Gerrard creates fear-factor
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez believes Steven Gerrard
strikes fear into opponents when they see his name on
the team sheet.
The England midfielder's all-action display inspired his
side to victory over Arsenal on Sunday - and Benitez
wants the win to kick-start their season.
The 24-year-old set up the opener for Xabi Alonso before
Neil Mellor snatched the points with a splendid
Arsene Wenger recently suggested Chelsea could step up
their interest in the midfielder when the transfer
window reopens, but Gerrard showed no signs of being
disrupted by the Arsenal manager's claims.
"We want the top four but we are aiming higher than
that," said Gerrard, who stayed at the club this summer
after being linked to a move to Stamford Bridge.
Benitez, who barely flinched at Mellor's spectacular
winner, is desperate to keep his skipper at the club.
He admitted to not sleeping properly because of the
mounting pressure as Liverpool boss - but must surely be
reassured by Gerrard's return to fitness.
"This could be the turning point," Benitez said. "We are
talking of being in the top four, that is our aim, and
when we win games against teams like Arsenal then you
know that you can do it.
"It gives us confidence and belief that we can achieve
what we are aiming for. We have many players out injured
at the moment but we can still produce a performance of
this quality. I am very pleased with them all."
Benitez tried to explain his lack of outward emotion as
Mellor's drive hit the net at the Kop end, adding: "My
wife keeps saying to me, why do you show no emotion on
"Maybe I should show more. But when we got the winner I
was on the line thinking about changing players, that is
why you did not see me celebrating.
"I was still trying to change players after the goal but
my coaches told me the game was over, finished.
"It was great for everyone, not just the Liverpool
supporters but surely for everyone watching, it was a
With Djibril Cisse, Milan Baros and Luis Garcia missing,
Benitez assembled a makeshift team and adapted his
tactics to take on the champions.
The former Valencia boss' five-month reign at Anfield
has been blighted by injuries to his key players - but
Gerrard's return has raised expectations.
He added: "With Gerrard in our side we know opponents
are frightened of him.
"Steven is very important to us. Hamann and Alonso are
playing well in midfield and have been very good while
Steven has been out injured.
"Now we know that when opponents see Gerrard in our team
they are frightened. For us that is important, we are
talking about our mentality and spirit, he brings that
lauds match-winner Mellor
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard hailed match-winner
Neil Mellor after his superb late winner against
Mellor claimed his first Premiership goal with a
stunning strike from outside the area which saw
Liverpool snatch a deserved 2-1 win at Anfield.
The win lifted spirits at Liverpool after losses to
Middlesbrough and Monaco in the last week and Gerrard
was impressed with the performance.
Gerrard told Sky Sports: "We're very pleased with the
first-half performance. The gameplan was to stop them
playing and press them back.
"But Arsenal came back into it. We expected that, they
are a fantastic team but we never gave up.
"Neil will be dreaming about that goal for years. He
deserved it. He worked hard.
"When you come off a couple of defeats Arsenal is the
game you don't want but we went in with the right
attitude. We want the top four but we are aiming higher
Mellor was thrilled to score against such top
opposition, his goal condemning Arsenal to only their
second defeat in 55 games.
The young striker said: "The ball just dropped and I hit
it, in front of the Kop in the last minute, against one
of the top sides in Europe.
"I went into it like any ordinary game. The lads have
been supportive of me and I came up with the goods in
the last minute, which was nice."
Wenger praises Rafa's Reds
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Arsene Wenger today admitted his Arsenal side were
second best to Liverpool during their 2-1 defeat at
The Gunners looked to be heading for a point when
Patrick Vieira equalised Xabi Alonso's first half
strike, but Neil Mellor's late strike won a dramatic
game for the home side.
Wenger said: "Liverpool were very good in the first
half. They were physically very strong and they made it
hard for us.
"In the second half we improved and we should have got a
point but we made a mistake at the end and they scored.
It's hard to swallow when that happens because it is
very disappointing. We just have to live with it and
"Liverpool were tough, they were well disciplined and
they defended very well. I'm surprised they are where
they are in the table after that performance.
"You could say all three goals were brilliant but I
disagree. The first two were, but in my opinion the
third goal came from a bad mistake by us in the last
seconds of the game."
joy at win
By Mark Buckingham - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was delighted his players
followed instructions in the dramatic 2-1 success
Neil Mellor struck a magnificent winner in injury time
after Xabi Alonso's excellent goal had been cancelled
out by another cracking effort from Patrick Vieira.
Benitez was proud of the result which boosts The Reds'
prospects of forcing their way back into the Premiership
The Reds fully deserved the three points, restricting
Arsenal to just one chance, with Benitez happy his
"It was a fantastic result," Benitez told Sky Sports. "I
think it was a fantastic game for all the supporters.
"We played very, very well in the first half, but in the
second half they kept the ball, but it was a fantastic
"We have worked very hard. The players ran a lot and
tried to do all the things we have prepared in the week.
"In the first half, we have done all the things perfect
- without the ball and with the ball.
"Like I say, congratulations."
Benitez also feels the last-gasp victory over the
reigning champions will inject morale into his Liverpool
He added: "At the end, we talk only about three points
against a very, very good team, but it's more important
for the confidence.
"I know we can finish higher than fourth. We need to do
the same things."
By Mark Buckingham - Planet Footbvall/Sky Sports
Neil Mellor's stunning injury time volley earned
Liverpool a deserved 2-1 victory over Premiership
champions Arsenal at Anfield.
Xabi Alonso's wonderful goal had The Reds in a merited
first half advantage before Patrick Vieira levelled
things up with a majestic equaliser.
Vieira was then lucky not to be sent off before Mellor
unleashed a rasping strike in the final seconds of the
match to further dent The Gunners' title aspirations.
There was a sense of deja vu for the Arsenal defence
after just three minutes, when memories of Manchester
United's controversial penalty came flooding back.
Reds skipper Steven Gerrard burst into the box and
nudged the ball past Kolo Toure before falling over the
African's trailing leg - similar to Wayne Rooney's
tumble from Sol Campbell's challenge at Old Trafford.
A penalty could easily have been given but, from his
vantage point, referee Alan Wiley erred on the side of
Alonso drove wide from 30 yards before Mellor clipped
the crossbar with a shot after he had wrongly been
penalised for offside.
Arsenal offered little as an attacking force and
appeared to lack the desire and commitment being shown
by the hosts in the first half.
Jens Lehmann scrambled across his goal to grasp Harry
Kewell's far post header while Sami Hyypia could have
done better when heading over from a corner.
Liverpool gained their deserved breakthrough four
minutes before half time following a move displaying the
hallmarks of true class.
A sweeping pass from the back was headed into Gerrard's
path by Harry Kewell. Mellor's clever run created space
for the Reds captain to slip a beautiful pass to Alonso,
who struck with power and precision from the edge of the
area to rock the champions on their heels.
Arsenal still looked sluggish at the start of the second
half before they cut the Liverpool defence to ribbons on
57 minutes and haul themselves back into a match to
which they had previously contributed nothing.
Vieira fed the ball into the feet of Thierry Henry and
galloped towards the penalty area. Henry laid off to
Robert Pires, who played in Vieira for the Arsenal
skipper to dink a delightful shot over Chris Kirkland
and score with his team's first shot of the game.
But the French powerhouse soured his performance on 71
minutes when he should have been dismissed for a blatant
dive. Vieira had been booked earlier for a foul on
Alonso and then threw himself to the ground in search of
a free kick.
Wiley, bizarrely, chose to meekly accept the player's
admission of the act, rather than show a second yellow
card for the piece of gamesmanship.
Goalkeepers were rarely tested in the second half but
Lehmann showed no rustiness in diving at full stretch to
beat away Gerrard's swerving shot after the ball broke
loose on the edge of the penalty area.
The largely ineffective Henry tried an ambitious shot
from just inside the Liverpool half before The
Premiership's leading scorer was booked after his
frustration boiled over into a poor tackle on Alonso.
In the final five minutes, Pires and substitute Robin
van Persie combined to tee up Henry but, after flicking
the ball over one defender, he wanted more time than he
was afforded by the home rearguard.
With a draw seemingly settled for, the ball bounced
kindly for Mellor in the final seconds and the back-up
striker unleashed a searing volley which clipped
Lehmann's flailing fingertips en route to nestling in
the corner of the net.