Dirk Kuyt has no doubt that fellow Liverpool striker Fernando Torres will break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of 23 goals in a first Premier League season.
While off-field problems continue to dominate at Anfield, the partnership of Torres and Steven Gerrard is diverting some attention away from the boardroom power struggle at the club.
Ex-Manchester United striker Van Nistelrooy managed 23 goals in his first campaign in England in 2001/02.
But Torres, who has scored 12 goals in his last 12 matches, heads into Saturday’s trip away to struggling Fulham just one short of that feat with four league games of this season remaining.
Kuyt feels that the fact that Torres is closing on that tally is a measure of the impact he has made since moving to Anfield from Atletico Madrid before the start of the season.
“I think he deserves that. He has scored many goals already and is playing really well for us,” Kuyt said.
“We still have a few games to go and with Fernando on fire as he has been I see no reason why he won’t reach that target and beat the record.
“We will have to wait and see but he definitely has the quality to score more than 23 league goals this season. Like I say, it seems like he can score in every game.”
“To take the record from someone like Van Nistelrooy would be a great achievement,” Kuyt, who has a high regard for his fellow Dutchman, added.
“He was absolutely fabulous for Manchester United in that first season and most of the years to follow.
“Van Nistelrooy is a great striker but Fernando is only going to get better and better. I can only see him scoring more goals.”
Gerrard and Torres have managed 51 goals between them this season, with plenty of assists for each other.
But Kuyt maintains the contribution of Liverpool’s two star players is only possible due to the rest of Rafael Benitez’s squad.
“The rest of the team has to work really hard to enable their ability to score goals and do all the things they do,” the Dutchman explained.
“In that sense, every member of the team is important to allow Stevie and Fernando to keep producing the levels they do.
“If we keep working hard as a team we know we can still win games even if we don’t play our best football. And with players like Stevie and Fernando in your team, they can always decide a game for us.”
United States striker Brian McBride thinks the 1-0 win at Reading last week will give Roy Liverpool not have managed to sustain a title challenge this season but Everton’s 1-0 defeat by Chelsea – whom Benitez’s men face in the semi-finals of the Champions League – on Thursday left the Reds five points clear of their city rivals in the race for fourth place.
But a 1-0 win over Liverpool at Craven Cottage in May last year was a major reason why Fulham, who are currently 19th in the Premier League, stayed in the top flight. Hodgson’s side the confidence they can repeat that result and help bridge the four-point gap to safety.
“We have to focus on Liverpool now. The minimal requirement for that game will be for us to show the same attitude as we did against Reading,” said McBride.
“It’s been great having the fans behind us and we really do appreciate them but we need to make sure we’re focused on winning the game.
“We know it’s going to be a tough task, we’re not kidding ourselves around – but we need to make sure that we have belief that we can do it and follow through on that.”
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