Liverpool’s well-deserved 3-0 win over Bolton this morning saw the Reds go up to third place in the table, leapfrogging Bolton in the process. Rafael Benítez had been criticised by some for his comments ahead of the game on how the Trotters usually play in a way that stretches the rules, with some saying this would play into Sam Allardyce’s hands. In the end it was probably Allardyce who was left regretting what he’d said – his claims that Liverpool’s victory over them last season was “lucky” quite possibly played a big part in the Liverpool performance today.
Captain Steven Gerrard was delighted with the way 2007 got underway: “It was the perfect start – a home win, three points and a clean sheet and we played some really good football against a decent side.” Gerrard’s goal capped a great week for him, and after scoring he made a cheeky bow to the Main Stand as part of his goal celebration, a reference to the MBE he was awarded as part of the New Year Honours. He’s happy with the week he’d had, but wanted to make sure that the team got the credit, not just him: “My goal was really nice. I was really quiet second half but I was pleased with the goal. It's been a great week for me personally but personal things are put to one side when you go onto the pitch. It was a great team performance and there should be a special mention for Jermaine Pennant. He's been criticised this season but today he was fantastic, his crossing from the right was superb.”
Gerrard’s words will be important to Pennant, the encouragement from his captain will help him to build on the confidence that so improves his game. The confidence for the whole team nearly took a big hit against Blackburn, but the Reds seem to have stopped that unlucky defeat from being too much of a set-back: “We've had a decent run of late and it was important to keep that going today. We were disappointed to lose at Blackburn because we've been playing well, but the idea now is to keep going and keep trying to close the gap on the top teams every week.”