We need to see more of
Liverpool's match winners
Liverpool Daily Post
Of all the positives that came out of the
draw with Arsenal, I’m left pondering one niggling problem.
That Liverpool, despite being unbeaten and showing
indications of getting closer to challenging for the title
this year, aren’t really moving on at all.
Look at Sunday. Steven Gerrard was Captain Fantastic, Jamie
Carragher just fantastic. The day’s two outstanding
performers stepping up to the plate when it matters most.
But hang on a second. Hasn’t it been that way for the past
six years or so? Relying on those two to come up with the
Only when that stops will Liverpool’s genuine ambitions to
threaten the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United become
realistic. They need more match- winners because, apart from
Gerrard, they haven’t got any.
That problem only intensifies when you consider Fernando
Torres is looking at several weeks out, especially as
Liverpool will have to be ultra-cautious about his next
comeback from injury.
If they want to challenge Manchester United they need more
players to show they can take the responsibility their
Against Middlesbrough on Saturday, Ronaldo was absolutely
average for United.
But it didn’t matter because Rooney, Tevez and Nani were big
enough and good enough to carry him and ensure another
But I just can’t imagine who would be capable of that in a
Liverpool side in which Gerrard and Carragher were having
They have had a few of them this season and look at the
An awful home record and a faltering Champions League
campaign, with only a huge helping hand from the referee to
call on when Gerrard was taken off at Everton last week.
They don’t seem to have the ability to blow teams away yet,
regardless of who’s playing well or not, and that’s what
champions are truly made of.
There is a way of addressing the issue, however, and it
involves something that I tend to go on about a lot –
deciding who to play and sticking with them.
You can’t tell me that Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel don’t
have the skill and flair to make a difference and be
But they’ve no chance of doing it if they only get 10 or 15
minutes at the end of a game each week.
I’d love to see at least one of them given a start and, if
it’s not a complete disaster, staying in for a run of five
It’s the only way that Rafael Benitez will get the chance to
see what they can do and the only way they can prove to him
that he didn’t waste his money on them.
The Liverpool manager has taken a few gambles recently.
Some, like Gerrard in the derby, paid off, others, like
Torres coming back on Sunday, backfired spectacularly.
But this is one chance I feel he has to take – because let’s
face it, his team have already missed too many this season.
IDEAL result in tomorrow’s Carling Cup tie at Anfield?
Liverpool 4 Cardiff 3, Robbie Fowler hat-trick
By Stephen Bramley - Sky Sports
Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal underlined their title
credentials with their superb performance in the 1-1 draw at
Cesc Fabregas' 80th minute goal secured the Gunners a well
deserved point to take them back to the top of the Premier
And former England defender Carragher feels that anyone who
questioned Arsenal's ability to challenge for honours this
year are well wide of the mark.
Carragher said: "Are Arsenal as good as people say they are?
You'd better believe it, I thought they had 12 men out
"Arsenal are a great side, but we were very close to them,
we are just six points behind and it was nearly a couple
less with that display.
"We battled hard, and we are proud of the way we played with
commitment and effort, but Arsenal did play well, they are
going to be a tough side to catch.
"But we have been under a the cosh a bit from the critics,
who seem to have forgotten that we are still unbeaten in the
league ourselves this season."
The Liverpool defender added: "We know we have had too many
draws. We have just held Arsenal, which we feel is a good
result, but we now must improve our home form."
Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina also hailed the performance
of Arsene Wenger's title hopefuls.
The Spaniard said: "There's not much doubt they were one of
the best sides I have ever played against.
"They were brilliant but I think we had some chances as
well. We probably did not deserve to win but we didn't
deserve to lose either."
He added: "I think it is a point gained because they were
the better side.
"We tried to fight and to keep our level as high as we could
but they were one of the best sides I have ever seen."
Reds’ character can
still match flair of Gunners
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
There are still two unbeaten teams in the Premier League.
But which is best equipped for the ultimate glory?
If the votes had been cast last night, it would clearly be
Arsene's free spirits rather than Rafa’s flying starters who
have hit an October wall.
But as Benitez forcibly pointed out after a compelling
Sunday afternoon at Anfield, the Premier League title race
is a marathon, not a 400 metre dash.
And while slick, sharp, fast-paced inter-passing is one
quality title winners require, so too is character and guts
- and Liverpool showed tons of both in a thoroughly
compelling showdown at Anfield.
It's also worth noting that Arsenal are currently playing at
the peak of their considerable powers.
Liverpool are struggling for both form and fit personnel.
But they still came within 11 minutes of claiming a hugely
"We are just six points behind," said Benitez afterwards,
with a conviction which suggested he believes that margin
will be reduced, not extended in the coming weeks.
Liverpool harried, chased and counter-attacked Arsenal with
a doggedness which was admirable.
How much of that performance was down to team selection or
team performance is open to debate.
Benitez raised eyebrows with his selection - what's new? -
by sending out an enterprising 4-3-3 system for the first
time this season.
The three strikers were presumably encouraged to push onto
Arsenal's ball-playing back four and prevent them building
Whether it worked is debatable.
Arsenal dominated possession, but foundered time after time
on a defensive Liverpool rock.
But that wasn't the only headache the Reds boss was forced
to grapple with during an afternoon which proved testing
even for his considerable tactical acumen.
Benitez is having to produce a passable impersonation of the
little boy with his finger in the dyke right now.
Having struggled to overcome the absence through injury of
Agger, Alonso and Torres in recent weeks, he welcomed back
the two Spaniards, only to see them limp out of action
Both departures were significant.
Fernando Torres' exit left Liverpool short of pace to
stretch the Arsenal rearguard, while Xabi Alonso's absence
was exacerbated because Benitez couldn't call on an obvious
midfield replacement, Momo Sissoko, due to a bout of
He then saw the heroic Javier Mascherano finish the game in
clear discomfort after taking a kick to the back.
Just as one leak was staunched, another sprung up somewhere
And while Benitez was rapidly shuffling his resources and
his options, Arsenal continued to plough relentlessly
Ultimately it was the Gunners' refusal to take a backwards
step - "we played with the handbrake off today," said Arsene
Wenger - and Liverpool's inability to shore up the leaks,
which finally proved decisive.
Alvaro Arbeloa is an unsung and versatile hero in the
Liverpool ranks. But his versatility doesn't stretch to
central midfield against a side as fluent as Arsenal.
He fatally hesitated 11 minutes from time when Cesc Fabregas
made yet another penetrating surge into the Liverpool
penalty box, and that gave the midfielder just enough time
to poke a point-saving strike past Reina.
The Gunners undoubtedly deserved some reward from the game.
But for all their possession, for all their fluent, elegant
patterns, the Liverpool goalkeeper had not been overly
He blocked once with his chest from Emmanuel Adebayor, but
was otherwise under-employed.
Manuel Almunia on the other hand, produced two high class
saves to thwart Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch.
Crouch's presence on the pitch was evidence that Benitez had
almost exhausted all available options.
Steadfastly ignored through- out this season, he was still
left kicking his heels on the bench even when Benitez opted
for his intriguing 4-3-3 formation.
When Torres limped off at half-time he was finally handed
his chance . . . and looked hell bent on making a personal
point to his manager.
By his post-match comments, Benitez seemed singularly
But then there was much to admire in this Liverpool
There were pre-match fears that this could be one-game too
far for the creaking Sami Hyypia. He creaked again, but
recovered commendably, while alongside him Jamie Carragher
If he could lose the worrying habit of dragging opponents
over on the edge of the six yard box - Fabregas was the
victim this time - his would have been an immaculate
It was matched by Steven Gerrard, who played with passion
and plenty of game intelligence.
His best moments came in the first 45 minutes, starting,
helping along and then finishing the fifth minute passage of
play which ended with him crashing the ball through a
non-existent Arsenal defensive wall.
The England coach had certainly seen enough.
The Anfield steward ushered him out of the stadium entrance
with the words: "Your car's on the left. Safe journey home,
That was at half-time.
Even by Sven's standards, that was an early dart.
Sir Alex also followed him early, just before Arsenal scored
their 79th minute equaliser.
Perhaps they both think they've seen enough of what
Liverpool have to offer.
If so, they could be in for a rude awakening.
There's still plenty to come from this Liverpool side.
They're under-manned, under-performing and under-rated - yet
still nobody's beaten them in the Premier League.
And there's still a long, long way to go this season . . .
complaints with draw
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Steven Gerrard reflected on Liverpool's Anfield draw with
Arsenal and admitted: "We have no complaints with the
The Reds looked to be heading for a morale boosting victory
after Gerrard's early strike, but Arsenal hit back to rescue
a draw when midfield star Cesc Fabregas netted his tenth
goal of the season with ten minutes left to play.
The match was a fitting advert for English football with
both sides going for the victory, but Gerrard admits there
was a slight feeling of frustration at the final whistle
that two points had slipped away in the closing stages.
"We're a bit disappointed we couldn't see the game out
having taken the lead," he said. "But over the whole game I
think Arsenal deserved something.
"When you're 1-0 up with ten minutes to play then you hope
to see it out and take three points off the best side in the
country at the moment, but we couldn't do it.
"Arsenal are a fantastic team who will always cause you
problems and have chances because they are so quick on the
counter attack and difficult to cope with for 90 minutes.
"We had chances as well as the goal today so there are
positives for us. I think it was a fantastic match for the
neutrals to watch with the game going up and down for 90
minutes. We're disappointed to have let Arsenal back into it
but we can have no complaints because they deserved a
Gerrard opened the scoring with a thunderbolt of a free kick
after just seven minutes - and he's hoping it's the first of
a flurry of goals for him over the coming weeks.
"There was a bit of frustration in that shot because the
goals haven't been coming as frequently as I would have
liked this season," he added.
"I'll just keep working hard and if I keep striking the ball
as sweetly as that then I'm confident more goals will come."
Too many questions unanswered
on Liverpool's credentials
By Nick Smith - Liverpool Daily Post
At least it’s only Manchester City presently keeping
Liverpool’s place in the top four warm for them.
Rafael Benitez should get his team there eventually and
yesterday’s events only do more to convince it will be a
matter of time.
But looking beyond that, the wait for a 19th title seems set
to agonisingly drag on into a 19th year.
A draw might be considered a good result against a rampant
Arsenal, but they and Liverpool remaining the only unbeaten
sides in the top flight going into November is pretty much
where the parallels end. Because for a side that hasn’t lost
yet, Liverpool are looking far from championship contenders,
based on not only the genuine test their credentials faced
yesterday, but events leading up to it.
Such as the uneasy friction between manager and captain, the
disappointing league position caused by too many dropped
points at home and a Champions League campaign that promises
little other than the need to keep Thursday nights free in
the new year. If they’re lucky.
All the while down in north London, the only disputes raging
seemed to be about what was most impressive. The nature of
Arsenal’s stunning 7-0 victory over Slavia Prague in midweek
or the fact that it was their 12th in succession.
Once they got their heads round that, the only puzzle left
to figure out is how Arsene Wenger has somehow managed to
construct – in the summer he lost Thierry Henry – possibly
his best ever squad.
It’s what building title-winning dynasties is all about.
Something, of course, Liverpool are the original pioneers
of, but memories of their last one are fading faster than
daylight hours after yesterday’s bout of annual
Although it is depressingly premature to make shouts at who
will be leading the way again at this time of year, the
inescapable fact of the matter is that if you’re looking the
part now then it’s usually serving notice that you will at
the business end of the season.
Arsenal have the swagger and, as they proved yesterday, the
staying power of Wenger’s invincibles from four years ago.
Manchester United started slowly but they’ve scored four in
each of their last four games and, disregarding the Carling
Cup with the same disdain their manager does, that run
punctuates a 12-game winning streak.
Even Chelsea seem to have had their blip. Somehow, they’re
still below Manchester City but should soon trample all over
them with the ruthlessness they did at Stamford Bridge on
Saturday. All three of Liverpool’s perceived main rivals are
settling into the defining part of the season and striding
ominously towards the Premier League riches they’ve shared
between them for the past 12 seasons, not giving anyone else
a sniff in the process.
To that end, Liverpool feel more left out than most. But
while the aforementioned trio are emphatically answering
their various doubters, at Anfield there are too many
Like, how are Liverpool still unbeaten and only sixth behind
Blackburn? (And how perilous is this Saturday’s evening at
And what’s the best team? The best formation? Hard to
believe it was yesterday’s three-striker gamble. Or a
diamond, as some suggested it might be, albeit one badly in
need of a good polish.
At least it worked in starving Arsenal of vital space in
midfield, especially as Liverpool could afford to sit on
Steven Gerrard’s superb early goal and swallow those gaps
But even leading 1-0 midway through the first half, Benitez
showed his unease with the whole thing by sitting down and
scribbling frantically – despite the furrowed brow of
concentration, you can bet he wasn’t doing Sudoku.
Also, can Liverpool win the vital games against fellow top
four occupiers when it really matters?
They can certainly get themselves up for the occasion,
although in Gerrard they have the match-winning talisman
whose shoulders they still rely too heavily on to lift them
He might have equalled Cesc Fabregas in terms of goals on
the day, but for the Liverpool captain this is where the
similarity with the 20-year-old ended.
Given the superior ball retention the Spaniard’s team-mates
displayed and the options he had when they gave it to him,
it’s clear there’s aspects in Fabregas’s armour that Gerrard
should be envious of.
Chances are at the end of the season, a Premier League
winner’s medal will be added to that collection.
blow hits Liverpool
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool players Xabi Alonso, Fernando
Torres and Javier Mascherano all face spells out after
suffering injuries in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Arsenal.
Alonso (metatarsal) and Torres (abductor muscle) both had
recurrences of the injuries which had kept them out for a
month before the game.
Alonso limped off after 68 minutes while Torres was replaced
by Peter Crouch at half-time.
Mascherano suffered a foot injury and left with his foot in
a medical boot.
Manager Rafael Benitez said: "Alonso has suffered the same
injury again, the metatarsal, he felt something go in his
"Torres also has a similar injury, a problem with an
abductor muscle. Maybe he is not as bad as before. But he
could not work as hard as we wanted, we wanted his pace and
it was not available.
"He just was not fit. We talked beforehand and he said he
was fine. Now we must wait again, he had been out for some
time and we have been pushing to get him back, but he has
not been right and he still is not right.
"I will need to check with the doctor to see how the players
are in the next two days."
Benitez admitted his side paid the price for the injuries
they experienced during the game at Anfield.
"We had problems when we lost Torres and then Alonso. We
could not control the midfield then, we also had Mascherano
with a foot injury and had lost (Mohamed) Sissoko beforehand
with sickness," he said.
"In the end there were too many problems against a really
But he praised the contribution of his captain Steven
Gerrard who netted Liverpool's goal after a difficult week.
"Stevie has been playing better and this was a very good
performance," he added.
"We had a plan to use the strikers wide and for Stevie to
attack through the middle with two holding players behind.
"But when we started losing players through injury, it just
became too difficult to get forward.
"What pleased me most was the commitment of the players, our
supporters should be happy with the efforts they put in
against a very good team like Arsenal.
"Arsenal are playing well, a fantastic team. But it is too
early, we are six points behind with a game in hand and
there is a long way to go yet."
We should have won, moans Cesc
Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas was
disappointed with Sunday's 1-1 draw at Liverpool, insisting
the Gunners "deserved to get the three points"
Fabregas' strike ten minutes from time meant Arsenal
leapfrogged Manchester United and climbed back to the top of
the Premier League table on goals scored.
But the Gunners hit the post twice and missed open goals
when players scuffed the rebounds, including one of each
from a disappointed Fabregas.
"We played well but at the end, that (the result) is what
matters," the Spaniard told Sky Sports.
"I'm disappointed because I hit the post and we go home
disappointed because we deserved to get the three points.
"The good thing is we came back and showed character and
played good football."
Of his goal, when he toe-poked past a flat-footed Jose
Reina, Fabregas added: "I had more time than I thought.
"I didn't take it well but sometimes you score easy (soft)
Wenger: "We are disappointed"
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger insisted the
result and performance demonstrated their credentials as
genuine title challengers.
He said: "We are disappointed not to have won, but I am very
pleased with the attitude and performance of the team. The
players are frustrated, but you have to be realistic.
"We were 1-0 down after just a few minutes against a very
committed team who are good at set-pieces and counter-attack
well. They have such good support at Anfield that sometimes
that wins it for them.
"But we have shown fantastic quality, mental strength and
togetherness, that gave us the confidence to come back and
get a point."
He added: "We have come out of our first big test this
season stronger. We played without the handbrake on, without
any restrictions and we were faithful to the game we wanted
"That is based on our technical quality and movement.
Overall we handled the game very well. I cannot fault
anyone, it was a fantastic game.
"I have always been very confident of what we could achieve
this season, I said it before the season started and now we
have convinced a few more people.
"There is a long way to go, but we have the talent to fight
right at the top for the championship.
"The change from last season is that the players are
growing, they are very young, the confidence is stronger as
"You could see signs last season, in the big games we did
well, but we have now matured.
"We will go into the Manchester United as another big test,
but after this performance we will be facing United much
rescues Anfield point
By Graeme Bailey - Sky Sports
A late goal from Cesc Fabregas gave
Arsenal a deserved point at Liverpool to send them back to
the top of the Premier League table.
The Reds made a great start as Steven Gerrard fired home a
free-kick after just seven minutes.
Thereafter, Arsenal dominated possession and played some
wonderful football - but they just could not find a way
Emmanuel Eboue smashed a shot against the post midway
through the second half and Fabregas put the rebound wide -
but the Spaniard made amends with just ten minutes left.
The leveller came after great play by Alexander Hleb as he
delayed his pass to perfection to find Fabregas's run and he
toe-poked the ball home as Jose Reina was wrong-footed.
It could easily have been a win for Arsenal but Fabregas saw
his side-foot from 20-yards smash against Reina's post.
The hosts were intent on giving Arsenal a fierce
examination, and when Gerrard blasted home from 20 yards on
seven minutes it was clear the North Londoners were in for a
Arsenal then tore into Liverpool, causing Sami Hyypia and
Jamie Carragher plenty of problems at the heart of the home
defence. Both needed to hurl themselves at efforts from
Rosicky and Kolo Toure.
The hosts were forced into a half-time change. Fernando
Torres had seemingly damaged his calf in a first-half fall -
so Peter Crouch, who scored a hat-trick in this fixture last
season, entered the fray and he almost added a second when
his 25-yard effort needed Manuel Almunia to turn it away at
Arsenal almost equalised in the 54th minute when Adebayor
surged into space on the right to crack a shot against the
foot of a post, the ball bouncing out for Fabregas to fire
over an open goal.
Liverpool were now hitting on the break as they soaked up
waves of Arsenal attacks. Crouch won plenty of flick-ons and
saw another long-range effort thud into Almunia's chest.
Gerrard and Voronin then set up Crouch for a run into the
box and cross-shot which flashed just wide.
Arsenal sent on Gilberto and Nicklas Bendtner for Gael
Clichy and Emmanuel Eboue in the 74th minute, just seconds
before Kuyt's dipping volley cleared Almunia and skimmed the
top of the net.
But the Gunners levelled after Hleb's run on the left
created the space for Fabregas to squeeze home the
Fabregas then hit the post from 20 yards on 86 minutes, with
Bendtner firing the rebound over the bar as the game ended
in a draw - which means both maintain their unbeaten starts
to the new season, although Liverpool will certainly be the
happier with the point.