Benitez's tinkering now reaping goal dividends
Apr 4 2006
By Mark Lawrenson, Daily Post
Reserves & Academy Match Reports D Post
Liverpool Reserves 1, Birmingham Reserves 0 Apr 4 2006 Daily Post PAUL ANDERSON struck with two minutes to go to give Liverpool reserves a 1-0 victory against Birmingham City in the Barclays FA Premier Reserve...
LIVERPOOL'S strikers have produced a spectacular response to their dry spell of a few weeks ago.
Twenty goals - including seven in the FA Cup drubbing of Birmingham - have flowed in the last five games with Robbie Fowler and Djibril Cisse the latest players to find their scoring form in the victory over West Bromwich Albion.
The pleasing thing from manager Rafael Benitez's point of view is that chances are being created from a number of different sources. There have been times this season when opportunities have predominantly come through the centre or right, inspired by Steven Gerrard or Xabi Alonso.
But now they are also coming via Harry Kewell, who has shown an encouragingly steady improvement over the course of the season. His revival has made such an important difference to the balance of the side.
Liverpool have been accused of being somewhat one dimensional but they have started creating chances from both sides of the pitch and that can only make the teams they are playing against far more wary.
In terms that can help create more space for the forwards.
When Arsenal were in their pomp they had a very strong link down the left in Ashley Cole, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry and to a point that is still the case.
But Liverpool are developing more of an all-round threat. And that can be put down to the manager giving his team the chance to play with a little bit more freedom.
Benitez picked an attacking team for the trip to The Hawthorns and they got at West Brom very quickly, reaping an instant benefit through Robbie Fowler's early goal.
The Spaniard seems to have come to terms with the fact that there are a number of teams in the Premier-ship that they can afford to be more expansive against. Liverpool are so good at the back they can afford to include a more attacking option in the midfield blend.
I remember John Toshack telling me that while Benitez was at Valencia he favoured two holding midfielders with even a third leaning towards more defensive duties.
The changes he has made at Liverpool are subtle, but releasing play-ers to get forward is reaping its rewards.
However I still see the strikers as a priority area in any summer rebuilding because the question marks remain against the very highest quality opposition at the top of the Premiership or in the Champions League.
I would not be surprised to see Cisse and Fernando Morientes head out in the summer if Liverpool can bring in the right kind of money for them which would allow Benitez to strengthen with a couple of replacements.
Liverpool will be looking to bring in some extra pace up front, especially through the middle, and someone with a proven record of scoring goals - although that is obviously easier said than done.
I suspect Benitez will be looking for someone who can play off another front player, in the way Morientes does.
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Mark Lawrenson was talking to RICHARD WILLIAMSON