Alonso celebrates with Keane and co.
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
a great chance
Alan Hansen believes Rafael Benitez's
Liverpool side now have their "best chance" of winning the
league title for the first time since 1990.
The Reds ended Chelsea's 86-match unbeaten home record with
a 1-0 success at Stamford Bridge yesterday to put them clear
at the top of the Premier League and further boost belief
they can finally mount a sustained title challenge.
And Hansen believes they have shown they are equipped to
push favourites Manchester United and Chelsea all the way.
"I would like to congratulate Rafa Benitez and his team for
pulling off an incredible result at Stamford Bridge," said
"To beat a Chelsea side on their own patch where they've not
lost in 86 League games is fantastic.
"It wasn't just the result but also the manner of the win
which was so impressive.
"After just half an hour there was only going to be one
winner as the Liverpool tactics were spot on and the team
display was outstanding."
Hansen added: "After this great start to the season, this is
the best chance Liverpool have had to win the title since
they last won the trophy back in 1990 as they're looking
very much a team.
"They've shown great resilience in some remarkable
comebacks, the signing of Albert Riera has given them great
width and players such as Dirk Kuyt have performed far
better than they have played before.
"Rafa's team looks very solid and you get the feeling that
when teams put pressure on them as Chelsea attempted to do,
they're not going to fall apart.
"They may have dropped points at home to Stoke but winning
the title is not all about thrashing teams every week but
how teams respond to setbacks.
"That's the big test and from the Liverpool performances so
far this season, the players have shown the kind of
resilience that suggests they would bounce back from any
poor result with great spirit," the former Liverpool captain
"This was a momentous result but the victory over Manchester
United at Anfield is the result that gave Liverpool the real
belief they could beat the likes of Chelsea. If Rafa's team
had lost that one, I don't think they would have truly felt
they could win at Stamford Bridge.
"However, by finally beating United they have become a team
in every sense of the word as confidence and belief is sky
high to launch a far too long-awaited title challenge."
Gerrard: We've won nothing yet
By Tom Adams - Setanta Sports
Steven Gerrard has sought to curtail any
culture of complacency at Anfield by warning his Liverpool
team-mates they must prove capable of holding onto their
Premier League lead in the face of strong challenges from
Chelsea and Manchester United.
The Reds sit proudly atop the league table after ending
Chelsea’s 86-game unbeaten home record on Sunday and hopes
are high on Merseyside that Rafa Benitez could lead the club
to their first league title since 1990.
However, Gerrard has been quick to leave his team-mates in
no doubt that the two teams who fought for the title on the
final day of last season will be determined to rein The Reds
in as soon as possible.
And the Liverpool skipper has now challenged his colleagues
to handle the pressure and expectancy that has been
generated by the club's fine start to the season.
"It's important not to get carried away," Gerrard told the
club's official website. "We're still only in October. We're
in a nice position in the league but Chelsea are a fantastic
side who will come back and Manchester United will be there
"We've won nothing yet. It was a massive win and three big
points but if we slip up against Portsmouth then those
points will be irrelevant.
"To win this league and become champions you have to handle
the pressure of being at the top. That's the challenge for
us now. Can we handle being top of the league?
"We've done superbly well so far, we're unbeaten, and we
have to keep that going now, starting against Portsmouth."
No Reds clan for Riera
By Laurent Picard - Setanta Sports
Albert Riera has insisted there are no
clans within the Liverpool squad despite the large number of
Spanish players at Anfield.
The left winger, impressive during the 1-0 win over Chelsea
at Stamford Bridge, has explained why he left Espanyol last
Riera revealed he jumped at the chance of playing for The
Reds, as he was desperate to make the step to a bigger club
in order to win medals.
Espanyol asked for a lot of money for his transfer, as they
are building a brand new stadium and need liquidity, but the
midfielder is happy that the Anfield outfit found an
agreement to secure his services on a four-year deal.
“Espanyol needed to sell a player but they were asking for a
lot of money for me,” Riera told Don Ballon. “I understand
£12 to £14 million is a lot of money, except for two English
and two Spanish clubs.
“Liverpool finally made an offer after having been
interested in me over the past few months. When I realised
this was an opportunity I pushed for it because I wanted to
play for a great club.
“I am very grateful to Espanyol and wish them the best, as
they made big efforts to sign me when I was in France [in
Bordeaux] as they paid £3.5 million to sign me.
“A player has to be in the right place at the suitable
moment for him and it depends on many things. I could have
stayed at Mallorca for many years but they needed to sell,
and the same happened at Espanyol, where I was happy, but
changes were needed.”
Riera claims The Reds’ Spanish players are not a clan and
make massive efforts in order to adapt to their squad.
“And now I am the latest Spanish to have joined Liverpool.
Being together there is a boost but we have to adapt and
speak English and the manager is very keen on it.
“The English are very professional and they see the
positives when you work hard. What defines Liverpool the
best is the dressing room’s winning mentality.
“The Spanish players seeing each other at home after the
games is something normal, but the coach insists a lot in
order not to see smalls groups within his squad, in order to
be a real team.”
Riera finally set his sights on ending The Reds' miserable
trophy-less run in the top flight.
“They have not won the league for 18 years and I am aware of
it,” he added. “I know it because the fans remind it to me
all the time in the streets.
“But we are not going to give up on the Champions League,
even if our start to the Premier League season as been great
so far. It is too early though but the feeling is good.
“At the moment I am focused on the four year-deal I have
signed with Liverpool and I am enjoying myself like a kid,
but for sure one day I will return to the Spanish league.”
goal was mine
By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo
Xabi Alonso today claimed the goal that
brought Chelsea’s unbeaten home run to an end and took
Liverpool to the top of the Premier League.
Alonso’s ninth minute strike took a wicked deflection off
Jose Bosingwa to leave Petr Cech helpless but the Spaniard
is in no doubt that the goal belongs to him.
Alonso came within inches of doubling his tally when he hit
the post with a superb free kick, but the main thing for him
was Liverpool collecting all three points at a venue where
they hadn’t previously won in the league since January 2004.
“It was my goal,” he insisted.
“The shot was on its way towards the goal when it was
deflected but that happens, that’s part of football and you
have to cope with these things when they go for you and when
they go against you.
“I could have had a second goal as well when the ball hit
the post but the main thing is to get the three points.
“It was very important for us because in the last few
seasons in the league we have been coming here and we
haven’t had the best results.
“So we are really pleased to get the result and to take the
Alonso believes the key to Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Stamford
Bridge was teamwork and he is looking for more of the same
in the weeks to come as the Reds look to consolidate their
place at the top of the league.
Now the 26-year-old is looking forward to the visit of
managerless Portsmouth on Wednesday, a fixture which gives
Liverpool a chance to continue their own unbeaten run which
stretches back to April 30.
He said: “The team worked really hard, you have to work hard
as a team to get a result at places like this and that is
one of our strengths.
“When everyone works really hard for one another you have a
chance to beat anyone.
“It was really important to score first as well because it
would have been very difficult to come back in a game like
“Now we have to think about Wednesday and remain really
Alonso is adamant that everyone at Anfield believed they
could bring an end to Chelsea’s 86-game unbeaten run at
Stamford Bridge, despite being well aware it would take a
particularly industrious performance to make it happen.
But now Liverpool have the three points in the bag, the
midfielder has vowed that Liverpool will be keeping their
feet on the ground and not getting carried away.
“In the first half especially it was really difficult.
“But in the second half we were much better and we were able
to control the game much better even though we did not make
the most of a couple of chances we had to score the second
goal that would have killed the game.
“It’s a great victory but it is only three points.
“The three points against Chelsea are as important as the
three points against Wigan and the three that are available
against Portsmouth on Wednesday – they are all of the same
By Tony Banks - Daily and Sunday Express
It has happened before and it will no
doubt happen again. There Chelsea are, tootling along
without a care in the world, bowling over all and sundry
with their lovely, winning football. And then along comes
He did it to Jose Mourinho, to the Special One’s fury, he
did it to Claudio Ranieri, he very nearly did it to poor old
Avram Grant and now he has done it to Luiz Felipe Scolari
…stopped their teams in their tracks and completely upset
the seemingly unstoppable applecart.
No one has the measure of Chelsea quite like Benitez. The
Spaniard’s tactical wizardry all too often explodes in his
face, especially in domestic games, but not against the men
from Stamford Bridge.
Twice he has ended their hopes at the semi-final stage of
the Champions League, once turfed them out of the FA Cup,
several times frustrated them in the Premier League.
Yesterday in the driving rain at Stamford Bridge, Benitez
wrote his name in the record books as he ended the longest
unbeaten home league run in English football. Eighty-six
games, four years and three managers had gone by since
Chelsea last went down on their own turf – on February 21,
2004, when Arsenal won 2-1.
But thanks to Xabi Alonso’s deflected shot yesterday,
Benitez confirmed Liverpool’s status as genuine title
challengers this season. Not since 1990 have they lifted the
trophy, but this win gave them their best start to a Premier
League season – and their manager’s first away victory in
the league against another top-four team. Of course, it had
to come against Chelsea.
Benitez has been grumbling lately that with just two years
of his contract left he has heard nothing from the Anfield
hierarchy about talks on a new deal. Six weeks ago his team,
once again without Fernando Torres, beat Manchester United
at Anfield. Now they have beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
His pounding on the boardroom door will surely soon become
difficult to ignore.
As for Chelsea? The end of an era. Even Grant never lost at
home in the league.
This was a pale shadow of the Chelsea side that have been so
imperious lately, sweeping aside Aston Villa and
Middlesbrough and overcoming Roma. This time they met a team
meticulously prepared as ever by Benitez, packed full of
players able to hurt them – and most importantly full of
players who at last look as if they are beginning to
Under Scolari, this type of defeat was always more likely to
happen to Chelsea. Not for him the locking up of a game in
the steely fashion of Mourinho, or the grim caution of
Grant. The Brazilian goes for it in a big way. When it works
it is glorious and the plaudits flow. When it fails, it is
because it has become a victim of its own romance.
The procession has been stopped. The remorseless winning
machine with a smile has been derailed. And now Hull await
In truth, Chelsea looked out of sorts from the off. Even
though Deco had an early shot blocked, they were too
frantic, too rushed, too sloppy.
The goal was typical. John Terry’s headed clearance was a
poor one. It dropped to Alonso on the edge of the area and
his volley deflected off Jose Bosingwa to leave Petr Cech
The troublesome Albert Reira hit the side-netting, but
Liverpool went even closer as Steven Gerrard picked up Dirk
Kuyt’s flick-on and cracked a dipping 35-yard drive that
Cech showed quick reflexes to tip over.
Chelsea created very few clear-cut chances as Liverpool
throttled the life out of the game in midfield. Too often
Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou ran into blind alleys and
even when Gerrard lost the ball, Deco fired wide.
Liverpool were always menacing on the break and they should
have wrapped up the points when Alonso fired in a free-kick
from the edge of the area. With Cech an onlooker, Chelsea
breathed again as the ball cannoned off the foot of a post.
It was then, ironically, that they created their best
chance. Frank Lampard chipped the ball in, Franco Di Santo
nodded down, but Ashley Cole, alone eight yards out, somehow
skewed his shot high and wide.
Jamie Carragher’s usual diligence foiled Deco as the
Portugal midfielder broke through again and Chelsea wilted.
They knew this was not their day.
The proper title race is officially open. The full list of
runners has been declared.
Scolari praise for cute Benitez
By Richard Field - Setanta Sports
Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari said
Chelsea played in to Liverpool’s hands by launching too many
aeriel salvos during the 1-0 Premier League defeat which
ended Chelsea's proud unbeaten home record.
A deflected goal by Xabi Alonso finally ended the 86-game
run, and inflicted a first defeat on Scolari since taking
charge at Stamford Bridge during the summer.
This venue has been a miserable hunting ground for Rafa
Benitez during his previous visits there in the league, but
Scolari conceded that the Spaniard's trap suckered his
“[Liverpool manager Rafa] Benitez is intelligent and he
knows we do not have a centre-forward two metres tall,”
Scolari said on the club’s official website.
“The only chances were for us to cross the ball, and when we
do he has very good players at the back to jump. I don’t
“I don’t want to lose the game, but we need to play, touch
the ball, not put the ball in the box every time.”
Chelsea were without Michael Ballack, Joe Cole and Didier
Drogba who missed out through injury, but Scolari is
refusing to go for the sympathy vote.
“We need to understand these are the players I have at the
moment, I need to believe in and give confidence to these
players. I changed the system to put two players up front,
these are the players I have,” added the Brazilian.
“Maybe in the future I have one, two, three more players
[back] from injury and I have more opportunity to change the
system and the players. We lost today [Sunday] because
Liverpool were better than us in the game. This is life.”
By Chris Burton - Sky Sports
Rafa Benitez is refusing to get carried
away despite seeing Liverpool go top of the Premier League
table on Sunday.
The Reds secured an impressive 1-0 win away at Chelsea,
ending the Blues' 86-game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge.
That result sent Benitez's side three points clear at the
summit, further underlining their title credentials.
Their manager was delighted with the manner in which his
side ground out a crucial three points, but has moved to
curb the wave of optimism flooding over the club.
"I think it was really good. We knew it was going to be
tough, so thanks to the players, thanks to the fans," the
Spaniard told Sky Sports.
"I think the mentality of the players was good, they were
working together and everybody was doing the right things.
"We have shown character to come from behind in some games
and now we have shown character against a very good team. We
were trying to do everything perfectly.
"But I will keep saying the same thing - one game at a time.
We are in a good position and we have to try and keep going
and keep calm."
Chelsea rarely threatened throughout the contest, with
Benitez surprised by how comfortably his side were able to
snub out the Blues' attacking threat.
"The second half they were attacking with more direct
players so it was difficult, but were a little bit more
comfortable," he added.
"In the first half they were coming forward and we knew they
were a threat, but the players were organised and we played
well on the counter-attack.
"I think we now have a better understanding between the
players and the belief is good. We have quality, we have a
Despite being the side to end Chelsea's four-year unbeaten
run on home turf, Benitez insisted his greatest achievement
this season was grinding out a 2-1 victory over arch-rivals
Manchester United in September.
"I like to beat United, so I am really pleased this year!"
Benitez axes squad rotation
to mount title challenge
Comment by Richard Field - Setanta Sports
All hail Rafael Benitez as the Liverpool
boss finally puts his eggs in the basket of trying to win
that elusive Premier League title for the Liverpool fans.
The player rotation is becoming a thing of the past as
Liverpool search for a first league title since 1990 to add
to their Champions League pedigree since Benitez arrived on
The omens are beginning to look good for The Reds with wins
now over two other sides from the so-called Big Four which
has been an Achilles' heel for Benitez in the past.
The former Valencia manager's side are now unbeaten in the
last six months, but they looked a shambles for most of
preseason, and the Spaniard’s lack of spending power seemed
to be putting his side out of The Premier League title race
at such an early stage.
But when you fashion 3-2 wins, against Wigan and Manchester
City this season, team spirit grows and when you shatter
Chelsea’s 86-match home record – then it really is game-on
Albert Riera has already done enough to suggest that he can
be one of the players to give Liverpool that much-prized
quality in wide areas, but the jury is still out on Marcus
Babel who continues to lack that consistency, especially in
So what of Chelsea? They rallied at Stamford Bridge and were
beaten by a deflected goal, but the attacking intentions of
Liverpool definitely left them rattled.
Nicolas Anelka has not done enough, it seems, to stop Didier
Drogba marching back into the side when he eventually
returns from injury.
Jose Bosingwa once again demonstrated that he is fine going
forward but his defensive decisions can be questionable,
Xabi Alonso’s goal is a case-in-point.
Liverpool were bossing the midfield for large chunks of the
game at Chelsea, and John Obi Mikel was actually being
pushed off the ball on occasions, which is not what the home
fans want to see.
Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon says his side will not
enter the January transfer window for signings, but Felipe
Luiz Scolari was unsure when asked the same question,
earlier this week.
Perhaps the Brazilian has question marks over his current
squad and, with the likes of Michael Ballack, Joe Cole and
Drogba all missing, the replacements were unable to effect
Sunday’s result – this may have crossed Scolari's mind when
he replied in a sketchy fashion to reporters concerning
Carra: Still a long way to go
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Jamie Carragher has refused to get carried
away after helping Liverpool break Chelsea's 86-match
unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool moved three points clear at the top of the Premier
League after Xabi Alonso netted the only goal of the game,
and Carragher admits the result should help give the Reds a
massive confidence booster for the rest of the campaign.
"Before today Chelsea were playing as well as anyone in
Europe. To come here and win should give our confidence a
boost but we realise there's a long way to go yet," said the
"Their record was never going to go on forever, they were
always going to lose at some point, and I'm just glad it was
us who managed to beat them.
"We are top of the table but as I said, there's a long way
to go. Over recent years Chelsea and United have been
towards the top and ourselves and Arsenal are trying to get
involved and challenge. Hopefully we can bridge the gap this
Chelsea's home record
By Richard Field - Setanta Sports
A deflected goal from Xabi Alonso was
enough to give Liverpool a 1-0 win against Chelsea which
ends The Blues unbeaten 86-game home record stretching back
to February 2004.
Liverpool move three points clear at the top of The Premier
League with Alonso’s deflected goal in the first-half
dividing these two sides. The Spaniard was close to a brace
when his curling free-kick hit the post in the 61st minute.
It is all clicking into place for manager Rafa Benitez who
has now beaten fellow title rivals Chelsea and Manchester
United this season, as Liverpool look for a first league
title since 1989.
Liverpool started in determined fashion with Steven Gerrard
driving them forward, but Rafa Benitez’s side were given a
warning when Alonso’s mistake allowed Nicolas Anelka to race
towards goal before a determined challenge displaced the
ball to Deco whose shot was deflected wide of the target.
Alonso was the hero in the 10th minute though as Dirk Kuyt
headed the ball towards Robbie Keane who was pressing John
Terry and the loose ball found its way to Alonso whose shot
deflected off Jose Bosingwa - who for some inexplicable
reason had turned away from the ball – and past a
wrong-footed Petr Cech.
The industrious Albert Riera shot wildly into the side
netting when a cross to the waiting Liverpool strike force
would have been the preferred option with a rampant
Liverpool looking to double their lead.
On a day where the two best midfielders in England, Frank
Lampard and Gerrard were in opposition, it was Gerrard who
edged their battle and produced a fingertip save from Cech
with a left-footed shot on the half-volley.
Ashley Cole and Salomon Kalou demonstrated the flustered
nature of the home team with the forward deciding to try and
thread the ball back into the path of the left-back when a
shot looked the best option. Deco took it upon himself to
run at The Reds and unleashed a shot which went wide of the
left post as the Liverpool defence unusually failed to close
down the marauding opposition player this time.
Both managers decided against making changes during the
interval and it was the visitors who again surfaced early to
provide the attacking intent.
Chelsea saw a potential penalty shout go South when Florent
Malouda was upended by Jose Reina, but the flag had already
gone up to signal offside against the Frenchman.
Benitez’s men went close again midway through the
second-half with Alonso curling a free-kick around the wall
only to cannon off the post to deny the midfielder a second,
this opportunity arose due to substitute Juliano Belletti ‘s
foul on Riera just outside the penalty box.
Chelsea were left wondering if they could get back on level
terms when Ashley Cole sliced his shot wide from just eight
yards following a knockdown from replacement Franco Di
With the London side piling on the pressure, Deco fired wide
after giving Liverpool problems and, with Chelsea pressing,
Ryan Babel failed to add a killer second.
A fidgety Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari tried all the
tricks in his repertoire to salvage something, but it was
not to be as fortress Stamford Bridge was breached in his
13th game in charge of the West London aristocrats.