Kuyt celebrates his first goal with Degen.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Clearing the air has been
a boost for Liverpool FC
Comment by John Aldridge - Liverpool Echo
All the stories that came out regarding a
dressing room bust up during half-time against Reading have
been a good thing.
Whether it was trivial or whatever, something has gone on.
Iíve seen it loads of times at various clubs.
For me, itís positive when things come to a head. It shows
Johnny King had a cracking saying at Tranmere; ĎDonít let
things fester under the carpet.í
Heíd say if you keep on brushing things under the carpet
they start to stink.
Things need to be out in the open, so whatever it was at
Liverpool, and whoever was involved, there has been a
reaction and the air has been cleared.
For me, that has contributed to the effort the lads have put
into the last two games. Why that didnít happen before, I
donít know, but at least itís started to turn.
We went missing in the FA Cup against Reading but thereís
been an improvement in the league since Aston Villa.
Weíve got 10 points out of the last possible 12, which could
easily have been all 12.
Thatís a good sign, especially when you consider weíve been
missing Torres and Gerrard for the last two games, plus we
havenít been playing well.
But now the lads seem to be knuckling down and having a good
go. Thatís what people want to see. You could see the
reaction of the Kop against Tottenham when the tackles
started going in.
Jamie Carragher epitomised everything we need from the team;
running through brick walls. That gets everyone up for it
and gets everyone pulling together.
People have said that Rafa has lost the dressing room. The
response of his players says otherwise.
They need to keep it going until the end of the season.
Weíve got a massive month ahead with Wolves away and then
Bolton before the derby, Arsenal and Manchester City.
Weíre right back in with a chance of getting fourth place so
youíd hope we donít put any more pressure on ourselves going
into some of these games.
With the way City are now, and with Tottenham and Villa in
there, itís going to be tight.
But we seem to be getting back to winning games and playing
a bit better, plus a couple of clean sheets and itís
suddenly looking much brighter.
Striker still a priority for Liverpool
While it was good to see Dirk Kuyt rise to the challenge in
Fernando Torresí absence against Spurs, Iím still concerned
about the lack of strikers at the club.
It remains a problem position.
Weíve got to go and find another striker before the transfer
Iím not sure we can see it through with what weíve got.
Kenwyne Jones would be a good addition, plus Iíve spoken
before of someone like Kevin Davies who could provide what
Young David Ngog looked lost at Stoke playing up front on
his own. Thatís what youíve got to do with Rafaís formation
but he was like a fish out of water.
He did OK when he came on in midweek against Spurs Ė winning
the penalty Ė but thatís at home.
If Torres is out we need someone who knows the ropes, a
player who can get a few goals but also allows others to
play around him.
Lucas laughs off
two-man team tag
Midfielder Lucas Leiva has called on his
Liverpool colleagues to prove they are better than the
"two-man team" tag given to them by critics.
Injuries to striker Fernando Torres (knee) and captain
Steven Gerrard (hamstring) have deprived the side of their
best two players for six and two weeks respectively.
In truth the pair have been struggling all season and
Liverpool's stuttering campaign has been largely attributed
to their under-performance and unavailability.
Torres and Gerrard have not featured in the last two matches
- a morale-sapping last-minute 1-1 draw at Stoke and
Wednesday night's 2-0 victory over fellow top-four
Injuries also meant Yossi Benayoun, Glen Johnson, Fabio
Aurelio and Daniel Agger were all missing on Wednesday
In their absence there has been a noticeable rise in
commitment from the rest of the squad and Lucas thinks that
will be crucial to their hopes for the future.
"Now it is time for other players to show we have quality,"
said the Brazil midfielder.
"We have heard a lot that Liverpool are a two-player team
and of course we will miss Stevie, Fernando, Yossi and Glen
because they are brilliant players.
"But we cannot have them so we have to play with our squad -
and yesterday we worked really hard."
Lucas has been vilified in some sections for lacking the
necessary quality to play alongside the likes of Torres and
Gerrard but has played in all but one of Liverpool's league
matches this season.
Having made his 100th appearance against Spurs the
23-year-old is starting to finally grow into the player
manager Rafael Benitez thought he would when he bought him
from Gremio in July 2007.
And Lucas is keen to prove his detractors wrong by
continuing to fight for his place despite £20million summer
signing Alberto Aquilani's gradual progress towards full
He added: "It is normal when you don't get results that you
get criticism. The Reading defeat (last week) was a
catastrophe because we wanted to stay in the FA Cup.
"To be honest I cannot stop it. I have to keep going. If I
listened to the criticism I wouldn't play here anymore.
"I just have to keep going and work really hard. The critics
will be less if we keep doing well.
"Our record in the last four games is 10 points so that is
"We know this season has been not so good but we have to
keep this momentum and attitude.
"February will be a massive month for us so hopefully we
will keep the same attitude.
"We will be there for sure, fighting for the top four."
praises Liverpool attitude
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher
believes the Reds are showing the right attitude in their
bid for a Champions League place after the win over Spurs.
The Reds rose one place to sixth with Wednesday's 2-0 win
and are now one point behind fourth place.
Carragher told BBC Radio Merseyside: "We realised we had to
come together and show everyone what we're about.
"It's important to show when you don't play well we're still
fighting for the club to get the right result."
And the Reds vice-captain expects plenty more points to be
dropped in the battle for the top four.
He said: "Last year we were going for the title and our
rivals were winning every week.
"With the little league we're in at the moment, it's not
like last year where we had to win every game. There will be
a lot of points dropped.
"You never know what's going to happen and how the other
teams are going to react.
"The Europa League may play a part, as some of the other
sides are not in Europe. That may come in to it as well.
"I'm just going to enjoy that we've had a good result.
Hopefully that will give everybody a bit of confidence and
we can move on."
Sammy: Spurs win was for you
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
When the team coach arrived in Anfield
Road ahead of kick-off the players and staff on board were
greeted by hundreds of passionate Kopites - and the Reds'
assistant boss admitted the players were touched by their
show of support.
"Every three points is crucial but considering what has been
happening this week in the build up to the game this was
massive," Lee told Liverpoolfc.tv.
"Everyone realised that, the staff, the players and all the
supporters and everyone involved in the football club.
"There is not enough praise for our supporters. To see them
showing their support when we arrived was massive. We try to
intregrate our supporters into everything we do because they
are part of what we are doing.
"It was really emotional for us to see them singing and
supporting us as always. The players certainly appreciated
it. Pepe Reina came up to me in the dressing room and he was
very emotional. He said this wouldn't happen at any other
football club and it meant a lot to everybody.
"We had a difficult game away to Stoke last weekend and the
support for us was phenomenal. They saw the effort the lads
put in and it was the same against Tottenham.
"Everybody played their part in this victory."
Dirk Kuyt gave Liverpool the perfect start when he netted
after just six minutes and Lee agreed it set the tone for
"It was a great start for us and some great build-up play
between Dirk and Alberto Aquilani," he said. "It was a very
difficult chance and Dirk made it look easy when it wasn't."
His second came from a twice taken penalty in stoppage time
and Lee added: "That just shows the strength of the boy and
Dirk has got a great character.
"To step up to take the penalty and have to retake it showed
"Hopefully we can take a lot of confidence from this
victory. With that win we have put ourselves in fighting
distance of the top-four.
"We have to make sure we take great heart from this. We have
another difficult game at Wolves next Tuesday."
Since the defeat at Portsmouth Liverpool have taken 10
points from a possible 12 and Lee believes it's a sign that
things are starting to improve for the team.
"We need to keep this momentum going," he said.
"Winning breeds confidence and if we can keep doing that
then who knows? We are not making any false promises apart
from the fact that we will make sure everyone goes out onto
the pitch with the determination to win every game.
"We like to think we are heading in the right direction now.
Nothing is won or lost at this point of the season and we
know what we need to do."
Rafa's reaction to Spurs win
By James Carroll at Anfield - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez paid tribute to Dirk Kuyt
after the Dutchman's double downed Tottenham Hotspur at
Anfield on Wednesday evening.
The 29-year-old put the Reds on their way to the 2-0 victory
with a sixth minute opener against the top four hopefuls.
And Kuyt displayed great composure to secure the three
points when he netted a penalty in second half injury-time
at the second time of asking after referee Howard Webb had
ordered the striker to retake his initial kick.
"He was working very hard and maybe he could have scored
four today," Benitez told reporters at his post-match press
conference. "His commitment is always 100 per cent, so we
are pleased for him.
"He has experience and has scored a lot of goals in Holland
and here. Normally Gerrard will take our penalties, but he
can do it well too."
The victory over Tottenham moves Liverpool to within a point
of Harry Redknapp's fourth placed side in the Barclays
Benitez believes the timing of Kuyt's opening goal proved a
key factor in the result.
"It was important for us to score," he said. "Tottenham were
playing well and I think we were not in control of the game
in the first half - but we still had the better chances.
"After the first goal, they had to go forward and it made
space for us. It was good for us because they had to take
"It was an important win for everyone here because we knew
we had to reduce the gap and stay in the race, so I am
really pleased with the players.
"They showed the same attitude, effort and team spirit as
against Stoke and also real character."
He added: "It is always important to win games for
confidence, but especially when you have to reduce the gap
against a good team.
"The game against Stoke was very difficult, but we could
have won, and this one was the same but we won.
"The players know the way to do things is to keep working
hard as tonight, and sometimes you need a bit of luck too."
Benitez also reserved words of praise for trio Sotirios
Kyrgiakos, Martin Skrtel and Philipp Degen.
The Spaniard admits he was delighted with the character
shown by his squad in the absence of the likes of Steven
Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun and Glen Johnson.
"It is difficult to stop Crouch and Defoe, so I think the
combination of Kyrgiakos and Skrtel did well," added the
"I said before, the squad is not as bad as people have said.
Today we were without six players, but the rest of the squad
"We have to be pleased because everyone was working hard and
the players who have not played too many games did well."
Asked by reporters whether he felt Liverpool would be
stronger in the second half of the season, Benitez replied:
"I think so. It is a question of having all of our players
available and if we don't have them, at least we have seen
the other players work like they did tonight.
"Over the last five years, we have normally been better in
the second half of the season.
"Everybody knows Liverpool are a good team. It is question
of winning games and showing our quality."
double lifts Liverpool
Liverpool boosted their UEFA Champions League hopes with
an impressive 2-0 victory over Tottenham.
The Reds were full of energy in the early stages and opened
the scoring after just six minutes when Alberto Aquilani
played in Dirk Kuyt and the Dutchman provided a fine finish
from outside the area.
Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the
first half as Tottenham struggled to find their usual
fluency, although Pepe Reina had to make a fine save from
Luka Modric just before the interval.
Jermain Defoe had a goal controversially disallowed at the
start of the second period and from then on Liverpool
contained the Londoners expertly.
Rafa Benitez's side missed several opportunities to double
their advantage before Kuyt eventually secured the points
with his second goal of the night.
The striker scored from the penalty spot deep into stoppage
time after substitute David Ngog had been brought down by
It was a match the Reds could not afford to lose, having
dropped two points thanks to Stoke's late equaliser on
Saturday, and they did not disappoint an appreciative
There was a brief early scare when Reina spilled a Gareth
Bale cross under pressure from former Liverpool striker
Peter Crouch, but he reclaimed the ball bravely from the
challenge of Defoe.
Reina picked himself up to hoist a long kick downfield which
Kuyt knocked back to Aquilani, playing in the hole behind
The Italian's close control took him past Michael Dawson,
who brought down the playmaker, but the ball rolled to Kuyt
on the edge of the penalty area and he fired low past
Heurelho Gomes' right-hand to give his side the lead.
Jermaine Jenas was booked in the 27th minute for bringing
down Philipp Degen as he raced over the halfway line but
Liverpool failed to make the free-kick count.
And moments later Defoe was lucky to escape with just a
talking to from referee Howard Webb after diving in and
standing on Degen's foot.
The Swiss international was on the end of yet more rough
treatment in the 34th minute when Bale clashed heads with
the makeshift midfielder, which led to the Wales defender
Javier Mascherano became the first Liverpool player to be
booked when he lost possession and then slid in on Crouch.
In first-half injury time Kuyt's header from Albert Riera's
inswinging corner was stopped by Bale yards from the line
and Martin Skrtel blazed the rebound over.
Moments later Modric's shot was saved well low to his left
Liverpool have made a season of failing to hang on to leads
and they almost gifted Spurs an equaliser straight after the
Sotirios Kyrgiakos dithered on the ball before surprising
Reina with a short back-pass which immediately put the
goalkeeper under pressure from Defoe.
Defoe put the ball in the net Fortunately for the Spaniard
the Tottenham striker was adjudged to have been offside in
the initial phase of play.
Wilson Palacios was next to go into Webb's notebook for
pulling down Lucas as he attempted to run through the Spurs
defence on the halfway line.
Riera almost doubled Liverpool's lead in the 52nd minute
when his header from Jamie Carragher's cross beat Gomes but
crashed back off the crossbar.
Considering their recent habit of conceding in the last
minute the hosts desperately needed a second goal to give
them a cushion but the longer the game went on without one
the more confident Spurs became.
The danger was highlighted when Jenas' first-time shot from
25 yards had Reina going the wrong way before he stuck out a
hand to deflect it behind.
Having sent on Alan Hutton for Vedran Corluka, Spurs boss
Harry Redknapp then replaced Niko Kranjcar with ex-Reds
striker Robbie Keane.
Liverpool should have made it easier for themselves in the
66th minute when Degen opted to play in Kuyt instead of
shooting and over-hit his pass.
Liverpool continued to press and Kuyt volleyed over at the
far post after Degen had flicked on Aquilani's free-kick
while Riera was just wide with a 25-yard swerving left-foot
Spurs, however, continued to threaten and Hutton's
spectacular volley curled around the outside of Reina's