Kuyt celebrates his winning goal
at Manchester City. (Photo: PA)
Rafa buoyed by Skrtel positives
By Joseph Caron Dawe - Setanta Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is grateful
defender Martin Skrtel’s knee ligament injury did not turn
out worse than it has done, and is taking heart from the
Slovakian’s proposed pre-Christmas return.
Skrtel sustained the injury in The Reds’ 3-2 win over
Manchester City at the weekend and initial fears were that
he would be sidelined for a far longer period than the
10-week lay-off he now faces.
After meeting with a knee specialist on Tuesday it was
decided Skrtel did not require surgery, and now the
23-year-old can concentrate on working towards his comeback
which could be as early as December.
“It is a big loss for us because Martin has done very well
for us since joining from Zenit St Petersburg,” said
Benitez. “He was playing very well and we were very pleased
with him so it is a real pity that he has got injured now.
“But we also know that it could have been worse and the fact
that he could be back for our games towards the end of the
year is positive for us.”
Benitez is also not concerned that Skrtel may return a
weaker or more inhibited player than the one he has become
accustomed to selecting.
“Martin has a very strong character and he trains hard so I
am sure that when he does come back he will be the same
player as before he got injured,” added the Spaniard, who is
confident in the cover he has in defence,
“It is a positive for us that we have both (Daniel) Agger
and (Sami) Hyypia because they are both players of
experience and quality,” Benitez continued.
“Last season when Agger was injured we had to play Sami and
Carra (Jamie Carragher) together in too many games and
sometimes we had to play (Alvaro) Arbeloa at centre back.
“Now it is different because even though we are without
Skrtel we still have three other experienced centre backs so
there will still be competition for places.
“It is up to us to manage the situation and I am sure that
the players will do their jobs and hopefully that will mean
that the bad news we have had about Martin will not affect
the team too much.”
Ian Rush: Spirited Reds
are teaming with defiance!
By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo
Liverpool’s incredible comeback against
Manchester City at the weekend showed the strength of their
When you go two goals down away from home there is a
temptation to think that it’s game over and you won’t get
back into it.
But Liverpool have already shown several times already this
season that going behind does not mean you can’t win the
game and this shows the togetherness in Rafa Benitez’s squad
When I was a player Liverpool had a reputation for playing
until the final whistle and never giving up and it’s great
to see this sort of commitment and determination back again.
No doubt City thought they would be the first team to beat
Liverpool this season when Javier Garrido put them 2-0 up.
But from the moment Fernando Torres got a goal back you
could sense that the balance of power had shifted. I think
anyone who has seen the Reds play this season half expected
them to go on and win the game.
The thing that should stick in the minds of every Liverpool
player is that when they turned it on City just couldn’t
live with them.
They went to a level that Mark Hughes’ side could not match
and that’s a very clear sign that Liverpool are turning into
a genuinely good team.
The only disappointing thing is that they gave themselves an
uphill battle because even when your spirit is as good as
Liverpool’s, you can’t keep asking yourselves to make
There might come an occasion when they give themselves too
much to do and to stop this from happening they are going to
have to look to take games by the scruff of the neck
But having said that, I genuinely do not worry too much if
the opposition takes the lead against Liverpool these days.
Middlesbrough, Manchester United, Marseille and Manchester
City have all scored first against them this season and all
four have ended up losing the game.
This is why the time has come for Liverpool to believe – 12
points gathered from losing positions is an incredible
record and one that everyone at Anfield should be proud of.
So cruel for Martin Skrtel
Martin Skrtel’s injury was the only disappointment on
otherwise an excellent Sunday afternoon for Liverpool.
You knew something was wrong as soon as he went down because
he fell so awkwardly and when he stayed down I think many of
us feared the worst.
Skrtel injury a big blow for Reds.
(Photo: Getty Images)
The diagnosis has confirmed Skrtel suffered damage to the
posterior cruciate ligament of his right knee but hopefully
that will sound worse than it really is and he will be back
sooner rather than later.
Skrtel has done really well for Liverpool since signing in
January and he has formed an excellent partnership with
Jamie Carragher so I’m sure Rafa Benitez will be hoping to
have him back as quickly as possible.
The thing with football is that one man’s misfortune is
another’s opportunity and the injury to Skrtel will give
Daniel Agger the chance to come back into the team and show
what he is capable of.
Agger has had to remain patient over the last few weeks
while Benitez has stuck with the in-form Skrtel and
Carragher but that will have to change if, as expected,
Skrtel faces a spell on the sidelines.
If he does get his chance it is up to Agger to make it as
difficult as possible for the manager to leave him out once
Skrtel is fit again.
That’s what being at a top side is all about – doing enough
to keep your place even when there are other quality players
challenging for your position.
Torres is proving a lucky charm too
Some nice memories stirred for me this week when someone
mentioned Liverpool are yet to lose a league game in which
Fernando Torres has scored.
In the 21 Premier League games he has scored in, the Reds
have either won or drawn.
I had a similar record when I was at Anfield and it ended up
lasting for seven years so I know just how much of a
positive impact such a run can have on the whole team.
The big thing for us was that every one of the players was
given a psychological boost when I scored because we all
felt that we couldn’t lose after that.
It was also a nightmare for the opposition because an Ian
Rush goal almost inevitably signalled the best they could
hope for was a draw. There were actually times when
opponents visibly wilted if I scored.
The best example of this was the 1986 FA Cup final when Gary
Lineker gave Everton the lead only for me to equalise early
in the second half.
We went on to win the game and afterwards Lineker said he
should have known we would win as soon as I scored.
That’s how much of a psychological effect my record was
having on teams and no doubt the same thing will happen for
the modern day Liverpool side the longer Torres (right) can
continue his run.
No doubt his team mates are starting to see the Spaniard as
a lucky charm and hopefully his goals will carry on being as
important to Liverpool as they have been already.
Skrtel could be
out until Easter
By Matt Ladson - This is Anfield
Defender Martin Skrtel is expected to be
out for the rest of the year at least, after suffering
damage to his PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) in the 3-2
win over Man City on Sunday.
The PCL is one of the main ligaments in the knee and
although it is thought to be one of the strongest ligaments
in the knee (the ACL is more commonly damaged) it accounts
for around 20% of all knee injuries.
Typically, cruciate knee injuries require 6 months before
returning to competitive sport, with the player not being
able to run and work in the gym properly until 3 months
No timescale has been set by the club yet for Skrtel’s
return, with the Slovakian international meeting with a
specialist on Tuesday morning. Spokesman Ian Cotton said “He
will see a specialist on Tuesday to assess the extent of the
injury. We will then have an accurate idea of the timescales
involved before he is back playing again.”
Skrtel’s injury will now open up an opportunity for fellow
centre backs Daniel Agger and Sami Hyypia. With Hyypia not
registered for Europe, Agger will begin all Champions League
games alongside Jamie Carragher in the Reds’ defence, while
Hyypia may get a chance in some Premiership games.
Agger had recently been linked with a move to Real Madrid in
January, that now seems almost certain not to come to
It is fortunate that Rafa Benitez has assembled such a
strong squad at the club where we have impressive cover for
such occurances as this. When Man United’s Nemandja Vidic
was suspended last month, youngster Jonny Evans was required
to replace him.
City riches worthless as Liverpool
bank on self belief in fightback
Comment by Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post
When Dirk Kuyt was asked in midweek
whether Steven Gerrard would consider a move to Eastlands,
his response was emphatic.
“I don’t think any player from Liverpool would go to
Manchester City because Liverpool is a much bigger club,”
said the Dutch striker.
A rollercoaster afternoon yesterday gave the perfect reason
City may have the new-found riches but it’s Rafael Benitez’s
side that possess the greater immediate promise of
silverware given the evidence of this latest remarkable
Fernando Torres was among several players City’s new Abu
Dhabi owners had supposedly earmarked during a frantic
transfer deadline day last month.
At least their judgement can’t be questioned.
As against Everton the previous week, the Spaniard spent
much of the first half on the periphery and gradually
bemoaning his lot before exploding into life after the
Torres scored twice as Liverpool dragged themselves back
into the match after having gone in at half-time in disarray
and two goals down, and then played a part in Kuyt’s
dramatic injury-time winner.
Benitez claimed before the game that victory at Eastlands
wouldn’t necessarily underline his team’s title credentials.
But if Liverpool do sustain a genuine championship
challenge, they will surely look back at this result as a
significant moment in their campaign.
The self-inflicted first-half wounds of Stephen Ireland’s
volley and a magnificent Javier Garrido free-kick seemed
enough to send Benitez’s side tumbling to a disappointing
first defeat of the season.
That, though, didn’t take into consideration the huge
self-belief and determination that is coursing through the
veins of the Anfield outfit at present, qualities typified
by a typically tireless performance of Kuyt.
Certainly, Benitez’s side are doing things the hard way this
season, this being the fourth game, following similar
victories against Middlesbrough, Manchester United and
Marseille, in which they have had to come from behind to
Of course, the Spaniard will be aware such a trend cannot
Despite having conceded only two league goals before
yesterday, some of Liverpool’s defending left much to be
desired, both full-back areas a particular area for concern.
Quite why Liverpool were so off the pace in the opening 45
minutes is a mystery to rival that of the recent fortunes of
goalscorer Ireland’s hair. And they still haven’t netted in
the first half of a Premier League campaign this season.
Both sides ended the match with 10 men, but for contrasting
City were reduced midway through the second half when, for
the second successive week, Xabi Alonso was the victim of a
challenge deemed worthy of a red card, although this time
even home manager Mark Hughes could have no complaints with
the dismissal of Pablo Zabaleta for a two-footed challenge.
Liverpool, though, were hampered by the loss of Martin
Skrtel during the closing moments when the Slovakian
departed on a stretcher with what at first glance seemed a
serious knee injury.
Albert Riera – intent on making an impression on his return
to Eastlands, where he spent six-month loan spell in 2006 –
was a rare bright spot during a miserable first half for
The visitors actually started well and should have been
ahead in the 17th minute, when Riera’s trickery bewildered
Micah Richards only for his inviting low cross to be sliced
woefully over by Kuyt from 10 yards.
But a catalogue of defensive errors gifted City the lead two
After Shaun Wright-Phillips caught out an over-elaborate
Fabio Aurelio, the ball was crossed in to the feet of Jo.
Alonso made the tackle, but possession fell fortuitously
back to Wright-Phillips to again feed into the area where
Alvaro Arbeloa dallied in clearing from Robinho and allowed
the approaching Ireland to thrash home.
It got worse for Liverpool four minutes before the interval.
Again, it was sloppy defending, Wright-Phillips nipping
ahead of Aurelio before being bundled over from behind by
Riera 20 yards out.
Up stepped Garrido to curl a fine left-footed free-kick into
the top corner that gave Reina little chance.
With City dangerous on the break and Torres shackled by
Richard Dunne, a Liverpool revival looked unlikely. But
Benitez’s side were a different beast after the break.
Kuyt claimed a penalty after tangling with Dunne and then
shot wide before the visitors found a way back into the game
on 55 minutes with their 1,000th Premier League goal.
Javier Mascherano found Steven Gerrard on the right, who
then played the ball between Garrido’s legs and on to the
overlapping Arbeloa to cross low into the six-yard box where
Torres swept home.
Robinho should have restored the two-goal advantage when
somehow volleying a Wright-Phillips cross over from six
yards. Yet it was a rare City foray as, their task made more
difficult by Zabaleta’s expulsion, the home side were
Liverpool’s equaliser on 73 minutes was a more
straightforward affair. Andrea Dossena, on for the hapless
Aurelio, won a corner on the left and, from Gerrard’s
delivery, Torres sneaked in between City substitute Gelson
Fernandes and goalkeeper Joe Hart to head in at the near
The Spaniard netted at only three away grounds in the
Premier League throughout the whole of last season, but all
five of his top-flight goals so far this campaign have come
on the road.
Robbie Keane and Yossi Benayoun were thrown into the fray as
Benitez sensed victory, and Torres missed a glorious chance
for a hat-trick when he turned over Keane’s cross from four
However, the pair combined – albeit somewhat unwittingly –
for the winner in injury time. Dossena and Benayoun raided
down the left for the latter to pull the ball back to
Torres, and the Spaniard’s goalbound shot was diverted off
Keane into the path of Kuyt to force home from close range.
It was the Holland international’s first Premier League goal
since netting at Newcastle in November.
And it underlined just why, for all City’s wealth, Liverpool
is the place to be right now.
We must keep on
winning says Dirk
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post
Dirk Kuyt believes Liverpool have made
another statement of their Premier League intent with
last-gasp victory at Manchester City.
Kuyt netted Liverpool’s third and decisive goal in stoppage
time with his first in the league since netting at Newcastle
United on November 24 last year.
The win keeps the Reds level on points with league leaders
Chelsea going into the international break.
Kuyt said: “We try to make a statement every week. Every
three games we have a big game. We had Everton and PSV last
week, and our target is just to win every game and try to be
there by the end of the season.
“But it was vital to keep pace with Chelsea before the
internationals. We can leave with a good feeling.
“We’ve already had one international break and come back in
our first game after it and beaten Manchester United.
“We’ll just keep on going and see how we do against Wigan in
our next game.”
First-half goals from Stephen Ireland and Javier Garrido had
given Liverpool a mountain to climb.
But, for the third time this season, Benitez’s men fought
back to secure the three points with Fernando Torres scoring
twice before Kuyt’s late decider.
“We had a feeling at half time that we could get back in the
game if we scored a goal,” added Kuyt. “We got that and were
back in the game and I think we deserved to win.
“All of the players worked really hard, even the players who
came on as substitute did their bit. It shows what a good
squad of players we have here.”
Rafa salutes comeback heroes
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez praised the character of his players after
the Reds came back from 2-0 down to beat Manchester City 3-2
following a fantastic second half performance.
Goals from Stephen Ireland and Javier Garrido gave Mark
Hughes team a commanding interval lead, but inspired by
Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt the Reds roared back to
complete a memorable victory.
Torres scored twice, making him Liverpool's record overseas
goalscorer in the Premier League, and Kuyt netted a stoppage
time winner for his first strike in the top flight for over
The only blemish to a great victory was Martin Skrtel forced
off on a stretcher with a knee injury.
"I'm really pleased with the result but am disappointed for
Martin Skrtel with his injury," said Benitez.
"The positive thing was the reaction of the players after a
bad first half. We made two mistakes for both goals and the
reaction and character we showed in the second half was for
me the key to winning the game.
"I told the players at half-time to try and score one goal
and then we would be right back in the game. That was the
idea and the character and determination of the players was
much better than the first half.
"We were pushing hard in the second half and the
determination of the players was fantastic.
"The problem in the first half was we were making mistakes
against players with ability and pace.
"It's better for me that we don't concede goals but at least
if you can win it shows the players are ready for winning
every game. Physically we are in good condition so credit to
our fitness coach. We also have great belief and mentality."
The Reds boss also felt the sending-off of City right back
Pablo Zabaleta was justified after a late challenge on Xabi
"Xabi is okay," added Rafa. "It was a clear red card, no
doubt about this and very clear.
"At this point we were controlling the game and were on top
of them. We were creating chances and we were better than
On Torres' brace, the boss added: "We know how important
Torres is for us. He is always a threat to the defenders and
can score goals. He also gives space to his teammates and
Torres is a fantastic boy with a good mentality. He was
unlucky not to get his hat-trick."
Benitez also defended his decision to start Robbie Keane on
the bench and said it was for tactical reasons.
"City have a players with pace and a lot of skill so we were
trying to control this in the middle of the park and give
freedom to Gerrard," added the gaffer. "It wasn't bad but we
made some mistakes. In the second half the attitude changed
and everything was different.
"Against good teams it's always important to do the right
things and we know we can beat anyone. They are a good team
with a lot of good players and a good manager, so the belief
of our players was the key."
Liverpool's football was excellent
By Ben Blackmore - Setanta Sports
Like a criminal who has just been caught by the cops, I hold
my hands aloft.
I got one very quick – very restricted look at the Pablo
Zabaleta challenge on Xabi Alonso, and it looked good. If it
wasn’t, the hands are up and the cuffs are on. I’ll admit my
But let’s not let the incident overshadow what was a superb
Sometimes when writing a post-match blog, it can be easy to
look past the main point. It can be easy to go searching for
a hidden meaning to a game, when the overwhelming truth is:
Liverpool played some classy football.
Rafa Benitez’s style of football has taken a battering on
occasions during his time at Anfield, with accusations of
Liverpool being ‘too direct, ‘too negative’, ‘too cautious’,
yet today there were times when they tore City’s defence to
Benitez’s purchase of Albert Riera – a flop at City
ironically – was also much maligned, yet the Spain winger
has brought a new dimension to Liverpool and he enjoyed
easily his best game on Sunday.
Even when Liverpool were 2-0 down, the football was pretty
good – from both sides in all fairness – with The Reds
playing one-touch stuff while City broke swiftly through the
pace of Robinho and Wright Phillips.
It seemed that The Reds' only fault would be a fatal lack of
numbers in the box.
The first half saw Riera hit the byline at will, yet too
often Fernando Torres was playing catch-up after playing an
earlier part in the move, and Dirk Kuyt was proving less
That changed second half as Torres became the pivotal
figure, and with Riera, Aurelio, Gerrard and Arbeloa all
bombing down the flanks, City became overwhelmed.
Fair play to Benitez too, who threw on Robbie Keane and
Yossi Benayoun to provide the cunning, while the left foot
of Andrea Dossena (rather than the right-footed Ryan Babel)
made sure City’s 10 men were stretched to breaking point.
In the end, Keane and Benayoun created match-winning
chances, and it is no exaggeration to suggest Liverpool
deserved their victory.
This is now a Liverpool team that is not only winning, not
only showing the fight to come from behind, but it is a
Liverpool team who are playing good football too.
Kuyt keeps Reds flying high in table
Dirk Kuyt scored his first Premier League goal since
November as Liverpool came from two goals down to win 3-2
away to 10-man Manchester City.
The Holland striker rattled the ball home in stoppage time
at Eastlands on Sunday to preserve the Reds' unbeaten start
to the season.
The home side had raced into a two-goal lead in the first
half through Stephen Ireland and Javier Garrido.
Fernando Torres pulled a goal back before City's Pablo
Zabaleta was sent off.
The momentum was then with Liverpool with Torres adding a
second before Kuyt, who was guilty of a shocking earlier
miss, having the final word.
Liverpool almost went ahead as early as the fourth minute
when Albert Riera got a good touch and goalkeeper Joe Hart
had to look alert to turn his effort around the post.
The visitors kept up the pressure and launched a swift
counter-attack in the 15th minute. Javier Mascherano, who
was preferred to Robbie Keane tried to send Steven Gerrard
However Shaun Wright-Phillips showed his defensive qualities
to get in a crucial challenge.
Three minutes later Kuyt should have put Liverpool ahead
only to sky his shot over the top in front of the post after
Riera had set up the opening.
City made the breakthrough a minute later thanks to
Ireland's third goal of the season.
Wright-Phillips did well to cut the ball back from the
by-line but it seemed to get stuck under Robinho's feet.
However it eventually fell to Ireland and the ever-improving
midfielder rifled an unstoppable shot into the corner.
Whenever Liverpool did break forward City were defending in
numbers from front to back.
Xabi Alonso tried his luck from distance in the 38th minute
but Hart was equal to his effort.
City extended their lead three minutes later after
Wright-Phillips was bundled over Riera, who had a spell on
loan at Eastlands.
Garrido stepped up and sent a superb free-kick over a
stunned Reina for his first goal for the club.
However it was game on the 56th minute with Liverpool
pulling a goal back through Torres.
England midfielder Steven Gerrard, a subdued figure in the
first half, began the move by releasing Alvaro Arbeloa.
He skipped to the byline before delivering a cross into the
path of Torres, who scored from close range.
It was the Spain striker's fourth goal of the league
campaign and came on the back of his brace in the victory
This was now a test of character for City, whose own form in
the domestic campaign has been a little bit inconsistent.
However they hit back and Wright-Phillips skipped down the
wing in the 65th minute, leaving Liverpool players trailing
in his wake.
He picked out Robinho but he was unable to test Reina, his
effort going over the bar.
The game took a dramatic twist in the 68th minute when City
were reduced to 10 men.
Zabaleta was sent off by referee Peter Walton for what the
official deemed as a two-footed lunge on Alonso, who needed
Keane was introduced at the expense of Mascherano in the
72nd minute and a minute later Liverpool were level.
Torres peeled away from his marker as Gerrard swung in the
corner and thumped home a header.
He had a chance of completing his hat-trick in the 82nd
minute only to send his effort at the back post wide of the
Kuyt then secured the points in stoppage time, smashing the
ball high into the net after Torres' shot had bobbled off
Dunne and into his path.