Thursday, October 11, 2007

Liverpool form concerns Gerrard

Steven Gerrard admits Liverpool are performing way below expectations despite the Reds still being unbeaten in the Premier League this term.
But what boss Rafael Benitez is privately concerned about is the form of his skipper as Gerrard heads off for another international break with England.
Ever since Gerrard suffered his foot injury and then played two games in four days for England with the problem, he has not been the driving inspiration Liverpool expect.
Benitez was more than annoyed about that, but knows he can do nothing to prevent the same thing happening again.
It was only last week that Gerrard conceded he was finally playing without pain, underlining the real problem at the heart of Liverpool's recent sequence of two wins in seven games.
It was almost a whole lot worse on Sunday until Fernando Torres headed an injury-time equaliser to rob Tottenham of a deserved win at Anfield.
Two goals from Robbie Keane, answering Andriy Voronin's opener, looked to have set Spurs on the way to a victory that would surely have ended any debate about manager Martin Jol's job.
But Spurs still returned to London more than happy with their efforts, leaving Liverpool and their increasingly demanding fans wondering what has gone wrong.
Ahead of the match, Benitez had described the home Champions League defeat by Marseille last week as "unacceptable". Gerrard agreed that Liverpool had "lost their sparkle".
And after another display riddled with errors that left Benitez stunned, there was certainly no extra glitz around Anfield.
Gerrard said: "We have not been ourselves of late, that's true. The results have not been good and the performances could have been better.
"We are going through a dip in form which all top teams do at some stage and we just have to make sure we play our way through it. We are not performing to the standards we can do, but that will change.
"I am asking the fans to trust me when I say there is no crisis here. We have fantastic players and a world-class manager and we will get things right again, there is no doubt about that.
"We have now got an international break which will give Rafa the chance to look at things and work with the players who are staying behind.
"For those of us going away, we have to get the jobs done with our countries and then come back ready for a massive match at Everton.
"If we can turn in a performance in the derby and win that game then things will be looking better again. That is what we will be aiming for."
Benitez looked as angry and bemused as is possible as he sifted through the debris of a third home league draw of the campaign, six points lost that would see them ahead of leaders Arsenal.
The Anfield boss said: "We were good in the first half, creating chances and controlling the game. But after we conceded near the break and then again soon after, it changed everything.
"We did not control the game and we did not create chances. But we did see character in that second half to get a very late equaliser.
"The two goals we conceded were very similar, they were not normal, not the sort of goals that we concede, that is why they are so difficult to explain.
"It is very difficult also to explain why we were much better than Spurs in the first half and then in the second period we could not handle the pressure on us.
"It was unbelievable that we could not finish the game off. We needed character, experience and leaders. Leaders need to control the situation and manage the pressure."

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