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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 12 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jan 30, 2008

Benitez insists Liverpool can claim fourth spot

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez insists his much-maligned squad has the experience to claim fourth spot in the Premier League.

If other results go their way, Liverpool can reclaim fourth spot from neighbours Everton on Wednesday if they can win at West Ham.

Earlier in the month Everton boss David Moyes expressed the belief that it was his squad that had the momentum and were best placed to finish in the final Champions League spot.

Benitez begs to differ.

He said: 'We still believe we are best placed to finish fourth. We are not happy that it has become difficult. But we have one game in hand and we must get back to fourth and then try to catch the third-placed team.'

The race for fourth spot is seemingly now a straight fight between Everton, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Benitez said: 'I think we are the best equipped to be fourth, at least. Martin O'Neill at Villa and Sven (Goran Eriksson) at City may say different and Everton too, but I have confidence in my team.

'We feel we can do it and we must start winning again, that will take us higher again.

'We have enough quality and the experience of playing at this level. That could be crucial because we have been here before.

'The key is to focus on every game and not think about the rest. West Ham will be tough opposition, they have beaten Manchester United and have improved.

'Obviously away games are always more difficult, but we must win this one and beat Sunderland on Saturday ahead of going to Chelsea the following week.'

Liverpool, who have sold Mohamed Sissoko for £8.2million to Juventus and are attempting to tie-up a permanent deal for £17million-rated Javier Mascherano, will have their big guns back at Upton Park.

Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Jamie Carragher, Jose Reina and Xabi Alonso were all out of the starting line-up in the nervy 5-2 FA Cup win over non-league Havant and Waterlooville, but will return against the Hammers.

Benitez's side have not won in the league since Boxing Day, and he said: 'It is difficult to explain why we have not been getting the results, but we have been creating the chances. We just need to be more precise in our finishing and things will be okay

'We must keep going, and continue to create the chances. We are difficult to beat and have been over three years, but we also must stop conceding goals when the ball is bouncing around our box. It always seems to end up in the back of our net, and that must stop.

'What we need now is confidence. We have the players capable of scoring and winning games at in the first half of the season when were unbeaten in the league until December, we were doing everything very well then. We must get back to that level.'