the winning goal for West Ham at the Etihad. Nolan was born in Liverpool and played for the club's youth team between the ages of nine and 14 before being let go. He still supports the club. "I wasn't getting the rack I felt I deserved so we went our separate ways," he recalls. "I'm quite thankful I did now. The two players who got released were me and Rickie Lambert. I think we're the only two out of that whole group, including the lads who got kept on, who are still playing football. But I must admit, I hope Liverpool do it."

Nolan is confident that West Ham can make things difficult for Manchester City. He has experience of thwarting another team's title ambition. In the 2007-08 season, he was part of the Bolton Wanderers that went to Stamford Bridge on the last day of the season, when Chelsea needing to better Manchester United's result to overhaul Sir Alex Ferguson's team at the top of the table. Chelsea scored early but Matt Taylor scored a last-minute equaliser for Bolton as United were crowned champions.

City have trounced West Ham three times already this season by a combined score of 12-1 and Nolan says his desire is heightened further by a quest for revenge. "On Sunday it's going to be a different game," says Nolan. "All the pressure is on them. They've got to go out and win the game or get a draw. We've got to hold on to the fact that we've got a solid foundation. We've kept 14 clean sheets this year. We got a real tonking off them in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup and we want to get a little bit of our own back."


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