role to fulfil at Anfield
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
Jermaine Pennant has already made an
impact in the Champions League this season - and I don't
mean his reckless red card in Portugal which undermined
Liverpool's campaign almost before it had started.
It was Pennant's 18 minute cameo against Inter which helped
turn a finely poised last-16 tie Liverpool's way.
And it's why he could be an invaluable weapon on Liverpool's
substitutes' bench tomorrow night.
There have been times this season when Pennant has been
described as a few vowels short of a good Scrabble score.
After that red card in Porto, his manager talked of “a
mistake he must learn from.”
Barely 48 hours later a jilted ‘Page Three stunner’ revealed
that Pennant tried to break an Xbox addiction by playing
Scrabble – but “spent ages trying to save the letters to put
the word ‘zoo’ on the board because he thinks it’s high
He might still struggle with words and letters, but on a
football field he's learning.
He still elicits more negative reaction from fans than
perhaps any other player in the Reds squad.
But that's down to his perceived off-field persona rather
than a lack of talent on it.
His attitude all season has been much improved, after he
ended the last campaign with an excellent display in a
Champions League final.
He can deliver damaging crosses, go past full-backs for fun
and unlock defences with a perceptive pass.
All that has been lacking from his arsenal is a goal or two.
And on Saturday at Fulham he even rectified that.
Pennant may yet have a significant role to play in
Hodgson: We'll keep believing
Roy Hodgson refused to criticise Fulham
and said they would fight to the death to stay in the
Premier League after the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Goals by Jermaine Pennant after 16 minutes and Peter Crouch,
20 minutes from the end, knocked the stuffing out of Fulham
after a lively start against a Champions League-conscious
Liverpool side showing eight changes from the side which
beat Blackburn last week.
But Hodgson said: "I thought we matched Liverpool - one of
the best sides in the country - most of the way.
"We paid for a couple of mistakes at the back when the ball
was despatched powerfully into our net and we didn't take
our own chances.
"But we gave a good account of ourselves and there are still
nine points to play for, even though the fact Bolton won
today and Birmingham have a game to play means our position
"Of course I'm disappointed and I won't make a fool of
myself by making outrageous claims - but until it is
mathematically impossible for us to stay up we will fight
"I certainly don't think we lacked determination or spirit.
"I think we played well for most of the match and gave it
our best shot but any side Liverpool field is a good one and
hard to beat."
Benitez praises squad effort
By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez believes
his squad proved a point to the rest of the Premier League
in their 2-0 victory over Fulham.
The Reds lost 1-0 away to relegation threatened Fulham last
season as Benitez fielded a weakened side ahead of a UEFA
Champions League showdown with Chelsea, which earned the
Liverpool boss criticism from a number of other Premier
And this season it was a case of déjà vu as Liverpool
travelled to Craven Cottage ahead of Tuesday's first leg
meeting with Chelsea in the final four of Europe.
Bolton boss Gary Megson - who is also battling against the
drop - had urged Benitez to field a full-strength side, but
the plea appeared to fall on deaf ears as the Spaniard made
eight changes to the side which defeated Blackburn last
But as goals from Jermaine Pennant and Peter Crouch secured
the points in West London, Benitez believes his side
demonstrated their strength in depth.
"When you have 38 games you have a lot to do yourself,"
Benitez told Sky Sports News when asked if he had been
angered by speculation he would field a weakened side.
"Everybody needs to concentrate on their own team. I don't
know the team selection of the other team so I try to win
with my team."
Meanwhile, Benitez praised the performance of his squad and
the Spaniard believes he now has far better players at his
disposal in comparison with this time last season.
"The team is playing well and we are winning games," Benitez
"Today we were using players that needed to prove their
qualities so that is why I am really pleased with the
performance of the team.
"This year we have a better squad and you saw today we have
enough quality. If you want to fight for trophies you have
to use the squad."
Reds punish Fulham
By Gareth Maher - Setanta Sports
Liverpool claimed a 2-0 victory over
Fulham at Craven Cottage to inflict further misery upon the
Jermaine Pennant opened the scoring with an angled shot that
Fulham keeper Kasey Keller could do nothing about, and Peter
Crouch wrapped up the win with a shot that went through the
Everything looked to be in favour of Fulham as this game
started. The visitors named a second-string line-up, the
crowd were voicing their encouragement, and the momentum
came under their control.
The midfield quartet of Clint Dempsey, Jimmy Bullard, Danny
Murphy, and Simon Davies were busy trying to spread play
down the channels and feed their strikers with balls in
behind the Liverpool defence.
Bullard, in particular, stood out as he was constantly
looking for the ball to feet, making charging runs forward,
and tracking back whenever he was needed. However, one would
think that he would have more of an impact if there was a
deep-lying midfielder covering him.
A number of half chances cropped up for the home side -
mainly coming from set-pieces - but not one of their players
had to composure to convert them as they struggled to test
Jose Reina in the Liverpool goal.
Then against the run of play the away team took the lead on
17 minutes through Pennant, who blasted in at the near post
following a lovely weighted pass by Lucas Leiva.
It was a goal that exposed a lack of pace in the Fulham
defence with Brede Hangeland struggling to get close to
Pennant, but also Lucas was awarded far too much space in
midfield to pick out his pass.
Heads immediately dropped for both the home players and fans
with that goal. Any chance of erecting a comeback were shut
out by the resilient Javier Mascherano, who was simply
superb in the middle of the park for The Reds.
Brian McBride and David Healy both had decent chances to
execute volleyed efforts, but fluffed the opportunties
presented to them. They would not get many more chances
After the break a fightback was expected from Roy Hodgson's
team, but they trotted out onto the pitch looking deflated,
dejected, and already relegated. It was exactly the type of
response that the home supporters did not want.
While Liverpool didn't dominate for the entirety of the
game, they did enough to ensure that they looked the more
likely to light up the scoreboard and that is exactly what
happened when they got their second of the afternoon.
On 70 minutes, Crouch was the second Englishman to celebrate
a goal and Pennant was again involved as he slid a pass to
the lanky striker to shoot straight at Keller. It didn't
look like there was much venom behind it, but the ball
somehow went through Keller's legs and into the back of the
A heart starting beating, albeit tamely, in the Fulham team
and they piled forward looking to snatch something from the
game. Bullard and Dempsey were excellent, yet it proved to
be too difficult for them to inspire their fellow
Hodgson made positional changes and brought on fresh legs,
but half chances from Dempsey and Leon Andreasen did not
have their desired impact and they were typical of the
overall play by The Whites in this game.
Liverpool, who had one eye on Tuesday's Champions League
semi-final with Chelsea, were professional in this win to
aid their pursuit of cementing fourth place in the league.
Relegation is looking like a real possibilty for Fulham now
as they sit second from bottom with just 27 points taken
thus far this campaign, and this performance will not have
done much to fuel their confidence.