Pre-match thoughts – Chelsea v Reds

Chelsea v Liverpool
Stamford Bridge, Sunday 17th September 2006.

Pre-match thoughts.

Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool FC: “They have a rich man at the club, Abramovich. And they have some really good players. That's why they've been champions for two years. I know they want to make it three, but it's up to us to keep them down the table.
“I wouldn't say they're the English side Dutch children grow up wanting to play for. They're not the biggest English club in Holland. Liverpool is much bigger, alongside Manchester United. Arsenal also have more support because of their Dennis Bergkamp connection.
“The people in Holland support Liverpool because it has more history. A lot of people in Holland have always liked Liverpool.”

Andriy Shevchenko, Chelsea FC:  (On being on the losing side when AC Milan lost in the infamous Istanbul European Cup final in 2005) – “I've watched it many times since, and the more I watch it, the more difficult it is to find explanations. I've got great respect for Liverpool, but for a team winning 3-0 at half-time and playing very good football, it's something I can't explain. I still can't believe the result. But that's the past.
“Liverpool are a very good team. One of the most important clubs in the world. But I'd like, for once in my life, to win against them. I've played against them twice [one was in this year's Community Shield], and twice I've lost.”

Jamie Carragher, Liverpool FC: “Of course, Chelsea is a big game and we’ve got to be fully focussed but it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, the importance to get a win is still the same. Following the derby defeat we’ve got to make it up to our supporters and in that respect I suppose it’s a good time to be playing this game.

“We want Chelsea to be our rivals because that means we’ll be competing at the top of the league. We’ll definitely go there looking for the win and hopefully we can get it because if we do we’ll be right back up there. But even if we don’t, we’ll never throw the towel in at this stage.”

John Terry, Chelsea FC: “This is the third season with the gaffer, and each time we
have started slowly, ground out results and found our form and tempo after a month or so. It’s been the same this year and I think that things are beginning to fall into place.

“The difference between this season and the previous ones is that we didn’t lose such an early game as we did at Middlesbrough. So that means, even more than ever, we can’t afford to drop points today. These are the games where you need to get that good form coming on as well as the good results. If Liverpool play well, we’ll need the form to get the good result.”

“You really feel the season has started once the Champions League arrives and we’re well into it now. We’re in an okay position and it’s one we can improve today with the right result. Help us get it. Make a noise! Come on the Chels!”

Rafael Benítez, Liverpool FC: “I'm surprised so many people are
saying if we lose, the title will be impossible. I know if that
happens, people will say we have no chance, and if we win they'll say
we are in a race. It's still too early for this. Last year we won one
of the first six league games but finished the season with 82 points
and came third. This time, I wouldn't be surprised if a team with 75
points finished first.

“The Premiership is much stronger this year and a lot of club have
improved. All the top clubs may have more problems. Last season Chelsea
won many games, but I don't think it will be so easy for anyone this
time. More teams will beat each other, and already some of the top
teams are having difficulties at the start of the season.

“I promise you I am not looking at the table now, after just three
games. The time to analyse the table is in another two months, and then
you will see how the team is progressing.”

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea: “In every game you play you have to start again. It doesn’t matter who your last game was against, or who your current one is with. You have to start again. We have had three games at home in a week. Against Charlton we perhaps deserved more than a one goal win but because of Jimmy’s beautiful moment we had to fight to win by a goal for the three points. Against Werder Bremen, the runners-up of Germany, we had to stand up to pressure and won by two goals by making the most of our opportunities.

“If we get a penalty today I will be as relaxed if Michael or Lamps or Sheva takes it. We are lucky to have such players. There has been a lot said about Lamps’ form in the papers this season, so once again I want to say that I am very happy with him. He is working hard, he is creating chances. They are not all being taken, if they were his assists record would be very high. He has hit the bar and post and could have had three or four goals by now rather than the two. He is the same midfielder who has helped us win two league titles and helped England win their first three games under Steve McClaren.

“I am also very pleased with the way Sheva is working for the team. The goals haven’t come yet, but they will.

“Whatever the table is now, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool will probably be our strongest challengers this season in all our English competitions. These are the games we look forward to playing and in which winning can make so much difference.

“Liverpool deservedly came third in the Premier League last season and won the FA Cup. We play them regularly because we are both at the special end of competitions regularly. Today is an unusually early season game. But it is important. We must make the most of our good start.”