Rafa & Dirk hail new boy Aquilani

Midfielder Alberto Aquilani made his long awaited Liverpool debut in the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal last night, coming off the bench to play a 15 minute cameo.

The Italian showed glimpses of why Rafa Benitez spent £17m on him in the summer, playing an Alonso-esque pass out to Degen and almost gaining a penalty with an overhead kick late on.

Benitez said “He has the quality, but he needs to improve his match-fitness. You can see he can pass the ball in the final third, he can make a big difference.

The Reds face Fulham next and have question marks over the fitness of Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva but Benitez won’t rush Aquilani. “We want to push him, but we cannot push too hard as we know that will be a risk. So we will keep going, keep working and add more minutes every game.”

Meanwhile, stand-in skipper Dirk Kuyt said “We have known Albert for a while and I’m very happy for him that he has made his debut. Hopefully we will see a lot more from him now. He’s a nice lad on and off the pitch and it’s good for him and us that he has finally played.”