In focus: Dirk Kuyt with a double vs Reading. (Photo:
New double act hitting the mark
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
It is perhaps asign of the earnest desire to reclaim past
glories at Anfield that sees promising players instantly
compared to greats from yesteryear.
Hence Dirk Kuyt being likened, apparently, to a latter day
For me, the resemblance is still only physical - both
possess bandy legs and flowing hair - and the Dutchman still
has some way to go before he can become a European
Footballer of the Year.
But if Kuyt can be called a Mighty Mouse for the new
millennium, what about his lanky pal being labelled Tosh II?
He's tall and awkward looking, but with a defter touch than
he's given credit for - and on Saturday Peter Crouch played
the crucial role in both of Kuyt's poacher's finishes.
He towered over Marcus Hahnemann to head the ball neatly
into Kuyt's path for the first, then had an on-target header
parried by the goalkeeper for the Dutchman to turn in the
It's not time to start dealing playing cards yet and ask
Crouch to guess what his partner is staring at, but there's
undoubted signs of a partnership developing.
And Rafa Benitez hinted afterwards they may get the
opportunity to work at it.
"The understanding between them is pretty good. We know that
to control Crouch in the air is very difficult and when we
have good movement on the second ball from Kuyt it is really
difficult for defenders," he said.
Alright, it wasn't exactly a statement that Crouch and Kuyt
are going to be given the next dozen games to work out their
double act, butit's amore positive pointer than was on offer
earlier in the season.
Saturday was only the fifth time the duo have started
together. Their goals return currently stands at six. That's
a Tosh and Keegan tally.
And while we're talking Seventies icons, who slipped the
'Best of Becken-bauer' video under Sami Hyypia's room door
on Friday night?
Such was Reading's lack of ambition at Anfield that the
centre-back had more time on the ball than any other player
all afternoon. He usually made good use of it.
Several rangyruns forwardended with accurate passes - a
raking left footer in the 59th minute was Alonso-esque -
while a dipping shot from Alonso range swerved onto the roof
of the Kop goal.
He overdid it a couple of times, but Reading's desire only
to avoid humiliation meant there was never anybody on hand
to take advantage. But youcan only beat what's put in front
of you, and Liverpool did a thoroughly professional,
But they will have far tougher Anfield tasks than this to
negotiate in the months ahead.
Steve Coppell's team came north intent on damage limitation,
refusing to break their rigid 5-5 formation, even when Dirk
Kuyt scored a 13th minute opener.
Perhaps the Reading boss remembered the harrowing night in
1989 when he brought a Crystal Palace team to Anfield - and
It's not at Anfield that Liverpool have any problems.
Their home record in the past 12 months has been
outstanding. It's the woeful record on their travels which
is the problem, and with Arsenal and the eternally
inconsistent Middlesbrough next up in the Premiership,
there's no better time than now to show that this recent
revival is not just a foible of the fixture list throwing up
a glut of back-to-back home games.
Kuyt: I had to
prove snipers wrong
Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt is "vying to prove the
snipers wrong" after he was written off as 'not good enough
the Premiership' in Holland.
Back home in Holland there were many who were quick to claim
the £10million striker did not have the class, technique and
quality to make the jump to the summit of the Premiership.
It was a slur that annoyed Kuyt at the time, but five goals
in his last six Premiership matches suggests he can make a
major impact for Liverpool.
Two against Reading - neither spectacular but the sort of
bread-and-butter finishing that marks out a true goalscorer
- gave Liverpool their fourth successive home victory in 11
days, and sent them up to seventh place.
Kuyt may not be the perfect technical player, but his
energy, running, belligerence and instinct for an opening
has already made him a Kop hero.
He said: "I know people in Holland were doubting I could
play here when I joined, but I just intend to give 100%
every time and I believe I can play at this level.
"I did well in Holland, although I accept the pace is much
greater in England and the Premier League is a higher level.
"But I knew what to expect. I watched the Premier League on
television in Holland for many years before I came here. I
knew how fast it all was and that it was one of the world's
"I wanted it so much and now I am here and scoring goals.
Now I just want to show what I've got."
His first effort to deflate organised, purposeful but
limited Reading, finished off a Peter Crouch knockdown in
the box and the second was scooped home from a few feet in a
melee following a corner.
Nothing pretty about either, but teams even at the top level
live or die by their ability to profit from the mundane.
And Kuyt has done that throughout his career, and it is
continuing at Anfield where fans can see glimpses of a
former Kop idol in the all-action Dutchman.
Kevin Keegan was never the world's greatest striker but he
forced himself to high levels with tenacity, workrate and
sheer willpower. Kuyt can follow that example.
Manager Rafael Benitez believes Kuyt is becoming the
complete striker claiming: "Dirk is a very good worker. I
knew the player when he was at Vitesse Arnhem and Utrecht
before he moved to Feyenoord. He always worked hard and
scored goals giving defenders a lot of problems, the
"He created much for his team-mates and now his
understanding with Peter Crouch is very good and he can also
create space for Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso to exploit
with their runs."
Kuyt said: "It was a difficult game because they were
defending a lot. Myself and Peter (Crouch) had three
defenders on us all the time so I am happy with the result
and the two goals for me.
"But the most important thing is to play well for the team.
Then I know the goals will come for me and everyone.
"The most important thing for me is winning, not how many I
"I have settled well, it's getting better and better on and
off the field. I love playing at Anfield and I like the city
and the people.
"We can still produce more, not only me. I have played three
matches on the trot with Peter and that partnership is
getting better. It was the same with Craig Bellamy. We were
improving together so there are now two partnerships we can
use knowing they work well.
He added: "I can work with both players. Things are
improving although I know there is still a big gap between
us and the top sides. But if we can win at Arsenal next week
then things will start to change for us.
"That will be the big test after four home wins and the bad
start we have made in our away games."
Rafa: Kuyt is
the complete player
LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez labelled Dirk Kuyt as the complete player
after seeing the Dutch international score both goals in the
2-0 win over Reading at Anfield.
The Liverpool manager said he has been delighted with the
contribution of Kuyt since he arrived at Anfield from
Feyenoord and has backed him to score a lot of goals in a
red shirt this season.
"I have followed Dirk's career for a long time and he is a
very consistent player and you could say the complete
striker," enthused Benitez.
"He is a good worker, he scores goals, causes defenders a
lot of problems and he can bring other players into the
game. His understanding with Peter Crouch was really good.
"I was really pleased to get the three points and the second
goal was very important for us because Reading caused us
some problems with long throw-ins.
"I expected them to play with five defenders and it was
difficult at times to find the space to play but once we got
the second goal it settled us down more and we created more
Coppell has no complaints
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Reading boss Steve Coppell had no complaints with his
side's 2-0 defeat at Liverpool.
The Royals fell to their fourth successive Premiership
defeat courtesy of Dirk Kuyt's double for the improving
Coppell was happy with his side's spirit as they ended a
tough run of fixtures against the top four teams in the last
"Coming here it was always going to be difficult, but I was
quite pleased with the way my team played," said Coppell.
"We set out to make it more difficult for Liverpool who have
been irresistible of late and we made life hard for them.
"We just needed a break and we had a couple of opportunities
in the first half, but could not take them.
"In the second half we pushed more forward and got up a head
of steam, but failed to take our chances."
Coppell insists he is not frustrated at his side's recent
run with the defeat to Liverpool being their fourth
Premiership loss on the trot.
"We are battling away and we are enjoying the experience of
being in the top division, there is no frustration.
"Yes we want to play against the top teams and it is no
disgrace to be beaten by them.
"We want to compete in this division and for periods today
we were very competitive, but their quality on occasions was
just too good.
"We had a go and we have got to make sure we are ready for
the next game and be prepared to try and win three points."
high as Reds keep up run
Liverpool's renaissance continued as Dirk Kuyt hit a
double to earn them a 2-0 win over Reading and their fourth
victory at Anfield in 11 days.
They went go-karting in midweek for a spot of team bonding
but they took a long time to get revved up as Reading set
out to spoil from the start.
But the win stretched their unbeaten home league record to
22 matches, dating back 13 months to the hammering by
Chelsea last October.
For Reading their early season promise is beginning to wane
as they fell to their fourth successive league defeat.
Liverpool relied on two more goals, one in each half, from
their Dutch summer signing as they toiled for victory.
Rafael Benitez's side were without Luis Garcia because of a
hamstring problem and Mohamed Sissoko was rested on the
bench, which meant Jermaine Pennant and Bolo Zenden came
into a side unbeaten at home in the league for 13 months.
Reading, who lost 4-3 at Anfield in the Carling Cup last
week, brought in Glen Little and Sam Sodje for their first
And they started as if they had taken to heart Reading boss
Steve Coppell's pleas that his team should not to be
frightened of Liverpool.
Little got away on the right after seven minutes and found
Bryn Gunnarsson 10 yards out but his crisp shot hit Jamie
Carragher and bounced just wide.
That shocked Liverpool out of their initial lethargy and
with Steven Gerrard back into central midfield they went
ahead after 14 minutes.
Gerrard's neat chip into the box was nodded down by Peter
Crouch and with Marcus Hahnemann in two minds whether to
come for the ball Kuyt fired into an open goal from six
For the rest of the first half Liverpool sought to string
together their passes and another Gerrard flighted ball into
the box was met by Kuyt's flicked header with Hahnemann
saving well to his left.
Pennant tested the Reading keeper from 20 yards and then
Jamie Carragher - on his 300th league appearance for the
club - ventured into unchartered waters as he raced from the
back to drive just over the angle.
Reading strung five across the back and left Kevin Doyle up
front, attempting to deny Liverpool space, but it was an
increasing struggle to halt the flow of the home side.
Kuyt had a long-range strike deflected wide and saw two
headers bounce across goal, and Reading did well to survive
until the break without further damage.
Carragher had to be sharp to force the ball away from
Stephen Hunt in the box but Liverpool were soon back on the
offensive with even Sami Hyypia coming forward to boost the
Steve Sidwell was booked for dissent as Reading made the
most of their best ammunition from set-pieces and there were
some anxious moments in the Liverpool defence.
It was a horrible match to watch, lightened by another run
from Hyypia which ended with another 20-yard shot flying
Sodje was then booked for clattering into the back of Kuyt
but it was no surprise when Mark Gonzalez replaced Zenden
after 65 minutes in an attempt to add some variety and
Gerrard headed wide from Pennant's corner before Ibrahima
Sonko forced the ball home from a corner only for the effort
ruled out because of a foul on Reina.
Liverpool's second goal came when Pennant's 73rd-minute
corner was diverted by Crouch's head into Hahnemann and it
dropped for Kuyt to force home from three yards.
It secured the points, albeit not with the sort of flowing
style Liverpool would have hoped for.