After The Match 


Blackburn-Liverpool 0-0        3.11.07                                 PL
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Benayoun, Sissoko, Mascherano, Babel, Gerrard, Kuyt
Subs: Kewell (Babel 63), Crouch (Benayoun 72)
Not used: Martin, Arbeloa, Lucas
Yellow: Carragher (58)
Red: None
Referee: M Atkinson
Attendance: 30,043
Shots on target: 3-4
Shots off target: 8-4
Blocked shots: 7-3
Fouls conceded: 8-12
Corners: 6-3
Offsides: 4-7
Possession: 47-53
Yellow: 0-1
HEADLINES “It was not
a performance that is going
to win
the league."

    Kenny Dalglish

0411: Rafa keeps faith with Kuyt
0311: Dalglish: Reds not on title form
0311: Hughes accepts draw
0311: Benitez: We deserved more
0311: Misfiring Liverpool play out scoreless draw  


Rafa keeps faith with Kuyt

Football 365

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 beat.

The 27-year-old scored 14 times after his £9million transfer from Feyenoord in August last year but has struggled this season.

And although his work-rate remains among the best in the Barclays Premier League, his touch appears to have deserted him.

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 Kuyt.

"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 off.

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 period.

"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."

Dalglish: Reds 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 evening.

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 contenders.

“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 minutes at
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 80s.

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 Anfield.

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 to play.

“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 25 minutes.

“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.”

Hughes accepts draw

Sky Sports

Blackburn Rovers chief Mark Hughes felt a draw was a fair result after the goalless draw with Liverpool.

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 side's performance.

"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 set."

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

Sky Sports

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 line.

Dirk Kuyt also wasted three great openings as Liverpool secured their fifth draw in their last seven Premier League outings.

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 saves."

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
out scoreless draw

Evening Echo

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 spectacularly.

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 in January.

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 parried away.

Just before the break Dunn turned the ball on to his weaker left foot before crashing a 20-yard shot against the crossbar.

Liverpool opened the second half brighter with Babel having a volley deflected for a corner before Kuyt squandered two great chances.

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 on-rushing Gerrard.

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 final.

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.

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