Premiership Result: Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2

FA Barclays Premiership Result

Wednesday November 30th 2005

Sunderland 0 – 2 Liverpool (Luis Garcia 30, S Gerrard 45)

Sunderland: B Alnwick, J Hoyte (N Nosworthy, 77), G Breen, S Caldwell, D Collins, D Whitehead, L Lawrence (A Gray, 86), C Bassila, T Miller (A Welsh, 57), J Stead, C Brown. Unused subs: K Davis, G Leadbitter

Liverpool: J Reina, S Finnan, S Hyypia, J Carragher, J Riise (S Warnock, 90), S Gerrard, M Sissoko, X Alonso, Luis Garcia, P Crouch (D Traore, 79), F Morientes (H Kewell, 60)
Unused subs: S Carson, F Sinama Pongolle
Bookings: S Finnan 10, M Sissoko 51
Sent off: M Sissoko 65

Referee: P Dowd

Attendance: 32697
Continue reading Premiership Result: Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2

Sunderland v Liverpool team news – Cisse left at home

The teams for tonight’s Premiership match between Sunderland and Liverpool at the Stadium of Light have been announced. One noteable absentee is Djibril Cisse, who joins Dietmar Hamann in being omitted from the squad. For Hamann the absence is more in recognition of allowing him time to recover for the next league game, but not so Cisse. The French striker did not even travel with the squad up to the North East, amidst rumours of a fresh bust-up with Rafa Benitez in training this week. Rafa said he’d cleared things up with Cisse over the subsitution at City last weekend. It’s since that interview that problems seem to have resurfaced. Cisse is not injured.

Sunderland: B Alnwick, J Hoyte, G Breen, S Caldwell, D Collins, D Whitehead, L Lawrence, C Bassila, T Miller, J Stead, C Brown
Subs: K Davis, A Welsh, N Nosworthy, A Gray, G Leadbitter

Liverpool: J Reina, S Finnan, S Hyypia, J Carragher, J Riise, S Gerrard, M Sissoko, X Alonso, S Luis Garcia, P Crouch, F Morientes
Subs: S Carson, H Kewell, D Traore, F Sinama Pongolle, S Warnock

Referee: P Dowd
Continue reading Sunderland v Liverpool team news – Cisse left at home

Rafa’s new squad brings him more options

Rafael Benitez is being asked repeatedly why Liverpool are so much better in the league – in recent games at least – than they were a year ago in the Spanish manager’s first season. The manager says that the changes he’s made to the squad means it has a different make-up to it now, one that’s more suited to the English game. It’s also one that allows him to change things round before or even during a game: "The players that we have signed this year are ones that can play in the Premiership, which is different to last season. Now I have different types of players to come in and change the game. For example against Manchester City I took off Djibril Cisse who is a runner and brought on Harry Kewell, who gave us something different."

Team spirit at Anfield and Melwood is a clear improvement on how things were just a couple of seasons ago, and Benitez thinks that’s helping to bring about the improvements too: "I can do different things with the team, the players understand the different things we are talking about and they know each other better than last season. All these things show why we are stronger this year."

He’s also aware that he’s got one of the world’s best players at his disposal. Steven Gerrard finished third in the European Footballer of the Year award but Rafa believes he should have won it: "I was waiting, maybe expecting, to hear that Steven Gerrard would win the European Footballer of the Year award, but to be in the top three is still a great achievement. Maybe next time he will be the number one. I felt he could have won it this time, he played in the Champions League final in three different positions and was our inspiration to winning. He played well in every position and for me he is one of the best players in the world."
Continue reading Rafa’s new squad brings him more options

Benitez says Liverpool are more respected now

Liverpool go into tonight’s clash with Sunderland hoping for a win to make it five-in-a-row in the league. Six clean sheets in a row (including the Champions League fixtures) is the best run they’ve had since the 1987-88 season, and they won the league that year. Tonight’s game against the bottom-of-the-table side should in theory be another win and another clean sheet, but Rafael Benitez is determined his team are professional enough to realise that upsets are common in football, especially if a team goes into a game thinking it’s already won. The last time Sunderland won a home Premiership match was three years ago, against Liverpool.

The danger of going into tonight’s match full of over-confidence is a sign of how Liverpool have started to improve. If anything Liverpool seemed to lack confidence for a spell during this season, and that was starting to cost them in the league. Now Rafa says that his work on keeping the goals out is giving his players more all-round self-belief: "It is improving the confidence of the team because we are keeping so many clean sheets, we know we are harder to beat and makes it easier to win. Last season we were losing games 1-0 all the time, but this season we know we can win games as we rarely concede goals."

It’s not gone unnoticed for Rafa that their success in Istanbul has enhanced Liverpool’s reputation: "We have earned respect because of what happened in the Champions League. Now when people lose to us I hear them saying ‘but they are European Champions’, and that is true. It has given us more confidence and we go into games thinking we can win. That is the big difference to last season."
Continue reading Benitez says Liverpool are more respected now

Warnock happy at Anfield

Newspaper gossip over the weekend claimed that Liverpool’s Stephen Warnock was so unhappy at Anfield that he was about to go and speak to Everton about a move to Goodison. Warnock was incensed to hear about this and spoke to Liverpool’s official website to put the story straight: "If I wasn’t happy here then I wouldn’t have signed a new contract. It’s as simple as that."

Warnock has seen himself called up to the England squad this season, and started the season off as first-choice left-back. As the season has gone on he has played a little less, but the stories surfaced just has he had been recalled to the team. Warnock continued: "The story said that I wasn’t happy at Liverpool and that I was going to speak with David Moyes about going to Everton. It’s just not true. When I go home from training I don’t tend to talk about my situation with my friends. When I go out I want to socialise and I definitely wouldn’t talk about wanting to leave, even if it was the case."

Warnock didn’t say if he knew who’d spoken to the papers, but he says if he’s unhappy to be out of the team it’s only natural – it just makes him more determined to get back in: "To be honest, I feel sorry for the person who said I was unhappy. It’s quite sad really. Of course I’m never happy when I’m not in the team but that’s just a personal opinion and it doesn’t mean I want to leave. I imagine every player is the same."
With Bolo Zenden out for around a month after suffering an injury after the Champions League win last week, Warnock can expect more chances to prove himself to Rafa Benitez, with John Arne Riise more likely to be used in a more advanced role.

Warnock’s major disappointment from last season was missing out on the matchday squad for the Champions League, and if anything was going to make him want to leave then that would have been enough. He signed his new contract in the summer proving that wasn’t the case and feels that this season has been better than last for him: "This season has been a good one for me and I feel like I have kicked on from last year."

Continue reading Warnock happy at Anfield

Crouch the key to Reds’ improvement

Liverpool fans have been pleased to see the recent turnaround in fortunes brought about by a run of league wins, including six consecutive clean sheets in all competitions. Tomorrow night sees Liverpool play Sunderland, currently bottom of the Premiership, and victory would mean they had managed to win five games in a row in the league. This has included victories after Champions League fixtures, something they seemed unable to do last season.

At today’s press conference manager Rafaeul Benitez was asked what had been the key factor in this improvement over last year. His answer? "Peter Crouch".  According to Rafa, the striker has helped Liverpool’s cause more than anything else. Rafa says: "We have had better results and have more confidence and one of the main reasons for that has been the performances of Peter Crouch. He is a very important player for us and he keeps the ball and gives his team-mates great support. He has given us more opportunities and possibilities."

Rafa explained that his performance in the Champions League fixture against Real Betis last week had impressed their opponents: "I was talking with a couple of the Real Betis defenders after we played them last week and they said Crouch was unplayable at times and they found it very difficult to play against him."

Inevitably the questions turned to Rafa’s views on Crouch’s ‘goal drought’. Rafa said it was important the player didn’t try to change anything about the way he was playing just to score a goal. Rafa said: "Crouch is playing well and it’s only a matter of time before he scores a goal."

Continue reading Crouch the key to Reds’ improvement

Liverpool try out young ‘keeper

There’ll be a new face lining up for Liverpool’s reserves tonight when a goalkeeping trialist gets a chance to impress the Reds coaching staff.

Liverpool play Sunderland at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground and as part of his week-long tryout 19-year-old David Martin will make an appearance. Martin is currently on the books at MK Dons, where he made 20 appearances last season. He’s also been impressive for the England under-19 side.

Liverpool are making efforts to improve the quality of the youngsters training at Melwood and Martin is the latest of many that the Reds have been trying out.
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Disrespectful few spoil tributes to Best

Liverpool’s victory over Manchester City yesterday was marred by a minority of Reds fans before the game. Some of the travelling Liverpool fans disgraced themselves during the planned minute’s silence for the late George Best. Most fans were happy to respect the silence, just a handful unable to do so. Liverpool have earned a reputation for having the best fans in the world, and rightly so, but it’s unfortunate that these idiots felt it was good fun to ruin that reputation.

Liverpool have their own reasons for commemorating those that have passed away, most notably on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, and it is always appreciated when opposition fans respect the silences. Those that messed it up yesterday should hand their fan-cards back and ban themselves from games in respect to those Liverpool fans that lost loved ones at Hillsborough, becuase their actions probably mean there’ll be less respect for future Liverpool-related minute’s silences.

According to some newspapers, there had been a request by Manchester City to hold a minute’s applause instead, with City legend and Best’s former flatmate Mike Summerbee leading the tribute. The Premier League refused, and in turn gave a chance to the idiots to shame themselves.

The two managers were inevitably asked about the incident, and Reds boss Rafa Benitez said, "It is a pity. It was only a few people and most of them did applaud but it is a pity, you can’t say anything else." City boss Stuart Pearce was also disappointed: "I have no idea which group of supporters it was but the vast majority paid tribute to a legend of the game who gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people and that is the important thing. You have to look at the positives rather than dwell of the actions of a handful of people in a crowd of 47,000."

The true Liverpool fans who have enough respect to keep quiet for sixty seconds will probably agree with the Reds own legend Kenny Dalglish in his thoughts on George Best. After the Northern Ireland international had died, King Kenny said: "Everything you want in a footballer, he had. Maybe people criticise him for the way he led his life but, if he had never led his life like that, maybe he wouldn’t have been the player he was."

Continue reading Disrespectful few spoil tributes to Best

Reds improvement continues

Liverpool’s win over Manchester City yesterday sees them move up to seventh in the table, but to give a more realistic view to their status, they are now four points behind second-placed Arsenal, with a game in hand. Chelsea are still way in front in first place and psychologically for Liverpool it is better to look at the chance they have to improve on last season’s dismal finish in fifth place.

The win was Liverpool’s sixth consecutive game unbeaten, an achievement that seemed unlikely to ever happen when Liverpool’s week of doom and gloom was making them look more like relegation candidates than Champions League contenders for the knee-jerk reactors. That week saw them beaten in the League at Fulham, and knocked out of the Carling Cup by Crystal Palace. In the six games since they’ve kept six clean sheets, and the only game they failed to win was against Real Betis midweek when a draw was the target to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.

Continue reading Reds improvement continues

Pearce ready for fast-moving game with Reds

Liverpool’s opponents for today’s Premiership clash have been working hard in readiness for the visit of the European Champions. Manchester City are two places above Liverpool in the league at the moment, although Liverpool do have two games in hand. City are planning to increase the gap between the two sides to five points with a win at home.

Manager Stuart Pearce says that the most important aspect of today’s game will be the tempo. It’s a word Rafa Benitez often uses, and Pearce feels that the meeting with the Reds will bring a chance for his City players to put their hard work in training to good use: “We have done our homework but I just have a feeling this is one of those games which is about the way we play and the tempo we set. I am desperate to get a high tempo into our game, especially at home. We have worked on it with the players this week and we are ready to take them on.” Certainly Liverpool teams in recent under-achieving years were uncomfortable when opponents closed them down quickly, and today could be a test of how well Rafa Benitez has improved that aspect to their game.

Liverpool’s run of four successive wins came to and end with a goalless draw in the Champions League midweek, but a draw was all the Reds needed that night. Pearce feels that Liverpool will be trying harder today to get all three points, unlike City’s last opponents: “Liverpool have picked up after a sluggish start and whereas Blackburn wanted a point and got one last week, they will probably not see getting a point from Manchester City as a particularly good result. The way Liverpool set their aspirations, they will feel if they don’t win, they will be falling away from the Champions League spots and also the championship itself.”
Continue reading Pearce ready for fast-moving game with Reds