Cissé comes in from cold to repay Benitez faith

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The Independent Football

But with Peter Crouch and Fernando Morientes struggling for fitness and goals, the Spanish technocrat put his faith in the French individualist one last time and Cissé has responded with successive winners, against Blackburn Rovers in the Premiership, and Anderlecht in Brussels in the Champions' League on Wednesday night.

Yesterday Cissé admitted that the week "could be a turning point for me at Liverpool". He added: "I felt confident I would score - I don't always feel that. If I get a run of games, then I'm confident I could score a good number overall; we're a good attacking team. If I want to stay in the side, I must score goals, but if I can help someone else score too, then I think it is the same."

Ah, that is the issue. Can Cissé provide as well as deliver? Both goals this week showcased his powerful shooting but it is pertinent that each came at set-pieces, a tapped free-kick and a corner. Cissé is a finisher, but he is a team player?

Certainly, his link play with Luis Garcia and others in Brussels lacked the instinctiveness which characterises genuine combinations. But in his defence it would be hard for anyone to strike up an understanding in Liverpool's rotating forward line.

Cissé, who has often been dispatched to the right flank, noted: "I like to play in the centre but different games have different formations so sometimes I have to play with somebody in a front two."

"He had a tough week," said his team-mate Sami Hyypia, "but if Djibril is in the side I'm sure he'll score goals. You only have to look at his record with Auxerre and France to see he's always scored at a good rate and now that he's high on confidence I'm sure he can on scoring in the Premiership as he has been doing in Europe."

That is the perplexing question with Liverpool. Serene in Europe, stumbling at home. "Now we need to start thinking about the Premier League," said Benitez. In an attempt to explain the contrast he said: "Europe is another style. The Premiership is more physical. In Europe [our] players have a lot of confidence after winning last year. In England they know the other team will play 90 minutes at a high tempo."

Benitez hinted at selecting different teams at home and abroad, adding that was a benefit of his increased squad strength. But can they mount a successful defence? Frank Vercauteren, Anderlecht's coach, was unsure. His team have also lost to Chelsea in the competition and he said: "Liverpool are not stronger than last year but the final is at the end of season and they can maybe improve a lot by then. For the moment I believe Chelsea are better but what is true today is not necessarily true tomorrow. We have to see if Chelsea can keep their level to the end of the season."

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