Friday, October 10, 2008

Torres Warns: I'm Getting Close To Top Form

Liverpool’s Spain striker, Fernando Torres, has issued a warning to the rest of the Premier League that he is getting back to his best form.

Fernando Torres, who scored 33 goals in all competitions in his first campaign as a Liverpool player, began the current season fairly quietly by comparison with one goal in the Reds’ first five Premier League games.

But the 24-year-old former Atletico Madrid star has followed that with two goals in each of his last games - at Everton and Manchester City.

That showed he was resuming normal service, and he says there is more to come.

Torres feels that there was a reaction to playing for his country at Euro 2008, which he helped Spain win by scoring the only goal in the final against Germany.

"Me and the other players from the Euros started back in pre-season later than everyone else, and as a result weren't in the best physical shape," said Torres.

"Last year was very long for me. I played nearly 50 games with Liverpool and then went straight to the Euros. But I'm getting better each day and I'll soon be 100 per cent again."

And he is determined to build on the triumph he shared with Spain by helping Liverpool to win a trophy or two this season.

Torres explained: "It [the European Championship] was a great experience and the first big honour I've won. Now I know how it feels to win something like that, it makes me even hungrier to win trophies with Liverpool.

"I came here for that reason and hope this season will be better than last year.

"I believe we can win the Premier League or the Champions League. If we did that, it would be fantastic. We have started well, so there is optimism.

"But I'd be happy with just 20 goals if we won the Premier League or Champions League."

Carra: Skrtel Loss Is A 'Massive Blow'

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes that the club has suffered a huge blow with the loss of Martin Skrtel until Christmas, but thinks that the Reds can cope due to the strength in depth of the squad.

The Slovakian international has been ruled out for at least 10 weeks after suffering posterior ligament damage in his right knee. The 23 year-old was injured during the course of the Reds' 3-2 win over Manchester City last Sunday.

Skrtel's injury looked at first to have been a disaster for Rafa Benitez's side, with initial prognoses ruling the defender out of action until the end of this season.

However, a re-check confirmed that Skrtel will not require surgery and will be fit for a first-team return around the end of December.

Skrtel and Jamie Carragher had just begun to build up a strong partnership in the centre of the Liverpool backline following the former's arrival from Zenit St Petersburg in January of this year.

Carragher acknowledges the gravity of Skrtel's injury for the club, but nevertheless believes that Liverpool can cope with the loss of one of their key-performers, with the likes of Daniel Agger and Sami Hyypia ready to deputise.

He told the official Liverpool website: "It's a massive blow – Martin has been a great player for us since he arrived at the club.

"We didn't know much about him when he first came to the club, but he's done very well. He has cemented himself in the Liverpool team quite quickly - which is a very tough thing to do.

"It's just unfortunate for him that it's such a bad injury but obviously it gives someone else a chance to get a run in the team.

"That's why you need a big squad in a long season and credit to the manager as well, he's seen that we didn't have enough players in that area of the pitch at times last season and we have Hyypia and Agger who can come in now."

The Liverpool stalwart admits to fearing the worst when Skrtel hit the turf on Sunday. The 30 year-old suffered a leg-break in 2003 and stated that he was relieved for Skrtel when the results were revealed.

He continued: "We saw Martin on the pitch and realised it wasn't good, and you don't really know about these injuries until a day or two afterwards with all the scans.

"He walked onto the coach after the game so we thought it wasn't too bad then, but it's still not nice to look at when you see it on the TV.

"He doesn't need an operation and it's not as bad as we feared - so hopefully he'll be back for the games at Christmas."

Lucas Accepts He Needs To Up His Game

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva has admitted that if he is to establish himself in the current Liverpool midfield then he will need to considerably up his game.

Pundits in his homeland had long talked up the potential of a Lucas Leiva and Denilson midfield partnership. However, Denilson's form and ability regressed last season due to the energetic displays of Mathieu Flamini, but he is now excelling in his absence and even outshining Cesc Fabregas in Arsenal's midfield.

Lucas Leiva on the other hand will have to work hard to witness the amount of playing time that Denilson is currently enjoying. Not only will he have to oust Xabi Alonso, but also the impeccable Javier Mascherano, and the Brazilian admits he will need to up his game if this is to happen.

"We did not win any trophies last season and we were all disappointed about that," Lucas told the Liverpool Echo. "That is something we want to change this season and the squad is now stronger than it was so hopefully that will help us."

"If you look at last season we drew some games that we would have expected to win but we have started this season well and are picking up wins so that is positive," he said.

"The squad is now much better which is good for the club because it means we all have to work really hard if we want to be in the team."

"For me, it is tough because we have so many good players in my position but hopefully I will get my chance and when I do I have to be ready," the 21-year old concluded.

Liverpool Fans On The Stunning Fightback Against Manchester City


THE way we overcame City on Sunday was as significant as the result. The belief running through the team was brilliant to watch.

We kept the ball moving and a red shirt was always available. When we didn’t have the ball we worked hard to get it back.

It is still too soon to talk about chasing titles, but if we can approach each game as we have been and keep up the commitment and determination, we shouldn’t be far off.

There can be no doubting Liverpool boast the best midfielder and centre forward in Europe. They are frightening at the moment. The skipper is the benchmark for how football should be played, and in this form, Torres will finish the season as leading scorer in the division.

But we are much more than these two players, and credit must go to Benitez. Few are shirking responsibility at the club and this consistent group of players is giving 100%.


IT feels like the International break has come at a bad time for us considering recent results. Sunday’s game at City shows the level of confidence running through the side at the moment, in that it always felt like we would get back into the game after going behind.

Previous years may have seen panic set in and desperation to ‘hoof’ the ball forward which would have been bread and butter for Dunne and Richards, whereas here we continued to play the ball with pace and more purposeful intention.

Torres has returned to form with a bang and it was nice to see Kuyt get a league goal following up from his European effort.

Obviously the Skrtel injury was a blow, hopefully the early indications that he will not need surgery are true as that will mean he is be back sooner rather than later. In the meantime I am sure Agger will step in and prove to be a more than capable replacement. In the meantime I guess we have to keep our fingers crossed for all our lads out on International duty and hope they come back injury free.

PAUL O’LEARY, Allerton

EVEN the most pessimistic Liverpool fans will agree there isn’t much to grumble about at the minute.

We have key players coming into excellent form, Torres is back in the goals and his partnership with Keane is starting to show real promise. However, what is more impressive is Keane’s enthusiastic character which appears to be having an infectious effect on our team.

Riera has slotted in nicely. Finally we have a winger who isn’t afraid to go at a full back, much is expected from the Spaniard, but what we have seen is encouraging.

Generally speaking, there is a more confident feeling among the players this season; certainly this is the perception among many fans.

Of course we are still in the first quarter of the season, we shouldn’t starting start self congratulating just yet.

There is nothing wrong with feeling good about making a strong start, but let’s not go overboard, it is just a ‘good start’.


THE Reds showed great character in the fightback at Manchester City but our first half performance was still a major concern.

Our weakness is in the full-back positions and City were able to exploit that to go two goals up.

Fabio Aurelio had a shocker on the left and Alvaro Arbeloa was also very poor down the right.

Unless we improve in those areas then it’s going to be tough for us to maintain a title challenge.

On the plus side it’s clear Fernando Torres is getting back to his best and it was great to see Dirk Kuyt end that long wait for a league goal.

Sunday also showed we now have quality players on the bench who are able to come on and change a game if things aren’t going well. Yossi Benayoun and Robbie Keane both made vital contributions.

After the buzz of a win like that it’s just a real shame we have to wait until a week on Saturday for our next game.

Manchester City Reject Reports Of Fernando Torres Bid

Manchester City have rejected claims they recently held discussions with representatives of Fernando Torres about the possibility of signing the Liverpool striker.

According to reports in Spain, members of City's owners, the Abu Dhabi United Group, met with Torres' advisors within the past fortnight, hoping to complete a move when the January transfer window opens.

Spanish daily Marca claims City have offered to double Torres' current wages in an effort to prise the highly-rated striker away from Anfield.

Such a deal would certainly eclipse the £32.5 million British transfer record that brought Robinho to Eastlands from Real Madrid.

For the time being, though, Torres has insisted he is happy to stay at Anfield, with five years left to run on his contract.

The 24-year-old is aware of City's interest, but has instructed his agents to immediately rebuff any bid from a rival Premier League club.

And City officials have dismissed suggestions that they are planning a swoop for Torres.

Sulaiman al-Fahim, the Abu Dhabi billionaire who orchestrated Sheik mansour's £210m takeover of City last month, has confessed he is a big fan of the Spain international, but a club spokesman said: "At no time has any Manchester City offical, or anybody representing the club, contacted Fernando Torres, his representatives or Liverpool Football Club."

Last weekend, Torres scored two goals to help Liverpool retain their position at the top of the Premier League, level on points with Chelsea.

Rafa Benitez's men came back from two goals down to defeat 10-man City 3-2 at Eastlands, maintaining the club's fantastic start to the season and underlining Torres' status as one of the best strikers in the world.

Skrtel: I Thought I Was Finished

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel initially thought that his career was over after his knee buckled during the game at Manchester City on Sunday.

Martin Skrtel felt his knee collapse underneath him during the 3-2 comeback win and knew something "terrible" had happened. The Reds were concerned at that point as they'd already used their three substitutions and were left with the task of completing their amazing comeback with just ten men.

At the time, though, the stopper admits that he thought his career was over.

Fortunately for Skrtel and Liverpool, the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee didn't tear completely, meaning that the 23-year-old Slovak international could be back as soon as Christmas.

It's a massive boost for the player, who initially feared he could be out for the rest of the season, if not for the rest of his prospective career.

"The pain was unbearable," he told the Daily Mail. "I can’t remember a lot about the moment – but it was terrible. I thought that was the end for me.

"I have never suffered anything like that before, but I remained conscious and they gave me oxygen to help with the pain."

The Reds' No.37 underwent a scan on Monday morning, before a specialist gave him the good news in midweek. The shellshocked player continued: "I almost ripped the ligament fully. If I had done that, I would have been out for eight months.

"But now it will be more like eight weeks if I’m lucky, when I should be able to start training again."

Skrtel has done well to force his way into Rafael Benitez's first team plans since his January move from Zenit St. Petersburg and will hope to pick up where he left off over the festive period.

Liverpool Rock Carragher Is Sorely Missed As Capello Rues The Lost Generation Of English Centre Halves

Even if Jamie Carragher would prefer to miss a penalty for England rather than Liverpool, Fabio Capello must now be wishing a player who has put club before country had not retired from international football.

The days when England boasted top-class centre halves in abundance appear to be over.

John Terry's absence from tomorrow's encounter with Kazakhstan has forced Capello to turn to players he would probably prefer to avoid for a World Cup qualifier.

Matthew Upson has never proved himself at the very highest level and Joleon Lescott, strangely off-form this season, reported for duty after another difficult weekend for Everton.

Wes Brown is a third option but will probably remain at right back even though he seems to have been demoted to third choice at Manchester United.

It was not so long ago that competition for places was so intense that players like Brown, not to mention more proven internationals, could not even be sure of a place in the squad.

It was not so long ago that one England centre half found two other England centre halves ahead of him in the Arsenal side. For Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Steve Bould there was no room for error at Highbury.

Keown and Gareth Southgate spent the entire 2002 World Cup watching Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell from the bench and Carragher often had more chance of securing a place at right back. Never mind that he rarely enjoyed playing there.

If that was all that was going, he would take it. Sven Goran Eriksson had been spoiled for choice. He favoured Campbell and Ferdinand for much of his tenure but also had Terry, Ledley King, Carragher and Jonathan Woodgate to call on, not to mention Southgate and Keown. He even considered Anthony Gardner and Upson.

Liverpool Move Helps Riera With Spain Career As Benitez Hails Winger’s Impact

Manager Rafa Benitez has hailed the performance of Albert Riera for Liverpool and justified his recall to the Spain national squad.

The 26-year-old winger joined the Reds in the summer from Espanyol, and has made an instant impact with Benitez’s side scoring vital victories against Manchester United, Everton and Manchester City.

Such has been Riera’s displays that he is now in with a chance to resurrect his international career after being overlooked for La Furia Roja’s successful campaign at the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland, but is now in the squad for World Cup 2010 qualifiers following injury to Diego Capel.

Benitez believes that Riera can turn himself into a key player for Spain if he continues to give his best and improves with the Premiership club.

"People maybe don't realise the situation and how well he's playing," Benitez told

"I could tell you he's doing really well and leave it at that, but you also have to remember that since he's been here the games have been United, Everton and Man City away. That makes how he's doing even more impressive.

"Spain has a very good group of players, so it's not easy – but he can be there. If he keeps playing well here, it will be easy for him.

"I think playing in the Premier League and Champions League can also make a massive difference to the progression of a player."