Barclays Premier League: September 1st 2007
Liverpool 6 Derby County 0
In the years since Kenny Dalglish left Anfield, Liverpool fans have been clamouring for a 19th league title, but to no avail. It’s still way to early to talk with too much confidence about the chances of it happening this year, but so far the signs are pretty good. One of the signs is that Liverpool aren’t dropping points or leaving fans anxiously waiting for them to scrap out a win in games like today’s.
Derby County were newly-promoted this season, and as such are one of those games that on paper Liverpool should win convincingly, but in past years under Souness, Evans, Houllier and even Benitez, they would stumble in. Today it was a 6-0 win, could have been more, and the gulf between the two teams was obvious.
The Reds went in at half-time leading 2-0, and even that has meant little in years gone by, as the opposition would pull one back and force the game to be tight until the end. Today Rafa was able to change his team around confident that the game was won.
Xabi Alonso opened the scoring with a free-kick taken from over 40 yards that confused the Derby goalkeeper, Stephen Bywater. Bywater will be embarrassed at being caught out, but Xabi will be happy with what was to be the first of two goals for him. Then on the stroke of half-time Alvaro Arbeloa set up Ryan Babel for his first Liverpool goal. Babel got the ball just outside the box, then left two defenders for dead as he switched feet and hit the target from the edge of the area.
Liverpool came out for the second-half all-guns-blazing and it wasn’t long before £18m Fernando Torres had scored another goal for Liverpool the first of two for him today too. Mascherano won the ball and fed the Spaniard, who ran along the edge of the area, past two defenders, before finishing with a wonderful precision strike.
Shortly after Xabi had made it 4-0 on came Andriy Voronin who was soon on the spot to tap in the rebound from a save Dirk Kuyt shot and Liverpool were now 5-0 up. Torres rounded off the scoring with his second and Liverpool’s sixth after a mistake from Andy Todd – but he still had much to do in order to get the ball into the net, needing to keep his head. He kept his head and showed why Rafa Benitez has so much faith in him.
It was also another clean sheet for Pepe Reina who had practically been a spectator all afternoon. Reina did have one scare after Hyypia and Agger both went for the same ball and missed, but Derby’s Craig Fagan fluffed his chance. Reina’s record continues in the league this season – he’s not yet conceded a goal in open play, being beaten only by two penalties.
So there’s still a long way to go, and now there’s a dreaded international break which in seasons gone by has usually interrupted Liverpool just as they were getting on a good run. If the Reds can beat Portsmouth in two weeks when the league is back in play then it will be another sign of progress.
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 4 Hyypia, 5 Agger, 17 Arbeloa, 16 Pennant (11 Benayoun, 61), 20 Mascherano (22 Sissoko, 77), 14 Alonso, 19 Babel (10 Voronin, 73), 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Unused subs: 30 Itandje, 6 Riise
Goals: Alonso 27, 69, Babel 45, Torres 56, 78, Voronin 76
Derby: 43 Bywater, 18 Griffin (23 Moore, 80), 21 Malcolm (16 Teale, 59), 19 Davis, 3 Camara (4 McEveley, 63), 17 Todd, 11 Fagan, 8 Oakley, 24 Mears, 25 Pearson, 9 Howard
Unused Subs: 1 Price, 10 Earnshaw
Booked: Griffin 66
Shots on target 10-3
Shots off target 10-5
Referee: Alan Wiley