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Mon, Dec 29, 2008
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No stopping rampant Reds

By Chia Han Keong

ALL season long, the talk was that Barclays Premier League leaders Liverpool would not last the distance.

Critics believed that as the Merseyside club do not have the depth of talent and financial strength of Manchester United and Chelsea, they would soon be overtaken by their rivals.

But judging from two masterful victories in three days - Friday's 3-0 taming of Bolton and yesterday's 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle - the Reds are still top of the table, and are sending a message to all the naysayers: "Think again."

Such was their dominance in both games that, despite letting in a careless goal by Newcastle's David Edgar, Liverpool looked capable of beating anyone - including Man United and Chelsea.

Their passing was crisp, tidy and penetrative; when they had to defend, they were robust and organised, from defender to striker.

Best of all, they dominated even when they changed up their players, undermanager Rafael Benitez's much-derided rotation policy.

Robbie Keane, two-goal hero against Bolton, was benched against Newcastle. Midfielder Xabi Alonso - who pulled the strings so effectively from midfield - made way for the feisty Javier Mascherano. Albert Reira joined them on the bench, with his deputy, Lucas Leiva.

And they had no Fernando Torres for both matches - last season's top scorer was still recovering from injury.

Yet, just like Friday's stroll at Anfield, Liverpool showed the same imperious form away at Newcastle's St James' Park, hardly missing a beat even with those stalwarts rested.

Goals from Steven Gerrard (31st and 66th minutes), Sami Hyypia (36th), Ryan Babel (50th) and Alonso (76th, penalty) secured the three points.

Had it not been for a flurry of astonishing saves by Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given early in the game, the scoreline would have been even more embarrassing for the hosts.

The two victories assured Liverpool of the top spot until next year, with only one defeat all season - the fewest among the BPL teams.

Many of the Reds players are stepping into uncharted territory.

For the first time, they are trying to hold on to the top spot past the season's half-way mark.

It remains a tough proposition but, judging from Liverpool's past two games, they look ready for the test.

 


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  Arsenal reclaims 4th place
   
 
  Everton beat Sunderland 3-0
   
 
  Swimsuits affect credibility
   
 
  No stopping rampant Reds
   
 
  F1: No Honda buyout
   
 
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  Vietnam wins AFF Cup
   
 
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