Reds on right
track claims Benitez
Rafael Benitez believes he finally has his
Liverpool team playing the way he wants but it may have come
too late for them in the title race.
The Spaniard has built a reputation of being cautious and
unadventurous but in their last eight matches in all
competitions they have scored 27 goals.
Uncharacteristically they have conceded 12, with successive
4-4 draws against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the
Champions League and Tuesday night's epic against Arsenal at
Anfield which handed the initiative back to arch-rivals
Manchester United in the championship run-in.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side may now be second in the table but
it is only on goal difference and they have two matches in
hand, the first of which is at home to Portsmouth on
After Liverpool's 4-0 Champions League victory over Real
Madrid in mid-March - which signalled the start of their
goalscoring run - captain Steven Gerrard claimed the
"shackles were off".
However, Benitez insists he has not switched tactics and
their recent form is merely a result of months of hard work
finally paying off.
"There is not really [a change of emphasis]. The
understanding between the players is better," said the
"This week we were talking in training sessions and we could
see the team were playing with a lot of confidence.
"We didn't need to say anything because they knew what to
"Because we have been practising so many times during the
season the players know now what to do.
"For me we have the same mentality, the difference now is we
play better. We have more confidence and we can score more
Although Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun scored two
apiece in the second half against the Gunners, Liverpool
could have been in total control of the game before the
interval had they taken their chances and also not found
goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski on form.
Benitez said their form in front of goal was improving and
that was due to rising confidence levels.
"If we can keep Torres fit it will be much better and you
can see Benayoun is on fire," he added.
"Two or three players are doing well in attack and that
could be a massive difference.
"Always we have a lot of shots and lot of opportunities but
now we are scoring more goals."
With five matches remaining there is no more room for error
and although Benitez believes that pressure may have
affected the performance last night, he stressed the players
cannot allow themselves to be crippled by it in the run-in.
"Sometimes you play with a bit of anxiety and you make
mistakes," said the Spaniard.
"It is something we have to manage if we want to keep going
until the end of the season.
"We showed against Arsenal we are a good team with a good
mentality and great character but also I think we have to
"It is difficult to know where the title challenge lies
because you never know what will happen in the next game.
"We know we have to keep going in every single game and see
what happens at the end.
"United still have to play against Arsenal and Manchester
Arsenal could yet do Liverpool a favour if they win at Old
Trafford on May 16, the penultimate weekend of the season.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger certainly does not think the
title race is over and has pledged his side will be totally
committed when they visit Manchester on the penultimate
weekend of the season.
"Don't worry at Liverpool, we will go to Manchester United
and try as well to win in the championship," said the
"United had a little bit of a problem before the
interruption of the Champions League. How they bounce back
will certainly be decisive.
"It is still very open."
Classic case of
Comment by Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
For the second time in a week Liverpool
have been involved in an absolute classic which has caught
the eye of football fans all over the world.
But today - for all the heroic efforts of the men in red -
there’s a sense of dismay at seeing our hopes of silverware
this season take another dent.
Neutrals might love games like these but believe me,
Liverpool’s players, their manager and his staff, and the
supporters, can happily do without them if it means success
in a less dramatic fashion.
Rafa was nonetheless right to praise the character of his
players last night. They came from behind three times to
secure a point which might yet prove vital. And apart from
the scoreline, every other statistic was massively in
But it should have been all three points and we all know it.
The mistakes which gifted Arsenal their goals were made of
schoolboy stuff; Mascherano and Arbeloa dwelling on the ball
in dangerous areas and then Aurelio favouring his left foot
over the right he should have used to clear - and setting up
another gift for the Gunners.
So there’s definitely a sense of big disappointment in the
Reds camp today. But there were so many positives as well
you feel for the players too for letting a golden chance
Yossi Benayoun was magnificent and everyone gave it their
all to get the result. The fans too were absolutely
magnificent, driving the lads on and singing You’ll Never
Walk Alone even when Arsenal appeared to have won it with
Arshavin’s late fourth.
We can score goals for fun right now but we’ve must
eradicate the defensive cock-ups.
Drawing in such pulsating style is a big blow. But no one
will be giving up yet.
Neither should they.
Drawing power has cost
Liverpool FC the title
Comment by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
It's the draws which have damaged
Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes – probably fatally.
But these last two stalemates – if you can ever call
eight-goal classics stale – have pointed the way forward.
In two losing causes, Liverpool have learned how to mount a
more successful Premier League push next season.
Because let’s be realistic, only a miracle can salvage
Liverpool’s title challenge in this current camapign. And
we’ve already seen two miracle matches in the last seven
But the title wasn’t lost last night at Anfield in one of
the most outrageously entertaining matches even this famous
old stadium has ever witnessed.
The title headed East up the M62 during home draws against
West Ham, Fulham, Stoke, Manchester City and Hull – games
when Liverpool didn’t show the same desperate zeal to turn
one point into three as they did last night.
The comeback against Hull was spirited and brave – showing
some of the character of the last seven days.
But those other Anfield draws were tepid, unambitious,
cautious – afternoons where avoiding defeat was preferable
to going all out to risk victory.
At Stamford Bridge last week and at Anfield last night,
Liverpool showed a gung-ho streak which pointed to a more
If that tempo, that drive, that desire to turn a draw into
victory had been shown against Fulham, Stoke or The Hammers,
old red nose’s beaten FA Cup semi-finalists could be playing
catch-up rather than looking to regain a lead at the summit
Liverpool deserved victory last night. The corner count, the
possession, the shots on and off target – every stat you
could count was heavily in Liverpool’s favour.
But the Reds led for just 11 minutes, and even the eternally
unsighted Arsene Wenger could see why.
Liverpool made schoolboy errors.
Drawing power has cost Reds the title
Call it anxiety, call it the tension of the occasion,
whatever the reasons the Reds made sloppy slips against a
side superbly equipped to take advantage.
Javier Mascherano dallied fatally for the opener, Jamie
Carragher’s headed clearance gave Alvaro Arbeloa no time to
think, and the Spaniard’s concentration levels weren’t up to
the job, then Fabio Aurelio produced a howler of a volleyed
But even after gifting the Gunners three goals, even after
shipping a fourth in a desperate bid to claim all three
points, Liverpool still earned a point.
Trying to put a brave face on proceedings, it was suggested
that the excellent Yossi Benayoun’s 94th minute equaliser
might still prove significant – that the point which took
Liverpool back to the top of the table might ultimately keep
It will probably only be a 24-hour stay – but it ensured
that Liverpool ended the campaign unbeaten against their
top-three title rivals.
United and Chelsea were beaten home and away, The Gunners
held at the Emirates and Anfield.
The points that mattered went begging elsewhere this season.
But Liverpool have discovered a style of play which can
surely see more of those dropped points turned into
It’s only four short days since I related the tale of Eddie
Futch placing a paternal arm around the shoulder of Joe
Frazier and declaring: “Sit down, son; it’s all over. No-one
will ever forget what you did here today.”
He was talking about a monumental effort in a losing cause –
and Smokin’ Joe was never the same again after that night.
But Reds fans can be proud of what Liverpool have achieved
This can be a beginning, not an end.
giving up on title
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Yossi Benayoun insists Liverpool won't
give up on their dream of becoming champions - despite
seeing two points slip away at Anfield last night.
Despite dominating Arsenal throughout, the Reds were made to
pay for defensive errors as Andrey Arshavin scored four to
ensure the Gunners left with a point after an enthralling
It was Benayoun's last minute equaliser which ensured
Liverpool returned to the top of the table on goal
difference, and although Manchester United now have two
games in hand the Israeli star isn't conceding the battle is
"It's very difficult. United are a strong side but we won't
give up and we will continue to try and do our best," he
"We will keep trying, look to win our remaining matches, and
hopefully we can still do it.
"It was great game for the supporters to watch but not for
us because we made too many mistakes. We should have won the
"In the first-half we created four or five really good
chances but then they scored with their only shot of the
"We came back strong in the second-half and led 2-1. At that
point we were controlling the game but we made more mistakes
and then when we had to chase it they punished us.
"We have the best defence in the league and the best
goalkeeper too, but I think we didn't defend well as a team
against Arsenal. We scored four goals and still didn't
manage to pick up the three points so I think that shows we
should have done better."
Liverpool FC and Arsenal
produce a night to remember
Liverpool Daily Post
One of great nights of Premiership
football at Anfield was ruined by one small detail… the
What is it about Liverpool and 4-4 draws against the top
four? Draws that in the end may cost them a tilt at glory.
Forget the great goals and absorbing football, it’s the
hat-trick of individual errors that will probably have Sir
Alex Ferguson laughing all the way to the title.
They added to a game that had everything. Super shows from
Andrey Arshavin and to a lesser extent Fernando Torres,
controversial refereeing, all-out attack and a master-class
in hitting on the break.
To win a title you need to be in a race with a handful of
games to go. You certainly need a hot striker and all-out
But you'll also need the ability to put your fans through
the wringer, before eventually coming out on top.
And you need defensive stability, backed up by no personal
That's where Liverpool were let down last night.
As first-halves go, you couldn’t really ask for much more
from a title-chasing side.
Fully rested after a free weekend, Liverpool ripped out of
Torres unsettled the Arsenal defence, while Mikael Silvestre
certainly unsettled Dirk Kuyt, but was denied a free-kick to
draw the home crowd’s ire in the game’s first big
But the tension increased when Javier Mascherano handed
Arsenal a goal when he dallied on the ball and allowed Cesc
Fabregas to set up Arshavin for an unlikely opener.
It left 45 minutes to save a season – a half of utter
Kuyt was rightly moved to the right and he set up two goals
for first Torres and then Benayoun, as he finally used his
physical presence to unsettle young full-back Kieran Gibbs.
Back came Arsenal as two more defensive mistakes – this time
from Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio – handed Arshavin two
more in one of those halves of complete havoc which often
More Torres magic brought it back to three, and as the young
Gunners tired Liverpool again laid siege to the goal.
Even Jamie Carragher went close.
But Arshavin went closer as picked up a pass from Theo
Walcott after the Arsenal youngster had picked the ball up
from a Liverpool corner.
But despite ripping through a tiring Arsenal, a few things
One was such a commitment to attack that they forgot how to
defend. The other was a lack of real quality off the bench.
Unfortunately Nabil El Zhar isn’t going to save your season
So Arsenal’s tippy-tappy counter-attacking football may not
win a title race, but it certainly can derail a few.
The Gunners will play a big part in where this league title
goes this season and this should have been the perfect time
to play them.
For Liverpool, it was a six-game mini league, it was win or
There was no room for rotation. For tweaking. For Andrea
Just half a dozen games to put pressure on a clearly
concerned Sir Alex Ferguson and see if title number 19 can
be prised from Old Trafford.
Now this mini league is running out of games… and draws
aren’t good enough.
vows to keep fighting
Rafa Benitez was left to rue Liverpool's
defensive lapses following the 4-4 draw with Arsenal but
refused to write off his side's title chances.
Yossi Benayoun grabbed a point for the Reds at the end of an
extraordinary match to send them back to the top of the
table on goal difference ahead of Manchester United, who
have two games in hand.
Benitez admits Liverpool were poor at the back but was
nevertheless satisfied with aspects of the performance.
"I think today we made too many mistakes but it is also very
positive because the team showed character until the last
minute," he told Sky Sports.
"It is difficult to explain (the errors) and we made a
massive mistake at the end but maybe we were a little
"But the positive thing is we have one more point against a
good team and we are top of the table."
Arsenal's fourth goal came from a counter-attack after
Liverpool had committed most of their team forward, but
Benitez feels it was right to search for victory even when
the score was level.
He explained: "Clearly we were thinking before that we had
to win every game so it is disappointing but to score four
goals is very pleasing."
Benitez does not believe the result affects the situation at
the top of the table significantly, with Manchester United
still in pole position.
"They continue in the driving seat so we have to keep
pushing," he said.
"We showed today that we can fight until the last minute so
we will try to do that until the last game."
Arsenal still have to face Liverpool's rivals and Benitez
added: "They still have to play Chelsea and United and they
are a good team so you never know."
Gerrard: Two points dropped
By Adam Bryant - LFC Online
Steven Gerrard was disappointed to watch
Liverpool draw 4-4 with Arsenal at Anfield.
Out with a groin injury, the Liverpool skipper wanted to see
the Reds pick up the full three points to push Manchester
United for the Premier League title, but it was not to be.
"Ideally we wanted three points tonight, so we see it as two
points dropped but this point could be important," he said.
"I still feel that there's going to be a few twists and
turns but we're relying on other people to do us favours.
"Tremendous game for the neutral, not for myself, but I
wanted three points tonight.
"It would have been very, very difficult if we'd have lost
the game but I think that point could be big.
"Performance wise at times we were very good tonight. We
pressed well, Torres and Benayoun were frightening going
"I know Arshavin will get man of the match but Yossi
Benayoun was my man of the match - he's as brave as a lion."
Arshavin stars as
Reds' title hopes falter
By Toby Davis - Setanta Sports
Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes
were severely dented as they were held to a 4-4 draw by
Arsenal in an extraordinary encounter that saw Andrei
Arshavin grab all four for The Gunners.
In a pulsating clash from start to finish, both sides
exchanged the lead in a game that showcased both the best
and worst that both sides had to offer.
There were mistakes galore, as well as some of the best
attacking football you are ever likely to see in what was a
fantastic advert for The Premier League.
Arsenal took the lead, before Liverpool turned the clash on
its head with headers from Fernando Torres and Yossi
But Arshavin embarked on a one-man mission to scupper
Liverepool’s title hopes, equalising before giving The
Gunners the lead. Torres responded once more, while Arshavin
added another and Benayoun netted his second of the game to
make it 4-4.
Liverpool return to the top of the table on goal difference
but with two games in hand, it is Manchester United who are
in the box seat in the Premier League run-in.
The pre-match talk focused on Sir Alex Ferguson’s strained
efforts to get under the Liverpool manager’s skin with
tenuous claims about his behaviour against Blackburn the
But by failing to make an appearance at the pre-match press
conference, Benitez’s message to all was clear: I’ll let my
players do the talking on the pitch.
And The Reds were speaking in unison in the opening
flurries, carving Arsenal apart at will to create a host of
Within two minutes Torres had left Kolo Toure and Bacary
Sagna sitting on the turf as he cut into the area before
curling the ball into the grateful arms of Lukasz Fabianski.
Before Liverpool’s Spanish marksman fed Riera who again
could not beat Arsenal’s Polish keeper with a sharp shot
from the edge of the area.
The much-maligned Fabianski had faced his fair share of
criticism following his Wembley antics at the weekend, but
if confidence was in short supply it didn’t show. He was
alert to everything Liverpool threw at him, a lone ship
guarding The Gunners goal from the hosts Spanish Armada.
He was out quickly to smother an effort from Yossi Benayoun,
who had been fed through the middle by Dirk Kuyt on nine
minutes, but the pick of the Pole’s array of first-half
stops was a one-handed tip over from a vicious half volley
by Fernando Torres.
The Gunners showed occasional glimpses of neat football, but
they were second best in every department and looked
unlikely to keep their goal intact for 90 minutes. They
appeared every inch the injury-ravaged, under strength
line-up they were.
But they were hanging on for dear life and Liverpool were
growing increasingly frustrated as chance after chance went
Torres fired in a shot from 25 yards that Fabianski could
not keep hold of, while Anfield let out a collective groan a
minute later as Daniel Agger, newly-restored to the Reds
line-up had a header cleared off the line.
Liverpool’s dominance, however, served only to make the
irony of Arsenal’s opener all the more poignant. And
Benitez’s side had only themselves to blame as Javier
Mascherano was guilty of giving the ball away on the edge of
his own area.
The Argentine is not known for his ability in possession,
which made his decision to dally on the ball 20 yards from
his own goal all the more absurd.
He was robbed by Cesc Fabregas, who exchanged passes with
Samir Nasri, the second of which had more than a hint of
offside about it, before the Arsenal skipper crossed for
Arshavin to side-foot the ball into the back of the net off
the underside of the crossbar.
The goal however seemed only a momentary interlude in the
one-way traffic as within a minute, Benayoun skipped through
a series of Arsenal challenges and into the box before
drawing another fine one-handed save from Fabianski.
It was not long, however, before The Reds did draw level in
a breathless start to the second half and barely five
minutes after that they took the lead. Two bad clearances
from Arsenal, led to two crosses, two headers and two goals.
Sagna was guilty of the first mistake, only finding Kuyt
with his effort to clear his lines. The Dutchman picked out
Torres at the second attempt and his header was powerfully
dispatched past Fabianski from eight yards.
Gibbs was the guilty party five minutes later, again finding
Kuyt wide on the right. He put in an excellent ball to the
far post where Benayoun just about got his head to it ahead
of Sagna. His effort looped back into the goal where
Fabianski could only scoop it out from behind the line.
But the drama was far from over; in fact, it had barely just
begun. Arsenal turned the tie on its head and this time, it
was the turn of Liverpool’s full backs to make a mess of
Arbeloa gifted the ball to Arshavin midway through the
second half and he strode forward before dispatching a
swerving effort powerfully past Reina and into the net.
And the Russian completed his hat-trick three minutes later,
this time puncing on a woeful attempt by Fabio Aurelio to
clear his lines, and rifle the ball under Reina from ten
Liverpool were in need of a rapid response and who better
than Torres to provide it. With 18 minutes left on the
clock, the Spaniard received a cross from Riera, took a
touch to get the ball out from under his feet, dropped the
shoulder to beat Mikael Silvestre and hammered it past
The Reds pressed for the elusive winner but were hit with a
sucker punch at the death as Arshavin scored his fourth in
injury time. Walcott broke down the right before squaring to
the unmarked Arshavin to lash it home when one-on-one with
But in a remarkable clash, it was only to be expected that
Liverpool would grab a late equaliser. And Benayoun duly
obliged finishing from close range to salvage a point for
The Reds that gives them a mountain to climb in their title