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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec, 7, 2007

Liverpool could benefit from UCL exit - Coppell

Reading manager Steve Coppell believes Liverpool's chances of ending their 18-year title drought could be boosted by an early Champions League exit.

Rafa Benitez's expensively-assembled collection of internationals will have its unbeaten start to the Barclays Premier League tested at the Madejski Stadium in tomorrow's late fixture.

But the fourth-placed Reds know they must then get the right result in France three days later, against Marseille, if they are to remain in the Champions League.

Coppell said: 'They are an excellent team and they have invested to compete right at the top end and that's where they are.

'But their demand is to win the league. If they finish fourth then they will have failed.

'And I have always said what will decide the title race will be the effect of Europe and key injuries. Those two factors, when you get to March, might work in Liverpool's favour if they are not in Europe.

'All the top teams have shown this season that if they lose real key individuals they are less effective.'

Liverpool may be seven points adrift of leaders Arsenal but they do have a game in hand - plus fewer men set to leave for international duty in the new year when the African Nations Cup kicks off.

Coppell added: 'They look fabulous at the moment. With the money they have spent, the depth of the squad and the range of options makes them difficult to prepare against.

'Obviously Rafa is notorious for chopping and changing but he is chopping and changing with cream and caviar.'

Liverpool have already inflicted a heavy defeat on the Royals this season, with Fernando Torres netting a hat-trick in a 4-2 Carling Cup success in September.

Coppell said: 'The difference between the two sides last time was a £25million centre forward so if we are going to get something then we will have to be right at the top of our game.

'Torres is quality. Like any top striker he is capable of being the difference. Hopefully we will have learned from last time and if he is playing we will know what to do.'

Meanwhile, Coppell was also preparing to make an impact in the transfer window, with the recruitment of three experienced players the target for next month.

He said: 'Money was available in the summer but I made the decision not to spend it to give the players who had done so well over the last two years the challenge again. But it is obvious now given the position we are in that need to strengthen.'

Reading will be without defender Michael Duberry, who is back in training but not fully recovered from cracked ribs, and injured wingers John Oster and Glen Little.

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