Liverpool FC must keep Premier League momentum going at Fulham
SOMETIMES there comes a point when a team has to win a game to make a statement and Liverpool did that emphatically last week.
There is no better feeling than flattening Manchester United and despite Alex Ferguson's attempts to pin the blame on the referee once again, nothing could detract from the quality of the Reds' performance.
Suddenly the mood has lifted thanks to those three, precious points and the doom and gloom that was hovering beforehand has been dispersed.
That we were able to perform so well without Steven Gerrard, too, was also a great fillip; there is no doubt people have tended to over-rely on Stevie but those who took his place stood up and were counted.
It helped, of course, that we had Fernando Torres up and running and he showed his class with that decisive first strike to set the wheels in motion.
In the circumstances, the way Torres played was remarkable; you would never have been able to operate at 80 per cent fit in my day but the advances in sport science let him know how much he could push himself.
His presence also totally unsettled Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and provided us with a cutting edge when it was needed.
As satisfying as that victory was, though, we have got to do it all over again today at Fulham; there is no scope for letting the effort and application which carried us past United slip.
Fulham are a feisty little team on their own patch and have taken a number of scalps in recent years; they beat United and Arsenal at Craven Cottage last season, held Chelsea to a draw and deserved to qualify for Europe.
Craven Cottage is never an easy place to go to and we will have our work cut again, if we want to improve on our record of just two wins away from Anfield so far.
It's looking likely that Stevie will be missing once again but I'd love to see Rafa Benitez give the hero of our last trip to Fulham a chance to play behind Torres.
Yossi Benayoun has been in outstanding form, as he showed with that superb ball to Torres last Sunday and I think he would be the perfect foil in Stevie's absence.
He is clever, makes the runs that draw defenders away from strikers and also rarely wastes a pass when in a threatening position; while Dirk Kuyt is effective as a target man, Benayoun has that extra class.
We have to defend for our lives in Lyon
FOCUS switches to the Champions League on Wednesday night and Liverpool need to win to prevent the unthinkable becoming reality.
Fiorentina will beat Debrecen, the whipping boys in our group, so the onus is on the Reds to go to France and put right the result we suffered at Anfield.
The implications of missing out on the knockout stages are too huge to consider; it could cost us between ÃÂ£15m and ÃÂ£25m and that would destroy next summer's transfer budget.
But we have just beaten Manchester United and that result has got to give the players confidence they can go over there and keep a clean sheet.
If we can improve our defensive record in the next two games, which is imperative, I'm sure we'll all be a lot more buoyant next week.