for his future
Liverpool striker Emile Heskey has admitted that he
is playing for his Anfield future for the remainder of
the season - and also a place in England's Euro 2004
The former Leicester City man knows that he needs to
show some of his best form since arriving at Anfield to
convince Gerard Houllier that he has a future with The
Houllier looks destined to bring French hot-shot Djibril
Cisse to the club from French side Auxerre - and many
say that could spell the end for Heskey.
Liverpool fans have always been frustrated that the
powerful marksman fails to show what he is capable of on
a regular basis - but he knows that now is the time to
step up a gear.
With the immanent arrival of Cisse, plus Milan Baros
returning from injury in the near future, the
competition for places up front will be as fierce as
Heskey knows that he is not only playing for his
Liverpool future - but also to book his place in Sven
Goran Eriksson's squad for Portugal.
"This is a crucial part of the season for me. My future
is on the line - I know I have to be performing or
someone else will come in and take my place," said
"I've got 18 months left on my contract, but I don't
want to go anywhere so I want to do my best to sort out
a new deal at the end of the season.
"It's up to me to show the manager I should be in the
team every week, and I need to be playing at the top of
my form if I want to play for England in Euro 2004.
"I've heard the talk about Cisse but I wouldn't say that
has been a big motivating factor for me.
"It's something I'm aware of now, but it didn't crop up
until after the Chelsea game.
"As a big club we are always linked with the top
strikers and midfield players, and you just have to
ignore it and do your best.
"With Michael Owen fit again and Milan Baros nearly
ready to return there's already plenty of competition
for places anyway."
The 26-year-old has started 2004 in good form - with a
Man of the Match display in the win over Chelsea coming
before another strong performance in the win over Aston
Liverpool recorded three wins in a week to kick-start
their fight for a UEFA Champions League place - and
Heskey says the squad's character has shone through
during a difficult spell.
"Some of our football has not been pretty during these
three wins but we've got the right results.
"Our character has shone through. There has never been a
question mark about our ability, but sometimes you have
to show you are resilient enough to hang on to a lead.
"These wins have done a lot for morale, especially the
last two. We definitely feel we are moving forward to
where we ought to be - a Champions League place.
"There's no hiding from it, we ought to be higher up the
table. But hopefully we can get on a bit of a run now."
happy with fighting spirit
Gerard Houllier praised Liverpool's fighting spirit
as they held off a late Aston Villa onslaught to claim a
1-0 win at Anfield.
It was Liverpool's third win in a week, hot on the heels
of the superb success at Chelsea and battling FA Cup
third-round win at Yeovil.
Manager Houllier was delighted with his side's attitude
after another fighting win, which came courtesy of a
Mark Delaney own goal.
Houllier said: "We are not playing well but we are
fighting well, sticking together, and showing immense
"I was wary that we would dip a bit after the tremendous
efforts the lads showed at Chelsea, and that it what
"Villa gave everything, had us under a lot of pressure,
but we stuck to it and hung on for the win."
Houllier also expressed his delight with Michael Owen's
comeback after three months out.
He said: "He lasted well, we took him off in the second
half for obvious reasons, he has not played for three
"I am just glad to see him back and he is equally happy
to be playing again at last. We do not have a game now
for a week and he will benefit from a full week of
Aston Villa manager David O'Leary begrudgingly had to
accept that lucky goals even themselves out over the
season after the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Having beaten Portsmouth in midweek thanks to Darius
Vassell's fortunate strike, Villa were beaten by a
similar goal, Mark Delaney the unlucky victim.
O'Leary said: "We won with a fluky goal against
Portsmouth and Liverpool have won this one with an
equally fortunate goal.
"We were lucky then, but as you can see, these things
even themselves out."
Villa lost Gavin McCann with a knee injury and Vassell
with a hamstring problem, but does not expect them to
miss next weekend's home game with Arsenal.
The Irishman added: "Liverpool, I suppose, expect more.
They are expected to beat teams like Villa at home and
they have to win home games if they are to get into the
"It is a completely different agenda to us. We gave
everything and were unfortunate, but in fact we did not
really make too many chances.
"We had Liverpool hanging on at the end. They looked
nervous before the break, and afterwards. In fact, when
they went in at the break with that lucky goal lead they
would probably have been happy for the match to end
Delaney hands Reds win
Mark Delaney's own goal was enough to give Liverpool
a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at Anfield on
Gerard Houllier's side deservedly, although fortunately,
took the lead nine minutes before half time and always
threatened to add a second as they controlled most of
Villa finished the game strongly though, especially
after David O'Leary through Dion Dublin up front and the
hosts were made to sweat it out to record their third
win in a week.
Michael Owen was making his return to action after
injury and he looked a little bit rusty in front of goal
as he squandered a glorious chance to open the scoring
early on when he hit the bar from all of three yards out
after Harry Kewell's cutback.
Liverpool nearly paid for the miss as Darius Vassell was
presented a great chance by Igor Biscan but the England
striker's firm strike was well saved by on-loan
Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones in the home net.
Dietmar Hamann forced a good save from Thomas Sorensen
with a low shot as the home side began to take control
of the match - and the duly took the lead on 36 minutes.
Kewell's cross was flicked on by Emile Heskey and Mark
Delaney could only bundle the ball into his own net
under pressure from Danny Murphy.
The hosts could have doubled their lead on the stroke of
half time when Murphy's free kick found Owen in space
inside the box but he could only prod a tame effort
harmlessly at Sorensen.
Liverpool started the second half as they ended the
first with El-Hadji Diouf providing a constant threat
down the right flank. The Senegal star crossed for Owen
early in the second period and Sorensen had to stretch
well to stop the cross before tipping the ball away from
the feet of the Reds number ten.
Owen was then nearly put clean through but for the
intervention of Olof Mellberg, while Heskey barged his
way through the heart of the visiting defence before
Dion Dublin forced him out of his stride.
Kewell then blazed over from a good position after a
breakaway involving Florent Sinama-Pongolle, who came on
in place of a tiring Owen.
Dublin was then thrown up front as Villa applied late
pressure with a string of corners and free kicks as the
home crowd's nerves were tested.
Kewell again missed a great chance to seal the points as
he blasted into the side netting from another beak - but
the hosts held on for a third win in a welcome week for
the recovering Reds.