After The Match 


LIVERPOOL-ASTON V 1-0 (1-0)             Saturday Jan 10.    Premier League
Goals: Delaney (35 og)
Team: Jones, Henchoz, Hyypia, Biscan, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Diouf, Kewell, Heskey, Owen
Subs: Pongolle (Owen 73), Cheyrou (Diouf 82)
Not used: Luzi, Traore, Le Tallec
Yellow: Diouf (65), Kewell (79), Hamann (83)
McCann (33), Hitzlsperger (87)
Red: None
Referee: Graham Barber

                                                             FIXTURES & RESULTS
On target: 4-2
Off target: 8-6
Fouls: 14-15
Corne:rs 3-6
Yellow: 3-2





"I was wary that
we would dip a bit
after the tremendous
efforts the lads
showed at Chelsea..."

                 Gerard Houllier

1201: Heskey playing for his future
1001: Houllier happy with fighting spirit
1001: O'Leary accepts unlucky defeat
1001: Delaney hands Reds win


Heskey playing for his future

Sky Sports

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 squad.

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 Reds.

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 ever.

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 Heskey.

"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 Villa.

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."

Houllier 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 mental stamina.

"I was wary that we would dip a bit after the tremendous efforts the lads showed at Chelsea, and that it what happened.

"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 months.

"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 training."

O'Leary accepts unlucky defeat


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 Champions League.

"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 there."

Delaney hands Reds win

Sky Sports

Mark Delaney's own goal was enough to give Liverpool a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.

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 the match.

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.

backbutton.gif (1697 bytes)

Thor Zakariassen