feeling unbeatable at Anfield
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Chris Kirkland today underlined the renewed
confidence sweeping across Anfield when he declared: "We
feel unbeatable at home."
Liverpool's convincing 2-0 win over Charlton maintained
the only 100 per cent home record in the Premiership.
After an horrific season at Anfield last year when the
Reds' ten wins and five defeats represented their worst
home campaign since relegation in 1954, Rafa Benitez has
inspired a dramatic improvement.
The club is also five points better off after nine games
than at this stage 12 months ago.
Kirkland admits the players now have more belief playing
in front of their own fans.
"You've got to go into every home game thinking you
won't be beaten and that's how we feel now," said
"That's how the top sides feel when we go to their place
and it has to be the same for us.
"We have to tell ourselves 'This is Anfield'. It's our
home and we want to intimidate teams when they come
here. This has to be a tough place for teams to visit.
"I came here as a Coventry player and I know how
difficult it is. When the fans and players are both on
song, any side will struggle against us.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence at Anfield now,
especially going forward. We've got a lot of quick
players and when you've got Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso,
you're talking about two very creative lads who can pick
out the right pass all the time.
"Xabi is great the way he just picks everything up in
front of the defence and keeps us going forward.
"We're a lot more dangerous now, but we have to produce
the same away from home."
Less siesta, more sizzle required from prime cuts
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post
Somebody bring out the barbecue. Rafael Benitez spent
part of his pre-match Press briefing on Friday
explaining how a sizzle before siesta had cooked up a
recipe for success and fostered a winning team spirit at
And while such camaraderie is seeping into Liverpool's
play, as evidenced by an impressively one-sided defeat
of Charlton Athletic on Saturday evening, the area in
which togetherness is currently needed most is where it
continues to be in short supply.
What to do with Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros? That's
the question Benitez must wrestle with this week after
another performance in which Anfield victory was secured
in spite of the strikers, rather than because of them.
"Argentinian meat? More like two vegetables," proffered
one scribbling sage after a sweeping Liverpool move
again faltered at the critical moment. A tad harsh
definitely, but the longer the pair fail to spark the
shorter the perceptive Benitez's patience will wear
With the grapevine hearing the drums for Fernando
Morientes and Valencia's Mista, it would appear the
Liverpool manager is already seeking striking
reinforcements for when the transfer window swings open
in January. But will he desperately need any? Only Cisse
and Baros can influence that answer but their displays
as a partnership thus far have served only to ensure the
response is in the affirmative.
Pity. Both players have undoubted talent and, taken in
isolation, either player has and will continue to prove
a great asset to whoever they play for, Cisse with his
blistering pace and explosive shooting and Baros with
his powerful dribbling and single-minded pursuit of a
Yet throw the two of them on to the park in tandem and
things change. Cisse retains his fleet of foot but ends
up in positions where his marksman-ship becomes
irrelevant while Baros reverts to the infuriating
head-down, excitable type which lacks a steady poise
when faced with the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes.
Between them, they passed to each other four times in 77
That transformation was there to see at Anfield on
Saturday, most clearly in the first half when a dominant
Liverpool seemed to be doing their best not to score.
To be fair, things picked up in the second half and when
Cisse moved out wide to work the right flank he came
more into the game - thank-fully more Henry than Heskey
in that mannerism, it would seem - which gave Baros more
space in which to wander, with the Czech's linkplay
improving once he remembered how to pass.
However, it meant too often Liverpool's strikers were
loitering around the edge of the penalty area waiting
for a pull back instead making a nuisance nearer the
goal. The lack of a true predatory instinct up front
could prove costly, and Benitez knows this.
All the more exasperating for seasoned Anfield observers
is that with Xabi Alonso and the effervescent Luis
Garcia supplying the passes, Liverpool's forward line is
receiving the kind of service of which the departed
Michael Owen could only have dreamed.
Garcia it was who set the seal on a fine home display
with a 30-yard rocket to bring the Kop to its feet 16
minutes before time. Previously, with the strikers
missing from all angles, the dam had been broken from an
"When was the last time he scored from that range?"
queried an evercynical hack after John Arne Riise had
scuffed a long-range effort miles wide. The answer was
65 games ago at that point. Moments later, the answer
was shortened to mere seconds as the Norwegian belted in
a sublime volley from just outside the area.
Alas, it was not representative of his evening's work.
Riise offers little going forward when in a left
midfield role - not least with his right foot - and at
Anfield either Harry Kewell or Stephen Warnock would
appear the more productive option.
Steve Finnan, on the other hand, was impressive at
right-back in place of the suspended Josemi, while Djimi
Traore continued his revelatory displays on the opposite
side of defence and Jamie Carragher enhanced his
burgeoning reputation at centre-back.
Charlton? Well, they lack the solidity of Valley
line-ups of recent vintage and were so over-run in
midfield that the returning Danny Murphy spent most of
the game back in his old role of Anfield spectator.
Alan Curbishley was rightly generous in his praise of a
Liverpool performance which, the striking issue aside,
That's a big issue, though. Now, where's that grill?
can win title
Liverpool ace Luis Garcia has backed Rafael Benitez
to bring the title back to Anfield.
The £6m summer capture from Barcelona also believes the
Reds boss will in time make the same impact on the
Premiership as Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson have.
Garcia helped maintain Liverpool's 100% home record in
the Premiership with a stunning strike against Charlton
Athletic on Saturday.
And the popular midfielder admits he followed Benitez to
Merseyside to be part of the success story that brought
two league titles in three seasons to Valencia.
"I think Rafael will eventually be talked about in
England the way Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson are
now," said Garcia. "He is regarded very highly in Spain
after winning the championship twice with Valencia and I
think he will do the same with Liverpool.
"He knows what he wants and in time I am sure Liverpool
can win the league. Everyone has been talking about
Arsenal and Manchester United this weekend and what that
game means for the title. But I believe that with Rafael
people will talk about Liverpool in the same way as
Arsenal and Manchester United.
"It might be this year or next year, but we will get
there with the manager's ideas."
Reds must be more ruthless
Liverpool maintained their 100 per cent home record
but new boss Rafael Benitez proved a hard man to please
after the convincing 2-0 win over Charlton.
The Spanish coach lamented the string of chances that
went begging in the first half and warned his players
that they will find themselves being punished if they
continue to be so wasteful.
Benitez said: “This was very much like our goalless draw
with Deportivo in the week. We had so many opportunities
and the players will need to take far more of them in
“Just as against Deportivo, we played very well for a
long period and made many chances. But if you do not
take them and then someone makes a mistake in the second
half, you will pay for it.”
But Benitez praised the performance of his two strikers,
Milan Baros and Djibril Cisse, who have been criticised
for taking a long time to form an effective strike
He said: “They both did very well. Cisse was moved onto
the right in the second half and he had a good game, and
Baros looked sharp all game.
“You can see now that they do have the ability to form a
partnership, they both did very well and can only
improve as a pair as the season continues.”
Charlton boss Alan Curbishley said afterwards: “We
had to work so hard to even get the ball. We could not
get going and we gave the ball away as soon as we had
“That was much to do with the way Liverpool played and
how the pressured us. I have lost count of the games
where we have conceded goals from outside the box, and
there were two more here.
“Our away form suggests we are going to get beaten every
time. Last season we were very good away from home, but
I am becoming worried and we are just not doing as well
away this season.
“Liverpool have played very well, they look formidable
at home and a few sides will struggle at Anfield.
“We have now been beaten at Arsenal and Liverpool in
successive away games and maybe that is not too bad, but
we are also losing at places like Bolton and Manchester
City and results like that have to change.
“We cannot hide behind things, this is not good enough.
“We have two home games now, and we have to win them
because we are being put under great pressure by losing
“Liverpool asked us questions and we didn’t have enough.
That could be the same for a lot of clubs playing at
Anfield this season. But we are just not giving
ourselves a chance with our defence under pressure all
“Our attitude away from home has to change. We need
results and quickly. We have got to alter the way we
approach away games because it is totally different.
“As for Liverpool, they are very good and they will be
competing for everything they are in right to the death
this season. This is a very impressive team now.
Reds run Charlton ragged
By Peter O Rourke - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Liverpool maintained their 100 percent home record in
The Premiership with a deserved 2-0 win over Charlton.
Second half goals from John Arne Riise and Luis Garcia
were enough to give Liverpool all three points against a
disappointing Charlton and lift them into fifth spot.
The match also saw the return of referee Andy D'Urso to
The Premiership following his failure to send off
Blackburn's Barry Ferguson against Southampton earlier
in the season.
Liverpool began like the proverbial house on fire and
Garcia had two good chances to break the deadlock early
Firstly after just two minutes he headed Steve Finnan's
cross wide when well placed and four minutes later he
forced Dean Kiely to tip his volley from the edge of the
box round the post after a mistake by Jon Fortune.
Charlton created their first chance of the game on seven
minutes with Shaun Bartlett firing in a shot which was
easily saved by Chris Kirkland and a minute later Kevin
Lisbie missed his kick when well placed.
Liverpool were denied the opener on nine minutes when
former Reds hero Danny Murphy superbly cleared Sami
Hyypia's header from Garcia's corner off the line.
It was all one-way traffic and Djibril Cisse was unlucky
not to score after 12 minutes when he thudded a free
kick from fully 30 yards with a slight deflection off
Chris Perry off the inside of the post.
Baros was the next one to waste another fine opening a
minute later when he headed wide from six yards and four
minutes later the Czech ace was guilty of another
glaring miss when he headed Garcia's cross straight at
the grateful Kiely.
Cisse tried to find a way through for Liverpool on 34
minutes when he was played in by Djimi Traore, but he
dragged his left-footed shot wide of the far post.
The pattern of the game continued with Baros blazing
wildly over the top on 36 minutes after the ball broke
nicely to him inside the box and seconds later Cisse
volleyed Riise's cross into the stands.
Cisse created a chance for Garcia right on the stroke of
half time with an electric 50-yard run down the right
past two Charlton defenders, but Garcia could not get
enough contact on the ball to trouble Kiely.
Liverpool finally made the breakthrough their dominance
deserved seven minutes into the second with Riise
volleying home his first goal of the season.
The ball broke free to Riise on the edge of the box
after Lisbie had blocked Xabi Alonso's header and the
Norwegian star brilliantly fired in a half volley into
the bottom corner past Kiely.
Baros fluffed another chance to score just past the hour
when Garcia sent over a fizzing cross to the Czech
international six yards out, but he got his shot all
wrong and the danger was cleared.
Baros turned creator four minutes later with a fine run
down the right past two Charlton defenders and laying
the ball back for the supporting Finnan, but the
defender scooped his shot just wide of the far post.
Liverpool doubled their lead on 74 minutes with Garcia
blasting home a sublime shot from 25 yards for his third
goal of the season.
Alonso fed his compatriot Garcia 30 yards from goal and
when the Charlton defence stood off him the Spaniard did
not need an invitation to shoot as he unleashed a
brilliant right-footed shot into the top corner of the
Garcia was inches away from netting a spectacular second
two minutes from time with an exquisite volley from an
acute angle which just went wide of the far post.