Babel scores and celebrates with Leiva.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Laursen tips Reds for glory
By Richard Torgerson - Sky Sports
Aston Villa defender Martin Laursen
believes Liverpool will win the Premier League after
watching Sunday's 5-1 destruction of Newcastle.
Laursen is fully aware of how impressive the win was for
Liverpool as they ended the year three points clear at the
Newcastle have fared well against the top teams this season,
including an away win against Laursen's Villa, as well as
two draws against Manchester United and Chelsea at Old
Trafford and Stamford Bridge.
After Liverpool's emphatic win over the weekend, Laursen
feels the Merseyside club are in prime position to end their
18-year-wait for league success.
"Liverpool are great and my favourites to win the title,"
the 31-year-old told Ekstra Bladet.
"Everything works for the team and they play positive and
attacking football. They have a good squad and seek goal
opportunities all the time.
"You should never write off Manchester United or Chelsea,
but at the moment, Liverpool are ahead on all levels."
Laursen also singled out Reds skipper Steven Gerrard as the
outstanding performer at St James' Park and he feels the
midfielder will be pivotal in Liverpool's quest to bring the
title back to Anfield.
"Gerrard was the man (against Newcastle)," Laursen added.
"He both scored and created opportunities for other players.
He is a great player that has had an enormous impact on
"If he can make it through the season without injuries, then
Liverpool will look more and more like champions to me."
Liverpool to win title
The Irish Times
Steven Gerrard has hailed the
table-topping Liverpool side as the best he has played in
and is backing the Reds to clinch a first Premier League
Rafael Benitez's side will start the New Year three points
clear of the chasing pack following yesterday's 5-1
thrashing of Newcastle.
Captain Gerrard, who scored twice at St James' Park, said:
"We have given ourselves a great chance. We have to remain
consistent, that is the key.
"If we want to stay at the top and be involved in this title
race, we have got to deal with the pressure.
"We have big players here and we will have a lot of tests
and challenges to come, but if we keep playing like this
then we will be there.
"This is the best team I have played with. You look around
the dressing room and, from the 'keeper to the forwards, we
have some fantastic players. There is a confidence that we
can get over the big hurdles."
Alan Hansen: I'm beginning
to believe Liverpool can win league
Liverpool Daily Post
Liverpool legend Alan Hansen is starting
to believe his former club are serious title contenders.
The Reds have not been domestic champions since 1990 but top
the Premier League at the halfway stage with a three-point
lead over second-placed Chelsea.
And Hansen said: “I have been tipping Chelsea for the
championship all along, but the longer the season goes on
the better chance that I think Liverpool have got.”
Liverpool looked in championship form as they beat Newcastle
5-1 yesterday, while Chelsea struggled to a 2-2 draw with
The Cottagers also took a point from Liverpool recently, as
did West Ham and Hull, but Hansen reckons it is the ability
to recover from such setbacks which shows Rafael Benitez’s
men have improved from previous seasons.
“Certainly Liverpool have a better chance of winning than
they had least season,” he wrote in his column in The Daily
“They are more resilient than at the same time last season,
they have more strength in depth and, crucially, they are
able to create impetus and momentum.
“In the last month they have had three draws against lesser
teams and it has not affected them.
“The most important thing is that they are not getting
“Mentally, the difference between drawing and losing is
massive, even if the gap in points between winning and
drawing is greater.
“As a title contender a defeat places unbelievable pressure
on you, so it is when you lose two games in four or five
that you find out what you are made of.
“This is where Manchester United and Chelsea have become
brilliant; it is the aptitude test of a championship-winning
will be the champs
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post
Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear
believes Liverpool will end their long wait for the
championship after watching his team torn apart by the
Anfield outfit yesterday.
Liverpool romped to a 5-1 win at St James’ Park yesterday to
extend their lead at the top of the Premier League.
The Anfield outfit go into 2009 three points clear of
Chelsea having taken 45 points from 20 games.
And as well as backing Rafael Benitez’s side for the title,
Kinnear hailed a “magnificent” individual performance from
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, who scored twice and had a
hand in two other goals.
“I think we have just seen the title winners,” said the
Magpies manager. “And I think we’ve seen the best
performance I’ve seen from a single player for a long time
in Gerrard, he was magnificent.
“Without a shadow of doubt they are the best team we’ve
played this season. They were head and shoulders above us.
They are an exceptionally good side.”
Kinnear believes Newcastle would have put up a better fight
had their squad not been decimated by injury, particularly
in defence where three first-team regulars were absent.
“With all the injuries we have had and three of the regular
back four out, whatever problems we had Liverpool took full
advantage,” he said.
“Had we had half of the players missing available, then
maybe the result could have been different.
“But it was such a one-sided game because they are a
world-class team. You have to take your hat off to
“Without Shay it would have been even worse. The only
positive from the game is that he has proven he is the best
goalkeeper in the league by a mile.”
Kinnear added: “We had a lot of players missing. We had no
Joey Barton, no Habib Beye, no Oba Martins, no Mark Viduka.
“We had no Sebastien Bassong, and without his height at
centre-back we couldn’t deal with Hyypia at set plays.”
Before the game, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley had announced
he was no longer seeking a buyer and had withdrawn the club
from the market.
Kuyt: The hard work starts now
By Paul Hassall - LFC Official Website
Dirk Kuyt was delighted to see Liverpool
finish 2008 three points clear at the top of the Barclays
Premier League but admitted: "The hard work starts now."
The Dutch striker played a key role as a lone striker in the
Reds' 5-1 demolition of Newcastle United and felt it was the
perfect way to cap an impressive festive period.
"It's great to be top at the end of the year," he told
Liverpoolfc.tv. "But it's just the beginning for us. We need
to step up every week and in every game and try to perform
as well as that in the next match.
"I enjoyed playing up front again. Unfortunately I couldn't
get my goal but I'd prefer to play in a team like this and
win 5-1, than score every week somewhere else.
"I really enjoyed the game and it caps a good Christmas
period in which we have picked up six very important points
and scored eight goals along the way."
The Reds stormed into a two goal lead at St James' Park
courtesy of efforts from Steven Gerrard and Sami Hyypia -
only to allow Newcastle back into it courtesy of David
Edgar's header in first-half stoppage time.
Kuyt was disappointed to see the Magpies snatch a lifeline
but felt the Reds stepped it up again in the second period
and could have easily made it an even bigger margin of
"It was a great result and we could have scored even more,"
he said. "We started the game really well.
"We missed a lot of chances at the beginning but after that
Stevie scored a great goal from a nice assist from Yossi.
"After that we continued to play well, got another goal and
were really unlucky to concede just before half-time. But I
think we stepped it up again in the second-half and it was a
well deserved result."
Kuyt also had words of praise for Liverpool skipper,
Gerrard, who produced another man of the match display.
"Stevie was great, but he always is," he added.
"He scored two goals and got two assists. He is a great
captain and showed once again how he likes to lead by
example - it's not just this game that he does it, he does
it every game. He's very important to us."
should have won by more
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Steven Gerrard reflected on Liverpool's
thumping 5-1 victory at Newcastle and admitted: "We're
disappointed we didn't win by more."
The Reds ended 2008 in style with a brilliant display at St
James' Park as two goals from the skipper plus strikes from
Sami Hyypia, Ryan Babel and Xabi Alonso ensured Rafael
Benitez's men will hold onto top spot going into the new
Gerrard opened the scoring after half an hour in the
north-east, by which time Liverpool could have been out of
sight after a number of goalbound efforts were brilliantly
kept out by an inspired Shay Given in the Newcastle goal.
"We've been threatening that sort of scoreline for a while,"
said the skipper after the game. "We've had a lot of chances
in games without being clinical but today we were.
"Having said that, we could have had more and the
disappointing thing at half time was that we hadn't scored
more goals. We could have been three or four up but they
have a world class goalkeeper and full credit to Shay for
some of the saves he made today.
"That's our only disappointment after the game, that the
scoreline could have been more emphatic. That's the standard
we have at Liverpool. We don't milk results, we always look
for the positives and the negatives. There weren't many
negatives today, but we could have had a few more goals."
Liverpool will head into the new year three points clear of
the chasing pack after Chelsea were held to a draw at Fulham
- and Gerrard insists there is still a lot of hard work to
get through if the Reds' title dreams are to be realised.
"If we want to stay at the top and get involved in the title
race then we're going to have to deal with the pressure," he
added. "We have big footballers and big players here.
"There are a lot of tests and challenges to come but if we
keep playing as we did today we will be there at the end.
There is a confidence but there's still a lot of hard work
to do and a lot of hurdles to get over if we want to stay
where we are."
says Reds have belief
By Alex Livie - Setanta Sports
Sammy Lee claims there is a growing sense
of belief that Liverpool can end their long search for
Premier League glory.
The Reds will welcome in the New Year with a three point
lead at the top of the table and were hugely impressive in
disposing of Newcastle on Sunday.
Lee has experienced winning titles at Liverpool in the 1980s
and he claims the players are determined to work hard in
search of their goals.
“We feel this is a very strong, very focused, very
determined bunch of players, and the joy from my point of
view is that they are all willing to work hard and improve
on their game,” said Lee.
"That as a coach and a manager is all you can ask from
"We have got a belief. It's not an arrogance - hopefully it
doesn't sound conceited, but we prepare to succeed, we don't
prepare to fail.
"These lads are working very, very hard to make sure they
get out the game what we feel as a club they deserve.
"But over the course of the season, only time will tell."
Rafa Benitez was again in the stands as he recovers from
surgery, but Lee claims the Spaniard has not taken his eye
off the ball.
He added: "We plan for wins - that's what this team is set
out to do in each and every game.
"It doesn't always work out like that, but yes, he was
"But Rafa being Rafa, I can assure you he will be looking at
the DVD now and analysing the performance and seeing where
we can improve.
"That's our responsibility as managers and coaches, to not
rest on our laurels, but to try to make sure we improve
because we have got another hectic schedule coming up."
enjoy St James' romp
Liverpool will head into 2009 on top of
the Premier League table after an emphatic 5-1 victory over
hapless Newcastle United at St James' Park.
Spirits on Tyneside had been lifted by owner Mike Ashley's
pre-game announcement that the club are no longer for sale,
but that buoyancy quickly evaporated as Liverpool should
have put the game out of sight by half-time.
Poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping from Shay Given kept
the scores level until the 31st minute when Steven Gerrard
crashed his shot in off the post following a neat move
involving Javier Mascherano and Yossi Benayoun.
Just five minutes later Sami Hyypia, who had already gone
close twice, rose above Fabricio Coloccini to head home a
Newcastle gave themselves hope for the second half when
David Edgar headed home a corner at the near post in
However, the hosts' gameplan was in disarray again five
minutes after the interval when Ryan Babel poked home from
close range after a string of defenders failed to clear a
Gerrard grabbed his second of the game on 66 minutes when he
darted on to a superb through ball from Lucas before
clipping a delicate shot over Given and the rout was
complete on 77 minutes when Xabi Alonso tucked away a
penalty after substitute David N'Gog had been tripped by
The Magpies were torn apart by the visitors in a
breathtaking first 45 minutes which demonstrated once again
just how important Given is to the club.
The Irishman was one of three Magpies, along with Steven
Taylor and Charles N'Zogbia, to be linked with a January
move to Arsenal by one newspaper this morning, but had it
not been for him, his side could have conceded at least
eight by the time they headed back into the dressing room.
In the space of four minutes, he parried Dirk Kuyt's drive
at the near post, blocked Gerrard's flick and then pulled
off a stunning one-handed save to deny the Reds skipper.
But his work was not done and he had twice thwarted Lucas by
the time the clock ticked around to the 20-minute mark
before keeping out Hyypia's 42nd-minute header with the help
of N'Zogbia on the line.
However, by that point, he had been beaten twice as the
rampant visitors finally made the pressure tell, Gerrard
sweeping the ball home from Benayoun's 31st-minute cut-back
before Hyypia headed home his captain's corner five minutes
Liverpool were simply irresistible, and a rout seemed on the
But the Magpies rallied and after Taylor had headed a Danny
Guthrie corner wide, Edgar proved the man for the big
occasion once again.
Just short of two years ago, the Canadian marked his home
debut with a stunning equaliser against Manchester United,
and when he headed another Guthrie set-piece home in
injury-time his side at least had hope.
Half-time substitute Shola Ameobi almost made an immediate
impact when Michael Owen only just failed to meet his
48th-minute cross with a diving header, but Liverpool's
advantage was restored within two minutes.
Referee Mark Halsey was simply not interested in the home
side's appeals for handball after Hyypia and then Lucas had
helped on Gerrard's corner, and Babel stabbed the loose ball
home to make it 3-1.
Joe Kinnear's resources were stretched further with 56
minutes gone when Nicky Butt limped off to be replaced by
Geremi, although the Cameroon international almost dragged
his side back into the game on the hour.
After Owen had been cynically tripped by Mascherano, Geremi
drove the resulting free-kick against the bar with
goalkeeper Jose Reina beaten.
But if the game was not already over, the result was put
beyond doubt with 24 minutes remaining when Gerrard ran on
to Lucas' pass and lifted the ball nonchalantly over Given
to make it 4-1.
Alonso made it five from the penalty spot after Edgar had
tripped Ngog with 77 minutes gone, and although Guthrie and
Taylor both went close, Given had to make a superb double
stop to deny Lucas and then Babel at the death.