Dominic King sees the Reds start
to turn the tables with away win
Comment by Dominic King - Liverpool Echo
“I think tables are of no interest until
at least 10 games have been played. Then you start looking
to see how big a gap there is between yourself and the top
teams or between yourself and the bottom teams.” – Roy
Hodgson, September 10, 2010.
As he sits down to study the Premier League standings today,
Liverpool’s manager will momentarily furrow his brow at the
sight of his side being in 12th spot but then take heart
from the fact that a position that threatened to be
desperate does now not look so bleak.
Hodgson might have spent the opening stages of his reign
ignoring football’s vital statistics but, for the past
month, Liverpudlians have been forced to view them with
mounting horror owing to the Reds being trapped in the
Had Hodgson lost what he inadvertently made such a big
fixture all those weeks ago, the growing unease of some
supporters could easily have boiled over yesterday but, as
things stand, Liverpool might just be heading into a period
of on-field prosperity.
Though they left it late, victory over Bolton Wanderers at
the Reebok Stadium – achieved thanks to a moment of genius
from Fernando Torres and a strike of great poise from Maxi
Rodriguez – was absolutely deserved and enabled them to leap
More than that, it has thrust them into a place where they
can start to think about hunting down those who had stolen a
march on them during that lamentable period when practically
everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
What a difference seven days and back-to-back victories have
made; suddenly Liverpool are three points away from
fifth-placed Tottenham and should they beat Chelsea next
Sunday – a big if, admittedly – their 11-game tally would
not be too dissimilar to last season’s haul at the same
“It’s just nice to be out of the bottom three,” reflected
Jamie Carragher. “We’ve been in there a while so it’s been
difficult to look at the table. We know we haven’t had a
great start but with the league so tight, a few wins can
certainly help us climb the table.”
Make no mistake this was an enormous victory, a point proven
by the fist-pumping and back-slapping that greeted the final
whistle from the majority of the squad, coupled with the
scenes in the exultant away end.
It might not have been the easiest Liverpool performance
there has been on the eye but it could turn out to be hugely
significant in the course of the campaign.
Fluffing their lines yesterday would have left Liverpool
susceptible to another round of inquests and ensured the
build up to the showdown with the league leaders – usually
one of the most eagerly anticipated collisions in the
calendar – would have been laden with negativity.
Not now. Liverpool might not be the force they were when
going head-to-head with Chelsea two seasons ago but at least
they will go into the game with confidence starting to grow,
knowing they have nothing to lose.
What’s more, the team is starting to knit together. The
shape is better, the work rate cannot be faulted and more
players are accepting responsibility.
Take Rodriguez. He has quite a fan base on The Kop but the
games he has heavily influenced since arriving from Atletico
Madrid in January have been few and far between.
Happily he corrected that here. Building on a excellent
performance against Blackburn, the little Argentine was
Liverpool’s brightest attacking source and the longer this
contest progressed, the more you could see his class shining
An acrobatic overhead kick almost caught Jussi Jaaskelainen
by surprise midway through the second period but he got the
reward his play deserved in the 86th minute when Lucas and
Torres combined to send him scampering through.
His poked effort squirmed through Jaaskelainen’s legs but he
went for the only area of the goal that the big Finnish
keeper did not have protected.
That he was put through by Torres was deeply ironic because
prior to that flash of genius, the Spaniard had produced the
kind of display that would have left Sean Dundee, Erik
Meijer and Titi Camara red-faced.
From the moment he made a hash of a pass from Steven Gerrard
which he should have smashed past Jaaskelainen, Torres ran
down blind alleys, failed to show adequate control and was
outfoxed by Gary Cahill. But he rendered everything that had
gone before with that terrific back heel – if he does the
same against Chelsea and Liverpool win again, nobody will be
Least of all Hodgson. He will meet new owner John W Henry
for talks this week about Liverpool’s winter transfer budget
but he will not kid himself into thinking that a tweak here
and tuck there is all that is needed to take the club
Provided they maintain this effort and application, however,
there is nothing to say Liverpool won’t be marching forward
rapidly again; cast a glance at the table once more and you
will see that the opportunity is there if they wish to take
Getting better but still
far from good enough
Comment by Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post
When grilled over Liverpool’s faltering
first steps under his tenure, Roy Hodgson claimed he should
only be judged after
10 Premier League games.
And having reached that mark yesterday at the Reebok Stadium
the verdict that must surely be returned is simple: getting
better, but still far from good enough. Any threat of a
Halloween horror was averted with Maxi Rodriguez’s late
strike dragging Liverpool out of the relegation zone with
their first away league win in more than six months.
The Argentine’s only previous goal for the club came in that
triumph at Burnley back in April, his team’s third in a 4-0
romp. However, his effort four minutes from time yesterday
will have far greater resonance for both Liverpool and their
manager’s fledging Anfield career.
With champions and league leaders Chelsea to visit Anfield
next week, Hodgson is perhaps wise not to definitively state
a corner has been turned. But at least supporters no longer
have to view the league table while peering from over the
back of the couch.
“Quality is permanent” responded the Liverpool manager when
asked post-match about the ongoing debate over the form of
Fernando Torres, a statement the striker justified following
a largely tortuous afternoon in which he appeared every inch
a man struggling for confidence.
Yet having spent 86 minutes as though possessing two left
feet, it was the Spaniard’s deft backheel through the legs
of Gary Cahill that released Rodriguez to shoot straight
through Bolton goalkeeper Juusi Jaaskelainen and in off the
underside of the crossbar to the delight of the away
supporters packed behind the goal.
The ecstatic nature of those celebrations, and the jubilant,
defiant reaction of Jamie Carragher, demonstrated what these
three points meant. But if this was a big result for
Liverpool, it was similarly important for their manager’s
Just look at the statistics. Before yesterday, Hodgson had
won only seven of his previous 52 away Premier League games
with his most recent being 22 games ago for Fulham at
Portsmouth on the opening day of last season.
Coming a week after the relief of triumph against Blackburn
Rovers, this was only the third time Liverpool have scored
back-to-back Premier League wins this year, underlining the
lack of consistency that has contributed to their slide from
top-four contenders to bottom-three dwellers.
The sight of Joe Cole disappearing down the tunnel just past
the hour clutching his hamstring was a gentle reminder that
Hodgson’s problems won’t disappear on the strength of two
That said, it was Cole’s departure that prompted the
introduction of David Ngog and a change in formation that
ultimately proved pivotal, Hodgson switching to the 4-4-2 he
had over the weekend lamented was difficult to impose due to
a lack of striking options.
Bolstered by a towering performance from Sotirios Kyrgiakos
– the Greek keeping the dangerous Kevin Davies in check –
Liverpool kept only a third clean sheet in the league this
season while claiming an eighth successive win over the
And while Bolton manager Owen Coyle suggested his team
deserved more and should have had a penalty when Jamie
Carragher handled inside the area, Liverpool’s greater
desire meant there could be few realistic complaints with
A goalless draw was the most likely outcome, however,
particularly after a low-key opening half in which, despite
dominating possession, Hodgson’s men rarely looked like
altering the statistic of Torres’s strike at Old Trafford in
March being the only first-half goal Liverpool have scored
away from home in the Premier League during 2010.
Torres epitomised the visitors’ impotence, most notably in
the eighth minute when, after being released by a
quick-thinking Steven Gerrard following Zat Knight’s slack
pass, the forward seemed in two minds how to finish and
ended up pulling his shot harmlessly away from goal.
The Spaniard, who had already headed a presentable
opportunity over from Gerrard’s left-wing corner, later
brought a neat move to a shuddering halt by inexplicably
passing the ball out of play, and his frustrations boiled
over when he took a heavy touch and, in attempting to
retrieve possession, stupidly brought down Stuart Holden.
Holden forced Bolton’s first threat when a Liverpool
throw-in somehow ended with the United States midfielder
thrashing a shot from 20 yards that was beaten out by Pepe
Reina, while the goalkeeper showed good hands to twice
fierce free-kicks from Matt Taylor before the interval.
Liverpool’s lamentable attempts to test Jaaskelainen
continued when the busy Rodriguez rolled the ball into the
path of Gerrard but the skipper skewed his shot horribly
If Torres and, to a lesser extent, Gerrard were off colour,
the same could not be said for many of their team-mates.
Lucas has benefited from an extended run in the team and
built on his impressive display against Blackburn with
another fine outing, snapping away at the heels of Bolton’s
midfield, breaking up the play and, alongside Raul Meireles,
keeping the ball moving.
Kyrgiakos earned the praise of both his captain and manager
this week for the danger he has added to Liverpool’s
set-pieces, and it was from one such Gerrard delivery that
the Greek came close to opening the scoring midway through
the second half, his header dropping just over the crossbar.
In the 71st minute, substitute Ngog initiated a
counter-attack that ended with Rodriguez striking an
acrobatic volley narrowly over from a Torres lay-off.
Bolton, though, came strong in the final quarter. Another
poor touch by Torres gave Johan Elmander a chance to shoot
that the striker dragged narrowly wide.
It was the touch of fortune Liverpool needed, and they could
have snatched victory but Torres played his throughball
behind the frustrated Gerrard with the captain in behind the
But Torres finally got one right four minutes from time when
his clever trick from a Lucas pass sent Rodriguez in for the
winner and ensure a Halloween treat for Hodgson.
Hodgson: Still work to do
Roy Hodgson refused to get carried away in
the aftermath of Liverpool's win at Bolton after insisting
there is still plenty of work for his side to do.
Maxi Rodriguez's 86th minute strike was enough to earn
Liverpool a three-point haul at the Reebok that pulls them
out of the drop zone.
The win secures back-to-back league victories for the first
time under Hodgson but while pleased with the result, the
experienced tactician is taking it one game at a time.
Hodgson said: "If we had come into this game in a different
position in the league table and with a few wins behind us,
I think we would have settled down and been a bit more
"As it is we are affected by the table and the fact we have
started so badly.
"We have been rightly criticised for starting so badly and
when that happens one of the things that goes out of the
window is composure and confidence.
"I have been as devastated as everyone has by the lack of
results but I have never stopped believing that work would
pay dividends. It is just a question of timescales.
"I am still not convinced it is going to pay dividends in a
short timescale, it is going to be a longer job.
"It is still too early to be too optimistic but at least it
is a step in the right direction.
"The players now know they have got the ability to dig in,
even in games like this, which is a good thing to know.
"It is nice to see a little bit of light at the end of the
Liverpool started brightly but the still misfiring Fernando
Torres missed two good chances early on and Bolton then
The hosts gave as good as they got and created a number of
good chances, the pick of which came just before Rodriguez
struck when Kevin Davies headed narrowly wide.
Sotirios Krygiakos had two good headed opportunities for
Liverpool but Bolton also had three penalty appeals turned
Hodgson added: "We had so much of the ball, so many
situations where I though we had opportunities and we wasted
"Luckily one more came up and we took it.
"When you don't do that you are always worried one of the
long throws or long balls into the penalty area is going to
bounce kindly for the opposition and you are going to lose
"I was delighted that didn't happen. I thought it was a very
gritty performance from our back four."
admits to Reds fortune
Jamie Carragher felt Liverpool were
fortunate to edge a 1-0 win over Bolton in an
evenly-contested Premier League clash at the Reebok Stadium.
Maxi Rodriguez struck a late winner to help the Reds climb
out of the relegation zone, the Argentinian latching onto
Fernando Torres' backheel to settle a competitive encounter.
Both sides created numerous chances and Carragher felt
neither deserved to leave with all three points.
"I don't think anyone deserved to win to be honest,"
Carragher told Sky Sports 1. "I don't think there was too
many chances. It's always a difficult game here at Bolton.
"Kevin Davies had a header late on, and that could have been
it for them, and our chance has gone in.
"It was a really tight game but that's the Premiership for
Reflecting on what the win has done for his team's league
position - they are now up to 12th place - Carragher added:
"It's just nice to be out of the bottom three.
"We've been in there a while so it's been difficult to look
at the table. In the weeks to come we have to get further up
"We know we haven't had a great start, but there's still a
long way to go and with the league so tight, with a few wins
we can certainly climb to the top half of the table."
Maxi leaves it
late for Reds
A day of derbies in the Premier League
concluded with a timely three points for Liverpool as Maxi
Rodriguez's late goal secured a 1-0 win at Bolton.
The game looked to be heading for a goalless stalemate when
Fernando Torres' clever flick found Rodriguez's run from
deep and the Argentine kept his nerve to stab past Jussi
Jaaskelainen for a maximum haul.
There was plenty of bluster from both sides in what was a
whole-hearted affair but genuine chances were at a premium
as neither goalkeeper was overworked before Rodriguez's
intervention four minutes from time.
Prior to his assist Torres looked shy of both form and
confidence and never did it become more apparent than in the
first half when he made inroads on Bolton's goal only to
prod meekly wide with just Jaaskelainen to beat.
His profligacy was matched by Steven Gerrard towards
half-time as he pulled his shot wide when well placed on the
edge of the box, while earlier Pepe Reina was forced into a
save to deny Stuart Holden from range.
The win drew them level on points with Bolton, who had been
enjoying their best start for four years and were looking
set for a seventh draw of the campaign.
They might even have won it themselves had a late Kevin
Davies glancing header fallen the right side of the post.
Roy Hodgson named the same Liverpool team for the third
successive Premier League game as he attempted to instil the
cohesion they have been lacking.
It initially appeared to work as the Reds, hoping to build
on last week's morale-boosting win over Blackburn, started
confidently and created two early chances for Torres.
The first came after three minutes as Gerrard swung in a
corner but Torres could not keep his header on target.
His next chance came just five minutes later but, despite
netting last week's winner, the Spaniard still showed signs
of the rustiness that has hampered him all season.
Torres raced through on goal from a Gerrard pass but delayed
a shot and then mis-kicked as he attempted to stab past
Jaaskelainen from close range.
Bolton's first attempt on goal came when Holden blasted a
free-kick at the wall from 25 yards.
After that Bolton gave as good as they got and Reina parried
a vicious Holden volley from distance after the US
international was teed up by Davies.
The hosts appealed for a penalty as Lee Chung-yong cut
inside from the left and went down under a challenge from
Jamie Carragher but referee Martin Atkinson played on to few
Liverpool attacked back but Joe Cole scooped a long-range
effort well over the bar and Gerrard did likewise from a
Fabrice Muamba shot from long range for Bolton but his
effort curved well away from goal.
Torres set up Gerrard but the Reds skipper drove wide from
the edge of the box.
Taylor tested Reina with two free-kicks just before the
break but the Spaniard managed to smother both attempts and
Carragher survived another penalty appeal after the faintest
of touches with the hand.
Sotirios Krygiakos, goalscorer in two of the previous three
league games, forced Jaaskelainen to save from a Gerrard
cross in injury time.
Bolton made the early running in the second half and twice
forced Liverpool to clear unconvincingly without creating a
Gerrard tried to raise Liverpool's fading tempo with a
powerful run and long ball for Torres, but a promising
attack was ended as Muamba collided with Lucas.
Gerrard found good space on the edge of the box but his shot
was deflected into the air and claimed easily by
Liverpool suffered a blow just after the hour as Cole was
forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury and was
replaced by David Ngog.
Krygiakos again went close when Gerrard picked him out from
a corner but this time headed narrowly over.
The giant stopper was then involved at the other end after
bundling into Davies but Atkinson deemed the Bolton captain
to have gone down too easily.
Liverpool might have been struggling to produce the
intensity their fans demanded but pieced together a move of
genuine quality as Rodriguez finally got into the game
midway through the second half.
Rodriguez sent Gerrard away down the left with a clever
backheel and the captain whipped in a cross for Torres.
Torres nodded back down for Rodriguez to attempt a
spectacular overhead kick which went just inches over.
Bolton replied as in-form Johan Elmander, looking for his
first home goal of the season after hitting five away,
showed great control and drove just wide of the post.
Zat Knight then headed over from the resulting corner and
Davies also glanced a header wide from a free-kick as the
Trotters enjoyed a strong spell.
But Liverpool roused themselves late on and carved Bolton
open with a delightful move to set up the winner for
Torres was the creator as he nutmegged Gary Cahill with a
clever backheel and Rodriguez raced through.
The Argentinian showed great composure as he clipped the
ball in off the body of Jaaskelainen.