Carra: Reds playing for fourth
Jamie Carragher says Liverpool's title bid
is over and believes the club are fighting for a Champions
Defeat at West Ham last night left them 17 points off the
pace in seventh, still without a win in the league since
Boss Rafael Benitez is confident they can earn a top-four
place but Carragher is ready for a fight to get back into
Europe's elite for the next campaign.
"I think the league has gone and we've got to realise that
we're fighting with Everton, Aston Villa and Man City for
that top-four place," said Carragher on the club's official
Carragher conceded the injury-time penalty at Upton Park,
although it was problems elsewhere that led to Liverpool
failing to earn their first league win of 2008.
Hammers goalkeeper Robert Green had a quiet evening and the
only save he was required to make, from Fernando Torres, may
have been going wide.
"I don't think it's down to luck or anything like that -
I've always said you get what you deserve in football and if
results aren't going well like they're not at the moment
that's something we've got to turn around quickly,"
"The teams at the top are a long way away and we've got to
just focus on the Sunderland game on Saturday and try and
get three points from that.
"It's been a few games now since we got all three points and
we need to get more points on the board.
"West Ham is a tough place to go and obviously we're not
playing great and confidence is a bit low but if we'd got a
point there it would have been a step in the right
The dip in form in the league means the Champions League or
the FA Cup is a more likely route for success.
"It's not all doom and gloom," Carragher added. "We're still
in two very big cup competitions and, as I say, we want to
do well in them, but the league form isn't good enough and
the sooner we sort that out the better.
"At the moment things aren't going for us, but I don't think
it's about luck."
unity will break slump
By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website
Sami Hyypia has spoken of the need for
team unity in order to pull Liverpool out of their league
The big Finn knows from experience how hard it is to turn
around a negative string of results – just ask him about the
winter of 2002-03. Back then Gerard Houllier's Liverpool
went 11 league games without a win.
The present run of four points from five games is not quite
at that level just yet – and Hyypia has his own ideas on how
to make sure it never does.
"It's a group thing," he told Liverpoolfc.tv following
defeat at West Ham. "We need to re-group and as a team find
a way out. We need to work even harder than we have been
doing and then it will come. We have enough quality in the
squad to win games and score goals, so it's a matter of time
before our form comes back.
"We had a very good period in November and December and we
need to look at that and remember how we were playing."
While Hyypia is not the type to pump his fists in the
dressing room, he does concede that his experience can be
useful when things aren't going to plan on the pitch.
He said: "Of course we have the coaching staff to talk to
the team but if someone asks my advice I will be there to
give my opinion. Even when things aren't going well I will
not hide. I'm there if somebody needs me."
Much has been made of Liverpool's inability to kill teams
off since Christmas, but the club's veteran defender admits
there have also been problems at the other end.
Both Benitez and his predecessor built their success on
solid foundations, with clean sheet records broken on an
almost annual basis.
With just two shut-outs in 12 games, however, Hyypia
concedes that all is not well at the back.
"We've conceded goals in games recently where the defending
hasn't been as solid as in the previous seasons Rafa Benitez
has been here," said the 34-year-old. "From that point of
view we have things to do better.
"But it's a team thing. Like when I talk about not taking
chances, it's not just about the strikers. As a group we
have to get together and put things right.
"It's not only the back four that defends."
For Hyypia, two of the main reasons why Liverpool's
defending hasn't reached its usual standards of late are
inextricably linked: Daniel Agger's injury and the
subsequent need for him, as the only senior centre-back
waiting in the wings, to play almost every game.
The Finn explained: "The rotation has been talked about
since the boss has been here but for me personally it's been
quite good. Last season I played quite regularly but not
every week. That suited me perfectly because I had time to
recover from games and I could perform better as I was
"Maybe this year it's been a bit more difficult for me
because I've played as many games at this point of the year
than I did in all of last season.
"I think Daniel's injury is one thing that has affected the
defending too because he is a quality player who really
helps the team."
rage over late lapse
By Joe Drabble - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was left
cursing an injury-time lapse in concentration as West Ham
condemned the Reds to a 1-0 defeat at Upton Park.
Benitez was left questioning his players' decision to gamble
forward to attack a last-minute corner which ultimately saw
the Hammers break down the other end and earn a late
Despite the result Benitez still believes his side did
enough on the night to earn the three points.
"Yes to lose is always a bad thing for us but especially in
these types of games where you have chances and you are
attacking, but you don't take your chances," Benitez told
"Especially after a corner in the last minute - they can go
forward and play on the counter-attack when we only had
three players outside [the West Ham box] and they won a
"Everything went wrong at the end."
Liverpool had strong penalty appeals turned down themselves
when Sami Hyypia's header appeared to strike Lucas Neill's
arm in the box - however Benitez refused to criticise
referee Alan Wiley.
"There could have been a penalty but you cannot change the
decisions of the referee now so that's it," said Benitez.
"I think that we started really well and also the second
half we were attacking and creating clear chances so the
question sometimes is that we must be calmer in front of
goal and that is the difference."
Liverpool have now only picked up four points from their
last five Premier League games, and Benitez admits his side
must work through this poor patch of the season.
"It's a bad situation now because I think today again we
deserved to win, but you cannot change the result," he said.
"We are doing well in the cup but we need to improve in the
Late Hammer blow for Liverpool
Mark Noble grabbed a stoppage-time winner
from the penalty spot as West Ham beat visitors Liverpool
1-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday.
With better finishing from Luis Boa Morte at Upton Park, the
Hammers would have had their first win over the Reds since
1999 sealed before Noble struck from the spot.
But Boa Morte wasted two sitters either side of half-time
before home fans cruelly cheered him off when he was
Even a draw would have left Rafael Benitez's men still well
off the pace for the title and they remain without a win in
the league since Boxing Day.
It was billed as a match between two teams with contrasting
styles of ownership - Alan Curbishley is left to get on with
his job by his Icelandic bosses, while the Americans at
Anfield have created a stir since taking over.
On the pitch, only Noble's penalty was to choose between
West Ham knew victory or defeat would not have moved them
from 10th, yet their display would have suggested they were
trying to prove they could rub shoulders with those chasing
Their fans had a point to prove as well, jeering Yossi
Benayoun following his departure in the summer.
"We were hoping he would sign a long-term contract with us,
but that didn't happen," wrote Hammers boss Curbishley in
his programme notes.
Benayoun, Steve Finnan and Sami Hyypia were the only
survivors from the nervous victory over Havant and
Waterlooville at the weekend - and it was Benayoun who had
the first chance when he almost took advantage of a mishap
from Robert Green.
The goalkeeper's slice was worked to Dirk Kuyt and then
Benayoun, but his chip drifted over the crossbar.
From a relatively promising start, with Kuyt seeing the ball
playing just off Fernando Torres, it was the hosts who then
gathered momentum as the first half unravelled.
Curbishley used Carlton Cole as the focal point of his
attack, and the striker almost embarrassed Jose Reina early
on when the goalkeeper dwelt on the ball.
Cole helped create West Ham's first genuine opening, midway
through the opening half.
The striker flicked on George McCartney's long throw,
Liverpool were seized by panic as Lee Bowyer tussled but Boa
Morte rushed his shot and blazed over when the ball fell to
The hosts got even closer in the 26th minute when a
free-kick was awarded on the left flank for Jamie
Carragher's foul on Cole. Noble took the set-piece, which
was glanced by Finnan and cannoned off the crossbar.
Noble and Steven Gerrard battled in the middle of the park -
England central midfielder against his under-21 counterpart
- and the senior man was fortunate to escape a booking for
one of his challenges. Fabio Aurelio, though, picked up a
caution for his foul on Freddie Ljungberg.
Cole had a sight of goal in stoppage-time in the opening
period but Benayoun slid in to block and Liverpool went into
the break level.
They were marginally brighter in the second half.
Kuyt created the first chance, three minutes in, when he
found room on the right flank and drove a cross into the
danger area, but Harry Kewell could not wrap his foot around
the ball to finish.
Matthew Upson then flashed a backpass right across Green's
goal, which the goalkeeper had to watch drift wide.
Torres also ran at pace into the penalty box but was
outnumbered when he looked to find a team-mate.
At the other end, Boa Morte fluffed his finish when Noble's
free-kick was headed into his path. Then came the ironic
cheers for Boa Morte's departure, with Bowyer also coming
off for Matthew Etherington and Dean Ashton, both back from
Liverpool midfielder Lucas came on for Kewell and he was
just wide with his finish after releasing Torres down the
right and getting on the end of the cross.
Lucas also went wide when he got on the end of a driving run
Torres, who was booked for dissent, was denied by Green at
the near post from Ryan Babel's cross, while Lucas Neill
flashed wide for West Ham before the end.
With injury-time just about over, Carragher brought down
Ljungberg in the penalty area. Noble converted the