Thursday, December 06, 2007

Liverpool’s Kuyt Prepared For Reading’s Physical Challenge

Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt is prepared for the physical challenge of Reading and is hoping boss Rafa Benitez selects him for Saturday’s away fixture in the Premiership.

The Dutch international saw his team-mate Fernando Torres being dished out a barrage of crunching tackles when the Reds took on the Royals in the Carling Cup in September. But the Spain ace had the last laugh as he scored a fine hat-trick.

Kuyt told "That is what the Premier League is all about. There are quality players but you also have to get used to the physical challenge.

"Fernando did really well. He kept getting kicked but kept getting back up and scored goals – that's always the best answer.

"I like the physical side of the game in England but sometimes you get the feeling defenders get more protection than attackers."

He added: "Rafa didn't pick me for the Carling Cup but hopefully he will on Saturday. I will be ready and hopefully I can go on scoring goals against them."

Rafa Issues Reds Challenge

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has challenged his side to maintain their rich vein of form as they look to keep pace with the leaders at the top of the table.

The Reds have won their last five games, scoring 21 goals and conceding just one in the process.

Liverpool travel to Reading this weekend before vital games against Marseille and Manchester United and Benitez is demanding more from his players.

"I'm really pleased at the moment because we are creating chances, scoring goals, not conceding and we're winning games. There are lots of positives for me to look at right now," Benitez told the club's official website.

"When you've scored 21 goals in five games and only conceded one then it would be easy to say that's enough, but as a manager you always want to improve.

"We have a lot of players still to come back like Fabio Aurelio, Xabi Alonso, Jermaine Pennant, Daniel Agger and Steve Finnan and so when they're all fit and available we can be better still.

"We've a big period coming up and we know that in football one result can change everything.

"Our confidence is high at the moment but we have to keep going and keep winning.

"There are lots of big games to look forward to - starting this weekend at Reading - and we have to show the right mentality in each of them."

Gerrard: Hard Working Torres Makes A 'Big Difference'

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has praised the contribution that Fernando Torres makes to the side - and not only in a goalscoring sense.

Despite the hefty price tag, few could argue against Fernando Torres thus far proving Liverpool's most successful summer signing.

The 23-year-old has already netted 11 times for the Reds even though he has been used sparingly by coach Rafa Benítez.

A firm favourite with the Kop just a few months after moving from Spain, Torres has also earned the respect of Anfield skipper Steven Gerrard.

"Fernando is getting a lot of praise at the moment and rightly so because the way he has settled into English football has been amazing and the way he has played is frightening," Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo.

"It can be difficult for players from abroad to settle into English football but at the moment Fernando looks like he's been playing here for years.

Everyone is talking about the goals he has scored and the way he has scored them but I don't think we should lose sight of all the hard work he is putting in off the ball as well.

He defends from the front and doesn't allow defenders to have a second on the ball. If they even think of dwelling on it he is on to them straight away. He is always looking to help the midfielders and the defenders and that makes a big difference. I've got to be honest, I'm made up to have him in our team."

With the likes of Crouch and Kuyt spearheading the attack for the majority of last season, Liverpool were often criticised for lacking pace up front. Gerrard agrees that Torres' pace and skill in running at defences is a useful weapon.

"It is great to have someone who gives us that different option. Fernando loves running in behind defenders and that gives us the option of hitting him early before defences have even had a chance to react. He's had a great start to his career and long may it continue."

Rush: Liverpool Must Keep Crouch

Liverpool goalscoring legend Ian Rush is convinced that Peter Crouch must stay at Anfield.

Peter Crouch's future at Liverpool is a regular subject of speculation, with manager Rafa Benitez's rotation policy restricting his playing time this season in particular.

But someone with an eye for a goal, and a goalscorer, is one of Liverpool's all-time scoring greats, Ian Rush - and he has no doubt whatsoever that the club must hang on to Crouch.

"He has done nothing wrong," said Rush.

"Every time he has played for Liverpool he has been superb.

"He's a fantastic different option for Liverpool and England and has never let Liverpool down.

"He [Benitez] can't ask Peter Crouch to do anything else. He has done exactly what he's been asked to do but he's got to be patient.

"He has become a better player simply by being at Liverpool Football Club."