Kewell's quality strike
glimpse of more to come
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
Rafa Benittez is relishing his Liverpool side being
placed on weekly football rations for the next month.
After the gruelling Christmas and New Year programme, the
Reds have only one midweek fixture in the next month, with
uninterrupted preparations for next Sunday's trip to Old
Trafford and the FA Cup journey to Portsmouth.
The Reds boss believes the breaks will benefit his improving
After Saturday's 1-0 win over Tottenham, he explained: "We
have a better position now because we have one game a week
which means we can train and we can recuperate.
"If we can play at this level and approach every game with
the team really fit we will see at the end of this month
what our situation is."
Victory over United would see Liverpool leapfrog them into
second place in the Premiership. But even with two games in
hand Benitez refused to accept his side was currently the
second best in the country.
"We are playing well and we are winning games, but I don't
see all the games of all the other teams," he said. "I like
how my team plays and I like to see the team improving.
"I don't look at the league table. I don't think whether we
can be second or not. I just think about the possibility of
winning another three points.
"The most important thing is not to be capable of winning
just one match, like at Manchester United, but to be capable
of winning a lot of games.
"We are playing as a serious team now. It was difficult
through the middle today so we tried to play wide."
Harry Kewell was Liverpool's matchwinner, with his first
goal for more than a year. But Benitez believes the classy
strike in front of the Kop could unlock the floodgates.
"When a player plays every week he is normally happy," he
explained. "He is playing well and now he is scoring goals
like this I think he will be even happier.
"He is working hard and for me he deserved to score a goal
like this in front of the Kop.
"I would like to see him score more goals now. Sometimes
when I use him as a winger it is difficult for him to score
a lot of goals, but when he plays as a second striker he is
closer to the goal, which is how we changed it at the end
when we pushed Riise forward.
"Harry has the quality to score goals and now he has
confidence it will be easier for him.
"It's important to have midfielders scoring goals as well as
strikers. It's difficult for the other team then.
"They pushed Tainio all the time on Xabi and we couldn't
play, so we switched Gerrard and when we have midfielders
getting into the box as well as strikers it is more
difficult for the opposition."
plan G as Reds share it out
Analysis by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
Harry Kewell's laserguided left foot gave Steven Gerrard
the day off on Saturday.
The Reds skipper still played against Tottenham, but this
time he was spared the responsibility of doing just about
everything bar locking the Shankly Gates on his way home.
That was the most reassuring aspect of Steve Finnan's
precise cross and Kewell's crashing finish which finally
unlocked the Spurs' defence.
The Reds showed that when plan G fails, they do have a plan
B to fall back on.
Sponsors Barclays hand out a revealing fact sheet before
every Premiership match.
The Liverpool-Spurs preview underlined the influence Gerrard
has on his side.
Liverpool's top scorer? Steven Gerrard. Player with the most
shots? Gerrard again. Most shots off target? Yes, him again.
Most assists? Steven Gerrard. Most crosses? Steven Gerrard.
The only stat he didn't feature in was getting caught
offisde the most, Djibril Cisse claiming that dubious
The mark of a truly great team is the ability to score goals
from many different areas. Which is why the sight of a
right-back crossing for a left-winger to finish will have
given Rafa Benitez a warm glow on Saturday night.
That decisive strike kicked off a meaningful month in
Liverpool's season with a win.
Magnificent though their recent run of results has been, it
has largely been compiled against sides from the lower
strata of the Premiership.
When they travelled to a then top six team - Bolton - they
But on Saturday they faced a side motivated by the knowledge
that they could leapfrog the Reds with an Anfield win.
Spurs looked a genuine top six team, but there was no doubt
that Liverpool were deserving victors.
With Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all on the
horizon before the Champions League restarts, results in
those matches will offer an acid test of just how good this
Liverpool team really is.
Only Manchester United currently stand between them and
runaway leaders Chelsea. But even that obstruction could be
removed at Old Trafford next Sunday.
Which leaves the argument, where does Steven Gerrard stand
in the pantheon of truly great Anfield players?
Twice last week I was asked "Is Steven Gerrard now
Liverpool's greatest ever player?"
I said no. But then I did witness the mercurial majesty of
one Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish in his prime.
Other fans might project the claims of Ian Rush, Billy
Liddell . . . Kevin Keegan even. But the fact that the
question could even be asked without scoffing showed just
how immense the captain's influence is on this side.
The fact that he wasn't called upon to stage another solo
salvage act on Saturday underlined the growing variety and
menace of Rafael Benitez's team.
A highly regarded European manager was asked last week
whether he had made special arrangements to deal with
Gerrard when the team he managed had faced the Reds.
He said not. The only threat opposing managers had to worry
about then, he explained, was Michael Owen. Stop the supply
to Owen, and you stopped Liverpool playing.
The same argument cannot now be used in relation to Gerrard.
"I think people saw in the first half our midfield was as
good as theirs," said Martin Jol. "Xabi Alonso had a quiet
game and I don't think Steven Gerrard was as good as normal,
so the things we worked on came off."
Yes Martin, but you still lost. Which underlines the
multi-dimensional threat from a team which is still in the
process of being built.
Perhaps Steven Gerrard can enjoy another afternoon off soon
. . . but not next Sunday.
praises Spurs display
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Tottenham boss Martin Jol praised his side's display
against Liverpool - but admitted they could not have stopped
Harry Kewell's wondrous winner.
Kewell banged in the winner in the second half and Spurs had
no answer, especially when Paul Stalteri was sent off three
minutes from time for a professional foul.
Jol said his side had played well against The Reds and had
fancied their chances of a rare win at Anfield going into
"It is hard to stop a goal like that," admitted Jol.
"We worked hard and played well and apart from one chance
that Peter Crouch had in the first half, we were not really
in much trouble.
"We could maybe have been a bit better up front and (Robbie)
Keane missed a very good chance for us just after the break.
If that had gone in the result would have been different.
"But all credit to Harry Kewell, it was a special goal
struck well and there is not much you can do about that.
"But we had plenty of possession and the key when you come
to Anfield is to keep the crowd quiet. We achieved that for
"We kept (Xabi) Alonso quiet and Steven Gerrard was not as
good as he can be. That shows how hard we had worked in our
preparation, but you can't work at stopping unbelievable
shots like Kewell's."
Jol said that he had fancied going to Anfield and getting a
result, in what was their biggest game for years with the
chance to go into third place in the table with a win.
"We felt beforehand that this could have been our day, we
have been playing well and we had a strong side on the
"It was out biggest game for years because we had the chance
to go into third, but it was not to be on the day, although
I thought we did really well."
of praise for goal hero Kewell
Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez was full of praise for Harry Kewell as his
stunning winner gave Liverpool a 1-0 win over Tottenham
Hotspur and said he deserved it for his hard work returning
Before his winner against Spurs Kewell's last goal at
Anfield was November 2003 against Birmingham City and
Benitez feels he is now almost back to his very best.
Benitez said: "If you want to win a game 1-0 then that is
the kind of goal you want to score. For Harry it was
important to score in front of the Kop after his problems
last season and it was the perfect finish. He deserved it
and it was amazing to see Harry score the goal he is capable
of at the Kop.
"Harry is training well every day and repeating games. He
hasn't had pain and he is playing at the level we saw before
he had the problems."
On the match itself Benitez praised his team's worth ethic
and togetherness against a good opponent in Tottenham
"This was a very good win for us and it was difficult
against a good team who played well," added the Reds
manager. "They had a lot of the ball and had a clear chance
at the start of the second half from our mistake, but we
kept going and had some good chances.
"We didn't play fantastic football today but the team is
more mature now to win games like this and work hard and
play as a team," he said.
Kewell stunner sinks Spurs
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Harry Kewell signalled his continuing resurgence with an
imperious volley proving enough to give Liverpool a 1-0 win
over Tottenham at Anfield.
A high quality match was aptly settled with a moment of
sublime individual brilliance from the Australian, who
continues to suggest he can finally produce the goods for
The Reds after his lengthy injury problems.
Kewell's first goal in 13 months was well worth the wait as
his second half screamer was good enough to win any match,
and it gave Liverpool their eighth straight win at home to
move them to within a point of second-placed Manchester
United with two games in hand.
Peter Crouch had the first opportunity of the match after
just nine minutes when Steven Gerrard's free kick from the
right found him unmarked at the back post, but he planted
his header straight at Paul Robinson's body, before the
keeper collected at the second attempt.
Fernando Morientes was close to connecting with Gerrard's
cross three minutes later, but a stretching Michael Dawson
just did enough to stop him getting an effort in on goal.
Gerrard again crossed from the right on the half hour for
Morientes, and the Spaniard's looping header hit the
crossbar with Robinson scrambling. The rebound fell for
Crouch but he mis-hit his attempted volley.
Spurs had played some good football but had rarely
threatened, and they were pegged back towards the end of the
first half as Liverpool put on the pressure.
Gerrard's free kick from the left nearly brought a
breakthrough seven minutes from time, as Dawson had to hack
the swerving cross away from almost on the line with
Martin Jol sent his Spurs side out for the second half in a
much more positive frame of mind, and they started much
brighter as a result and should have taken the lead after
just three minutes of the restart on their first serious
attack of the match.
Jermaine Jenas caught John Arne Riise out on the edge of the
box, and his cross found Robbie Keane in acres of space
barely six yards out with just Jose Reina to beat, but he
placed his effort woefully wide.
Spurs' attacking intent was clear to see as they attempted
to swarm all over Liverpool, but it was The Reds who were to
take the lead in spectacular circumstances just before the
Steven Finnan's deep cross from the right floated over
Crouch but Kewell arrived at the far post to meet the ball
with a thunderous volley which flew past Robinson in the
blink of an eye to put Liverpool ahead.
Spurs nearly fashioned an instant response when Mido chested
down inside the box before striking first time at goal, but
Reina produced a smart save to palm the ball away.
Riise looked to emulate Kewell when he let fly with a rocket
from Gerrard's corner, but his goal-bound effort deflected
off Sami Hyypia.
Spurs lost all hope of rescuing a point three minutes from
time when Liverpool broke away with Kewell before he was
brought down by Paul Stalteri and, as the last man, he was
sent off by referee Dermot Gallagher.
Keane did have a late chance seconds before the end but he
shot wide from the edge of the box, with the final whistle
going to hand Rafa Benitez's Liverpool their 11th win in 12
games, and their eighth straight victory at Anfield - all
achieved without conceding a single goal.