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Ian Rush: Highly charged Reds have turned up heat

Ian Rush: Highly charged Reds have turned up heat

Aug 21 2007

by Ian Rush, Liverpool Echo

Fernando Torres

IF Chelsea and Manchester United didn’t already consider Liverpool serious title contenders, they do now.

Sunday’s performance underlined why Liverpool can go closer this season than any time in the last 17 years.

There’s very little to choose between Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho’s side now. The gap that’s been there has shrunk, although the genuine test may come at venues such as the Stadium of Light next weekend as much as at Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford later in the season.

The big difference between Liverpool and their top three rivals is consistency.

We’ve seen over the years how United and Chelsea can churn out results week in, week out. It’s their ability to overpower all clubs which brought them the title, not just how they played in the ‘big games’.

Look at United last season. Their record against the rest of the top four wasn’t very good. Only their win over Liverpool at Old Trafford was convincing.

That’s why this weekend’s trip to Sunderland is so important for Liverpool to maintain their momentum.

They can take a lot of positives from Sunday afternoon.

When I saw Chelsea celebrating their draw at full-time, I couldn’t help think how far Liverpool have come since a few years ago.

They were comfortably beaten at home in consecutive seasons, but Sunday showed Chelsea’s main ambition was not to lose, and only an embarrassing performance by the referee saved them.

If there’s one criticism of Liverpool, it’s whether they can find their killer instinct when they’re in control.

They needed to kill Chelsea off so they could avoid suffering the kind of misfortune which led to the equaliser.

To be fair, finishing off a side of Chelsea’s quality is far from easy.

They remain one of the toughest sides to beat, which makes it more frustrating Liverpool couldn't hold on to their lead through no fault of their own.

But the message Benitez is sure to be sending his players is to make sure they maintain this standard all season.

We know Liverpool can raise their game against the top sides, but doing so against those teams they ought to be beating is another matter.

A draw with Chelsea at this stage is hardly a terrible result, just a disappointing one in the circumstances.

The ambition of making sure neither Chelsea nor Manchester United get a head start remains intact, and looking at the fixtures to come on the immediate horizon, there’s no reason why Liverpool can’t begin the season with an impressive, unbeaten run.

Chelsea may have felt better at full- time on Sunday, but Liverpool now look as if they have what it takes to keep the pace with Mourinho’s side.

Anfield has a new class act

FERNANDO TORRES couldn’t have done any more to win over the Liverpool supporters.

His goal reminded me of a young Michael Owen, with lightning pace and a perfect finish.

When you have a striker with that kind of speed, it’s a major asset for any team.

But just being fast isn’t enough. You need to be quick off the mark to make the most of your qualities, and if you add the kind of awareness and finishing ability we saw on Sunday into the mix, it’s some combination.

The manner in which he side-footed the ball into the one corner of the net where Petr Cech had no chance of saving it, proved Liverpool have signed a class act.

I also like the way Torres works so hard for the team.

The Kop have found an instant hero. After scoring against Chelsea, Torres should have the confidence to take on everyone.


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