Friday, February 08, 2008

Crouch: We Can Beat Chelsea

Peter Crouch returns to the home of his boyhood heroes believing that Liverpool's brittle confidence is being repaired.

The Liverpool front man, born in Macclesfield but brought up in west London, was a regular visitor to Stamford Bridge as a youngster.

He is relishing the chance to help Liverpool finally get a Barclays Premier League win on a ground of a top three club for the first time under boss Rafael Benitez.

Liverpool have had a wretched month but still find themselves in fifth spot, a point behind Everton with a game in hand, ahead of Sunday's game.

They have lost only one of their last 11 games, but that hardly tells the true story of a side with their confidence shredded.

Five of those games were drawn and produced depressing performances against Wigan, Derby, Middlesbrough, Luton, and Aston Villa before losing at West Ham.

Last weekend's 3-0 victory over Sunderland, with Crouch returning to the side for a starring role, was much needed with Chelsea next on their fixture list.

Crouch, sent off in his last visit to Chelsea in the Carling Cup fifth round in December, said: "It's a big game next for us at Chelsea, and we were more interested in taking the points against Sunderland to give us confidence for the next match at Stamford Bridge.

"We will go into that game with more confidence now. We are good enough to beat Chelsea, we have done it before and I am sure we can do it again although it will be a difficult game.

"We have beaten Chelsea in big, big games before, and this is a big one for both of us. They want to challenge Arsenal and Manchester United and we have got to make sure we keep our momentum going, so it is important for both sides."

It is expected that Crouch's partnership with Fernando Torres will be curtailed, now the Spaniard has picked up a hamstring injury while with Spain this week.

It means that Dirk Kuyt is expected to get a recall. Liverpool will be without the suspended Xabi Alonso plus long-term injured players Andriy Voronin, Daniel Agger, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio.

Crouch hopes to be re-united with Torres soon, adding: "I enjoyed the partnership with Fernando, We have not played that many times together this season and against Sunderland we did and I felt it went well.

"Fernando played well and I was obviously pleased to get a place in the starting line-up and to play myself. It worked well."

Torres Faces Ten Days Out

Liverpool have confirmed that striker Fernando Torres faces up to ten days on the sidelines through injury.

Torres underwent scans on a hamstring injury he picked up in Spain's 1-0 win over France on Wednesday.

Reds boss Rafa Benitez lamented the injury to Torres ruling him out of this weekend's clash at Chelsea.

Scans have confirmed the full extent of the injury with the former Atletico Madrid ace suffering a tear to his hamstring.

A statement from club spokesman Ian Cotton on the club's official website, said: "Fernando was examined by medical staff when he returned to Melwood.

"A scan later confirmed their diagnosis that he suffered a hamstring tear in his right leg. Fernando is expected to be out for approximately 10 days."

It means Torres will miss the clash at Stamford Bridge as well as the FA Cup tie with Barnsley on 16th February, but Liverpool are hopeful he will be back in time for the UEFA Champions League game with Internazionale on 19th February.

Rafa Benitez Attacks International Friendlies

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has launched a scathing attack on the current international football schedule in light of the injury picked up Fernando Torres.

The striker, 23, tore his hamstring while representing Spain in a friendly international with France in Marbella on Wednesday night and is now likely to be out action for up to 10 days, so missing the Merseysiders' crucial Premier League trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday and also making him a serious doubt for the first leg of their Champions League tie with Internazionale at Anfield on Feb 19.

Meanwhile, Javier Mascherano will only return from featuring for Argentina's Olympic side in a friendly with Guatemala that was played in Los Angeles at some point today, leaving Benitez little time in which to prepare his misfiring team to face Chelsea.

And, like Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger yesterday, the Spaniard has laid the blame squarely at the door of the respective international football federations for organising such friendlies at such a vital time of the season for domestic clubs.

"We should not have international friendlies this week. We have lost Torres and Mascherano is not due back until Friday after playing for Argentina in Los Angeles. It is a busy period for the clubs, so it is not fair," he said.

"It doesn't matter if the national associations pay money if you have a player injured. We have three important games in three different competitions in 10 days, and we have lost Torres and maybe other players. It's not fair on the clubs. I don't just mean Liverpool, I mean everyone, especially the top teams."

In reference to Argentina's match on Wednesday, Benitez was scathing, asking: "Why do they have to play in Los Angeles? Just money. Javier will fly back to Manchester and will arrive here on Friday. With the change of continents and the danger of jet lag, I will have to wait and see if I can use him against Chelsea."

Benitez's frustrations are understandable, especially given the fact he has already lost Torres to an injury picked up while on international duty once before this season, while yesterday's news that the Premier League are planning an extra round of fixtures in foreign destinations from the start of the 2010-2011 season will hardly have brought a smile to his face either.

Liverpool Boss Slams Offside Rule

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has blasted the offside law as "a mess, a disaster".

The Spaniard launched himself into the debate over the law when asked today whether he understood the new interpretations.

He said: 'I understand the offside law is a mess, it is a disaster. That is very clear.

'I have explained 100 times to people, if they will listen, that we need to go back to the old rule.

'The offside rule is a good one, but the key should still be that if the player is in an offside position, he is offside. Finish.'

Benitez added: 'It will be easier for the linesmen and referees. But we have someone in an office who wants to invent something and they have created a mess.

'Phases of play is confusing. We see things in every game now that people cannot understand. So it should be simple again, if someone is offside, that is the end of it.

'When I was a player, a long time ago, it was not difficult to understand. Now it is.

'Then if a player was way out in the corner, then he is not interfering with the game, but now we have players in the middle of the box who are considered not interfering.

'That is nonsense. They are being watched by the goalkeeper, they are being watched by defenders, that is interfering.'

Kuyt Reveals Reds Pain

Dirk Kuyt has admitted his performances for Liverpool have not been good enough this season but has vowed to turn his form around.

The Dutchman has scored just three goals in 21 Premier League appearances but he has now revealed what he believes to be the main reason for his struggles on the pitch.

Kuyt's father, Gerrit, died of cancer last June and he admits it has resulted in a loss of confidence.

"I'd be lying if I said it hasn't affected me, because obviously it has," Kuyt said in the Daily Mirror.

"He was my biggest supporter and someone I always turned to for advice. I know if he was here right now he'd help me with the difficulties I've been having on the field.

"Naturally it's had a major impact on my life but at the same time my performances just haven't been good enough."

Kuyt is aware of his responsibilities as a striker at Liverpool and feels he can return to his best over the coming months.

He said: "It's my job to score goals and I haven't done that on a regular basis.

"Now I've got to keep going and turn this situation around."