Friday, September 26, 2008

Kuyt Relishing Mersey Battle

Liverpool's Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt is eager to forget about the disappointing Stoke draw by beating neighbours Everton this weekend.

Dirk Kuyt is the only player to have ever scored two penalties in the same Merseyside derby game and is looking forward to another battle when the two neighbours face each other this weekend.

Kuyt says the team was disappointed to have dropped points to Premier League new boys Stoke City but insists the best way to get over it is to beat Everton.

"It was frustrating against Stoke but we have to look forward," Kuyt told the club's official website. "In a season you will have games like that. It was a good performance, we just forgot to score goals and on another day it could have been three or four nil. It just didn't happen for us."

"You can always look back at games but I think it's better to instead look forward to our next match at Everton. If we win on Saturday we'll have made a really good start to the season. We'd have beaten Manchester United and enjoyed other good results home and away. A lot of positive things have happened so far this season so there's nothing gained by being negative."

"We wanted a good start to the season and so far we've had one. Now we have to keep going and keep winning games," he added.

Regarding the brace he recorded over Everton in the corresponding fixture last season he said: "That was a real highlight of my career so far. I had never taken two penalties in a game before, and certainly not in a big derby with one of them being in the last minute to win the game."

"You can look back now and talk about how important that moment was and how much pressure was on me, but at the time all I was focusing on was scoring the goal. It was an unbelievable game and for me to score the two goals was really special," he continued.

"These games are always different but I think the important thing is to enjoy them. You sometimes don't get too many opportunities in your career to play in these kind of matches so you should make the most of them.

"It's a really important game for us and we know what it means for the fans. We had two good results against Everton last season so hopefully we can do the same again," he concluded.

Great Dane Tips Gerrard For Derby Glory

Liverpool legend Jan Molby believes Steven Gerrard will lead his side to victory in Saturday's Merseyside derby.

And the former Danish international also tipped new-boy Robbie Keane to break his drought by finding the net at Goodison Park.

"Steven is always our key man," Molby told the club's official website.

"Last season Steven got substituted at Goodison which surprised many people so maybe for this game he will want to do something special. It would be nice for him to get his 100th goal for Liverpool in the derby.

"I also think Robbie Keane will be relishing the derby. Newspaper columns have been full with stories about his lack of goals so far, but if he starts on Saturday then what a great game to get your first goal in!

"I'm sure he will find the net sooner rather than later and Saturday would be perfect. Once he gets his first then he will get plenty of goals."

The Reds triumphed in the corresponding fixture last season, coming from behind to snatch a controversial 2-1 win. Dirk Kuyt scored both goals from the penalty spot, while at the other end Jamie Carragher was lucky not to concede a pair of spot-kicks in the dying minutes.

Everton will be eager to reverse the result this time around, and Molby is wary of the attacking talents at David Moyes' disposal.

"We will have to defend well and we know they have got excellent players going forward," the former Ajax midfielder said.

"(Mikel) Arteta is getting back to his best and (Tim) Cahill is scoring goals. Yakubu can be a handful and they have (Louis) Saha who is also a threat.

"Everton's problem this season and it has been a massive one, is their defending so hopefully we can take advantage of that."

Rafael Benitez's men come into the clash on the back of some scrappy performances, having drawn against Stoke City last weekend before edging past Crewe Alexandra in the Carling Cup midweek.

Star striker Fernando Torres is yet to reach full fitness or form after a hamstring injury, and Molby admitted Liverpool's forwards would have to be extra sharp against the Toffees.

He added: "We haven't found our scoring boots so far this season but I think Liverpool will shade this game and win 2-1."

Cavalieri Eager For Action

Liverpool goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri is keen to make his mark on the first team following his competitive debut against Crewe Alexandra in midweek.

Cavalieri made his senior bow as the Reds scraped a 2-1 victory over the Alex in their Carling Cup third-round tie on Tuesday.

And after getting his first little taste of first-team football, the Brazilian shot-stopper is hungry for more.

"I am happy that I played my part and helped Liverpool to leave the field with the victory," he told the club's official website.

"I always respect and accept any decision of the coach, but I will be always ready to perform when the chance emerges."

Cavalieri was drafted in from Palmeiras during the summer to act as cover for first-choice 'keeper Jose 'Pepe' Reina.

The Spaniard will be hard to displace, having claimed his third consecutive Golden Glove award last season for keeping the most clean sheets in the Premier League.

"I have an excellent relationship with Pepe Reina," Cavalieri continued.

"He has been one of the people who helped me the most since I arrived at the club."

The 25-year-old impressed during pre-season, featuring regularly as manager Rafael Benitez blooded his summer signings.

And while Cavalieri enjoyed his friendly run-outs, he admitted the experience of a competitive game is far more intense.

The Sao Paulo native added: "Even though I had already played some games, the anxiety playing in an official match is even bigger."

But with Benitez certain to field a tried-and-trusted team against Everton on Saturday, Cavalieri will have to wait patiently for his next chance to impress.

Reina: Derby Win Will Erase Failure

Pepe Reina knows Liverpool cannot afford many more league "failures" like Saturday's draw with Stoke if they are to challenge for the title.

The Reds were being touted as real contenders for glory after their 2-1 home victory over Manchester United, but they followed that with a 0-0 home draw against newly-promoted Stoke.

Next up for Rafa Benitez's men is the Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.

And Spanish goalkeeper Reina knows they must bounce back from the disappointment of their stalemate with the Potters, where Steven Gerrard had an early free-kick ruled out.

He told the Daily Star: "The Stoke game was a mistake. The 0-0 was unjust but now our heads are with the Everton game. In the dressing room we are calm. We can't afford to play with nerves.

"The Premier League still has a long way to go but our mission is to avoid too many failures in the beginning. If we want the title it is impossible to miss points at Anfield.

"We know we have had some problems scoring goals in the Premier League in a few matches. But we have to believe in ourselves.

"We are in no way inferior to Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United in the way we play, but we have to keep doing the good things that we can."

Reina believes that victory over Everton would silence the doubters who do not feel Liverpool can maintain a title challenge, but has warned they must not get sucked into the heated derby atmosphere.

He added: "This derby means so much to me and the other players.

"I have been living in Liverpool for some years now and I understand how the supporters feel. But we need to win not only to beat our rivals, but also to prove that getting to the top was no accident.

"We know that Everton will give 100 per cent and will be highly motivated, especially at home. This is a big danger for us because we will need to try and control the situation from the first minute to win.

"On Saturday we will need to forget it is Everton we are playing. If we play at our best we will win."

Arbeloa Expects Derby Reaction

Alvaro Arbeloa insists Liverpool will not buckle under the weight of their 'favourites' tag against Everton in the Merseyside derby.

The Reds make the short trip to Goodison Park on Saturday to take on their arch rivals.

And Arbeloa is confident he and his team-mates can get their Premier League title challenge back on track with three points.

Liverpool were frustrated by Stoke in a 0-0 draw at Anfield last weekend and Spanish defender Arbeloa expects an improved performance as a signal of intent this time out.

"Our objective is to win (against Everton) and make up for the points we dropped against Stoke," Arbeloa said in The Sun.

"That game was incredible as we had so many chances and could not take them. It does not worry us Everton consider us favourites.

"We have experience in the team and know how to handle these derbies.

"Our challenge is to win all the competitions, especially the league."

Liverpool v Everton Derby Bigger Than Arsenal v Tottenham: Former Spurs Ace Keane

Former Tottenham Hotspur forward Robbie Keane believes Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton is bigger than north-London clashes between Spurs and Arsenal.

Keane, who joined Liverpool in the summer from Spurs, is hoping to play against the Toffees as Rafa Benitez’s side head to Goodison Park for their first derby of the season.

Republic of Ireland international, Keane is yet to open his scoring account for the Reds, and is gearing up to make a big impression in the derby game tomorrow which marks the 208th Merseyside derby.

The 28-year-old, who cost the Reds £20million in the summer, is quoted in the Mail Online as saying: “I think every player wants to be involved in big games and they don't come any bigger than Everton against Liverpool.

“Playing against Everton is something that I'm really looking forward to. As a player you always want to play in games like this and I've been involved in a few derbies in my time.

“The north London derby with Arsenal while I was with Tottenham was fantastic and I'm sure this will be no different - and even better.

“It's the first one of the season so I think everyone is looking forward to it - especially me.

Beating Everton Will Prove Liverpool's Title Credentials, Says Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso insists Liverpool can prove their title credentials by winning tomorrow's Merseyside derby.

The Spain midfielder and his team-mates are desperate to bounce back after being held 0-0 at home by Stoke.

But Alonso believes victory at Everton will show they are ready to compete with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

"We want to show how much we want to win the title this season with another victory," said Alonso.

"That is so important for us, to bring the title back to Anfield.

"I've played in many derbies during my time at Liverpool and I know how special it is because of the atmosphere and the victory lasts a long time for supporters.

"After the draw with Stoke, to go and win at Everton would be sensational. Every win is worth three points but winning a derby tastes even sweeter."

Alonso is well aware of the threat posed by his friend and compatriot Mikel Arteta. "We know he's a key man for Everton and we must stop him," he said.

Steven Gerrard Looks To Break 20-Goal Barrier Again

STEVEN GERRARD insists that Rafael Benitez has made him a better player during his reign at Liverpool – and the Anfield captain has also praised Fernando Torres for helping boost him as an attacking force.

Gerrard’s ability to operate in several different midfield positions to good effect has prompted manager Benitez to deploy him in varying roles during the past five seasons.

And with Javier Mascherano expected to return for the Merseyside derby tomorrow after being rested for last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Stoke, the skipper’s duties are likely to alter again.

However, Gerrard accepts that each match must be approached individually when it comes to his licence to roam.

He said: “There are some games when I have to change my style of play. If it is a big game, for example, I realise that I can’t just be bombing into the box all the time.

“There are times when I have to be a bit more disciplined. We’ll have to wait and see where I’ll play for the majority of the season.

“But I know I can fit into a number of positions and do a job for the team.”

Benitez infamously substituted his captain in last season’s Goodison derby for being “too passionate” but Gerrard appreciates the Spaniard’s candid assessments of his performances.

He said: “I’d prefer to have a manager like Rafa who will tell me where I’m going wrong and where I need to readjust slightly.

“I feel since he’s come in here my game has come on in leaps and bounds – he’s certainly improved me as a player.

“Okay, he has played me in different positions. But I feel a lot more comfortable now in that I can play almost anywhere on the pitch.

“Rafa has taken my game to the next level. He’s the kind of manager who doesn’t let anything go.

“I have played for managers who perhaps won’t pull you on the things you’re doing wrong. That’s not going to get you anywhere, is it?”

Gerrard is looking to break the 20-goal barrier again this season as the Liverpool captain closes in on his 100th strike for the club.

And he reckons the role tucked in just behind Torres, where he enjoyed so much success last season, holds the key to him completing his century. However, while Torres has yet to recapture his prolific form of last season – he netted 33 times in his debut campaign in England – Gerrard insists that the Spaniard remains a major factor when it comes to his own goalscoring.

He said: “Fernando has certainly helped me – not just in terms of my goals but the whole team in general. I think moving further forward also helped my goal tally, playing just in behind Torres.

“He was running riot, causing defenders all sorts of problems. While they were worrying about him, I was sneaking in and nicking a few goals. I enjoyed playing in that role.

“The manager knows if there are ever any injuries or he simply wants to stick me up there again, I can play that role.”