backing for strike duo
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez insists he
is not concerned by the lack of goals from strikers Fernando
Torres and Robbie Keane.
Spanish forward Torres has netted only one goal in seven
appearances this season, while Keane has yet to open his
account since joining from Tottenham in July and both
struggled as Liverpool drew 0-0 with Stoke at Anfield on
Torres scored 31 goals in all competitions in his first
campaign in England after a big money move from Atletico
Madrid in 2007, before firing Spain to European Championship
glory this summer.
However, Torres and Keane - who netted 14 times in the
Premier League last term - have found the going tough so far
this term and Benitez admits confidence may become an issue.
But the Anfield boss believes Torres is still recovering
from participating in Euro 2008, and is confident that the
24-year-old and Keane will soon rediscover their goalscoring
"Torres returned from the Euros a month later than normal
and will need more time to build up his strength and
fitness," Benitez said in the Daily Mail.
"That doesn't help, but there were other problems against
Stoke because he had no space and was under pressure all the
"Confidence becomes an issue with any striker when he is not
scoring and it is clear Torres and Keane both need a goal.
"When it happens you will see a real difference."
torment will prove
a temporary loss
Comment by Chris Beesley - Liverpool Daily Post
It’s difficult to work out what was the
bigger shock at Anfield on Saturday – Stoke gaining a point
or the strange feeling that certain sections among the
Liverpool faithful are not happy with Fernando Torres’s
It’s not long since ‘El Nino’ could do no wrong it seemed.
As Liverpool’s record signing’s debut season in England went
on, he just got better and better.
Torres finished the campaign with 24 Premier League goals to
eclipse Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for an overseas striker
kicking-off his career on these shores and his overall total
in all competitions was a mightily impressive 33.
Having quickly become a cult hero at Anfield with his own
unique song and ‘bouncing’ dance in the stands, the former
Atletico Madrid striker took his form onto the international
stage over the summer, netting Spain’s winning goal in the
European Championship final and in doing so ending his
country’s 44-year wait for a major trophy.
Although Torres’s heroics in Austria and Switzerland meant
that he and the rest of the victorious Spanish quartet in
Liverpool’s squad returned late for pre-season training, he
certainly looked up to speed by the time the Premier
League’s opener came around a month ago.
Under pressure for long periods away against a much-improved
Sunderland side, Liverpool pinched the points at the Stadium
of Light thanks to another breathtaking piece of Torres
Hardly given a sniff all evening, Liverpool’s number nine
emerged from seemingly nowhere to crash home the winning
goal with virtually his only shot on target of the game.
But amazingly for Liverpool and their most prized asset, who
was bizarrely linked with a move to Chelsea over the summer
and has more recently emerged as a rather fanciful target
for nouveau riche Manchester City, five weeks on from his
Wearside wonder strike, Torres has become the subject of
some quiet rumblings of complaint from his adoring public as
he has failed to add to his tally.
It would still be a brave, or indeed a foolish man, to back
against a fully fit Torres breaking the 20-goal barrier
again this season but just at this moment, the fact that the
24 years-old is a mere mortal is evident.
Whisper it carefully at Anfield because football has a habit
of making you look stupid quickly if you write someone off
prematurely, especially a frontman of such world class
quality as Torres, but some are even daring to use phrases
like “second season syndrome.”
Torres - and anybody else for that matter - were always
going to play second fiddle to referee Andre Marriner when
it came to being the villain of the piece in the eyes of
Liverpool’s supporters following Saturday’s frustrating
goalless draw with a newly-promoted Stoke City side already
languishing in the relegation zone.
If the official hadn’t surprisingly disallowed what would
have been Steven Gerrard’s 100th Liverpool goal in only the
second minute, you imagine that the afternoon would have
panned out extremely differently.
However, as the hosts huffed and puffed but were unable to
blow the Potters’ defensive house down over the next 88
minutes plus, the chief culprit in front of goal was the
normally clinical Torres.
Fed by compatriot Arbeloa, who is keeping new recruit
Philipp Degen out with a string of assured performances in
the right-back slot, Torres’s best opportunity came with a
headed effort he normally would have buried, but on this
occasion the ball sailed wide of the left-hand post.
Another two shots followed from the edge of the area but
both flew over the bar and into the Kop as a resolute Stoke
rearguard, who had leaked 11 goals in five previous games
this term, dug deep to hold out for their first cleansheet
of the season and the most welcome of Premier League points.
A niggling hamstring injury has hampered Torres’s campaign
so far, a factor not lost on his manager Rafael Benitez who
admits that neither his main striker or influential skipper
Steven Gerrard are entirely 100% fit at the moment.
And although it may have been purely coincidental, unbeaten
Liverpool’s worst Premier League result of the season so far
came just a week after their best – a 2-1 success against
English and European champions Manchester United, which was
a first ever league win over their rivals from Old Trafford
during Benitez’s reign.
The victory over Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges was all the
more impressive because Torres did not figure but restored
to the starting line-up in the Premier League against Stoke
and both player and team faltered.
It’s highly unlikely that Torres will figure against Crewe
Alexandra in Liverpool’s Carling Cup third round tie at
Anfield tomorrow night so he has a week to get Saturday’s
misses out of his system and work on his fitness in
After all, those dissenting voices among Liverpool’s
supporters will soon be silenced if the Spaniard repeats his
feat of six months ago and nets a winner in the Merseyside
Even Dirk Kuyt managed that a year ago but then again a
certain Robbie Keane is due a goal and perhaps Marriner’s
shock decision to deny Gerrard was just giving Liverpool’s
captain a bigger stage to grab his century in five days
Kuyt plays down goal drought
By Laura Slatcher - Sky Sports
Dirk Kuyt is convinced Fernando Torres and
Robbie Keane will soon start scoring for Liverpool despite
their goalless draw against relegation favourites Stoke.
Tony Pulis' well-organised Potters side forced an unlikely
goalless draw after which Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez
suggested his side "needed more ability in the box."
The comment from Benitez came despite the multi-million
pound signings of Torres, Keane and Kuyt in recent season.
The trio have played 23 games between them this term and
notched a total of just two goals.
But Kuyt insists everything will come right soon and
explains that Torres is still suffering from the
after-effects of Spain's Euro 2008 win.
"The goals will come for Fernando and Robbie," insists Kuyt.
"Both are trying hard, but Fernando has had an injury and
the Euro 2008 finals to recover from. He lasted in them a
bit longer than me!
"I went out in the quarter-finals with Holland, so I have
had more rest and a better pre-season. Torres has not had
that, but the goals will come again.
"Fernando is fit now. You can see his quality, as you can
with Robbie. We have no worries, they will score plenty of
Kuyt also joined Benitez in criticising referee Andre
Marriner's decision to disallow Steven Gerrard's free-kick
goal for offside.
The goal would have been Gerrard's 100th for Liverpool and
Benitez was the first to disapprove of Marriner's "massive
"It was a perfectly good goal, nobody touched the ball as it
curled in and certainly not me," added Kuyt.
"I had no intention of doing anything because the ball was
going in and it had not been flicked on or anything like
that. I was not interfering with play.
hails stubborn Stoke
Stoke boss Tony Pulis hailed his brave
troops after they earned an unlikely goalless with Liverpool
The Premier League new boys defended stubbornly to frustrate
Liverpool and pick up a precious point on their travels.
Stoke were fortunate not to concede in the opening two
minutes when Steven Gerrard had a goal controversially
Pulis admitted his side rode their luck with the disallowed
goal, but he felt his players deserved their slice of
fortune for their endevours.
"We are absolutely delighted with the result, the effort and
the commitment the players put in," said Pulis. "It is a
great point for us against one of the top sides in the
"We had a little bit of good fortune along the way, but the
lads deserved that and earned that by the effort.
"I havent seen it [the disallowed goal] yet but I will
certainly watch it later on, but for us to get a decision at
Anfield that is a first so we are very, very pleased that we
have got the decision."
Pulis believes the draw will give his side a big confidence
boost for the rest of the season.
"The players will be delighted. It is a fantastic result for
us and gives us a little bit more confidence as we march
on," added Pulis.
"We have been in all the games this year. Apart from a mad
15 minutes at Bolton we have really, really worked hard and
we have been a little bit disappointed with the return of
points so that will give us that little bit of confidence
that we need.
"It is fantastic for them [the fans]. It is 23 years since
we were in the top flight and they are going to enjoy every
game and they have been fantastic and we will need them all
the way through the season."
Pulis was refusing to get carried away by the unlikely point
with Chelsea next up for the Potters.
"It is a great point, absolutely fantastic, but we have
Chelsea next Saturday so that brings you straight back down
to earth," concluded Pulis.
Rafa: Massive mistake cost us
By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website
Rafa Benitez was left cursing a 'massive'
refereeing error which denied Liverpool a crucial opener in
Saturday's stalemate with newly-promoted Stoke.
Steven Gerrard appeared to have opened the scoring after
just three minutes only for the linesman to flag for no
"Nobody knows why it was disallowed," Benitez told reporters
after the final whistle at Anfield.
"The referee told Carra that he – and not the linesman -
disallowed the goal but I don't think he knows why. With the
position the referee was in, how could he disallow it? It
was unbelievable and we have to talk about it because it was
a key decision.
"It is impossible to explain.
"The other thing we have to talk about when you forget about
the massive mistake is the game. We had plenty of
possession, tried from both sides and between the lines, had
corners and free-kicks and long shots - but we couldn't
score. This is football sometimes, but the players worked
"Sometimes you need a bit more luck or sometimes a bit more
ability in the final third.
"I don't know how many attempts we had. It's difficult to
find a solution when you have 25 to 30 chances – you just
have to do the same again and maybe it will be different
Reds held by defiant Potters
Defiant Stoke City stopped unbeaten
Liverpool in their tracks at Anfield with a magnificent
rearguard action to earn a 0-0 draw.
Liverpool dominated throughout, had close on 70% possession,
but just could not find a way past goalkeeper Thomas
Sorensen and his outstanding defenders.
Stoke play to their strengths - being direct and physical -
but they deserved their day in the sun.
They halted a Liverpool side who had beaten Manchester
United and Marseille in the previous week.
Manager Rafael Benitez rested Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano
and Lucas to the bench with Robbie Keane, Albert Riera and
Xabi Alonso returning.
Stoke had former Liverpool midfielder Salif Diao in their
side, his first start of the season while Amdy Faye was
Leon Cort and Ricardo Fuller were also on the bench after
playing against Everton last weekend, Mamady Sidibe and
Abdoulaye Faye returned.
Gerrard thought he had scored his 100th club goal after just
two minutes when referee Andre Marriner gave a free-kick for
a push in the back on Fernando Torres.
The captain's curling free-kick from the left looked to have
been missed by everyone-- including Sorensen - as the ball
sailed on into the far corner, with Dirk Kuyt throwing
himself at it on the far post, without making contact.
All Gerrard's colleagues rushed to congratulate their
captain but a linesman's flag surprisingly cut short the
Stoke responded with a 20-yard shot from Dave Kitson just
over, while at the other end Sorensen needed to save smartly
from a Robbie Keane first-time effort.
Gerrard kept trying and his next effort, a 20-yard
free-kick, that Sorensen held comfortably.
Stoke were continually forced back with Liverpool keeping
possession and passing well.
Such was Liverpool's territorial advantage that centre-back
Martin Skrtel was spending considerable time linking in
Stoke lost Ibrahima Sonko with a leg injury after 21
minutes, to be replaced by Cort, while Sidibe needed to
change his shirt after a gashed eye left him blood-stained.
But despite the constantly flowing attacks Stoke did not
panic despite keeping two men up front whenever they could
The tactic gave Liverpool plenty of space and possession,
with Andrea Dossena joining Riera down the left almost at
Sorensen punched away another Alonso long-range strike and
Torres had a drive charged down.
But there was great resilience and organisation about Stoke,
with Diao screening the defence where Faye, Danny
Higginbotham and Cort were standing firm against the
Kuyt fired wide and Gerrard saw another right-footer sail
wide, while Alonso clattered another 20-yard shot over the
top as the Potters reached the break unscathed.
Six minutes into the second period Keane almost ended his
goal famine. Alvaro Arbeloa and Kuyt combined down the right
and when the cross arrived on the six-yard line Kuyt's
stabbed effort was well saved by Sorensen.
Liverpool continued to pour forward but frustration was
creeping in with too many players trying increasingly
erratic long-range efforts.
Stoke grew in confidence and they started to win set-pieces
inside Liverpool's half, while the hosts were becoming
Kuyt's lay-off saw Torres side-foot over from 10 yards
before Babel replaced Riera after 65 minutes.
Sorensen had to save well from Kuyt, while another curler
from the Dutchman just cleared the far post.
Yossi Benayoun then replaced Keane, with Jamie Carragher and
Gerrard seeing efforts go close from outside the box.
Gerrard had another effort deflected wide by Cresswell with
Stoke now camped in their own final third. Ricardo Fuller
came on for Kitson after 77 minutes.
Liverpool's nerves were jangling every time Stoke won a
throw or set-piece and for one Delap effort all 11 players
were called back into defence.
A Gerrard run and Benayoun pass ended with Torres spinning
to lash yet another effort into the Kop.
Skrtel was booked for a foul on Fuller, but Stoke hung on,
throwing bodies in the way of numerous crosses and shots.