Liverpool’s stars are looking to put the disappointments of numerous dropped away league points behind them tomorrow night by clinching first place in their Champions League group.
Defender Jamie Carragher says that ensuring qualification to the knockout phase was only the first part of what the Reds set out to do in this European campaign: “Getting through to the next stage was our first objective but the aim now is to finish top of the group. We have a decent defensive record in the Champions League and hopefully we can keep that going.”
Carra knows that PSV won’t be an easy side to bear, but is hopeful that the fact the game is at home will bring a victory and see the Reds finish top: “It is important to take advantage of playing PSV at home. It will be very difficult as they have great experience in the Champions League and they are doing very well in the Dutch league.”
Carra’s team-mate Dirk Kuyt is looking forward to match that takes on extra significance for him given that it’s against his compatriots: “It's a really big game for me, especially to play against my Dutch friends. It is also a very important match and a match where we can score goals, but we know it will be difficult.”
Like Carra, Kuyt wants the group to be won tomorrow night: “It would be great to finish the group at Anfield. The crowd is always perfect there for us, especially during Champions League matches. It's a good opportunity to show the crowd that we can score goals.”
Kuyt knows that Liverpool’s home form has been good, but can’t work out why the away results haven’t gone our way: “It's been lots of games away from home now without a goal but we have to back ourselves because we have top quality players. Mentally we are very strong but we just have to keep making the chances and we will soon start scoring the goals. We've played really well at home this season and if we play like we did at Middlesbrough I'm sure it won't be long before we get our first away win. It's taking too long, though."
Dirk says that one positive to draw from the game is that at least the Reds didn’t concede this time, which was a welcome change from what happened at Old Trafford, Goodison and The Emirates: “We can go on from this because a clean sheet is not so bad. We only had one moment when we had any problems. Apart from that we controlled the game. We can only focus on our own games and if we keep winning our home games we will keep moving up the league. I think firstly we have to make sure we get in the top four. Then, with the players we have got, try to develop it from there."
Liverpool’s other Dutchman, Bolo Zenden, also wants a victory tomorrow in the Champions League, against his former club: “Our first game of the group was at PSV and we had a good result there and I think we can do the job at home and finish first in the group. More than likely we can then get a better draw for the knockout stages.”
Zenden says he got a great welcome in that tie: “It had been nine years since I'd played there for PSV and I had a good reception. People were pleased to see me, and there were a lot of people still working there from when I was there. A lot of players I have played with at PSV or elsewhere have come back to PSV, and it will be good to see them again. I always enjoy playing against my old teams, it's always special.”
One person who may not get a great welcome is former Liverpool full-back Jan Kromkamp. Kromkamp never really hit it off at Anfield, and finally left in the summer transfer window after just half a season at the club. That half-season was reportedly filled with the defender pining for home, and he never did turn out to be someone that Rafa could use to ease the burden on Steve Finnan. Still, he’d have been guaranteed at least a small cheer on his return, had he not been quoted having a dig at the club over the weekend. According to Jan, Liverpool will be easy pickings “We know how to get at Liverpool, they have plenty of weaknesses. They often revert to kicking long ugly balls up to Peter Crouch.”
He continued: “The manager's tactics change as soon as you frustrate his players and that is what we will be aiming to do on Wednesday. They have weaknesses in several places, especially in the gap between defence and midfield, and also at centre back. In one-on-ones, the two in the middle of defence are very good, but they cannot contribute to Liverpool's build-up play. So we will focus on that.”
Now that Kromkamp has given Liverpool’s players extra motivation for tomorrow night, Liverpool boss Rafa Benítez needs to ensure that his side don’t do what Kromkamp has predicted. Kromkamp thinks it will be easy to stop the Reds: “If you block them from deep they soon lose their rhythm and start playing those long balls up to Crouch.”