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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
Read
By ESPN Staff

Benitez to use mauling to 'galvanise' club

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has called for a disastrous week at Anfield to 'galvanise everyone at the club' ahead of the trip to Watford.

Heavy defeats in the FA Cup and Carling Cup at the hands of Arsenal have sent the Reds' season into turmoil.

Added to that, the Merseysiders have lost midfielder Luis Garcia for six months with a serious knee injury, while Mark Gonzalez will be out for three weeks with a damaged shin.

Both players were carried off in the 6-3 humiliation by Arsenal's youngsters on Tuesday, and Benitez knows his side must bounce back with a strong display against the struggling Hornets to steady the ship.

The Spaniard said: 'I hope the result will galvanise everyone at the club, we must concentrate on the Premiership and be firmly focused on what is ahead.

'We can analyse what has happened in these last two games and use that to our benefit in the future.'

Benitez will recall Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, John Arne Riise, Jermaine Pennant, Dirk Kuyt and Jose Reina against Watford having controversially rested them all for the second debacle against the Gunners.

But the manager said: 'The players now understand how important the Premiership is, and we will be ready to face Watford.'

With Liverpool's season now reduced to making sure they qualify for the Champions League next season and hoping for a miracle in this term's campagn in Barcelona, they know they can ill-afford any slip-ups against the also-rans of the Premiership.

Watford were beaten 2-0 at Anfield in December and produced a spirited display, and they will fancy their chances of upsetting a team who have had their confidence severely damaged this week.

But at least Liverpool do not have any worries about fixture congestion in the future. After the Watford game they will have two blank weekends when the FA Cup fourth and fifth round takes place and an international break before they travel to Barcelona for their last-16 game against the holders.

In effect, they have just four games after the Watford match before the February 21 date in the Nou Camp, when it could have been eight had they won in both domestic cup competitions.