Midfielder Yossi Benayoun has admitted Liverpool’s current failings are up front but believes his return and that of striker Fernando Torres can help to change things.

There was little to cheer in Sunday’s goalless draw at Manchester City apart from the duo’s comeback after five weeks on the sidelines and a seventh clean sheet in their last nine Premier League matches.

With their early-season defensive frailties seemingly now sorted, attention has to be paid to what happens in the final third.

In their last two games – at home to Europa League opponents Unirea Urziceni and at Eastlands – Liverpool have been found wanting against determined defensive opposition.

It is something that has to change if Rafael Benitez’s side are to regain control of the race for Champions League qualification, having slipped to sixth as a result of Tottenham’s leap into fourth yesterday.

The return of two of Liverpool’s most attack-minded players can only help with that and Benayoun is keen to make up for the time he has sat out with a broken rib.

„For any player the worst thing that can happen to you is to be injured so I’m just happy to be back after being out for a few weeks,” said the Israel international.

„It was difficult but hopefully now I can keep working hard in training, try to improve and try to help the team.

„We know where we need to improve. We need to create more and do more up front.

„One point (against City) was not good enough but it wasn’t bad either. We are still in the race for fourth place and that is the most important thing.

„We wanted to win but you have to remember that we were playing against a good team away from home.

„Hopefully the defence will keep playing well. We have got the best defence in the league – now we need to create more and then the goals will come.”

Benitez will certainly be grateful to see the return of two players so integral to their bid for a top-four spot.

Benayoun was one of their better players before his injury while Torres is still the club’s leading Premier League scorer despite his lengthy spell out after a knee operation, having been troubled by a nagging groin problem prior to that.

„Both players have been important in the past and hopefully both will be important in the future,” said Benitez, who is also hopeful attacking right-back Glen Johnson will soon return having been out since tearing the medial ligament in his right knee during the 1-0 victory at Villa Park on December 29.

„Both have made the difference in games and hopefully it will be the same again.

„Fernando needs to improve his match fitness and Yossi has to do the same but at least we have better competition and we can manage in a different way.

The quartet of contenders for fourth place are separated by a single point – although Manchester City and Aston Villa both have a match in hand on their rivals.

Benitez, who famously „guaranteed” fourth spot back in December, said it was unlikely any of the clubs would drop out of the race.

However, with most of his injured players returning, the Spaniard feels his side are best placed to make a move over the remaining two and a half months.

„I have more confidence but it depends on the players. If the players are doing well, it will be easier,” he said.

„You have to think about Tottenham and Aston Villa – it is a race of four teams now so we have to do our job and not think about one team.

„We have to try to get three points in every game and then see what happens with City – but also Villa and Tottenham.

Read the article on sportinglife.com

BENAYOUN HOPING TO ADD FIREPOWER

Midfielder Yossi Benayoun has admitted Liverpool’s current failings are up front but believes his return and that of striker Fernando Torres can help to change things.

There was little to cheer in Sunday’s goalless draw at Manchester City apart from the duo’s comeback after five weeks on the sidelines and a seventh clean sheet in their last nine Premier League matches.

With their early-season defensive frailties seemingly now sorted, attention has to be paid to what happens in the final third.

In their last two games – at home to Europa League opponents Unirea Urziceni and at Eastlands – Liverpool have been found wanting against determined defensive opposition.

It is something that has to change if Rafael Benitez’s side are to regain control of the race for Champions League qualification, having slipped to sixth as a result of Tottenham’s leap into fourth yesterday.

The return of two of Liverpool’s most attack-minded players can only help with that and Benayoun is keen to make up for the time he has sat out with a broken rib.

„For any player the worst thing that can happen to you is to be injured so I’m just happy to be back after being out for a few weeks,” said the Israel international.

„It was difficult but hopefully now I can keep working hard in training, try to improve and try to help the team.

„We know where we need to improve. We need to create more and do more up front.

„One point (against City) was not good enough but it wasn’t bad either. We are still in the race for fourth place and that is the most important thing.

„We wanted to win but you have to remember that we were playing against a good team away from home.

„Hopefully the defence will keep playing well. We have got the best defence in the league – now we need to create more and then the goals will come.”

Benitez will certainly be grateful to see the return of two players so integral to their bid for a top-four spot.

Benayoun was one of their better players before his injury while Torres is still the club’s leading Premier League scorer despite his lengthy spell out after a knee operation, having been troubled by a nagging groin problem prior to that.

„Both players have been important in the past and hopefully both will be important in the future,” said Benitez, who is also hopeful attacking right-back Glen Johnson will soon return having been out since tearing the medial ligament in his right knee during the 1-0 victory at Villa Park on December 29.

„Both have made the difference in games and hopefully it will be the same again.

„Fernando needs to improve his match fitness and Yossi has to do the same but at least we have better competition and we can manage in a different way.

The quartet of contenders for fourth place are separated by a single point – although Manchester City and Aston Villa both have a match in hand on their rivals.

Benitez, who famously „guaranteed” fourth spot back in December, said it was unlikely any of the clubs would drop out of the race.

However, with most of his injured players returning, the Spaniard feels his side are best placed to make a move over the remaining two and a half months.

„I have more confidence but it depends on the players. If the players are doing well, it will be easier,” he said.

„You have to think about Tottenham and Aston Villa – it is a race of four teams now so we have to do our job and not think about one team.

„We have to try to get three points in every game and then see what happens with City – but also Villa and Tottenham.

Read the article on sportinglife.com

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