After The Match 

            

Fulham-Liverpool 3-1 (1-1)           31.10.09                         PL
Goals: Torres (42)            Zamora (24), Nevland (73), Dempsey (87)
Team: Reina, Insua, Degen, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Kuyt, Benayoun, Mascherano, Lucas, Voronin, Torres
Subs: Babel (Torres 63), Eccleston (Benayoun 78), Ayala (Kuyt 84)
Not used: Gulacsi, Spearing, Plessis, Dossena
Yellow: Baird (55)
Red: Degen (79), Carragher (82)
Referee: L. Mason
Attendance: 25.700
TEAM STATS
Shots on target: 6-1
Shots off target: 4-5
Blocked shots: 3-4
Fouls conceded: 10-13
Corners: 2-2
Offsides: 3-2
Possession: 35.8-64.2
Yellow: 1-0
Red:

 
0-2
HEADLINES "We have
to be calm, keep working hard and find solutions."
Rafael Benitez
0311: Why Fernando Torres is being
          frozen out at Liverpool FC

0111: Whelan: Benitez has given up title race
3110: Hodgson 'preaching modesty'
3110: Rafa explains Fernando decision
3110: Rafa's tactics torn to shreds 
 


NOVEMBER 3
Why Fernando Torres is being
frozen out at Liverpool FC


Comment by Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post

I appreciate that Liverpool are keen to shake off the image that they rely too heavily on Fernando Torres Ė but that doesnít mean he should be frozen out completely.

The Spanish striker has scored 10 in 10 in the Premier League and has to be the most devastating finisher in the world at the moment.

So when you have someone like that in your side you play to his strengths and give him as many opportunities as possible Ė chances are he will take them, as he proved against Manchester United and Fulham in the last two games.

And that is why I was amazed to see Andriy Voronin paired with him at Craven Cottage.

Torres thrives on the service from behind him so itís vital that when Steven Gerrard is not in the side, the selection is spot on and tailored to maximise the impact of the Premier Leagueís top scorer.

In the first half, I made a point of watching Torres and every time Liverpool had possession Ė whether it was Mascherano, Lucas, Degen or Insua Ė he was constantly looking to get into danger areas and his movement off the ball was excellent.

Trouble was, he never received it.

And he must have been wondering what he was supposed to do when heís thinking ahead but other players arenít on his wavelength.

Yes, he scored one, but it wasnít enough on the day so ways have to be found of rewarding the threat he poses with some decent service.

And I donít buy the argument that when Gerrard is out Liverpool donít have anyone who can drop in behind the lone striker and cause problems.

Has anyone seen Yossi Benayoun play recently?

He is the man who should be stepping in to the Gerrard role Ė he has the vision, the intelligence, the touch, the skill, the creativity to get the best out of Torres.

His pass against United a week earlier was the perfect example of that.

I said last week that when Gerrard was fit, Benayounís best position was on the right. But in the absence of the skipper, thereís no way he should be pushed out to the left.

And while I have no problem with Torres being taken off at Fulham given his issues getting back to full fitness, I couldnít understand Benayoun being taken off.

Heís not someone that Rafael Benitez can afford to alienate now, especially if Gerrard does have an operation and faces a long spell on the sidelines.

Benayoun needs to be put in the middle instead of being stuck out wide and waiting for the ball to be played out to him, and told he is the main man to play off Torres.

To me, thatís just going back to basics.

While Mascherano and Lucas are both sitting in the midfield, thereís never going to be enough invention coming from the creative areas so Benayoun simply has to be up alongside a main striker. Thatís where he can influence things.

It gives Torres the best chance of being allowed to play the game he wants and that gives Liverpool the best chance of wining games.

And letís face it, tomorrow night at Lyon that is exactly what they have to do.

And despite the current run, I truly believe they can. It wouldnít be the first time Benitez has defied the pressure surrounding him to pull off a masterstroke, particularly in Europe.

Going to Lyon is not like going to the Bernabeu or the Nou Camp. Itís a nice ground with nothing intimidating about it.

And they have had better teams than this in the past Ė they are beatable.

Despite the defensive problems currently plaguing Liverpool, I still think they remain a disciplined outfit when they have to be, they donít get cut up by teams.

And in most games they tend to have more of the ball then the opposition.

So the players need to make the best use of it and that means sticking Benayoun up there with Torres and going all out for the three points that will keep the Champions League campaign alive.

As far as Iím concerned thatís not even a gamble.

And itís one of those nights when, if the team is set up right, over-relying on Torres wonít be a bad thing.


Mark Lawrenson was talking to NICK SMITH


NOVEMBER 1
Whelan: Benitez has
given up title race


RT… - Soccer

Ronnie Whelan launched a sensational attack on Rafael Benitez on RT… television last night, suggesting that the Liverpool manager has already given up on the Premier League title and that his days are numbered at Anfield.

Speaking on RT…'s Premier Soccer Saturday, Whelan was reacting to his former club Liverpool's 3-1 defeat to Fulham.

Asked by presenter Darragh Maloney what had gone wrong at Craven Cottage, Whelan replied: 'It's all gone wrong with the manager. He's shown exactly today where his priorities lie.'

The former Ireland midfielder went on to suggest that Benitez is already thinking of his next job.

'He wants to win the European Cup. He wants to be the man who wins the European Cup so he can get a job anywhere in Europe. I think after winning the European Cup with Liverpool he will get a job in Europe anyway but, for me, now, his days have got to be numbered at Liverpool.'

Whelan reckoned that the team selected by Benitez to face Fulham on Saturday was not strong enough to get a result at Craven Cottage and that he could not understand the Spanish manager's motivations.

'Why after such a great result against Manchester United, do you want to take a huge step backwards after losing to Arsenal in the Carling Cup as well? I don't see where he's coming from now.

'He showed me today that he wants to win the Champions League and that's all he cares about - because of the team he picked today.'

Maloney then asked if Whelan believed that Benitez had given up on the title race already.

'When I saw the team I thought that straight away. He's not really bothered now. And I can't see why he's done it.

'He's taken players off who are the only players who are going to give you a chance of winning the game. And he drags them all off because he's got a game on Wednesday.'

Whelan also condemned Benitez for prioritising European success over domestic results, especially given Liverpool's precarious grip on staying in the Champions League.

'He's putting all his eggs in one basket. If he loses in Lyon, he probably won't qualify for the Champions League for the knockout stages. So, he's out of the Champions League; he's not going to win the Premiership anyway - so he's messed up completely.'

Liverpool travel to Lyon on Wednesday for a vital Champions League tie knowing that anything less than a win would make qualification for the knock-out stages unlikely.


OCTOBER 31
Hodgson 'preaching modesty'

Sky Sports

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is 'preaching modesty and humility' following Saturday's victory over Liverpool at Craven Cottage.

Erik Nevland and Clint Dempsey secured the win for the Cottagers after Bobby Zamora's opener had been cancelled out by Fernando Torres.

Liverpool's demise on the banks of The Thames has grabbed the headlines, with the Reds suffering their sixth defeat in seven games in all competitions.

Hodgson, though, does not want Fulham to get carried away with the success over one of the perceived heavyweights in the Premier League.

He said: "We still have got a lot of work to do. I am preaching modesty and humility.

"To be in the Premier League and to be playing Liverpool and Manchester United and Chelsea is a wonderful achievement for Fulham.

"It is important to keep our feet on the ground and we will have to because this year European competition is a huge stretch on our resources."

Liverpool, who had Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher sent off in the closing stages, dominated possession and Hodgson confesses that he feared for his side's chances.

However, Fulham survived and have now found some consistency following a run of games without defeat, much to their manager's delight.

Hodgson said: "We had to work hard to keep them at bay. They had more possession than us and at one stage I couldn't see us holding out.

"But we got closer to them in the second half. We started to create chances and took some of them. We're getting better as a team."

Asked if he had offered any sympathy to opposite number Rafa Benitez, who is under intense pressure ahead of a UEFA Champions League trip to Lyon, Hodgson said: "I would regard that as patronage. I just wished him luck for Wednesday."


OCTOBER 31
Rafa explains Fernando decision

By Steve Hunter at Craven Cottage - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez defended his decision to substitute Fernando Torres in the second half of the 3-1 defeat to Fulham and claimed he was protecting his star striker.

El Nino scored a brilliant equaliser on the stroke of half-time but was replaced after 63 minutes with the scores level at 1-1.

"We decided to play Fernando against United which was a difficult decision because he wasn't 100 per cent fit," the boss told his post-match press conference.

"After this game he needed four days to be ready again but he still isn't 100 per cent fit, so we had to decide if he could start today or use him for part of the second half. We decided to start with him but I have to protect the player.

"We decided to take him off just after the hour because I want to protect him and don't want to lose an important player like Fernando for one month. We had options in attack when he came off."

Reflecting on the loss at Craven Cottage, Benitez said: "Always it's hard to take any defeat but especially this one because we were in control of the game.

"I was really surprised because the first half was a one sided game. We made one mistake when we conceded a goal but after Fernando scored we were in control.

"I don't know the percentage of possession we had but it was unbelievable to concede in the first half after controlling everything.

"They were more offensive in the second half and we made a massive mistake when we conceded the second goal. We then had two players sent-off."

Meanwhile, the Reds boss revealed the club will make an appeal over the two red cards shown to Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher.

"For me, the first one with Degen was a yellow card, and with the second one it was clear that Carra was kicking the ball and not Zamora," he added. "I watched the replay and it is clear.

"We will try to appeal against both red cards because for me it's very clear that Carra was kicking the ball and the other one Degen was not kicking the player.

"It was difficult to take but it was a good response from the nine players who worked hard, but always it's very difficult to come back against 11 players.

"We now have a difficult game against Lyon. My concern now is we have too many injuries and we have to analyse which players will be available for Wednesday.

"All the managers want to win games and when you are not winning you have to analyse why, and we are doing this.

"Everyone saw the game against United and you saw we have confidence and we can do it.

"It's a question of taking your chances when you create them and don't make massive mistakes like today and give a lift to the other team.

"We have to be calm, keep working hard and find solutions."


OCTOBER 31
Rafa's tactics torn to shreds

By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is set to face renewed speculation regarding the security of his job after his much-changed side lost 3-1 against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Fulham took the points as goals from Erik Nevland and Clint Dempsey secured the win after Fernando Torres had cancelled out Bobby Zamora's opener in the first half on the banks of The Thames.

However, Benitez will receive the intense scrutiny after deciding to substitute Torres as an injury precaution early in the second half with the score at 1-1 before then withdrawing the influential Yossi Benayoun after Liverpool had again fallen behind.

To make matters worse for Liverpool, who have lost six of their last seven games in all competitions and travel to Lyon for a must-win UEFA Champions League game in midweek, Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher were shown red cards in the closing stages.

This was a match which only demonstrated that Torres - who was a hero in last weekend's win over Manchester United, now a blip in the form guide - cannot do it all by himself after a number of his team-mates were missing through injury and illness.

He cannot keep producing the only quality in a Liverpool team which, without the injured Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson, looks bereft of ideas and creativity.

Next Wednesday Liverpool travel to Lyon for a match which could see them effectively knocked out of the Champions league in the group stages. After this result they might just be out of the Premier League race, too.

The pressure is building on Benitez. And with the Reds faithful once more booing his substitution of Benayoun the steam is hissing all around him.

Bizarrely, it was a match in which Liverpool enjoyed the majority of the possession. A match in which they pressed forward with lots of effort, often against a wall of white shirts. But a match in which for vast swathes they struggled to supply the quality to go with their industry.

High tempo
They must have wondered, however, quite how they found themselves behind after 24 minutes.

Fulham had not had a single shot on Jose Reina's goal. They had barely crossed the half-way line.

But shortly after Benayoun had produced an acrobatic volley which rattled the Fulham crossbar the home side broke away.

The ball came to Damien Duff on the left and that trusty left foot curled in a raking cross which cut the Liverpool defence and allowed Zamora to tap home from close range.

The problem for Liverpool was that while they continued to press forward they struggled to produce the high tempo and urgency they had demonstrated against Manchester United last Sunday.

And when the equaliser came they could hardly put it down to rhythm and style. Instead it was fashioned out of nothing, but by the predator supreme.

There appeared to be little danger for the Fulham defence when the ball came to Andriy Voronin. His header was weak and misdirected but it cannoned off a Fulham defender and arced into the hitting zone of Torres.

He needed no more invitation. The Spaniard simply swivelled and swung his right boot and a fabulous volley from the edge of the box scorched past Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Disintegrate
It was Torres' 10th league goal of the season and only demonstrated once more his value to Liverpool.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson made a double substitution at half-time, bringing on Zoltan Gera for Diomansy Kamara and Nevland for Duff due to injury.

The Cottagers might have re-taken the lead on the hour mark when Zamora fired over a cross and Gera swivelled and shot but unfortunately for the home side straight at goalkeeper Reina.

They did take the lead, however, after 74 minutes and once more it was against the run of play.

This time Paul Konchesky surged down the left-hand side and Reina could only parry his cross. The ball was headed back across goal by Gera and there was Nevland to slide the ball into the net.

It got worse for Liverpool four minutes later when Swiss defender Degen was sent off for a reckless lunge on Dempsey.

Incredibly three minutes later Liverpool were down to nine men when Carragher brought down Zamora as the last man and also, correctly, received a red card.

And to wrap up an afternoon to forget for Benitez, Dempsey rolled in the third for Fulham as Liverpool disintegrated.


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