Saturday, September 05, 2009

Kuyt: Liverpool Can Still Win The League

Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt has backed his side to win the Barclay's Premier League this season.

The Merseyside club have lost two of their opening three matches of the campaign but came from behind to beat Bolton last Saturday.

And Kuyt insists Liverpool are ready to put their indifferent start to the season behind them and mount a strong challenge.

In an interview for the official Liverpool website he said: "I still believe we have a great chance. It's early in the season and the main thing is to focus on our own game and look forward to the next game.

"As long as we start winning our own games from this stage I am sure we will be up there."

Kuyt has also backed new signings Glen Johnson and Alberto Aquilani will serve to strengthen the Reds' campaign.

He added: "I think we have two big signings. If you talk about Glen Johnson, last season he was one of the better players in the league.

"We have Aquilani as well. Okay we have to wait a couple of weeks before he starts to play games, but with these two signings we have a great team."

Pepe Reina Calls On Liverpool To Take Risks This Season If They Want To End 20-year Wait For Title

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has told his team-mates they must take risks if they want to win the Barclays Premier League this season.

The Reds' title bid has already suffered an early setback after they lost at Tottenham on the opening day followed by a defeat at home to Aston Villa - and only a 90th minute winner from Steven Gerrard save their skins at Bolton last weekend.

But Reina says unless Rafa Benitez' men start taking games by the scruff of the neck then they will fail to end their 20-year wait to win the League, reports The Daily Mirror.

Liverpool finished just four points behind champions Manchester United last season - 11 draws proving costly compared to Sir Alex Ferguson's side's six.

'One thing that became clear to everyone at the club before the season started was that we must take more risks if we want to win the league,' said Reina.

'Even if that means losing a few more games, particularly at home. In the short-term that may disappoint a few people, but in the long term it's better to cut out the draws.

'In a league where there are three points for a win, for teams trying to win the title it's definitely draws that make it more difficult.

'People say we've lost as many games this season as we did in the whole of last season. But last season our biggest problem was drawing games.

'Those draws meant we could have drawn the two games we lost, went the season unbeaten in the league, but still not won it.

I Had A ‘Flare-Up’ With Rafael Benitez - Liverpool's Albert Riera

Liverpool winger Albert Riera has told Spanish publication AS of a bust-up he had with manager Rafael Benitez and confirmed his anger at failing to start the first three games of the season for the Merseysiders.

"I didn't play the first game because I started training late after the Confederations Cup, like [Pepe] Reina and [Fernando] Torres," he said. "I was angry and had a flare-up at Benitez, but the day I don't get angry for being a substitute I will retire."

After sitting out the defeat to Tottenham, Riera had to be satisfied with a late substitute appearance in the 4-0 win over Stoke City and he was an unused sub in the 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa. However, he earned a starting place in the 3-2 win over Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok last weekend.

Despite not featuring as often as he would have liked so far this season, Riera holds the Liverpool boss in high regard.

"Benitez is a special coach who defends his own. I know he is with me, because he said so," he added.

The former Espanyol man also said that missing out on Spain's Euro 2008 victory was difficult for him.

"It was very hard but I will work to get to the World Cup to compensate for it," he said.

Kuyt Backs Babel's Cause

Dirk Kuyt believes Ryan Babel is happy at Liverpool and is backing him to become a first-team regular.

The Dutch winger was quoted on Wednesday as being open to the prospect of securing a loan switch to former club Ajax during the January transfer window.

The 22-year-old is said to have grown disillusioned at a lack of opportunities at Anfield, with his World Cup aspirations weighing heavy on his mind.

Babel was awarded a starting berth by Rafa Benitez for Liverpool's opening game of the 2009/10 campaign at Tottenham, but has fallen down the pecking order since then.

Fellow Reds forward Kuyt understands his countryman's frustration, but he believes his international team-mate is prepared to fight for a place on Merseyside.

"He loves to play games for Liverpool and he will do everything in his power to come back," Kuyt told Sky Sports News.

"He is happy at Liverpool but every player wants to play and that is his only concern, before the World Cup, that he has to play games.

"I'm sure that he wants to play for Liverpool and that he wants to play in games as soon as possible.

"We have a big squad, with many players who can play in his position, so he has to work hard and I believe he is doing that at Liverpool and with the Dutch team."

Yossi Benayoun's Praise For Liverpool FC Goalkeeper Pepe Reina

Yossi Benayoun believes Pepe Reina's form so far this season has reaffirmed his status as the Premier League's top goalkeeper.

The Spanish shot-stopper has been one of the Reds' standout performers in their opening four matches.

Reina, who has won the Golden Gloves award three times in the past four years, has pulled off a string of excellent saves.

Defensive frailties have seen the Reds leak seven goals already but Benayoun admits no blame can be attached to the 27-year-old.

"Ever since I’ve been at the club Pepe has played at a really high level," Benayoun said.

"He is one of our main players and he has been excellent for us again in the opening weeks of the season.

"He made a vital save to deny Matt Taylor at Bolton and he has done the same in the other matches. It’s just great to have him as a team-mate.

"In my opinion he is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.

"He never lets us down and we know we can trust him all the time."

Benayoun is busy preparing for a crunch World Cup qualifying double-header.

Israel, who are four points adrift of Group Two pace-setters Greece and Switzerland, host Latvia on Saturday before entertaining Luxembourg next Wednesday night.

The midfielder is desperate to keep his World Cup dream alive before returning to Anfield to ensure the Reds build on their dramatic 3-2 win at Bolton.

"It was so important to get the three points before the international break," he said.

"Having lost two games already, we knew we couldn't afford to slip up again.

"It was a hard game. Bolton are a physical side and we were relieved to win but hopefully now we can play with more confidence.

"Against Aston Villa we had one of those nights when everything went against us but at Bolton it was much better.

"I'm looking forward to doing my best for the national team and then I'll come back and hopefully help Liverpool climb up the table."

Benayoun's impressive cameo display in the opening weekend defeat at Spurs earned him a starting spot against Stoke and Villa but he was back on the bench at the Reebok Stadium.

Albert Riera, Ryan Babel and Benayoun are all competing for that left wing role but the Israeli is up for the fight.

"Like every player I want to start every game," he added.

"It's up to the manager to decide but all I can do is give my best and hopefully that will be enough.

"There is always competition for places at a club like Liverpool.

"I felt really good in the games against Tottenham and Stoke. I need to keep playing at that level."

Meanwhile, Reina believes Liverpool will have to take more risks if they are going to challenge for the title this season.

The Reds were hampered last season by 11 draws, including 14 dropped points at home.

"People say we have lost as many games this season as we did in the whole of last season. But last season our biggest problem was drawing games," he said.

"Those draws meant that we could have drawn the two games we lost, went the season unbeaten in the league, but still not won it.

"I would rather have lost six of those 11 games and won the other five.

"People can point to defeats, but I feel its the draws that make it more difficult.

"It's better to cut out the draws."

I Play For The Biggest Club In Europe – Liverpool’s Albert Riera

Albert Riera has dismissed talk that he could have joined Barcelona in the summer, insisting that he wanted to stay at "the biggest club in Europe".

The Catalan winger was linked with a move to Camp Nou as the Blaugrana sought a player to compete with Thierry Henry down the left, but nothing materialised.

Since then, stories have suggested that Riera has not started for Liverpool this term because he secretly expressed a desire to leave, rumours he finds ridiculous.

"I cannot believe I have not played because of that. I will not deny that there was something that interested me. This is true," he told reporters in Spain.

"But I play for Liverpool, which is the biggest club in Europe. Benitez is a special coach who defends his own.

"I know he supports me because he told me."

Steven Gerrard Likely To Be England Captain In John Terry's Absence

John Terry remains a big doubt because of his groin problem for Saturday’s friendly with Slovenia at Wembley, with Steven Gerrard poised to be captain.

Terry trained at Arsenal’s London Colney complex on Thursday, but Fabio Capello is unlikely to risk him ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Croatia, also at Wembley. A win in that could confirm England’s place at next summer’s finals in South Africa.

England confirmed that their entire squad trained “to some extent”, with Bolton defender Gary Cahill joining in after his call-up as cover for Terry.

Terry’s usual partner in the centre of England’s defence, Rio Ferdinand, has already been ruled out of the games with a thigh problem.

Tottenham’s Ledley King is also unavailable because of injury. Matthew Upson and Joleon Lescott are likely to face Slovenia if Terry misses out. It will be the first time they have started together.

Wes Brown’s prospects of challenging Glen Johnson at right-back looked brighter yesterday; he sat out Wednesday’s training because of a small muscle problem.

Leading England out will be a fillip for Gerrard, who had a troubled summer. He looked back to his best in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Bolton, scoring a late winner.

Liverpool's New Stanley Park Stadium On Hold Until Recession Is Over

Liverpool's new stadium will not be built until the global recession is over and credit becomes available to finance the $800 million project.

The 60,000-seat replacement for Liverpool's historic but crumbling Anfield was due to have opened next year, but the economic downturn forced co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. to halt building work last August.

The American owners had said it would be a "short-term delay," but they are still not able to put a date on building work resuming.

"Construction on the stadium will begin when the current contraction in the banking industry ends and the global financial markets re-establish their equilibrium," Liverpool's new managing director Christian Purslow said.

Purslow hopes the stadium on the adjacent Stanley Park will be ready in time for 2018 to stage World Cup matches should England's bid to stage the showcase event prove successful.

"The centerpiece is to deliver a world-class football ground that everyone can be proud of, a new home for the club with a stadium of at least 60,000 seats, giving the best possible match experience," Purslow said.

Liverpool has been financially hamstrung by the economics of 45,000-capacity Anfield, where there are just 34 luxury suites and few amenities to generate extra funding to enhance the squad.

Manchester United's Old Trafford can welcome 76,000 fans and Arsenal moved from 38,000-seat Highbury into 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium in July 2006.

Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher has said he is embarrassed and irritated by the delays in replacing the stadium.

Millions of pounds were written-off when existing plans to replace Anfield were ditched after Liverpool was bought by the Hicks and Gillett in 2007 so architects from Hicks' native Texas could design a more spectacular stadium.