After The Match 

            


Bolton-Liverpool 2-0 (1-0)           30.09.06                           PL
Goals: Speed (30), Campo (51)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Pennant, Alonso, Sissoko, Gerrard, Kuyt, Bellamy
Subs: Crouch (Kuyt 49), Garcia (Pennant 59), Zenden (Sissoko 76)
Not used: Dudek, Agger
Yellow: Crouch (74)              Faye (15), Speed (48)
Red: None
Referee: P Dowd
Attendance: 25,061
TEAM STATS
Shots on target: 2-6
Shots off target: 1-7
Possession: 41-59
Fouls conceded: 16-13
Corners: 1-10
Offsides: 3-6
Yellow: 2-1
Red:

 

0-0
HEADLINES "The first
goal
changed things..."
    Rafael Benitez

0310: Hyypia: Title talk worthless until May
0310: Travel sick Reds are lacking nasty streak
0110: Benitez: We're not out yet
3009: Rafa rues linesman's blunder
3009: Big Sam beams after Reds win
3009: Evergreen Speed downs ragged Reds


OCTOBER 3
Hyypia: Title talk worthless until May

By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo

Sami Hyypia says Liverpool should stop being dragged into premature title judgements and focus completely on ending their away slump.

Every defeat or victory provokes a similar hysterical reaction, with Liverpool dubbed challengers after a win and no-hopers after a loss.

Hyypia is clearly sick of the hype and prefers a sense of perspective.

"Let's see where we are in May," said the Finn today. "Within the club, of course we want to win the title, but we've not been talking about it a lot because we've wanted to focus on each game and make sure we play to our ability in every match.

"The final step in building a side capable of winning the league is always most difficult. Winning the Premiership is tough and the expectations are high.

"They're high every season at Liverpool, but particularly this time with everyone talking about the title.

"We should only be thinking about the next game, and come the end people can judge us on the league table."

The Finn admits he's perplexed by Liverpool's current vulnerability away from home, further exposed at Bolton at the weekend.

"It's very frustrating, and it hurts me personally too because I've played in the games against Everton away and Bolton in which we've lost," he said.

"And yet I don't feel the other team actually had that many chances to score. The opponents seem to be scoring from the few chances they have. We can't be happy with these results. It's hard to say how we can put it right other than working harder and being concentrated on every situation.

"I felt confident everyone was doing their job on Saturday, but then we've conceded goals from two situations.

"We have to remain positive and think if we only lose three times in a season, it's not bad. The biggest mistake now would be to start panicking and do something silly. We need to keep our heads up because know what we're capable of and need to show it."

Having returned to the line-up for the last two league games, Hyypia says he's relishing his battle for places with Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher, and says there's no danger of him giving up his established role without a fight.

He added: "Competition for places is good and when I get my chance I try my best to make it difficult for the manager to decide who he plays.

"Carra and Daniel are the same, and Gabriel Paletta is waiting for his chance. It's a new situation for me, but I'm alright with it. Let's talk again in May and how many games I've played then.

"I appreciate every game I play for Liverpool, and no player is ever going to like being on the bench, but Daniel has played very well and Carra is one of our most important players, so it's a healthy competition."


OCTOBER 3
Travel sick Reds are lacking nasty streak

By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo

As Bolton claimed three points on Saturday, I couldn't help seeing the similarities with the derby.

Until the first goal, Liverpool looked in control and in no danger.

Once the home team went ahead, they were able to build on their advantage far too comfortably and you neverfelt Liverpool were going to save the game.

Teams like Bolton guarantee you a battle, and once you've given them something to hold onto, it becomes twice as tough.

There's no doubt the circumstances leading to the first goal were crucial, but there's no point feeling sorry for yourself when a bad decision goes against you.

You've got to knuckle down even more, fight harder and get yourself back into the match. That's the area where I feel Liverpool are still lacking.

Sometimes you've got to develop that nasty streak away. Youknow what you're going to get at the Reebok, and you can't just assume you'll win because you have more quality.

The first task is to win your individual battles. Once you've established your authority over the guy playing directly against you, the game takes shape and you'll make your class tell.

All over the pitch, Bolton players were winning their personal battles, so by the end, although you could say Liverpool had some chances, at no point did you feel they had Bolton in trouble.

I could sense a few heads drop in the second half, and yet Istill felt if Liverpool could have raised their game they could have got back into it.

Everyone is looking for a reason between the differences in the home and away form, but there's no question it's harder blending new players into your system when you're playing away.

It was similar a year ago. As soon as the new lads settled down, we saw a huge improvement in results at home and away. I'm sure it will be a similar story this time.

The positive thing is Liverpool are still only six points behind the leaders, which is quite aresult given they've already lost three times. It just goes to prove no-one is running away with it.

A year ago, Liverpool would have been trailing by 12 already, which might have justified claims they were out of the race.

With games at Highbury and Old Trafford coming up, things can turn around quickly. But the away form is going to have to improve, otherwise the downbeat assessments won't seem so premature.


OCTOBER 1
Benitez: We're not out yet

ITV Football

On the last day of September, Rafael Benitez was already being confronted with unpalatable questions about Liverpool's realistic championship chances.

For the Anfield boss it was hard to take after seeing his side mugged by a system he detests, but nonetheless there was little doubt that Bolton's ruthlessly effective style warranted another famous victory for a glowing Sam Allardyce.

When the dust had settled on Big Sam's achievement, commendable though it was on such limited resources against Anfield's millions - something he was eager to point out, the real question was all about Liverpool's viability as genuine title challengers.

Bolton will not win the title and do not expect to. They are all about staying in the top flight and maybe reaching Europe. Allardyce has no real pretensions about anything more, nor should he.

For Benitez it is wholly different. Liverpool have talked a good game this summer about challenging Chelsea, but already that is surely a lost cause.

Nobody has won the title in the Premiership years and lost more than seven games - that was Blackburn in 1995. Six times in the last eight seasons, the title has gone to a side losing five or less.

Liverpool have now lost three of their first seven, and by no stretch of the imagination are they going to lose just three of their next 31.

Benitez tried to deflect the issue, but even he could not sound convincing.

The Spaniard said: "Now it is important to be calm and believe it is too soon to make judgements about the title. We can talk now about the problem, but two wins in a row will put us back in a challenging position.

"This is a bad time with an international break now, but afterwards we must keep winning our home games and start to do the same away.

"This season will be different. The difference between the top sides is not as big as before. Now there are also other sides who can beat or take points from the top sides; Bolton here, Aston Villa drawing with Chelsea.

"People will ask me now about the title, and our chances. Maybe if we win two games in a row then the question will be different in a couple of weeks.

"I am used to such questions, but for us we must wait and see if we can get three points next time. I do not accept that rotation and changing the team is the problem. I have been told that Manchester United won the title once and Sir Alex Ferguson changed the side 38 times."

Hardly convincing sentiments. Liverpool's position is not being helped by a woeful away record of three defeats on the trot and no goals scored.

Benitez again offers reasons without real conviction.

"Our away form is not the best. But we have faced good teams, at Chelsea when we played really well, at Everton we had more chances but conceded three. Now against Bolton, a difficult team.

"Even facing Sheffield United first, the game was massive for them after so long out of the top flight. Maybe if we faced them now it would be different."

Next up for Liverpool is Blackburn plus Manchester United, Aston Villa and Arsenal within weeks. Get past that little lot without any more mishaps and maybe people will start talking about titles again, but you sense that will not be the case on this insipid form.


SEPTEMBER 30
Rafa rues linesman's blunder

By Paul Eaton - LFC Offical Website

Rafael Benitez was left to rue an awful decision from the linesman as his side went down to a 2-0 defeat at Bolton
this afternoon.

The referee's assistant wrongly adjudged that Pepe Reina had handled the ball outside his area and awarded a free kick on the edge of the box which Gary Speed fired home after half an hour.

Ivan Campo headed a second goal early in the second half to set the home side up for the three points as Liverpool went down to their third away defeat of the season.

Benitez said: "It's clear that a mistake has been made. Pepe let go of the ball inside the area and then kicked it outside. The linesman was in a bad position. I knew at the time it was a mistake but what can you do?

"Every week we can talk about incidents but nothing changes. It's annoying.

"Up until that point we were controlling almost everything, apart from a couple of long throws which you expect here. The first goal changed things and then we conceded the second too soon in the second half.

"In the last twenty minutes we started losing second balls and then playing too many long balls which don't do anything."

Asked whether this defeat was a major setback to his side's hopes of winning the title this season, the Liverpool boss replied: "Maybe if we talk in a couple of weeks time it will be a different situation.

"We have experience of dealing with these questions. We know what was said when we lost two in a row earlier in the season and then we won two games quickly to change things."


SEPTEMBER 30
Big Sam beams after Reds win

By Chris Stanton - Sky Sports

Sam Allardyce hailed a job well done as his Bolton side defeated Liverpool 2-0 at The Reebok Stadium.

A first half free kick from Gary Speed and a second half header from Ivan Campo accounted for the disappointing visitors, and Allardyce relished the win just as much as last week's success at high-flying Portsmouth.

Paying tribute to a performance built on defensive grit, Allardyce was gushing in his praise of his players.

"It's just as good [as Portsmouth] because this is one of the big boys," Allardyce told Sky Sports 1. "It was a performance of a team that's closed down, nullified and had a game plan that's frustrated Liverpool for all of the game.

"What half chances they got, people were prepared to die to stop the ball going in the back of the net.

"Our opportunities came, they were very few, but we've taken them and that's crucial against Liverpool."

Allardyce admits his team were fortunate with the award which led to his side's first goal - Reds goalkeeper Jose Reina was adjudged to have handled outside the area, but television replays proved Reina released the ball before exiting the 18-yard box.

"We might have been a little bit fortunate with the free kick but we've taken full advantage," added Allardyce.

"The second goal was crucial. A peach of a goal from Ivan Campo and a great cross from Kevin Davies.

"That really put Liverpool on the back foot and our defensive qualities as a team were outstanding today - everyone at Bolton will have left with a smile on their face."


SEPTEMBER 30
Evergreen Speed downs ragged Reds

By Chris Stanton - Sky Sports

Goals from Bolton's Gary Speed and Ivan Campo dispatched a disjointed Liverpool side 2-0 at The Reebok Stadium.

With just one win in six visits to The Reebok prior to the lunchtime kick off, Liverpool again found this part of Lancashire an unhappy hunting ground as their bid to regain ground lost in the title race stalled.

Rafa Benitez spoke pre-match of the need for strong officiating, and though he would gripe with the award leading to the first goal, his side's failure was down more to his own team's lethargic performance coupled with the doggedness of inhospitable hosts.

Ex-Reds misfits El Hadji Diouf and Nicolas Anelka prompted intermittently for the hosts, but, as The Trotters came to play second fiddle to the visitors for much of the half, there was little indication of what was to come.

Nicky Hunt's touchline slip let in Craig Bellamy, but Tal Ben Haim thwarted the danger, while Dirk Kuyt's header from a Steven Gerrard free kick drew a parry from Jussi Jaaskelainen.

A Bellamy cross was then cleared by Israeli Ben Haim and Xabi Alonso's superb technical execution of a volley deserved better than for the ball to strike the outside of the left hand upright with Jaaskelainen well beaten.

Bolton had struggled to create headway for much of the first half. But a generous free kick awarded against Jose Reina for handball outside the area on 30 minutes provided the tonic. Up stepped Speed to rifle home the ball from 20 yards, with the unsighted Reina floundering.

The effervescent 37-year-old was also on hand at the other end to deny the marauding Jermaine Pennant from Bellamy's deflected centre, while Gerrard twice caused Jaaskelainen anxiety as the half drew to a close

Liverpool started the second period in determined mood, with Benitez bringing on Peter Crouch for Kuyt, but, just as Bolton had struck out of the blue in the first half, they did likewise just six minutes into the second period.

Kevin Davies crossed from the right and the onrushing Campo beat the standing Steve Finnan comfortably with his head to double the lead via the underside of the crossbar.

Benitez, shuffling uncomfortably, made another change, introducing Luis Garcia for Pennant, as his sense of desperation reached palpable proportions.

Garcia exuded a greater threat as the pressure mounted on the hosts, as Crouch slipped in the act of shooting, while Alonso exhibited his prowess from distance.

Bellamy, deployed for the first hour of the match in an ill-suited left wing slot, betrayed a lack of confidence in failing to profit from a promising opening and not even Gerrard, so often Liverpool's saviour, could rescue his side.

A forceful run from The Reds' captain ended with the ball finding only the side netting, and Liverpool, who have now picked up just one point from four away matches, knew the game was up.

Not so Bolton - as the clock ticked down, the hosts' desire for perspiration remained unsated, with the shifts of the once disgruntled duo of Anelka and Diouf eclipsed only by Davies, as Bolton recorded a fourth win in five matches - form that Benitez's side are still aspiring to.


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Thor Zakariassen