Gerrard: Only way is up
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Steven Gerrard believes Liverpool are finally ready
to embark on a lasting revival and challenge Chelsea's
After so many false dawns in recent history, the Anfield
skipper is confident the current momentum is a sign of
what's to come.
Now he's expecting the Reds to take the final, necessary
steps to ensure they're fighting for honours on all
"We feel as though we're significantly improving in all
departments," said Gerrard.
"We're getting consistently good results against the top
sides, and I think we're emerging as challengers to
"We did it in Europe last year, and our intention has
always been to do the same in the league. There's still
a gap to reduce, but I don't think anyone can say we've
only done it in the big games now. We're producing it
week in, week out and we know that's got to continue.
"In seven, or eight matches against Chelsea there's been
very little between the sides. Our problem has been
showing that against other sides, but we're a lot better
With Benitez planning more changes to his squad this
January, with at least three, possibly four signings on
the horizon, Gerrard is anticipating Liverpool will go
from strength to strength.
"The manager has gone on record saying he intends
strengthening in January and that's going to make a
difference too," added the skipper.
"There have been times recently when we had a good
opportunity to make the final step up and we haven't
really taken it, but now everyone's a lot more confident
it's going to happen.
"Tuesday night was important for us psychologically.
There was a lot of talk before the game about the result
not mattering, but the way we performed showed that
wasn't how we felt at all.
"It's fair to say there was a lot of bluffing going on
before the game, and the fact both managers picked
strong sides showed how they really felt.
"We're on an excellent run and we didn't want to let it
slip against Chelsea.
"We'll take a lot from the fact they couldn't break us
down, and with just a bit more quality with the final
ball in the second half we could have beaten them.
"You never know how the draw is going to work out, but I
think it's a big advantage winning the group.
"We know it's going to be tough no matter who we play,
but there is a lot more chance of playing the best sides
in Europe when you finish second."
Rafa: We deserved top spot
By Mark Platt - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez basked in the glory of seeing his side
finish top of Champions League Group G and told his
players to enjoy the moment.
Liverpool's goalless draw with Chelsea at Stamford
Bridge on Tuesday night confirmed their position as
group winners and means they'll go into next week's draw
for the first knockout round as one of eight seeded
The Reds boss believes the reigning European Champions
were deserving of top spot and admitted he was satisfied
with the performance of his players, who have now gone
nine matches unbeaten - during which time they've also
not conceded a goal.
Speaking after the game, he said: "Yes, we deserved to
finish top because we have more points than the other
teams. We done a good job, kept another clean-sheet and
created some chances on the counter-attack.
"It was important for us to control the midfield.
However, this became more difficult in the second half
when Chelsea started playing long ball but the team
worked hard in defence and we must enjoy this moment."
Responding to questions about the Michael Essien tackle
on Didi Hamann in the first half, Benitez told
journalists: "Watch the video and make your own opinion.
I don't want to talk about things that are so clear. I
saw the tackle and I saw Didi's leg afterwards but we
cannot change things now."
Carragher gets the point
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher felt the holders
had secured an advantage for the Champions League
knockout stages after their draw at Chelsea.
The Reds kept a clean sheet against the Blues for a
fourth successive time in the competition to go through
to the last 16 as Group G winners.
Carragher told ITV: "Before the game it was said it
didn't matter but we wanted to win the group. We wanted
to finish top.
"We will now play the second leg (of the last 16 match)
at home, and that is considered a slight advantage."
Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann was at the centre of
controversy when he was caught by a late challenge from
Chelsea's Michael Essien - but the German did not
He said: "I am going for the ball and I think he came
over the ball and caught me just below the knee.
"The referee didn't see it and you have to get on with
Reds top group after draw
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Liverpool held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at Stamford
Bridge to ensure that they went through from Group G as
Both sides had already qualified for the last 16 of the
competition before Tuesday's clash, but the game was far
from meaningless as topping the group could mean a much
easier draw in the knockout phase.
The game was an edgy affair with a number of niggles
throughout the match, with Michael Essien lucky to get
away with his over-the-top challenge on Dietmar Hamann
that could have easily seen him sent off.
Rafa Benitez's side had not conceded in their last eight
games and Jose Mourinho's charges could not find a way
through in a game with few chances for either side.
A cagey opening saw both sides taking a good look at
each other, but a sloppy clearance from Jose Reina led
to Frank Lampard having the first chance on seven
minutes, but the Spanish keeper palmed his drive round
Steven Gerrard responded for the visitors when latching
on to Peter Crouch's knock down, but the Liverpool
skipper dragged his shot wide.
The heat was turned up following a shocking tackle from
Michael Essien as he ploughed into Dietmar Hamann's shin
with his studs showing in a challenge that could have
easily broken the German's leg.
Benitez and the Liverpool bench were incensed by the
tackle, and by referee Herbet Fandel's decision to
ignore the incident - even awarding Chelsea the free
John Arne Riise nearly fired the perfect repost for The
Reds when Gerrard slipped him in on the half hour, but
his low drive was well saved by Petr Cech's foot.
More niggle crept into the game before half time, with
Momo Sissoko catching Eidur Gudjohnsen's ankle, before
the Icelandic playmaker flew in late on Steve Finnan.
Chelsea started quicker after the interval, with Arjen
Robben's firing into the side netting after Didier
Drogba had been allowed to bring the ball down at the
The hosts enjoyed the majority of the possession but
were not making Reina work in the Liverpool goal, with
Lampard's shot on 66 minutes flying miles over the bar
after Damien Duff's lay-off.
Chelsea could not find any way to trouble a well drilled
Liverpool backline, with the introduction of Shaun
Wright-Phillips adding pep to the attack but it was
still not enough to trouble Reina.
Liverpool substitute Florent Sinama-Pongolle could have
given The Reds a late lead with his first touch but his
brave header going straight at Cech.
Benitez's side held out comfortably in the end to make
sure the defending champions emerge from Group G as
winners, in so avoiding some of the big guns in the