Back pages on night of frustration

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It’s early December and we find ourselves at the top of the Premier League table, a point ahead of Chelsea and six ahead of Manchester United. Happy days. But last night’s goalless struggle at home to West Ham did not look like the sign of a Championship winning team. Add to that home draws to Fulham and Stoke this season, and we can easily tally up a good six points dropped at Anfield this season.

I think Andy Hunter of The Guardian sums up what we’re feeling this morning:

Looking down on Chelsea and Manchester United is the only view Liverpool want this season and, as Rafael Benítez repeatedly said afterwards, the league table makes pleasant reading today. But – there is always a but – it should look much better. Benítez knew it, Liverpool’s players knew it and the boos that greeted the final whistle, swift yet audible, showed a frustrated home support knew it, too.

Ian Herbert of The Independent sees the flaws in Rafa Benitez’s league leaders.

It might show that Liverpool are the best side in the land today, but having failed to muster a goal at home against Stoke, Fulham and West Ham, or build a three point gap at the top, they are foundering on a goalscoring impasse. Minus Fernando Torres and the Robbie Keane that Rafael Benitez imagined he was signing, they do not look like overcoming it terribly soon.

Herbert also mentions the presence of Reds co-owner George Gillett who watched on from the stands as West Ham kept a frustrated Liverpool out.

Benitez, meanwhile, found himself discussing how he might lift his players and there seemed little comfort to take from the presence in the crowd of proprietor George Gillett, who has not pushed the Spaniard’s contract talks any further and who, US reports suggest, is struggling to refinance $75m of personal debt.

Despite the lack of goalscoring power from Liverpool this season, Benitez was quick to rule out rumours that they will bid to bring Newcastle striker Michael Owen back to Anfield this January transfer window.

The Reds now face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Saturday afternoon with the chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.