keeps faith with Kuyt
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is backing
misfiring striker Dirk Kuyt to come good despite the Holland
international being woefully out of form.
Kuyt could easily have had a second half hat-trick in
Saturday's goalless draw at Blackburn and his current
malaise was summed up two minutes from time when he blazed
over from six yards with just goalkeeper Brad Friedel to
The 27-year-old scored 14 times after his £9million transfer
from Feyenoord in August last year but has struggled this
And although his work-rate remains among the best in the
Barclays Premier League, his touch appears to have deserted
He has three goals in 13 matches this campaign but two of
those were penalties in the Merseyside derby victory and the
Dutchman is patently struggling.
However, with record signing Fernando Torres expected to be
out for at least another couple of weeks with a torn
adductor and Peter Crouch out of favour, Benitez has little
option but to persist with Kuyt.
"When you miss chances and you have two or three, it means
you are there. If you are not there, you cannot miss the
chance," said the Spaniard after watching his side waste
numerous opportunities in the second half at Ewood Park.
"I will not criticise Kuyt because he plays a lot of games
and over 90 minutes his work rate is fantastic.
"He is creating chances. When you have a player who can
create three or four chances for himself, normally sometimes
he will score so I think I must be pleased and positive with
"We need to profit from the work he is doing up front and it
will be easier for him to score if his team-mates can score
the first goal."
Unfortunately his team-mates were in no better form when it
came to beating Friedel, who denied Steven Gerrard twice and
Ryan Babel before Crouch saw a header cleared off the line
by David Bentley.
And to be fair to Kuyt, until Crouch's 72nd-minute arrival,
he spent much of the match isolated up front as Benitez's
tactic of playing Gerrard in a supporting role did not come
The draw - Liverpool's fifth in seven matches since they
briefly went top of the table with a 6-0 win over Derby in
early September - dropped the Anfield side to seventh.
However, they are only six points behind leaders Arsenal and
have a match in hand of many of their rivals.
Benitez remains confident he can re-ignite the Reds as they
head into the potentially-damaging November to January
"I said at the start of the season this one would be more
difficult for everyone and you can see it is not easy to win
games in a row," he added.
"With one game in hand, we can keep the team close to the
top of the table. We have Daniel Agger, Xabi Alonso (both
broken metatarsals), Fernando Torres coming back and I think
we will be stronger in the next few months."
not on title form
By Tom Adams - Setanta Sports
Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish was
disappointed to see The Reds fail to underline their title
credentials against another of his former clubs, Blackburn
Rovers, in front of the Setanta Sports cameras on Saturday
At the beginning of the season many pundits had predicted
that this could be the campaign that would see Liverpool end
their 18-year wait for another league title, but although
they remain unbeaten under Rafa Benitez, a run of five draws
in seven games has left the Merseysiders six points off the
pace of joint leaders Arsenal and Manchester United.
Dalglish – the Glasgow-born ‘King of the Kop’ – won no less
than eight league titles as player and manager of Liverpool,
thrilling fans in one of English football’s most
entertaining sides along the way, but the legendary figure
was unconvinced by The Reds' latest league display.
Although Liverpool enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure
towards the end of the game at Ewood Park, Dalglish –
speaking as a studio guest during Setanta’s coverage of the
tie – admitted that the club did not play like championship
“He [Benitez] doesn’t want to admit it but they were poor,”
Dalglish said on Setanta Sports 1. “It was not a performance
that is going to win the league.
“Certainly, the last 20-25 minutes gives you a better chance
but you’re not always going to come to the last 20-25
0-0. [They are] Seventh in the table so it’s a lot to ask.
“Today’s 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Manchester United
looked good on paper but when you draw your own game you’ve
not reduced the deficit. They’re still the same number of
points behind and have got it all to do.
“Chelsea have picked up and are in third position so
Liverpool need to now be a wee bit more positive and start
games like the last 20-25 minutes.
“I think they left it a wee bit late to go. Have a go early
doors and then you are off. That is the way that people who
support Liverpool have been brought up.
“Rafa has been very successful in his spell here, but I
think they have lost their confidence a bit, and after the
derby it seems to have gone a bit quiet for them with five
draws in seven games. That isn’t championship form.
“They have got to take the bull by the horns and say we’ve
got to be more aggressive and more positive up front.”
Undoubtedly one of the club’s greatest ever players,
Dalglish became a Kop idol when playing a central role in an
attacking brand of football that delivered sustained
success, both in England and abroad, during the 1970s and
The Scot admits that Arsenal and Manchester United are
currently outscoring his old side in the style stakes at
present, but believes Benitez has proved his credentials by
delivering the FA Cup and Champions League in three years at
Dalglish continued: “Arsenal and Manchester United are
fantastic to watch with their passing movement and running
off the ball. They really are a joy to watch. They have a
different philosophy to Liverpool, it’s not how Rafa wants
“Rafa came out with an insight into his thinking and said
he’s got to keep his players fit and fresh for the run-in at
the end of the season. I think that’s maybe why he wants to
sit tight, keep the game tight and go and win it in the last
“It’s fine, his philosophy. He’s not playing for a draw,
he’s playing to keep it tight to go and win the game.
“It’s been his philosophy throughout his career and he had
tremendous success at Valencia in Spain. He went there and
got it right and he’s made an improvement at Liverpool to
what it was before so you’ve got to go along with the guy.”
Blackburn Rovers chief Mark Hughes felt a
draw was a fair result after the goalless draw with
The home side dominated the first half and came closest to
scoring with David Bentley and David Dunn hitting the
woodwork in the opening 45 minutes.
Blackburn were forced to hang on near the end as Liverpool
threw everything into attack, but Hughes was happy with his
"I thought we did fine. I thought it was a very good Premier
League game," said Hughes.
"Both sides had opportunities to win. Obviously Liverpool
came strong at the end.
"They had seven or eight guys who didn't play in midweek,
whereas we had a number of guys out there playing another
game in a short period of time.
"All in all, I think a draw was probably a fair result.
"We're delighted with the point. We've gone up against three
of the top four and taken a point off each of them. We've
got Man United next week so hopefully we can complete the
Blackburn had strong penalty claims turned down in the
second half when Jamie Carragher appeared to block a shot
with his arms and Hughes admitted the decision could have
gone either way.
"It was a big call," added Hughes. "These things go for you
sometimes. Sometimes they go against you."
Benitez: We deserved more
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez felt his
side deserved all three points after being held to a
goalless draw at Blackburn.
After an insipid first-half Liverpool improved after the
break with Steven Gerrard twice being denied by Brad Friedel
and substitute Peter Crouch seeing a header cleared off the
Dirk Kuyt also wasted three great openings as Liverpool
secured their fifth draw in their last seven Premier League
Benitez thought his side were unlucky to not to win after
creating several good openings in the second half.
"We deserved more because we created a lot, especially in
the second-half," said Benitez.
"We had clear chances and their keeper made some excellent
Benitez defended his side's lacklustre first-half showing
and he refused to rule his side out of the title race
despite dropping down to seventh spot in the table.
"We can always play better but it is not easy to play as you
want every time," added Benitez.
"It is too early to talk about the title. The difference in
points is not much and we have a game in hand."
Misfiring Liverpool play
Liverpool's Premier League ambitions
suffered another significant dent at Ewood Park where their
shortcomings in front of goal were exposed by Blackburn in
the goalless draw at Ewood Park.
Dirk Kuyt had three decent chances in the second half,
Steven Gerrard had two and substitute Peter Crouch had a
header cleared off the line as the lacklustre Reds were
fortunate to escape with a point.
Before the break David Bentley hit the post and David Dunn
smashed a shot against the crossbar as Rovers dominated.
Part of the problem for the visitors was the lack of
presence on the forward line.
Manager Rafael Benitez left England striker Crouch on the
bench which meant skipper Gerrard played in an advanced role
behind Kuyt but it was an experiment which failed
Only when Crouch was introduced in the 72nd minute - with
his international colleague dropping back to right midfield
- did Liverpool look more threatening.
But title-winning campaigns are not built on strong
performances in the last 18 minutes at places like Ewood
Park and Benitez's side missed the chance to make up ground
on top two Arsenal and Manchester United after they drew
earlier in the day.
In a frenetic opening Benni McCarthy, scorer of five goals
in his last four matches, produced a sublime piece of skill
to turn Jamie Carragher but Sami Hyypia was on hand to
swiftly clear the danger.
Neither side gave the other time to get the ball down and
settle into a rhythm and Liverpool's short passing game
continually took them down blind alleys.
Blackburn's first effort on target came when Morten Gamst
Pedersen robbed Gerrard inside Rovers' half. David Bentley
swung in a long cross which Roque Santa Cruz headed straight
at Jose Reina.
Dunn was guilty of poor decision making in the 21st minute
when he weaved his way past Javier Mascherano and Carragher
but slipped the ball to Santa Cruz rather than shoot himself
from the edge of the penalty area.
By contrast, Liverpool offered little going forward with
Gerrard often collecting the ball too high up the pitch to
utilise his strengths.
It took until the 30th minute for Liverpool to even threaten
a shot but when John Arne Riise's left-wing cross fell at
the feet of Kuyt and rebounded to Benayoun he saw his effort
blocked by Stephen Warnock, playing against the club he left
Blackburn continued to offer more up front and in the 35th
minute Andre Ooijer's long ball was knocked on by Santa Cruz
to Bentley who evaded Riise's tackle only to see his shot
scrape the outside of Reina's left-hand post.
Liverpool finally managed a shot on target with five minutes
of the half remaining when Babel cut back on to his right
foot and curled a shot which Brad Friedel comfortably
Just before the break Dunn turned the ball on to his weaker
left foot before crashing a 20-yard shot against the
Liverpool opened the second half brighter with Babel having
a volley deflected for a corner before Kuyt squandered two
On both occasions he cut in from the right but first rolled
a shot into Friedel's arms and then failed to pick out the
The visiting supporters had seen enough and began chanting
'attack, attack, attack' but Rovers, who replaced Dunn with
the veteran Tugay 11 minutes into the second half, still
looked the more likely to score.
With Liverpool crying out for some creativity Benitez turned
to Harry Kewell just after the hour, despite the
injury-prone Australian playing just 96 minutes of
first-team football since limping out of the 2006 FA Cup
Babel made way but the action turned to the other end where
Ooijer's shot deflected off Carragher's arm but referee
Martin Atkinson ruled Rovers could only have a corner, which
Santa Cruz headed over.
Liverpool were desperate for an injection of pace but with
that unavailable Benitez turned to 6ft 7ins Crouch in the
72nd minute, with Benayoun departing.
In the 79th minute Gerrard burst through on the left of the
area but his shot was blocked by Freidel.
And then when Crouch headed on Riise's left-wing corner
Bentley cleared off the line.
The last 10 minutes were a complete turnaround as Liverpool
poured forward and when Crouch nodded down to Gerrard the
captain found Friedel in the way again.
And Kuyt's misery was complete when, having been set up by
Kewell, he blazed over from five yards.