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Torres key to Liverpool hopes

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Phil McNulty | 15:43 UK time, Saturday, 27 September 2008

Fernando Torres spent almost an hour of the Merseyside derby frustrated and at odds with the world - then took just three minutes to demonstrate why Liverpool's hopes of ending their long wait to land a Premier League title rest largely on his shoulders.

Torres spent most that hour complaining to referee Mike Riley about what he thought, wrongly it must be said, was heavy-handed treatment from Everton's defence.

He eventually picked up a yellow card, but finally focused his attention on being a world-class striker again to make it three straight home defeats in the league for a bitterly disappointing Everton side.

Torres made the difference to a Liverpool side that looked in another class to Everton in terms of possession and movement, but threatened to waste their quality with a lack of a cutting edge until Torres stepped in.

It also ended a six-game barren sequence for Torres, who has struggled to hit top form since Spain's success in Euro 2008.

And once he had hit the target, the Torres of old returned and he should have had a hat-trick, only for referee Mike Riley to rule that Dirk Kuyt had pushed Joleon Lescott.

It allowed Liverpool to go on and win in a canter, and while Everton will rightly claim Tim Cahill's late red card was harsh, only a fantasist would claim it made any difference to the outcome.

Everton have told hard luck stories about derby games in the past. Not here - they were well beaten.

Liverpool have not hit top gear this season, and there have been too many false starts to announce yet that this is the campaign in which they will finally seriously challenge for their first championship since 1990.


This, however, was a ruthlessly efficient display illuminated by the brilliance of Torres in the last half-hour.

If this display is the catalyst for him to repeat his devastating form of last season, then his own confidence in Liverpool's title aspirations might be justified.

He believes if Liverpool are around the top of the table in January or February they can go on to win the league - but talk is cheap and so often their hopes have fizzled out in the face of the superiority of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Liverpool were highly impressive, with Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso ruling midfield, despite Everton boss David Moyes pushing Phil Neville into midfield in a vain attempt to reduce their influence.

Torres was helped by signs that Robbie Keane is sparking into life, creating the opening for his strike partner that finally turned Liverpool's dominance of possession and territory into goals.

And the most telling statistic of all - hardly designed to lighten the mood of Everton's increasingly despondent fans - is that Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina did not have to make a save all afternoon.

It was a realistic indicator of the difference between the sides, a sign of Liverpool's superiority and Everton's lack of guile and creation.

These are worrying times for Everton manager Moyes and his team. Three defeats in three home games is no harsh reflection on how they have performed.

Everton look some distance from the side that finished fifth last season, and too often their most potent weapon, Yakubu, was feeding off the scraps of a series of hopeful long balls punted in his general direction.

Moyes needs a result desperately in the Uefa Cup tie against Standard Liege next Thursday, but the brutal truth is that they have no chance of getting the victory they are likely to need unless they raise their performance level significantly.

There is a lack of inspiration on and off the pitch at the moment, with Moyes and Everton both needing a spark to ignite them. Both team and manager look down on their luck and that defeatist body language needs to change and fast.

Liverpool have that spark in the world-class Torres, and if he maintains the standards he set in the last 30 minutes at Goodison Park, the Anfield title flame may just keep burning.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Everton were shocking, Liverpool were simply dull. Torres is a great player, but all the top sides have quality forwards and better attacking options.

    I don't see enough in Liverpools squad to challenge Chelsea or Utd to the title. Nor do i see them over coming Arsenal for 3rd spot.

  • Comment number 2.

    Torres was just class

    Everton are not the same team as they where last season

    i think they will be battling to avoid relegation this season

  • Comment number 3.

    It's starting the click for Liverpool. The goals are coming now.

    But Everton! Really odd to see them struggle so much this season - they've been a consistently good side these last few years.

    Maybe the Preston manager, who used to be number 2 at Goodison, was really the brains of the outfit and when he left, Moyes lost something critical.

  • Comment number 4.

    Phill in the paragraph above the Torres pic, it should read campaign not camaign.

    Second typo you've made in a week. What's going on?

  • Comment number 5.

    To Haythnasr...good spot and corrected immediately - but my name's only got on "L" so I'll hit back rather pathetically with that.

    What were your thoughts on the game?

  • Comment number 6.

    Hey Phil, glad to see you pointed out that Reina never had a save to make - but this doesn't paint the whole picture. I'm a red, but if Cahill had rattled that chance he had in the first half with his left instead of trying to open himself up on his favoured right, we could be talking a completely different outcome. Saha came close at the end too so even though we dominated the possession, I think we need to be far more clinical in the final third. Don't get me wrong, delighted with the result! But we still need the ability to kill teams off. It's no good for my nerves!!! :-)

  • Comment number 7.

    I thought myself that Cahill was sent off because as he walked off away from the referee that he told him to foxtrot oscar when he was told to come back.

    In the current climate of "respect", then I think it was right he should go.

  • Comment number 8.

    You're right about Cahill's chance, but that is ifs, buts and maybes.

    Over the whole game Liverpool were vastly superior and in their heart of hearts Everton fans will know it.

    Not sure Everton supporters will enjoy getting what almost sounds like sympathy from a Liverpool fan.

    I felt Cahill's sending off was very harsh. It was reckless, but he had one foot on the ground and it was not a red card in my opinion.

    Sadly, referee Mike Riley is too quick with the cards. He just did not let the game breathe today.

  • Comment number 9.

    Talk of the title at this point in the season is just plain stupid.

    We had another good win today (away at Everton without Masch!) and that's about all there is to say about it.

  • Comment number 10.

    In fairness to Torres, he was asked and responded.

    I agree it is too early. Liverpool have given their fans false hope too many times in recent seasons.

  • Comment number 11.

    It was a very enjoyable win today. Riera is looking a good buy at the moment, far better value than the (i think) lightweight Downing would have been (at a much higher price). My only worry, and it is a big one, is the lack of cutting edge just behind Torres - we looked FAR better last year with Gerrard just behind him slotting in clever balls. It just seems a bit laboured and forced at the moment.
    With any luck as players find form (Kuyt is still way below par, workrate can only be goos for so long..) we can create more chances.

  • Comment number 12.

    one things for sure Phil, if Liverpool are to mount a serious challenge this year it wont be with help from referees!..what a decision at Old Trafford today.... on Torres, i thought he was harshly treated at times today...the tackle which led to his yellow was never a free kick.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is a point I've picked up from many Everton fans.

    How many of you feel that Everton are being affected by David Moyes' contract situation?

    He has one year left on his current deal and has yet to sign his new one, which I believe is worth £60,000-a-week.

    Is this creating an uncertainty that is transmitting itself to the players.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yet again though Torres shows he can do it at home, but where are the away goals?

    I think last season he only scored 2 away from home in the league? Robbie Keane is a big signing for them, if Benitez would only use him up front!

    I see another false dawn for Liverpool, who will start dropping points before the halfway mark in the season. If Benitez cannot deliver a trophy or an improvement on 4th, he may well find himself under pressure at the end of the season.

    He's spent over 200 million and still hasn't delivered a title challenge.

  • Comment number 15.

    I am sorry, but how are Arsenal superior to Liverpool? Have many champions league finals, fa cup finals or how many premiership titles have they won since Rafa took charge?

  • Comment number 16.

    Man for man Liverpool's defence are the best in the league. they're midfield can be and their forward line will be. So,title challenge? Of course.

  • Comment number 17.

    I've always been a defender of Kuyt in the past: work rate and service and all that, but I'm now beginning to doubt his inclusion in the team. If you watch carefully, you'll see that he slows the pace of the attack down and, being technically limited, offers very little in terms of opening up chances in or near the box.

    You can't win the Prem with runners and workhorses like you could in the old Div 1. Times have moved on and you need quality players in every position.

    What Liverpool really need ATM is a Beardsley or Dalgleish type playmaker to create space. The goalscoring problem that was so evident against Stoke and in the first half today is the result of not being able to create enough CLEAR chances.

    Whichever way, it's time for Kuyt to be benched and players like Babel to be given a start.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Man for man Liverpool's defence are the best in the league. they're midfield can be and their forward line will be. So,title challenge? Of course."

    Thats the problem with liverpool fans. They have the best defence, midfeild, and attack, so why don't they ever win the league?

    Oh yeah because they don't. They have 2 decent players. None of the others would get into the man u or chelsea teams.

  • Comment number 19.

    Liverpool's start is good to see and I think a title challenge is more than possible. The only dampener on that is that Chelsea look very strong this year and I reckon they are the team to beat.

    As far as Everton are concerned, its difficult to believe that a decent side who finished fifth last term could become so mind numbingly mediocre. Was Lee Carsley so key to protecting their seemingly brittle defence?

  • Comment number 20.

    ray564, did you know the game was at Goodison today ? so your point about Torres is way off.

  • Comment number 21.

    who has the most points in 2008, liverpool.....


    why all the criticism for a team who have picked up more points than any other this year...

    and apparently we are not even playing at full strength..

    picking up points with a lack of cutting edge...

    torres and keane need to gell as does Riera

    once babel has a more expansive role

    and we play to our best

    then realistically we are title challengers

    its not rocket science

    also please inform me as to exactly what areas chelsea are vastly superior to Liverpool

  • Comment number 22.

    Torres was the key today, but we have to aknowledge that in the first goal, Riera, Keane and Torres were the ones making it possible. It was not an individual performance like we have seen with Torres last year.
    This could change our title ambition, playing like a team and not like a 2 men team.

    When talking about player, I think we have more than 2 players who have international class. Just to name a few, Skrtel, Mascherano, Alonso, and Reina are levelled with other team's player. Arsenal may have approached Alonso this summer for example.

  • Comment number 23.

    Ray, fair play for coming on and sharing your views but that really is a shocker. Goodison's close but not quite home.

    I'd love this to be the year but nothing more than quiet optimism at this stage. Chelsea look the business and united will click at some stage.

    Main positive is the points tally without playing well so far.

  • Comment number 24.

    Phil, in my opinion everyone is a little bit negative about Liverpool. I do think it's too early to talk about winning the title at this point. But Liverpool have shown they are very capable of doing so. This is the best start to their campaign they have ever had, Torres and Gerrard are proven fit and are scoring very decisive goals, they have already grinded a win out against Manchester United (the first time in 5 or something years), and they are tied at the top of the table with points and undefeated. Not to mention that they're defense is absolutely sound when they play with Pepe Reina. And they're not even "above 60% yet".-Benitez If I were to rate Liverpool so far I would have to give them an A+. I think that right now they have the best team since 1990 put together, and a big challenge that Benitez is facing is that he needs to keep his quality team on the pitch and have them work well together. And I stress the word together, because right now they seem a little distant , especially between Keane and Torres. Another challenge is the injury concern. If Torres or Gerrard get injured, where is their second replacement? I think in January they should look for just a few more options. Liverpool are a quality team, even though they always let down in the title hopes. But there is plenty of room for them to pick themselves back up. The only other thing is that Benitez needs to keep the team performance consistent throughout the season. If Liverpool played Stoke the way they did against Manchester United, the result would have been a thrashing for Liverpool. Best regards Phil, keep up with the excellent articles!

  • Comment number 25.

    Torres has got going, and although Keane hasn't started scoring yet, he will be a good player for Liverpool.

    If you play Keane just in front of Gerrard but behind Torres, goals will come, and so will Keane's.

  • Comment number 26.

    I thought Keane showed one or two signs of coming to terms with playing for Liverpool today.

    He has looked like he was trying too hard at times. I was surprised Benitez took him off because he might have got his first goal for the club in those last few minutes.

    He can be pleased with his contribution though.

  • Comment number 27.

    One of my favourite football cliches - 'the referee's got a top pocket like an angry toaster' sums up Mike Riley's display perfectly. Never a red card but as Phil points out, it had no impact whatsoever on the result. Everton were awful. Worrying times indeed for the Bluenoses. On another subject, is anyone else slightly unimpressed with Dossena?

  • Comment number 28.

    Phil, outside this article can you let me know is Mark Lawrenson's title "Football Expert" tongue in cheek? I mean so far today he has predicted 3 winners out of 8, most weeks you could easily better his predictions by tossing a coin, I can only assume the BBC is having a laugh at his and our expense. Thank you.

  • Comment number 29.

    Mark Lawrenson is brave enough to have a go and put his reputation on the line by doing predictions. I wouldn't risk it.

    It's also a bit of fun - and one week he will get them all correct. Mark my words!

  • Comment number 30.

    The key huh? He misses a few games it's all over for them?

    Sounds about right.

  • Comment number 31.

    Torres is absolute GOLD, the best buy the premiership has seen in a while, Keane on the other hand is like RUST, the worst buy the premiership has seen in years, how can anyone value him at 20m unless your the seller.

  • Comment number 32.

    very good article Phil. I think it was very immature of Wayne Rooney and co to rule Liverpool out of title race this season. As Rafa said rightly after the match today, he wouldn't mind Keane's goal draught as far as he gives goal assists and the team wins. I think this is liverpools best start to a premiership season in six years. 18 cups and 18 years wait for the next title.. sounds like liverpool are destined to win EPL this year.
    I totally agree to your view that Nando's form should be the key to liverpool's title hopes. Now that they have more quality wide men and StevieG to attack through the middle assists shouldnt be a problem. Keep us dreaming you redmen!

  • Comment number 33.

    It really does make me chuckle when you read comments like if Torres and Gerrard get injured Liverpool will struggle. If you take the best two players out of any of the top four they would struggle, except possibly Chelsea. Man UTD have been missing Ronaldo so badly, and that is just one of their two best. Same can be said certainly about Arsenal. Why is it always Liverpool singled out for this comment? name another team bar possibly Chelsea that wouldn't struggle to replace the equivalent qualities Gerrard and Torres bring, maybe not so much over one game as we proved against Man U but for a longer period of time. Fact is virtually every team would.

  • Comment number 34.

    I dare say the best buys the Premiership have seen over the past few years have been Fabregas for a freebie and Ronaldo for what now seems like a ridiculously cheap £12.4m. Torres was already an established forward in a big league, everyone in Football knew what he was about.

  • Comment number 35.

    A few Everton fans were saying to me the other day they reckoned Torres "Had been found out" and was "A one season wonder" they were deadly serious not joking. I have tried to call them today to see if they still believed that comment but for some reason their mobiles are switched off, just can't put nmy finger on why though any thoughts!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    Liverpool may or may not make a challenge but given they have not played exceptionally well but have beaten Man U at home and Everton away its a decent start.

    Its early but they look much better balanced with Riera on the left who has surprised me thus far with decent performances.

    One question is why not try Babel on the right given he is right-footed ? I suspect that given Babel has been to the Olympics and is still relatively young Rafa is letting him re-charge and he will have an important role to play as the season progresses. He could also cover for Torres should the unthinkable happen and he is injured.

    As for key players being injured its the same for everyone - are Man U the same without Ronaldo or Ferdinand / Vidic ? What are Chelsea like without Terry, Cech, Lampard and Arsenal without Fabregas, Adebayor ?

    Liverpool need key players to be fit as do the rest and whilst I agree the attacking options for Man U in particular look better I would have to say Liverpools look much better than for a long while - Torres, Keane (who will create,score and come good), Babel, Riera, Gerrard will create and contribute and even Kuyt and Benayoun will offer something.

    Doesn't mean a title challenge is imminent but the possibility of it happening is far higher than in recent years.

  • Comment number 37.

    Phil, thanks for being courteous enough to reply, I think Mr Lawrensons bravery is based on a public pay cheque, he was a good player but a biased and average pundit.
    Your article opens a good debate, in my opinion Liverpool don’t have the squad to challenge Man Utd and Chelsea, they have three world class players in Torres, Gerard and Reina, take them away and Liverpool look ordinary and over a season that isn’t good enough to break that 18 year duck.
    Rafa knows that and is why he keeps is players fresh later on in the season for Champions League games whilst Utd and Chelsea battle on multiple fronts.
    Thank you.

  • Comment number 38.

    At 5:41pm on 27 Sep 2008, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    To Haythnasr...good spot and corrected immediately - but my name's only got on "L" so I'll hit back rather pathetically with that.

    Sheesh... and 'one' is spelt O-N-E... the articles alright tho !

  • Comment number 39.

    @Bluedefence:Why is Mascherano so much underrated?!! He IS world class player!

    I really think he is a key player for Liverpool, could prouve to surpass other midfielder in consistency and will. He really wants badly Liverpool to win every game and trie as hard as possible.

  • Comment number 40.

    Comment #1 is a joke, right? everton Shocking and Liverpool dull? come on!! I didn't see the game but I've read the reports and we beat everton in every position. You either bring it or you don't and everton brought nothing today.

    There's a long way to go and IF we'd beaten stoke last week, we'd be sitting prettier tonight than we are. It'll be an interesting season with so many teams playing well and can effect the EPL. Just look at what Hull did today!! awesome! You've gotta love the Premiership.

    Just need Lewis Hamilton to win tomorrow and the weekend will be complete :o)

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    The whole argument of 'take Gerrard and Torres away' is totally futile.
    It just goes to show not only how naive some people can be, but also the fact that they clearly acknowledge that this is perhaps the best duo in world football at this moment in time.

    Liverpool do not miss them as much as United missed Ronaldo (ONE player), as was seen at Anfield and most of their games so far, however they are vital, nobody can deny that.

    Liverpool are winning games, perhaps not with the style of Arsenal, but winning games.
    Arsenal are looking too hot and cold for me, much like Liverpool early last year. Liverpool seem more consistent to me than ever before under Rafa.
    Torres will no doubt be key as Phil highlights, however I think Rafa will be the real key. If he can fire the players up for EVERY game, and sacrifices nothing for the Champions League as he has in previous seasons then Liverpool do have a chance.
    The balance of the team has also impressed me a lot, and this is largely down to Riera. I, like many Lpoll fans would also prefer Babel to Riera, what are your views on that?

  • Comment number 43.

    39, Fair point, Kuyt, Keane, Alonso, Carragher and Reira are also very good players. I hope Liverpool can mount a real challenge and I would be happy for them to win the Premiership.

    Good luck.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 44.

    "Torres was already an established forward in a big league"

    - he had never won a trophy
    - he was playing for the man city of la liga
    - he averaged 15 goals per season
    - he had never played in the champions league

    hardly 'established'.

  • Comment number 45.

    I love fans, so hilarious if footy was based on pure logic the top 4 would waltz over most teams in the its not tht simple as tht, as Hull result at arsenal earlier.

    Last weeks performance wasnt bad against any other team in the league to fashion 17 chances with possesion of 73% you'd usually walk away with 3 pts. All of those jumping on the band wagon saying we arent title challengers is some what premature.

    Being a realistic fan Im sure come may time we will not be 1st but thus far this season progress has been made and im happy.

    We havent really been breathetaking thus far bt are getting results atm which is great! Riera has offered alot of balance to the side and our defence is resolute as usual.

    The sooner people realise the media have to create interest in topics that really bare no signifcance in the grand scheme of things the better!

    6 games in no manager should be questioned this early into a season let alone a manager who has his team 2nd (level on points with chelsea )of the pile and has come out on top in the seasons 1st top 4 clash

  • Comment number 46.

    can someone explain to me why we always resort to ......when babel comes on....when babel develops.....he strikes me as a good player sure, but inconsistent....great emerging players are doing it already at a tender age.....masch, Torres, Cesc etc etc......truth is we are B+ in this department, Babel, Riera.........Pennant....... don't even go there. Would any of these guys get into the top 10 EPL teams?

    Agree with some of the above comments - 2009 is the year to really GO for the PL. and who knows those awful yanks might be done sooner than we think, credit crunch and all that...... (and no I am not drunk I just don't touch type)

    Excellent to stuff the Toffeemen today - who's next up? Come on let's have them one at a time. And when the **** are 'ski playing someone half decent??

  • Comment number 47.

    this is another joke. this game should be swept under the carpet as it's a poor advert for the english game. mcnulty, seriously look up two words 'sycophancy' and 'perspective', i think they might help your journalistic integrity.
    the reds stumble over a very poor Everton side and you're going to win the league.
    Once again we send out a side that don't look up for the derby, once again the reds do. This is a blue problem not a sign of the reds sorting out their long term issues.
    Today's game highlights three things; Everton need to work on how to play against liverpool again; the FA don't know what they're doing - Riley isn't fit to ref 5-a-side kids games. felliani yellow, felliani shot, cahill red, reira no yellow, carragher no yellow ... you know just one derby without feeling like we never stood a chance would be nice; the hyperbole spewing from reds after beating a poor side indicates their delusions of grandeur are alive and kicking despite reality kicking back for the last 18 years.

  • Comment number 48.

    more BBC liverpool bias. suppose torres is now the missing piece in the puzzle for winning the league? and not scoring against stoke (or since the opening game) is the mark of a world class striker and possible league champions?

    torres is a good player surrpounded by average dross. kuyt, keane, skirtel...need i go on.

    torres isnt even the key for liverpool to secure 3rd place - wenger's stubbonness in the transfer market will hand that to you.

  • Comment number 49.

    Ha ha - I can't help but laugh at the title of this blog. About 12 hours ago I was reading another one on BBC that read something like "Gerrard key to the derby" where people banged on about the boring "Gerrard is everything for Liverpool" thing. Which by the way is complete tripe.

    Now our "hopes" rest entirely on someone else's shoulders, apparently.

    Anyway the point is we're a one-man team. Got it.

  • Comment number 50.

    i believe he is the one man to revive liverpoolfc back to win the premiership. u are a hero......

  • Comment number 51.

    Iv never heard so much rubbish being said by so called football fans.

    Lets start with a few facts about the derby.. Liverpool completely dominated the game from start to finish. Riena didn't have a single save to make in 90 minutes. The ref was completely awful for both sides not just for Everton. Seems like same old story for Everton fans blameing the ref all the time instead of putting there hands up and saying they were completely out classed.

    Now as for Liverpool's Title chances for once arn't over before October's set in. Ye were not playing at our best but were getting the results. I think we have a strong squad and Gerrard and Torres are key to us putting in a good challange to the title just as are Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez for Utd, Fabrigas and Adebayor for Arsenal and Terry, Lampard and Drogba for Chelsea but no one ever mentions these players. I think progress is being made and lets just see how were doing in December before we all start getting excited.

    And as for Everton fans i think instead of looking for an excuse and blaming everyone else for the defeat you should maybe start looking at your 15 million pound record signing who cost 3 million less than MASCHERANO and looks like screech from saved by the bell and wounder what on earth moyes seen in him to pay 15 million pound on... iv haven't seen such a shockin central midfielfer since salif diao. But ah well im sure thats someone elses fault as well

  • Comment number 52.

    All these people syaing Liverpool are nothing without Torres and Gerrard. Watch the United match. They both didn't start, and Gerrard was largely ineffective for the half hour he was on.

    The progression of Mascherano to a world class player (at least in my eyes), Skrtel and Carra creating a very solid partnership at centre half, and Riera adding width means we are no longer as reliant on one and two players as we were in seasons gone by.

    We by no means are favourites for the League at the moment. But if we can keep up the consistent performances, and not let European and Mickey Mouse cup matches get in our way, then we may still be in the title race at Christmas. Then we can start to dream

  • Comment number 53.

    The Professional Foul

    The fouling player dives in and traps the fouled player's leg or legs between his own in a scissors movement. The fouling player then twists his legs, so one leg trips the fouled player while the other pushes him over. If the fouled player's studs stick in the turf the result can be broken bones as his foot is unable to follow his body weight.

    Watch the replay and you'll see this is exactly what Cahill did. It was a red card even before the dissent.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm sorry, but at the risk of sounding out of the loop, I'm going to fiercely debate the point that Skrtel is not a world class defender. For me, hes made one mistake this season, or one mistake that has had any form of impact on a game.

    You can tell me that a back four is not world class standard, but fact of the matter is we have conceded one goal all season. And that was down to Skrtels mistake in not getting tight on Tevez.

    Any player that can hold off a challenge for a starting place over Daniel Agger, has to be half class as well. Sure, he had a bad start to his EPL career, but ever since then, he has been playing superbly.

    I'm not saying that Liverpool will win the league. All I'm saying as people who say we have three world class players and that Skrtel is a mid table player, I'm not so sure.

  • Comment number 55.

    Mcnulty, your far from the greatest reporter to express your opinion on this current Liverpool side but don't you think that considering we're only 5 games into the season that perhaps you should give us the benefit of the doubt. Your have the journalistic talent of Clarke Kent. Watch you back!

  • Comment number 56.

    Everyone keeps saying Cahill's red card was harsh, but watch carefully what he does.

    He goes flying in against Alonso with a raised leg, which is definitely yellow card stuff, but then aggravates this by deliberately maintaining his leg high in the air.

    That surely demonstrates malicious intent to exacerbate an already bad tackle.

  • Comment number 57.

    Why can't Liverpool win the league ?
    Only lost 4 games last season, and still unbeaten thus far this term.
    We draw at home to Stoke and the media tell us title winning sides do not draw at home to the likes of Stoke....ermmm Chelsea at home to Spurs....United at home to Newcastle...and as for Arsenal..
    Already a 6 point swing on United from last season.
    We have a core of excellent players..Reina, Skrtel, Carragher, Mascherano, Gerrard, good as any in the premiership. We are no more reliant on these as United are on Ronado and Rooney..take these 2 away from their team and they are average.
    Liverpool hardly ever lose...turn some of the 0 - 0s around being a little more positive, and I hope for a sustained challenge.

  • Comment number 58.

    Reina seems to make errors like when the ball went over his head yesterday, Skrtel who?

  • Comment number 59.

    The argument about Liverpool without Torres and Gerrard is total nonsense.

    You could apply that to any team in the Premier League.

    Where would United be without Ronaldo? Where would Chelsea be without Lampard and Terry?

    The fact is Liverpool have got Torres and Gerrard - two world-class players who would be welcome in any other side in the league.

    As for the allegation of Liverpool bias - more nonsense.

    I will happily open the debate for any Everton fan to come on here and make a case for why they deserved anything more than what they got yesterday.

    And the argument will fail miserably.

    Everton fans are sensible people. They will know they were well beaten by a better side yesterday.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    Liverpool do rely on Torres. And I have not criticised them for it. They signed him when many others (including Manchester United in the past) tried and failed.

    Liverpool, in fact, are to be praised for having such a great player in their ranks.

    They rely on him the United rely on Ronaldo and Chelsea on Terry and Lampard. It's not a crime and my comments were not a criticism.

  • Comment number 62.

    Fair enough Phil, but all the other players I mentioned are going to be just as key, so it seems a bit unfair on them to single out Torres.

  • Comment number 63.

    Why did you send my comment to moderation Phil? I just simply stated the fact that you are a fickle commentator. 1 day you make quotes like "Gerrard is the key to Liverpools sucess" and then after Torres scores 2 goals you change it to "Torres is the key to Liverpools sucess"
    Very poo indeed, well done.

  • Comment number 64.

    I thought that Cahill sending off was justified. Sure, it would have been harsh to send him off for the tackle, that justified a yellow card, but the lack of respect he showed Mike Reily, who remember was criticized for not sending off Ashley Cole last year, as he walked away from the ref even though he called 4 or 5 times was another yellow card and resulted ina red.

    I thought for once Mike Reily actually had a good game, he didn't really let the game flow, but I think most of his actions were justified, including the yellow for Torres.

  • Comment number 65.

    To eirebilly...not guilty on that one. All comments are moderated to check for anything that may contravene house rules, although free and fair debate (as well as complete disagreement) is totally acceptable.

    I did not actually see your comment - but there was obviously something in there that alerted the moderators.

    Worth reminding people again that, as you can see, I am more than happy to engage in debate with anyone, but check house rules every now and again just to make sure what you are posting falls within the acceptable parameters.

    Let the debate continue!

  • Comment number 66.

    Everton were so bad, Liverpool got away with playing quite poorly themselves - merseyside derbys are almost always a difficult and tense affair - this was a walkover for Liverpool

    but people say that like it's a bad thing - what is it hansen always says? it's not about winning when you're playing well, it's about getting the points when you're not - liverpool's key flaw last year was when they let smaller teams nullify them and get a draw, whereas United and Chelsea always got the 1-0 when they didn't really turn up, the stoke game at anfield worried me slightly but fingers crossed

    as for Cahill's card, I think considering Riley's pernickety attitude yesterday I think it had to be a red or it wouldn't have been consistent - he also walked away from the ref (pity he's in my fantasy team tho)

    and once again - let's "respect" these blind idiots like riley and styles shall we - I think the campaign is actually doing more for the refs more than players now because instead of people picking up on players being foul mouthed they're criticising the awful decisions that don't deserve respect

  • Comment number 67.

    I agree with Eirebilly, but it's not just Phil who's fickle. Out of the top teams Liverpool have been the punters punching bag for the last few seasons, except for the atrocious media treatment of Martin Jol which led to his sacking. I watched the game on Sky yesterday, and the negativity in the commentary was unbearable, until surprise, surprise Keane links up with Torres and the tone changes completely.

    I also understand how important Torres is to our side, as any top class striker is, but you said it yourself Phil; 'with Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso ruling midfield', you know we're not a one man team. Mascherano wasn't even on the bench!

    My last point is, all the talk of Liverpool winning the title has been created by the media to sell papers. So, obviously when we slip up it's the same old "they won't challenge for title playing like that'. I think if you asked most Liverpool fans, they'd say that the team has improved, but hasn't got the same quality and depth of Man Utd and Chelsea. I just fear that if Liverpool have another bad run, the media daggers come out, which turns some fans against their team, and people get their marching orders.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think people are being far too harsh on Kuyt. Not many of you seem to realise that it was his presence in the box pulled the defender away from Torres. He never stops and this work rate whilst not always producing something in the final third harries the opposition into making mistakes often.

    I'd have babel playing on the right for home games but Kuyt for away games that were tougher or more physical.

    Oh and I love how Riera nicked the ball for the first goal and sent Keane on his way.

  • Comment number 69.

    it was not a harsh red card, that tackle was a leg-breaker. Alonso was lucky to get away unscathed, a similar tackle from lampard broke his ankle three years ago.

    If Torres can get anywhere near the form of last year, and if Benitez stops being so bloody cautious all the time and sends the team out to destroy other teams rather than not get beaten, then we have a genuine chance at the title - we are not playing well and still getting results, and we still have a few more gears.

    The wait is nearly over!

  • Comment number 70.

    well duh!

  • Comment number 71.

    "47. At 10:46pm on 27 Sep 2008, tapemonkey___ wrote:

    ... - Riley isn't fit to ref 5-a-side kids games. felliani yellow, felliani shot, cahill red, reira no yellow, carragher no yellow ..."

    And you left out - Torres, 3rd goal disallowed...

    I do think Everton should have had a peno, too, which Riley chose not to see, And Cahill should only have had a yellow.

  • Comment number 72.

    Everton fans very quiet on here.

    Let's here from you about what you thought about your team's performance and tactics? And how do you think £15m new boy Marouane Felliani is settling in?

    And what are your feelings about how David Moyes' contract negotiations may be affecting the current performances of the team?

    Standard Liege is a massive fixture. By next Friday Everton's hopes of silverware could be restricted to the FA Cup.

  • Comment number 73.

    I think it's way too early to be talking about winning anything - Liverpool have definately improved since last year and out start proves it, playing poorly but grinding out results when it matters, except for Stoke when we should have breezed that one! As Torres said yesterday, come February if we are still in there with a shout then who knows? United arent playing well, neither are Arsenal, Chelsea are - so we just have to play our game and make sure we keep winning - let's not worry 'bout what the other teams are doing, let's focus on our own campaign in the PL and CL.

    Definately a red card for Cahill though - if not for the awful tackle then for the blatent dissent to the ref afterwards, and complete lack of apology to Alonso who he had just wiped out - he deserved to go...

  • Comment number 74.

    hey good blog

    I'm a red and i think we dominated the game but its just the fact that we don't make enough chances to score enough goals.

    If you see the highlights of the Arsenal Hull game (great result btw!) Arsenal had so many chances to draw/win the game

    Liverpool need to make those chances and with Torres, Keane, Gerrard etc. they will be flying in left right and centre

  • Comment number 75.

    Ah Evertons new 15 million wounder signing....what is there really to say about this lad other than shocking.

    Its funny how every single person in the media said Mascherano was a waste of money at 18 million pounds, yet Everton spend 15 million pounds on a player who plays in the same role and no one says a thing. Mascherano in my view is the best deffensive midfielder in the league without a doubt. He cost the same as Carrick and Hargreves but no one said they were a waste of 18 million did they... strange that aint it.

    As for Evertons new buy i think Moyes did a bit of last minute panic buying and bought him off the back of one good display against Liverpool. The lad clearly isnt a premiership player and i think moyes has made a massive mistake with Screech from saved by the bell!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Why does it need to be an article citing the important of a single element as if everything depends on him?

    It's all part of the usual times it's it's Torres.

    About 3 weeks ago...Liverpool were ruled out completely by pundits ...I do remember article by same this a way to define a little exception to get out of the mess?

    In reality nobody can tell how the premiership will unfold at this stage.
    Man U are potentially 4 points behind top, Chelsea and Arsenal are there...Aston Villa doing fine....etc.. no need to try to be prophetic to face problems later.

    If there's a team which is's Man U. No C Ronaldo = no chance.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm sorry but I don't see this Liverpool team as a title-winning side. I don't think they have enough quality compared to other clubs. They've made a great start but they've had a nice fixture list, apart from Man Utd (at home) they've played some weak teams and met Everton while they're on a bad run. I just can't see Liverpool finishing above Chelsea, Man Utd or even Arsenal.

    And as for the comment above: what a load of rubbish. Any neutral football fan can see that Liverpool are HEAVILY dependent on Gerrard and Torres.

    Whereas while Ronaldo may stand out as he's such an oustanding player, Man Utd have some exceptional individuals - Rooney, Berbatov, and Tevez are superb players while Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra are excellent at the back. Neither can you discount players like Scholes and Giggs, aging though they may be. I think a certain amount of ignorance and self-delusion has to go into that statement that Man Utd are more of a 'one man team' than Liverpool.

  • Comment number 78.

    I`ve stopped reading newspapers two years ago and so far it`s one of the best things I`ve done, I read some blogs in here but.
    We in Liverpool know about the neverending envy from London towards us. Nothing new is it? London based football teams all put together don`t even come close to the achievments of those in Merseyside. It`s only for Arsenal that some trophies are there.
    As for our key players, everyone is a key player over the course of season, you`ll see, we`ve only just kicked off.

    We`re loving this so far whatever the performances in the park.

  • Comment number 79.

    "Yet again though Torres shows he can do it at home, but where are the away goals?"

    Well two of them were at Goodison yesterday. What a muppet!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    How come we can't sign in on a Saturday? The BBC is obviously controlled by ****.

  • Comment number 81.

    It's right that Torres gets the headlines, but some fans are still knocking the inclusion of Kuyt. If you want to know why Kuyt is in the team, then you need to watch both goals again. Who made the run to the near post to create the space for Torres? Kuyt. Who made a nuisance of himself to create the second goal? Kuyt.

    Football is a team game, and if one player is doing well, it is a complement to the efforts of his team mates.

  • Comment number 82.

    What's this? You're arguing Torres is hugely important to Liverpool's title hopes?

    Now THAT is insight.
    You should demand a pay rise.

  • Comment number 83.

    ...and I state it again... the real one-man-dependent team is Man U. Results prove it.

    Berbatov is a great player but he is too slow to be part of what Man U do best up-front. So it's a matter of Man U changing the system to adjust to Berbatov. How wise is that? I wonder. Then let's face it... Scholes and Giggs are not getting any younger, while Nani and Anderson will never manage to fill their football boots as the footballing/tactical brains are incomparable. It is very likely that come January, we will be listening once again about Ronaldo being on his way out.

    Man U have already over-achieved last season. ( They even had the key match against Chelsea on Chelsea's darkest week, right after Mourinho left. ) Arsenal will suffer from the inexperience just as last season and Wenger knows that the problem with such a young squad come when they are no longer flying on the wings of enthusiasm. (Listen carefully to the post- Hull match interview).

    The genuine title contenders this season will be Chelsea and Liverpool.

  • Comment number 84.

    I agree United are the team who depend on 1 man.

    Hence, 'One Man Utd'.

  • Comment number 85.

    Yawn, yawn.... state the obvious...

    Of course Torres is a key player and I am so sick of journos pointing out that Liverpool depend on someone!

    What a surprise, it used to be we depended so much on Stephen Gerrard, now it's Torres or Gerrard or both!

    Funnily enough we won a very important match against Mancester United without either, although Gerrard did come on in that match late on when it was already won...

    Hey, guess what - Manchester United depend on Ronaldo I believe and have been struggling without him! He in fact is the key to their season....

    You cannot sustain a challenge over a season in any of the big four clubs without the presence of your key personnel. It is obvious that in such star lineups there will always be a stand-out player.

    Torres just happens to be the one at Liverpool, but that my friend is not different to Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea imho.

    Although I just have a feeling that this season come May, Robbie Keane may have twisted that view somewhat and we'll have another key player to discuss.

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm not sure what Moyes was up to during the summer. He regularly states he is the manager and has to take responsibility - and somehow this gets him off the hook. Everton do not look like a team who have been prepared properly for the season. This has happened before when we finished fourth then lost everything over the first couple of months of the following season. Finishing well does not allow one to get complacent - big mistake Mr Moyes.

  • Comment number 87.

    Excuse me mightyredgiant, I think you'll find Liverpool are the only club dependant on one player.

    8 different players have scored for Chelsea this season,
    9 different players have scored for Arsenal this season and 6 different scorers have scored for Man Utd this season,
    compared to only 5 different scorers from Liverpool.

    So If I were you, i'd get your facts straight.

  • Comment number 88.

    Just one question- how well have United done with Ronaldo being injured? yep, i thought as much.
    If any team relies on on man it's surely Man United, sure enough as soon as he's back and diving for pens United start winning games again.
    Nobody denies that Liverpool need Torres and Gerrard if we're to mount a serious title assault, but United have proved this season, and last season for the first few weeks, that without Ronaldo they're seriously limited. You can talk about all the talent they have like Rooney and Berbatov, but it's not like they've set the world alight so far this season is it?
    Early days for United i know, but early days for Liverpool too. And maybe we won't win the league this season, but most reds would be happy just making a challenge this year

  • Comment number 89.

    Excuse me CFC_MM91, i think you'll find that if 5 different players have scored for Liverpool this season they're reliant on 5 players and not 1?

    So if i were you, i'd try and understand what im tallking about before writing because your comment just contradicts itself

  • Comment number 90.

    Yes, Torres is a good player and if he reaches the standard he played to last season, his goals will be very important to Liverpool.

    That said, Gerrard apart, Liverpool again look flattered to be in the top two. What I've seen of them they should be between 6th and 8th just now, and it is a sad reflection on the likes of Villa, Man City and Blackburn that none of them are above this fairly average team.

  • Comment number 91.

    As a Liverpool fan I have been frustrated by a total lack of a left side for the past umpteen seasons. The only 'problem' perhaps with our left side against Everton was a poor choice of studs by Riera, due to the OVER-watered pitch at Goodison, and maybe the trio, Dossena/Riera/Keane getting in each other's way! Almost all of the Liverpool impetus came down the left hand side. Taking into account that all 3 of the afore mentioned 'trio' are new to the squad and still settling, still GEL-ing with their team-mates, and I can see much to be optimistic about. Title challenge?? Well with Man Utds problems in midfield, Chelsea losing Essien, and Arsenal with a total lack of depth, and/or experience, and a title challenge surely is a must. Win it? Who knows! Should be a hell of a ride finding out!!!

  • Comment number 92.

    As for depending on 1/2 players for our goals, we've only scored 7 goals (or so) this season so far, so the fact that they have gone to Torres and Gerrard doesn't bother me! If the same is true after 20-25 goals, THEN I may be a bit concerned!

  • Comment number 93.

    I seem to be the only person in the country who thought Cahill deserved to go. And I'm a neutral. It was a late, two-footed challenge with the studs showing. I thought the rules state that a two-footed tackle merited a straight red?

    Last weekend's 0-0 with Stoke at Anfield said more about Liverpool's title chances than yesterday. They have to win those games and let the big games take care of themselves.

  • Comment number 94.

    I really wish that LFC fans would just enjoy the current form/position quietly, Man Utd and Chelsea deserve the repect they have earned, and silly attacks on their players will only serve to make those on the attack look foolish when they click, and they will! The title will most probably come down to the wire! Just hope that we're there at the death!

  • Comment number 95.

    Phil, If your the chief writer for the BBC sport, then god help the BBC. Why does BBC make it out Liverpool are just 1 man team to 2 man team, as someone had said earlier in the blog, 5 different players have got their name on the scoresheet this season for 'england's mosts sucessful club' Liverpool. We have never been a 1 or 2 man team from 1890s to date. 11 players on the pitch for a single side creates a better achievement. Have you not ever heard of what TEAM means? Together Everyone Achieves More.!

  • Comment number 96.

    In the Australian media Cahill's tackle was shown for what it was. A terrible, over-the-ball two footed scissor type tackle. And we all love him here!!! The fact he had just been fouled by Arbeloa, and the referee was there when Kuyt pulled him away from a silly mistake moments earlier, only left the ref with one thought, that it was a dirty 'payback' type tackle, and he definately deserved to go! Shame I love him!

  • Comment number 97.

    lol... No 'I' in team...

    But you'll find there is most definately an 'I' in wIn!!!!

    Love that one.

  • Comment number 98.

    Why are Liverpool sitting 2nd although not attacking well???

    The defense.

    One goal from Utd, before we switched on fully.

    One wonder goal from Boro's Egyptian magician.

    That is all we've conceded.

    So belittle our current attacking frailties all you like, but it's one the bedrock of the goalkeeper of the year for the past 3 seasons running, and a solid backline that out title challenge, successful or not, will be built!

  • Comment number 99.

    Been here before!

    Liverpool are top and going to win the league at the start of the season, then their "final piece of the jigsaw" is lost down the back of the sofa in April and they come 4th.

  • Comment number 100.

    apsp... don't disagree.

    Thus the need to enjoy quietly.

    Let the others talk of titles.

    Let 'pool continue on quietly, hopefully for once consistently.

    And THEN, come February/March, see how the ladder looks. Quiet humble champions, like Torres. THAT is the way to go about things!


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