After The Match 

            


Chelsea-Liverpool 0-0              10.2.08                               PL
Goals:
Team: Reina, Finnan, Riise, Skrtel, Carragher, Mascherano, Lucas, Babel, Gerrard, Kuyt, Crouch
Subs: Pennant (Babel 71)
Not used: Itandje, San Jose Dominguez, Kewell,  Benayoun
Yellow: Babel (41), Riise (63), Belletti (3), Carvalho (74), Alex (78)
Red: None
Referee: Mike Riley
Attendance: 41,788
TEAM STATS
Shots on target: 1-1
Shots off target: 3-6
Blocked shots: 5-3
Fouls conceded: 17-25
Corners: 6-4
Offsides: 3-1
Possession: 52.7-47.3
Yellow: 3-2
Red:
 
0-0
HEADLINES "The plan
as always
was to win
the game..."
Rafael Benitez

1202: Dirk Kuyt's commitment cannot be doubted
1202: Mark Lawrenson: Draw is a step in the right...
1102: Reina hails Reds display
1102: Gerrard: We rocked Bridge
1002: Rafa: We could have won
1002: Grant: We're still in title hunt
1002: Stalemate at the Bridge


FEBRUARY 12
Dirk Kuyt's commitment
cannot be doubted


By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo

I was really impressed with Liverpool's performance against Chelsea at the weekend and the challenge for them now is to repeat it week in, week out.

The work every player put in was fantastic to see and Iím sure the Liverpool fans who made the trip to London for the game, and those who were watching at home on TV, really
appreciated it.

Dirk Kuytís work rate was absolutely incredible. He never stopped running from the first minute to the last and when you play alongside someone who is like that their commitment is infectious.

I know that Dirk has come in for a bit of criticism this season because he has not scored the goals he would have liked, but you could never have a go at him for the effort he puts in.

That says a lot about him as a person because it can be easy to go and hide when things arenít going too well for you. But Dirk never does that. He keeps showing for the ball and fighting for the team.

Peter Crouch was also excellent. I know how hard it can be when you play up front on your own and there were times in the second half when he was a bit isolated. However, his hold up play was superb and that allowed the midfield runners to get forward into attack.

But what I would say is that Liverpool have to use this performance as the benchmark for the rest of their season.

Thereís no point going to Chelsea, being the better side and getting a good result if you donít reproduce that kind of effort and determination in the games to come.

In recent weeks, Liverpool have started far too slowly in games at Anfield against lesser opponents and that has given them a chance to settle. But if Liverpool get at them like they got at Chelsea then there are few sides who can live with them.

The way they played at Chelsea showed everyone just what they can do and now they have to do it in every game.

Carra influence rubs off on new boy Skrtel
Martin Skrtel was one of Liverpoolís star performers at Chelsea, but I think a lot of the credit for that must go to Jamie Carragher.

When you are new in a team, particularly if you have come in from abroad, it can be difficult to settle so you need plenty of help.

Skrtel is lucky to have Carragher alongside him because he is such a good talker and that is exactly what he needs at the moment.

Iíve believed for a long time that Carragher is one of those players who is worth his place in the side even if heís not at his best because of his leadership qualities. The way he helped Skrtel through the Chelsea game proved that.

From having a bit of a difficult debut against Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Cup, Skrtel has really improved over the last couple of weeks and he definitely looked the part on Sunday.

Chelsea played with just Nicolas Anelka up front but, as everyone at Anfield knows, he is a handful on his own and Skrtel handled him really well.

And even when they put Alex up front in the dying minutes it didnít faze Skrtel at all and he just kept on doing the simple things and defending properly.

Hopefully, this was the sign of things to come because on the basis of this performance Skrtel looks like a good player.


FEBRUARY 12
Mark Lawrenson: Draw is
a step in the right direction


By Richard Williamson - Liverpool Daily Post

Liverpool were decent value for their point
at Stamford Bridge.


As always when the two sides meet, there was little in it but Rafael Benitezís side created their share of chances to have taken more than a point off Chelsea.

Although Liverpoolís season has been undermined by a number of draws this year, the point picked up against a fellow top four side represents a step in the right direction.

However the fact that Liverpool are still so far off the pace when it comes to winning the Premier League side illustrates how much work remains to be done at Anfield.

On the back of a comfortable 3-0 win over Sunderland, not losing to Chelsea is a good result and the fate of the race for a place in next yearís Champions League remains in their own hands.

However it is the lack of quality in depth in the Liverpool squad that remains a cause for concern. Clearly Benitez still needs new faces Ė but the uncertainty surrounding the club during the last transfer window has not helped.

There now needs to be a clear strategy and positive support for the manager to enable him to plan properly for the summer transfer market so he can continue to build a team of winning Liverpoolís first league title since 1990.

The likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres would walk into any of the top four sides Ė but can you say the same of many of their colleagues?

Liverpool cannot afford to let doubts over the future ownership of the club, the new stadium or the manager himself unhinge their summer spending plans.


FEBRUARY 11
Reina hails Reds display

By Lewis Rutledge - Sky Sports

Jose Reina believes Liverpool found the right balance between attack and defence in the goalless draw
with Chelsea.


Reina was barely tested in a tight encounter at Stamford Bridge as Liverpool contained Chelsea expertly to clinch a point.

The Reds could have emerged victorious as they created one or two good opportunities, with Peter Crouch smashing a shot just wide in the first half.

Reina insists he was not disappointed with the result but rather buoyed by the performance of his team-mates.

The Spanish goalkeeper feels if Liverpool carry on in the same manner for the rest of the season they will start to collect more wins at home.

Good result
"We played really well and created some chances, and a draw is always a good result at Stamford Bridge," he told the club's official website.

"It's always difficult to beat them at home - I think it's been four years since we did that.

"They are a really top side so we have to be really happy about the score and some of the things we did during the game.

"No we have to get victories and results as good as this at Anfield.

"We have to keep playing like this, with a solid defence and creating chances in attack."


FEBRUARY 11
Gerrard: We rocked Bridge

By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo

Steven Gerrard today hailed his Liverpool team-mates for producing a performance which could have seen them become the first away side to win at Stamford Bridge in the league for four years.

The Reds had to settle for a point against Chelsea after a 0-0 draw despite being the better side for long spells.

Although disappointed with Liverpool's failure to turn dominance into goals, Gerrard was delighted with a display which was a vast improvement on recent outings.

He said: "It was definitely a big improvement on how we've played of late.

"We looked more solid defensively and I thought we were the better side over the 90 minutes and if anyone was going to win it was us.

"Certain players who have had a bit of criticism of late performed really well and I think it was a good team performance against a side that have been playing very well lately.

"There are definitely a lot of positives to take out of this game.

"I've been here before and we've been dominated for large periods of the game but I think we controlled the majority of this game and it felt as if we could have snatched it."

With Man City, Everton and Aston Villa all winning at the weekend, the single point they picked up meant Liverpool lost ground on their rivals for fourth spot.

And Gerrard believes everyone at Anfield now has to recognise they are in a battle for fourth and must meet the challenge head on.

He said: "We realise now that we're facing a big challenge to finish in the top four and we've got to forget about the title and focus on fighting for fourth place.

"There are a lot of teams around us who are in good form and playing well so it's important that we don't let our standards drop."

Yesterday's draw means Liverpool are still to win away against any of the other three members of the big four under Rafa Benitez.

But the Reds captain believes that long sought -after victory could come this season at either Old Trafford or The Emirates Ė if Liverpool play like they did at Stamford Bridge and show a more ruthless streak in front of goal.

He said: "When we do go to those places we've got to perform like we did yesterday and maybe an extra five or ten per cent could see us nick a win.

"I just thought we lacked that cutting edge in the final third but I can't fault many other things because it was a good performance.

"I don't think you could fault any player. In interviews a couple of days before the game I said you need every player performing close to the maximum and I think we got that."

Martin Skrtel picked up a sprained wrist during yesterday's game but the injury is not expected to keep him out of Saturday's FA Cup tie at home to Barnsley.


FEBRUARY 10
Rafa: We could have won

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez praised his team for their performance in the goalless draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge but admitted the Reds could perhaps have won the game.

Liverpool moved back into fifth place in the Barclays Premier League table with the point gained in London. Benitez's side are now three points behind Everton with a game in hand.

Taking into account his side's recent away record at Chelsea, Benitez felt there was a lot of encouragement for the Reds to gain from this display.

"Normally to get a point away at Chelsea is a good situation but in the first half we had some good chances to win the game," said Benitez.

"In the second half we had to defend more but we did that well and also had some half chances close to their box. We could have taken three points but it's not easy when you play against a good team.

"I was pleased with the team, especially the first half performance because we created some really clear opportunities. Crouch had some good chances but as team we showed character and the commitment of every player was very positive.

"Chelsea are a very good team with very good players starting with their goalkeeper. To create the chances we did was very positive for me. If you cannot take your chances you know that is the difference between winning and drawing sometimes.

"Overall I would say to get a point here is not bad but when you have chances like we did to win here today you must be disappointed.

"The plan as always was to win the game and we didn't play for a draw. We were attacking and did almost everything that's needed for winning."

"We now need to think about trying to take three points in every game we play. We now have two important games in the FA Cup and Champions League coming up and we need to think about them.

"In terms of our position in the table we need to keep working hard and play as we did today if it's possible. If we can do that against the other teams then I'm sure we will start winning.

"Every game is important for us and it doesn't matter what competition it is. We want to finish in the top four and we need to think about the next three points at home against Middlesbrough."

The boss also had words of encouragement for Martin Skrtel who gave an accomplished display at centre half alongside Jamie Carragher.

"Martin did well," said Benitez. "His fitness was good and I think he will get even better because he is learning English, and tactically he will also improve the understanding with his teammates."


FEBRUARY 10
Grant: We're still in title hunt

TEAMtalk

Avram Grant insisted Chelsea are still in the race for the Premier League title after their 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues missed the chance to close the gap on second-placed Manchester United, who slipped up against Manchester City earlier in the day, while Arsenal could extend their lead at the top of table when they face Blackburn at home on Monday.

But Grant claimed his side are capable of mounting a serious title challenge.

"We can still win the title, it will not be easy, but we can do it and we will challenge to the end," Grant told Sky Sports One.

"Every player coming back for us will make us stronger and we need them back. Players coming back from the African Nations Cup will help us. Frank Lampard also returned and I thought he played well.

"Of course every game which we don't win we are disappointed, especially when it is a home match.

"We created some chances against Liverpool but it was not a game that was high on quality and was very tactical.

"We had chances to win the game but were unable to get the goal. We changed with subs and tried to win the game but it was not such a good game."


FEBRUARY 10
Stalemate at the Bridge

By James Dall - Sky Sports

Chelsea failed to capitalise on Manchester United's slip up as an uninspiring encounter against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge ended 0-0.

United's shock 2-1 defeat to Manchester City earlier on Sunday presented Avram Grant's side with an opportunity of move within one point of the Premier League champions.

But in a game of few chances, neither side managed to break down their opponent's disciplined defence.

Peter Crouch was guilty of missing the fixture's best chance when he smashed just wide after Ryan Babel had teed him up 12 yards out from goal.

The game's main talking point came on 25 minutes, with Mike Riley waving away penalty appeals after Javier Mascherano clumsily collided with Joe Cole in the box.

Brightly
Liverpool began brightly and Steve Finnan's cross in the 14th minute did allowed the giant frame of Peter Crouch to head wide of the target from six yards.

Crouch, once more, should have put the visitors in front on 17 minutes when he combined cleverly with Babel before driving a low left-footed drive wide of Petr Cech's upright.

Two minutes later a run down the right flank by Steven Gerrard saw his cross find Crouch unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, but the England striker could not direct his free header wide of Cech.

Chelsea thought they should have been awarded a penalty in the 26th minute when Cole was up-ended in the area but referee Riley waved away their appeals.

A cross from Liverpool's Gerrard in the 33rd minute was only half-cleared by Ricardo Carvalho and Chelsea were lucky to see a follow-up shot from Lucas deflected to safety.

Difficult
The visitors were now enjoying a greater share of possession but were finding it difficult to engineer a clear-cut scoring opportunity.

Crouch was a continual threat in the air and he should have at least hit the target when he got on the end of a cross from Dirk Kuyt in the 37th minute.

The move was again sparked by a pass from Gerrard who was now beginning to stamp his authority on the midfield.

Chelsea were still a threat on the break, though, and Nicolas Anelka won a corner when a speculative 20-yard effort was deflected wide by John Arne Riise.

Chelsea were much better after the restart and Claude Makelele, not known for his goalscoring prowess, was predictably well off-target with a long-range effort in the 50th minute.

But The Blues were finding it difficult to break down a Liverpool defence that steadfastly refused to buckle and it required more than the energetic enthusiasm of the lone Anelka to unlock
the Reds.

It was clear Anelka required some help if Chelsea were to break the deadlock and Grant, in keeping with his penchant for attacking football, opted to introduce Florent Malouda into the fray in place of Shaun Wright-Phillips two minutes later.

Mistake
A mistake by Gerrard, who was caught in possession by Makelele, almost allowed Cole to punish the Reds but his cross was headed away for a corner by Finnan.

Moments later it was the visitors who caused problems for the home side but a quick break ended with Crouch's inability to finish off a cross from Babel.

Michael Ballack almost snatched a late winner 10 minutes from the end but his volley fell just inches wide of Jose Reina's left-hand upright.


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