Robbie Keane - the hero vs West Brom. (PA Photos)
Late kick off, but job
done early for Liverpool
Comment by Chris Beesley - Liverpool Daily Post
Television demands ensured Liverpool fans
had to endure another late kick-off on Saturday – but for
once they were left relieved that their team had got the job
done early at Anfield.
So far this season, none of Rafael Benitez’s side’s winning
goals in the Premier League on home turf had been scored
before the final 15 minutes of a game.
In the domestic opener at Anfield, Liverpool trailed 1-0
with just four minutes to go before Emanuel Pogatetez’s own
goal drew them level and Steven Gerrard netted a second on
A first league win under Benitez against Manchester United
was achieved thanks to a Ryan Babel strike with 13 minutes
left on the clock.
Liverpool again trailed with just 10 minutes remaining
against Wigan Athletic before Steve Bruce’s tiring 10-men
capitulated in front of the Kop and enabled Albert Riera and
Dirk Kuyt through to nab the three points.
Also, Tony Adams’s top flight managerial debut was ruined by
a moment of madness by Papa Bouba Diop when the Senegalese
midfielder bizarrely handled in his own area in ‘volleyball’
style 14 minutes from the end of Portsmouth’s visit, which
enabled Gerrard to stroke home from the penalty spot.
Liverpool have of course taken early leads in both of their
recent visits to London – advantages that ultimately met
with wildly varying success.
Xabi Alonso’s 10th-minute effort at Stamford Bridge
memorably ended Chelsea’s record-breaking 86-game unbeaten
On the other hand, when Kuyt pounced just three minutes into
Liverpool’s trip to White Hart Lane, Benitez’s men conspired
to miss a hatful of golden opportunities to extend their
lead and somehow ended up falling to a first defeat of the
season, as Roman Pavlyuchenko stunned them with a
last-minute goal to secure an unlikely 2-1 win for a side at
the foot of the table.
But for the vast majority of Liverpool’s fanbase, cheering
their side on home soil, this was the first time all season
they’d been able to enjoy their half-time refreshment in a
relaxed mood and enter the latter stages of a match without
biting their nails fretting on what the result might be.
All this following a team who climbed back to the top of the
table on Saturday night and have enjoyed a best-ever start
to a Premier League season.
Last season, Liverpool failed to sustain a credible title
challenge because too many home points were dropped in draws
against teams who came to Anfield and shut up shop – playing
‘compact’ as Benitez likes (or dislikes) to refer to it.
In this respect, Tony Mowbray’s team were, while
refreshingly positive, also naïve, in adopting a bold 4-4-2
The Baggies have a wretched record at Anfield having not won
on the ground for 41 years, a sequence that includes 19
matches and have just netted once in their last 10 visits
through Garth Crooks 23 years ago.
Their goal difference against Liverpool since the Premier
League began now stands at an incredible 0-22 – with 5-0 and
6-0 home defeats thrown in for good measure.
Given these statistics, surely it would have been a
pragmatic rather than negative option for West Brom – now
stuck at the bottom – to have gone with just one man up
front but while such tactics away from home in a league as
tough as this are likely to win them far more friends than
But that’s not a matter for Liverpool to worry about and
Robbie Keane – booed by the travelling supporters because of
his roots at Black Country rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers –
had no concerns as he slipped through the resultant gaping
holes in the West Brom rearguard to net both his first and
second Premier League goals for his new club since his
£20million arrival in the summer.
The former Tottenham man has now plundered eight goals in
his last six league starts against the West Midlanders and
for his second he waltzed around the onrushing Scott Carson,
whose flimsy attempt to stop him showed why the young
English keeper was never going to come close to dislodging
Pepe Reina at Anfield.
For weeks now, Liverpool fans have been hoping that their
side would be able to follow Chelsea’s example and give
someone a damn good thrashing but while the potential for a
rout after the break never materialised they will have been
relieved just to have got the points safely secured with
more than 45 minutes to spare.
Such was mood of relaxation at Anfield, even Benitez gave
the West Brom fans the wave they’d been asking for with two
Indeed, complacency levels were such that many fans eager to
make an early dart even missed a rare Alvaro Arbeloa strike
with 90 minutes on the clock.
Given Liverpool’s recent record surely they should have
realised something would be happening in injury time?
rosy for Liverpool
By Steve McManaman - Setanta Sports - blog
I think Rafa Benitez will be very pleased,
it was the perfect game for Liverpool on Saturday. West Brom
didn’t have a shot on target, they’ve won by three, clean
sheet, Keane scored and Torres had a nice introduction back
Liverpool were very comfortable in the second half and, if
anything, you wanted them to push on and get three, get
four, get five and give the fans something.
Rafa’s got two teams, one for home and one for away. Away
from home Rafa likes to play one up front, Steven Gerrard
behind and Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.
At home he wants to play two up front and probably then Dirk
Kuyt will become the right midfielder. At home Gerrard will
sit that little bit more with an Alonso or a Mascherano and
then it’s perfect for Keane and Torres to function together.
I think now Torres is back – and if he’s fit and stays fit
for a while – Liverpool will start to sort themselves out a
bit. It’s vitally important that Torres’ hamstring holds up.
The fixtures coming up for Liverpool are all games that
you’d expect them to win with them chasing for the title.
They’ve got West Ham, Blackburn, Bolton, Fulham – games they
should be winning if they want to be challenging for the
At the moment they’re winning games that they would have
lost or drawn last year. They lost last week but they came
out today and were extremely professional.
They’ve got a couple of games cushion now. That always helps
because you’ve got to lose a couple before the other teams
can get anywhere near you.
On top of all this, I think Benitez’s contract situation
will be rectified. The vibes are that they are sitting down
already and we only hear about it because they’re starting
to talk about it.
Rafa loves Liverpool and I know his wife loves the area.
He’ll stay. Rafa’s passionate about Liverpool and about
wanting to win the championship. He certainly knows the
history of Liverpool and how important it is to win The
Rafa always had faith in Robbie
Rafa Benitez insists he never doubted that
Robbie Keane would score goals on a regular basis for
Keane has endured a lean time in front of goal since his
summer move from Tottenham Hotspur and had scored just twice
in 18 appearances before Saturday's game against West Brom.
However, the Irishman showed his old sparkle to score twice
in the first half to set Liverpool on their way to a
comfortable 3-0 win at Anfield.
The goals were Keane's first in the Premier League for the
Reds and Benitez is happy that the striker is off the mark
on the domestic front.
"I have always wanted to support Robbie, he has been playing
and contributing to our victories," said Benitez.
"I have had no doubts that he would start to score regularly
for us. Robbie has told me he has got a monkey off his back,
not an expression I had heard before but I understand what
"Robbie has game intelligence and he is always a threat to
defenders. It was only a matter of time before he scored in
"He is quick and can punish any mistakes that defenders
make, and that is what he did."
Benitez also explained his reasons for not leaving Keane on
the pitch in the final stages to try to complete his
hat-trick as Fernando Torres made his return from a
He said: "We needed to get Fernando Torres into the game, we
needed his pace to complete the victory and maybe get the
"Fernando is not match-fit, but we needed to get him into
the action. We had some tired players out there, Robbie was
trying hard but Fernando was important to us in the final
getting back to my best
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Robbie Keane reflected on his first league
goals in a Liverpool shirt and insisted: "Hopefully I'm back
to my best now."
Keane netted two first half goals to kill off the challenge
of West Brom at Anfield, with Alvaro Arbeloa adding a third
in the final minute as Liverpool regained top spot in the
Premier League table.
Despite being satisfied with his first goals in the league
for the Reds, the Irish international insists the three
points were more important than any personal glory on the
"It was very important to get the win," he said. "It's not
nice playing later in the day and watching the other results
come in, but there were some good results for us and so it
was important we did our bit.
"It was a good performance by the lads and we could have
scored a few more. It was important we bounced back after
Tottenham last week and we did that. There is a lot of
resilience in this side.
"Of course it's nice to get the goals. It's been a while but
I knew it was just a matter of time. I wasn't getting down
about things, which is something I might have done had a
been a bit younger or more naive.
"Hopefully today you have seen Robbie Keane back to his
best. It's been stop start for me so far but I feel I've
been getting better and better each game and hopefully that
Keane on board for Liverpool
By Chris Stanton - Setanta Sports
You wait patiently for one and then two
come along at once - Premier League goals were like London
buses for Robbie Keane as Liverpool moved three points clear
at the top of The Premier League with a 3-0 win over West
Bromwich Albion at Anfield.
The Republic of Ireland international had had to endure an
excruciating wait of more than 700 minutes at his own
personal bus stop for his first league goals in the red of
Liverpool but the striker’s 12-game duck was broken
emphatically against The Baggies.
With Fernando Torres only deemed fit enough to be among the
substitutes by Rafa Benitez, Keane shouldered the
goalscoring burden and bore it effortlessly, striking first
in the 34th minute and then again just nine minutes later.
Responding impressively to last weekend's late defeat to
Tottenham, the home side were dominant throughout and Alvaro
Arbeloa curled home a third goal in stoppage time.
West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray’s aesthetically
pleasing yet strikingly deficient side toiled but rarely
troubled their opponents.
Albion had lost all six of their Premier League matches
against Liverpool, conceding 19 goals and scoring none and
rarely looked like stemming that sequence.
At an initially subdued Anfield, Keane was immediately
conspicuous. A shot on the turn was saved by Scott Carson
before Yossi Benayoun was also denied by a sprawling save
from the former Liverpool goalkeeper, making his first
appearance at Anfield since leaving the club permanently in
Carson was beginning to look a formidable obstacle but Keane
betrayed no indecision in front of goal by steering home his
side's first goal in the 34th minute. Steven Gerrard’s
straight pass played in the Irishman and he scooped a
Ironically, one of Albion’s rare forays into the home side’s
penalty area in the first half led directly to their
concession of a second goal just nine minutes later.
Jose Reina had fumbled a cross from Ishmael Miller to
present the visitors with a corner but, from the subsequent
Jonathan Greening delivery, The Reds broke and Fabio
Aurelio’s ball from inside his own half found Keane, who
confronted by the rapidly approaching Carson, rounded the
keeper to finish into an unguarded net.
Liverpool doubling their lead was painful enough for the
visitors but the sight of Robbie Keane, a former employer of
Black Country rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, wheeling away
in celebration was no less pertinent.
As against Newcastle two weeks previously when they also
found themselves trailing at the interval, West Brom sought
to impose themselves more forcibly after half-time and
Robert Koren’s shoot-on-sight policy was twice in evidence
not long after the restart.
Felipe Teixeira’s introduction as a substitute after six
months spent sidelined through injury was greeted
enthusiastically by the travelling band of Baggies.
Teixeira’s more incisive passing was of some benefit to the
visitors, however it was from Daniel Agger’s misjudgement of
a long clearance that an unexpected chance was presented to
Miller, but the striker’s anticipation was found wanting and
the chance, like the ball, was soon lost.
Keane tormented Ryan Donk in his pursuit of a hat-trick
before Benitez betrayed his miserly streak in the 72nd
minute. Few in Anfield were complaining, though, with the
returning Fernando Torres fondly greeted.
Another substitute, Albion’s Chris Brunt, was almost
rewarded for his impudence with a typically venomous
left-footed free-kick skirting the right-hand post of Pepe
Reina just 30 seconds after his arrival on the pitch.
With Ryan Babel already called upon for Albert Riera, the
second-half showcase continued for the home side with the
introduction of Xabi Alonso for Steven Gerrard.
Torres’s rapier-like right foot showed little sign of its
having been unused in six matches, the only surprise being
that when he took aim 10 minutes from time the shot was
straight at Carson.
The promptings of Benayoun and Alonso endured until the
final whistle and a merited third goal was claimed by the
unlikely figure of Arbeloa who cut inside to curl home a
left-footed shot three minutes into time added on.