Monday, August 10

Light at end of tunnel


Liverpool can begin to move up the table, says England star Gerrard

LIVERPOOL, England: Steven Gerrard insists Liverpool can turn their season around as they prepare for two vital matches.The Reds got back on track with a 2-0 win over Wolves at Anfield on Saturday and now face season-defining games against Aston Villa and Tottenham as they look to revitalise their Champions League hopes.

TURNING POINT: Gerrard (left) scores against Wolverhampton Wanderers during their match at Anfield, Liverpool. — Reuters photo

TURNING POINT: Gerrard (left) scores against Wolverhampton Wanderers during their match at Anfield, Liverpool. — Reuters photo

Gerrard scored his first goal since the 2-2 draw with Birmingham on November 9 to set Liverpool on their way against Mick McCarthy’s Wolves.

And the England midfielder is adamant that Liverpool, who have already lost seven matches in the Premier League, can begin to move up the table.

He said: “When you’re not getting the results that you expect, it’s always going to affect confidence and we want to put it right.

“The players are hurting at the moment but we’re fighting and we’ve got the confidence that we will turn it around.

“With the attitude that we showed (against Wolves) we’ll slowly move up that table and we know where we want to be.”

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was also delighted with his captain’s return to goal-scoring form.

And the Spaniard accepts that it will take small steps for Liverpool to get their season back on track and fulfil his ambition of finishing in the top four.

He said: “It was very important for us and very important for him. If he can score goals again, he will have more confidence and it will be really good for the team.

“We had to win against Wolves. We won, a clean sheet, two goals, some chances and we have to go forward.

“The main thing was to get three points. We will see if we can beat Aston Villa and stay closer. We were trying to do well but to win. We have done this.

“We know it is a long race and we have to start winning games in a row so we have done that and hopefully we can win the next one and it will be easier for us to keep the confidence high.”

Benitez was also pleased with the impact made by Alberto Aquilani, who made his first start in the Premier League five months after arriving as a replacement for Xabi Alonso in a 20-million-pound move from Roma.

Aquilani has struggled with a long-term ankle injury but Benitez was happy with his first outing in the starting line up in the league.

“He was trying to be involved, to receive the ball and pass the ball and the match fitness is something he will improve, playing games,” the Spaniard said.

“The Premier League is difficult so he will settle, little by little.”

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy was angered by the sending off of Stephen Ward in the game at Anfield.

Ward had been booked shortly after the break for a tug on Yossi Benayoun and moments later tripped Lucas.

But referee Andre Marriner initially showed the wrong player, Christophe Berra, the yellow card, before correctly sending Ward off.

The Wolves boss claimed the Liverpool’s staff had told fourth official Phil Dowd that Ward had committed the foul and the official had passed that on to Marriner.

McCarthy said: “I’m not convinced by the sending off. He got the right player but he got enough assistance didn’t he? They were in Phil Dowd’s ear and he didn’t know who it was.

“I don’t know if Phil Dowd told the referee who it was and if referees can get assistance from the fourth official, then perhaps Ireland should still be in the World Cup.”

Ward’s sending off proved to be the turning point in the match. Shortly afterwards, Gerrard headed in from Emiliano Insua’s cross before Benayoun added a second with 20 minutes remaining. — AFP