Monday, 28 September 2009

LIVERPOOL'S HULL HAMMERING SHOWS MICHAEL'S TALKING BALLACKS

Sports - January 30, 2008

IT MIGHT "only" be Hull - but Rafa Benitez couldn't have dreamt this one any better.

With doubts about the ability of sides managed by the Spaniard to break down the lesser sides still lingering, the Reds took to the field against Phil Brown's men with the critics still chanting the mantra about last season's glut of draws.

The Tigers were one of the teams responsible for denying Liverpool No.19 last season but there was no chance of them escaping with a draw this time - not with Fernando Torres in this form.

El Nino has rightly hogged the headlines this weekend after his hat-trick of superb finishes but he's not the only one that's got fans rubbing their hands together.

Yossi Benayoun's Peter Beardsley impression is improving by the week - all he needs to do now is say "obviously" a few times in interviews.

Seriously though, his new role ahead of Steven Gerrard against the sides that come to shut up shop at Anfield is proving to be another tactical masterstroke by Benitez.

Add that to the attacking wing play from our full backs and visiting defenders to L4 have got an awful lot on their plate this season - and that's without Alberto Aquilani and the forward runs of Daniel Agger to worry about.

So, so much for the so-called one-dimensional tactics line often trotted out by the anti-Benitez brigade.

Rafa might have been hampered in the transfer market but he's clearly been putting in the hours with the chalkboard.

Two minutes after half time on Saturday it was pretty much game over - just how Benitez would have wanted it.

With two tough trips next up - to Fiorentina and Chelsea - steamrollering Hull early on meant the key men could be wrapped up for the games ahead - so Gerrard, Benayoun and Torres were all given the hook.

Ryan Babel's recent good form continued when he came on for Torres and - no matter how he scored the second one - a couple of goals will do his confidence the world of good.

So that was that - six goals, the sixth win in a row and the best scoring start to a season for over 100 years by a Liverpool side.

Not bad for a club in crisis...

Now to ram Michael Ballack's words back down his throat. Wigan's deserved win against Chelsea has left us just three points behind the club that believe football started in 2003.

And Ballack, who before his side's visit to the DW Stadium mused that the title could be a two-horse race this season, may be looking up the league table at Liverpool seven days from now.

It's not often I'd consider quoting Tony Pulis. But the Stoke boss summed up it nicely after his side were swept aside 4-0 by the Reds last month:

 "They will be right up there fighting for it. Anyone who says anything else is crazy."