New-look Reds just oozing class
By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
Consistency and quality. Two key elements
that are essential for any side with big ambitions – and
Liverpool’s performances so far have provided an abundance
Rafa Benitez has proved already he’s a winner, but this
season’s team not only oozes class, but is more exciting
than any other he has assembled.
In the past, there may have been a need to ask questions
about one or two players who were selected, but this season
he has a terrific squad who have made an unbelievable start
and who put Derby to the sword in style.
The game may have been slow to take shape, but once Xabi
Alonso had breached the visitors’ defence, the floodgates
opened. It was good to see Alonso return to something like
his normal form and Fernando Torres settling in well with
two well taken goals – without Steve Gerrard and Jamie
It made me think that the Anfield fans are in for a treat
this season with excitement and goals if the past two games
against Toulouse and Derby are anything to go by.
The Reds look stronger in all departments and, with the
quality around him, Jermaine Pennant has been encouraged to
show just what he can do on the wing. He has started the
season in fine form and is showing great consistency.
The other aspect of the new-look squad is the talent also at
his disposal on the bench. No longer are there weaknesses in
crucial areas and the new owners must be thrilled by what
they have seen.
One of the criticisms of the past has been the lack of that
killer instinct in front of goal. Now it’s there – and from
the evidence so far the goals are coming from a number of
players, which is also pleasing.
As for their rivals, Chelsea appear short on ideas and
goals, with only Didier Drogba of the forwards providing the
finish, while Manchester United haven’t yet got into their
stride. I still think Arsenal, despite their young side, are
for ever-present Arbeloa
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez today praised Liverpool's
unsung defensive hero after Alvaro Arbeloa's 90 minute
display at the weekend ensured he remains the only outfield
player to play every second of every match so far this
The 24-year-old - who only started playing at left back for
the first time this season - has been a constant figure in
the first team as the Reds have climbed to the top of the
table and qualified for the group phase of the Champions
"Arbeloa has done a good job for us so far," said Benitez.
"He is a young, fit boy and we know he is only going to get
better in the future.
"He wasn't used to the left back position at all but he has
come in and performed very well. When you look how well he
did on his debut for us up against Lionel Messi in Barcelona
then you can see he is a player with ability.
"His best positions are in the centre or on the right, so it
shows his quality that he can come into a new team and adapt
in a different role.
"We've had international breaks and some problems with
injuries this season and so we've used players who have been
working with us and who are fit. He's taken the chances he
has been given very well.
"We're very pleased with him but he can still improve. He
needs to keep working hard and if he maintains his form then
I'm sure he'll play many more games for us this season."
The boss has also spoken of his delight that while goals are
flying in at one end of the field, the door has regularly
been locked shut on opposition defences at the other end.
"Over the past couple of years we have been very tight at
the back and not given too much away. I'm pleased we've
started the season in the same way," he said.
"It's important when the forward players are scoring goals
to make sure you're keeping them out at the back and at the
moment we're playing well as a team unit."
I'm here to stay
Fernando Torres is loving life at
Liverpool, and says he's "here for many years to come".
The Spaniard, a £20million summer capture from Atletico
Madrid, has been a big hit since arriving at Anfield.
And he made himself an even bigger favourite with the Kop by
netting twice as the Reds crushed Derby 6-0 to go to the top
of the Premier League.
Afterwards the Spanish international striker told the club's
official website: "I am learning quickly and my teammates
have played an important role, along with everyone at the
club who have all gone out of their way to help me.
"I feel as if I have been at Liverpool for a long time. I
intend to stay here for many years to come and I am really
pleased with everything - my new teammates, the fans, the
city, the stadium and, of course with my first goal at
Anfield versus Chelsea.
"The experience is more fulfilling when things work out and
if we can maintain our recent form, I am sure that
everything will continue to move along nicely."
Davies: Another learning curve
By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports
Billy Davies admits the 6-0 defeat at
Liverpool was another 'big learning curve' for his Derby
The Rams' previous away game in the Premier League was a 4-0
loss at Tottenham and the top-flight new boys suffered
another heavy defeat at Anfield.
Though Davies was unhappy with the free-kick which led to
Liverpool's first goal, he acknowledged his players
contributed to their own downfall.
"The opening 20 minutes I was reasonably pleased and I
thought we moved it around, and had one or two breaks,"
Davies told Sky Sports.
"I felt quite comfortable, and then I've got to say I was
very disappointed with the first goal, with the free-kick
given against us. I felt at the time it was a poor
"It was a tremendous free-kick and there was great pace on
the ball. It was very difficult to defend against, and then
they get the goal we tried to avoid.
"It was naivety and the timing of the goals, and the manner
in which we gave them away, you can't do that against
players like Liverpool have.
"It was a big, big learning curve for us again."
Davies feels Ryan Babel's goal just before half-time, which
put Liverpool 2-0 up, was a key moment in the match.
He added: "I said at half-time that was the killer blow
because if you come in at 1-0, there's always an opportunity
to come out with a little more confidence in the second
"To lose that goal at the time we lost it was very naive and
very indisciplined again, but the goals in the second half,
and the manner in which we get caught in possession, was
very, very naive of us."
to get carried away
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez is refusing to get carried away despite
seeing his side go top of the Barclays Premier League after
thrashing Derby County 6-0.
The Liverpool manager admitted he was pleased and proud of
his side's performance, but noted a sign of caution when he
said that it is only early days in the race for the title.
"I am really pleased with my team and we are playing well,
scoring goals and keeping clean sheets," enthused Benitez.
"It's good for our supporters to see us top of the league
but we now have to keep it going and keep working hard in
every game we play. It's too early to talk about being top
of the league.
"In the first half Derby were well organised and played very
deep but we managed to keep attacking them and got our
reward with the goals. We have so many options now in attack
and it's good for me as a manager.
"We scored six good goals and it's good to see Torres and
Voronin scoring goals. Kuyt worked so hard and was unlucky
not to score and I really liked Babel's goal."
Joy of six for rampant
Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres grabbed two goals each as
Liverpool thrashed Derby 6-0 to go top of the table for the
first time in five years.
The Reds made it 10 home goals in a week to underline the
belief at Anfield that they are genuine Premier League title
They followed up the four they put past Toulouse in the
Champions League on Tuesday with six unanswered goals to
crush Billy Davies' Rams.
Spaniards Alonso and Torres grabbed two each, Ryan Babel
netted his first for the club and substitute Andriy Voronin
also got onto the scoresheet.
It is the first time Liverpool have led the top flight for
five years and their best start to a league season since
You had to feel sorry for Derby. Fresh up from the
Championship, they simply could not cope with the variety,
pace and skill Liverpool possessed - or indeed the pots of
money that has seen boss Rafael Benitez build his squad.
Benitez made five changes from the side that beat Toulouse
in midweek, with Peter Crouch not even on the bench and Dirk
Kuyt and Torres being paired up front.
Derby duo Claude Davis and Tyrone Mears both passed fitness
tests for the Premier League's bottom club, but Dean Leacock
missed out with a toe problem.
Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher watched from the
directors' box, as both were still injured for Liverpool,
who recalled Steve Finnan, Alonso, Jermaine Pennant and
Babel along with Torres.
Without Paco Ayestaran - his assistant for 11 years at three
clubs - alongside him, Benitez watched his team start with
confidence and cruise through the game.
Ayestaran has shocked the Liverpool backroom by deciding he
wants to leave, after what is believed to be several recent
differences with Benitez.
How this affects the smooth running of Liverpool long term
remains to be seen, but the players set about finding the
gaps in Derby's rearguard with single-minded determination.
Daniel Agger saw a 25-yard shot clip Bob Malcolm and force
Stephen Bywater into a flying save. The goalkeeper was in
action again when he fielded Torres' header powered in from
Mears ventured forward to blast a 20-yard shot over the bar,
and Stephen Pearson wasted possession after robbing Javier
Mascherano and chasing 40 yards before a poor pass let
Liverpool off the hook.
But that was about it from Derby in the first period as they
became increasingly occupied by the Red tide coming their
Kuyt cracked a 25-yard shot just over the angle and
Mascherano saw a long-range effort skim the far post.
Derby were battling hard, trying to restrict the space in
front of their defence, but it was becoming increasingly
difficult and Mears was warned by referee Alan Wiley for a
succession of fouls.
After one on Pennant, Alonso took the free-kick 35 yards out
on the left. As his low drive swerved into the box Kuyt ran
across Bywater's line of vision and the ball nestled in the
back of the net.
Kuyt should have made it two when Pennant raced away on the
left to lift in a cross for the unmarked Dutchman to head
over from eight yards.
Two minutes later Pennant's pace and skill severely
embarrassed Malcolm and, from yet another cross, Kuyt was
there again to lift his effort over the bar.
Liverpool were pouring forward now, and after one sustained
run from Finnan, the cross was controlled superbly by Torres
before the striker cracked his effort over the top.
Derby were praying now to get to the break without further
damage but they were to be disappointed. The second goal
came in first-half injury-time when Pennant set up Babel,
who side-stepped two diving defenders before belting in his
first goal for the club.
The second period started just as ominously for Derby.
Pennant, Torres and Kuyt combined to set up Alonso from 10
yards, but the Spaniard lifted his effort into the Kop.
The third was not long coming. Mascherano dispossessed a
dithering Malcolm 30 yards out and pushed the ball to
Torres. The Spaniard then took on a beat three defenders in
a run across the box before burying his shot into the bottom
corner on 56 minutes.
Three minutes later the hapless Malcolm was withdrawn to
save him further punishment, and Gary Teale came on.
Liverpool were playing at such a pace and with outstanding
control, Derby just could not handle it and continually gave
the ball away or made forced errors.
Liverpool's response was to take off the excellent Pennant,
to a rousing ovation, with Yossi Benayoun coming on. Derby
then took off Mohammed Camara - another defender out of his
depth - and replaced him with James McEveley.
Andy Griffin was booked for pulling back Torres on 65
minutes, with the Liverpool attacks incessant. The fourth
came on 69 minutes when Babel crossed from the right,
Benayoun's effort was blocked and Alonso placed an 18-yard
shot into the bottom corner.
Next on was Andriy Voronin in place of Babel and virtually
his first touch produced the fifth. Kuyt surged into the box
on the right and fired in an angled shot that Bywater could
only push out for the Ukrainian to force home from a couple
It got worse for Derby a minute later when a poor back-pass
by Andy Todd was snapped up by Torres, who rounded Bywater
to run the ball into an empty net.
Mohamed Sissoko came on for Mascherano between the fifth and
sixth goals, Darren Moore being sent on by Derby for Griffin
on 80 minutes, and Derby survived without any further