Benitez hopes to give
chance to youngsters
By Christopher Beesley - Liverpool Daily Post
While most of the talk at Anfield on Saturday surrounded
Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final showdown with
Chelsea, Rafael Benitez looked even further into the future
by revealing his hopes that the Premier League implement new
rules to help with the development of young homegrown
The senior squad’s trip to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday is
not the only big match for Liverpool this week as their
youngsters travel to Old Trafford the following evening
hoping to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Manchester United
in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup final.
Liverpool won the competition last season but most of the
current crop of starlets have yet to make an impact in the
first team although that could change if Benitez gets his
He said: “I would like to see a rule brought in where at
least two of each matchday squad of 16 are homegrown players
aged under 23. If you were winning in a game and things were
looking easy then you could say to the young player, ‘come
on and play and get some experience in the Premier League.”
If the rule were ever to be implemented, then Liverpool’s
comfortable 2-0 win over Wigan would have been an ideal
scenario for such an idea.
By Al Campbell - LFC Online
Paul Jewell said Liverpool fully deserved their win
The Wigan manager admitted his side were second best
throughout the game and that Liverpool were worthy winners.
"Liverpool controlled the game from start to finish let's
not kid ourselves and they strolled through the game," said
former Red Jewell.
"We came with a game plan to try and frustrate Liverpool and
silence the crowd and to a certain extent that worked but
they had too much quality.
"It wasn't the best of games and I don't like playing that
way but we are fighting to stay in this division and I
couldn't attack Liverpool in our position. We had to defend
and get men behind the ball because it is always difficult
to come here."
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was delighted with his side's
win over Wigan as they secured a place in next season's UEFA
The Reds ensured a top-four finish with a comfortable 2-0
win over struggling Wigan at Anfield.
Dirk Kuyt scored both goals for the Reds as Benitez shuffled
his pack again to rest some of his top stars including
Steven Gerrard for next week's vital Champions League
semi-final with Chelsea.
"This was the ideal situation. We wanted a good game, a good
result, to score a few and control the game," beamed
"We wanted to rest some players like Steven Gerrard and we
didn't want any injuries. In the end it was almost perfect.
"It was hard against a team playing that way, but the key
was to keep possession, keep passing the ball at pace and
find the gaps.
"It was important with three games still to play to be sure
of qualifying for the Champions League next season, and we
have done that.
"We have been in the Champions League for the last three
seasons and we want to make sure of it again.
"I think things are very positive for the club now that we
are certain of being in the top four and the Champions
Kuyt at the
double in Reds canter
A brace from Dirk Kuyt gave Liverpool a 2-0 win at
Anfield to cement the Reds' Champions League place and
increase Wigan's relegation fears.
Kuyt scored a goal in each half taking his total for the
season to 13 in what was a cruise in the sunshine.
Wigan, desperate for something to aid their relegation
fight, managed just one serious shot on target and never got
close to bothering the Anfield men.
That surely will have disappointed their manager Paul
Jewell, a former Liverpool player, who saw his side
surrender without a fight and drop closer to the bottom
Benitez risked the anger of relegation-fighting managers by
leaving Steven Gerrard on the bench - the first time he has
not started a Premier League game in a year - while also
resting Javier Mascherano and Daniel Agger, with fit-again
Craig Bellamy also a substitute.
But Gerrard's absence until the closing minutes was no
hindrance to Liverpool's progress and Wigan's demise.
Wigan made four changes from the side that beat
Middlesbrough in midweek, with Mohamed Sissoko left out of
the 16, the selections clearly with Wednesday's Champions
League semi-final at Chelsea in mind.
Struggling Wigan were no doubt happy to see Gerrard as a
spectator, and made two changes from the side that drew 3-3
at home to Spurs last time out. Henri Camara was on the
bench while Lee McCulloch was out with a foot injury.
Spurs' 95th-minute equaliser against Arsenal ahead of this
Anfield clash gave Liverpool every incentive to cement
themselves into third spot.
But with Bolo Zenden in a central midfield role, they looked
weak in an area where Wigan packed their players. And
Liverpool were presented with the predictable maze of blue
shirts deep in their own half, with only Emile Heskey up
front for Wigan.
The pedestrian opening saw Jamie Carragher booked for a trip
on Leighton Baines as the full-back attempted to break away.
Liverpool's stand-in Anfield skipper having been caught in
possession by Heskey.
But Liverpool began to make in roads, John Arne Riise - on
his 300th Liverpool game - fired wide and then saw a shot
charged down, while Baines' sliding tackle stopped Peter
Crouch in the act of shooting.
The slow tempo was just perfect for Wigan, they were able to
muster their troops with ease, and Liverpool were sloppy in
possession and constantly gave the ball away.
But after Baines had again intervened to stop Kuyt bursting
through, the Dutchman's lack of pace again in evidence, the
striker did get on the score sheet.
A 30th-minute cross from Jermaine Pennant on the left, saw
Kuyt climb above Matt Jackson to head home, keeper John
Filan being caught out having started to come for the catch
Wigan sunk even deeper into their own half, and one instance
saw Paul Scharner not prepared to cross the halfway line to
contest a reasonable 50-50 with Carragher, such was the
visitors' game plan.
Wigan sent on striker Camara at the break and took off Ryan
Taylor, reverting to 4-4-2. It gave Liverpool that extra
midfield space, and when Mark Gonzalez, Kuyt and Crouch
combined in a flowing move, the Chile winger stabbed wide
inside the six-yard box.
Kuyt then picked up possession 20 yards out and forced Filan
into a plunging save, the ball spinning out in the area with
no Liverpool player close enough to do anything about it.
But Liverpool were not trying to coast, and that was just an
encouragement for Wigan to move forward. Still Liverpool
wasted possession, and when Baines got down the left to fire
in a cross, it took a strong intervention from Sami Hyypia
to stop the ball reaching Heskey six yards out.
On 63 minutes Xabi Alonso was booked for tripping Kevin
Kilbane, with Bellamy coming on for Crouch before the
re-start. A minute later Caleb Folan replaced Heskey.
But on 68 minutes Bellamy's pace and drive forced the
situation for Liverpool to score again. He scampered into
the corner to take a Riise pass, turned and found Kuyt, who
spun to place his second past Filan from 12 yards.
Wigan sent on Julius Agahowa for Denny Landzaat, and then
Gerrard took over from Zenden with 20 minutes left.
Scharner was booked for tripping Riise, before Daniel Agger
came on for Carragher on 73 minutes.
Bellamy's pace saw Arjan De Zeeuw booked for a clumsy tackle
on the touchline.
Wigan's first serious chance came on 79 minutes when Folan
saw a fierce header brilliantly saved by Jose Reina
following a Josip Skoko free-kick.
But gaps were now appearing all over the pitch, and Filan
had to save well from Kuyt and then Gonzalez. Wigan had long
ago accepted the inevitable.