Brazil international Kaka believes Cesc Fabregas is "the prototype of the modern midfielder". "He influences everything on the pitch," the Milan player said. "He's an amazing talent because of how he plays and how he controls how others play. He is always moving and reminds me of [Andrea] Pirlo."
Martin O'Neill said the club's recent poor form emanates from a poor defensive record. "We should be able to defend better," the manager said of his team, who have failed to keep a clean sheet in 17 league games. "We have scored goals which sometimes overlooks the fact we haven't kept clean sheets."
Liam Ridgewell maintains the Blues can still avoid relegation, despite a number of teams around them winning last weekend. "Those teams who got the results obviously think they're safe," he said. "We've just got to keep dragging them back down with us. No team down there is safe."
Roque Santa Cruz said he wants to increase his goal tally, despite already recording an impressive 18 goals in his first season at Ewood Park. "I am very happy with my total so far," the Paraguayan said. "My first season has gone well but I won't be happy unless I keep scoring. We'll see how things go."
Striker Kevin Davies believes the Trotters can take advantage of Arsenal's recent downturn in form when the Gunners visit the Reebok on Saturday. "We normally start well against the big boys," the forward said. "They have stuttered a bit and I think it's a good time to play them. Arsenal are a team we've got results against in the past."
Midfielder Joe Cole feels the Blues can use Sunday's 2-1 victory over Arsenal to give them momentum as the club enter the final weeks of their title challenge. "We still think we can do it," the England international said. "We have to hope Manchester United drop points and we win all of our games. We will keep going, we are on a good run."
The manager Paul Jewell said he was looking for players with a "strong mentality" to assist the Rams' promotion challenge next season. "I'm looking for players to take responsibility with and without the ball," Jewell said. "Good footballers who can take the pressure of expecting to win."
Tim Howard maintains Sunday's Merseyside derby would be a feisty match irrespective of the Champions League placings. "I don't think you need any incentive but there will be this year because of how close we are," he said. "We are looking to get a result and that would be the case no matter what."
Antti Niemi is aiming to win back his No 1 spot from Kasey Keller after returning from an Achilles injury. "I have been receiving treatment which has kept me out," he said. "Kasey has done a great job, so I'm just going to focus on coming back and training and see what the boss decides."
Rafael Benitez has requested talks with the referees' manager Keith Hackett following the controversial dismissal of midfielder Javier Mascherano. "I would like to speak to Keith because it is important that we find a solution," he said. "At Liverpool we respect the game and the rules."
The club have been linked with a possible summer move for the Barcelona striker Giovani dos Santos. "There is interest from City," the players father, Zizinho, said of the Mexican international, 18. "I can't say for sure if Giovani will go. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves."
Former Reds midfielder Roy Keane believes United will play "like an animal that has sniffed blood" as the title race enters its final weeks. "They will win the title without a shadow of a doubt," he said. "When you sign for United, you are going there to win. The desire is in the fabric of the club."
Midfielder Adam Johnson said he will discuss his future at the Riverside with manager Gareth Southgate in the summer. "It's hard," the England Under-21 international said. "I've only started a few games. I want to stay and I'd love to make it here, but it just isn't happening."
Former Magpies midfielder Peter Beardsley said the club are "lucky" to have Michael Owen on their staff. "I think Kevin Keegan pulled off a masterstroke by giving him the captain's armband," Beardsley said of the England forward. "He responds to that and he is our best player in my opinion."
Forward David Nugent believes the "wear and tear" of his groin injury has impacted upon his debut season at Fratton Park. "I've been playing since the start of the season with an injury," the former Preston striker said. "I've got it sorted out now but it has stopped me doing myself justice."
Steve Coppell will not curb the "natural exuberance" of André Bikey after his acrobatic goal celebration. "I hope he does it half a dozen times," the manager said. "I've no problem with it. I don't think it's a trademark celebration – he's not scored enough for it to be a trademark."
The chairman Niall Quinn has urged the fans to rally behind the team in the Black Cat's relegation run-in. "We all got a boost at Villa and every point is vital," he said. "We need the fans more than ever. It's great to see them in big numbers and it's sure to give the team a boost against West Ham."
Carlos Kameni's agent Bruno Satin said the Espanyol goalkeeper is ambitious to play at the "highest level". "It is true that there is interest from some clubs in England and Spain," Satin said of reported interest from Spurs. "I have contact with a number of clubs, but nothing is decided."
West Ham United
Manager Alan Curbishley said he will hand Freddie Sears a first start in one of the Hammers' remaining games. "I'm going to start him in one of the games," Curbishley said. "I've just got to pick it. Freddie has been training with us for the last couple of months and it was only a matter of time before I put him in. He's enthusiastic."
Defender Erik Edman will be out for six months after rupturing knee ligaments at Blackburn last week. The Swedish international fell awkwardly on his left leg following a collision with Jason Roberts in the 3-1 defeat. "It's a real shame because Erik has looked so natural," Latics manager Steve Bruce said. "We will certainly miss him."Reuse content