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Sep 15, 2010

Liverpool's Torres targets Man Utd turnaround

Liverpool's Fernando Torres has targeted the trip to Manchester United this weekend as a place to regain the form that has seen him labelled as one of the best strikers in the world.

• First XI: Best of enemies

Torres is expected to be given a rest for the Europa League game against Steaua Bucharest on Thursday night after coming in for criticism after his display during Liverpool's 0-0 draw with Birmingham on Sunday.

Manager Roy Hodgson has leapt to the defence of his striker, after former Liverpool captain Jamie Redknapp called Torres' performance "diabolical". But Torres has scored three goals in his last three games against United and feels the game is the perfect chance to kickstart Liverpool's season.

"It means everything to the fans," the striker told Match of the Day magazine. "We are the two most successful teams in England but it has not been nice for the Liverpool fans to watch Manchester United have so much success over recent years.

"We have a great squad and a great manager and we really hope to give the fans a trophy this season, as well as beating Manchester United for them."

Torres was the star of the show as he gave defender Nemanja Vidic a torrid time two years ago in a 4-1 win, but they have just one Premier League win away from Anfield in 2010. Still, he will be resurrecting the memory of that famous day to spur him on.

"Beating Manchester United 4-1 on their own ground is practically unheard of," he said. "We went 1-0 down as well which made the victory that much more impressive. I scored the equaliser, and that has to be one of my favourite days wearing the Liverpool shirt."

Hodgson refuted claims in the press that Torres looked out of sorts against Birmingham and says his star striker is happy at Anfield. "He certainly isn't fed up. Criticism is something we have to live with,'' said the 62-year-old.

"We bear strong expectations at this club and everyone is interested in us. We fill newspapers and airtime and of course everything that happens at the club is put under the microscope and that includes players' performances.

"Fernando Torres has no problem with that. He is an excellent player. He is very much committed and focused on this season. I think it is very wrong for people to read someone's state of mind from watching them play 90 minutes' football.

"You have to be some wonder psychologist to be able to do that. I can't watch a player play and tell you what state of mind he is in.''

Hodgson did admit he was thinking of resting Torres and Steven Gerrard for Thursday's Europa League clash against the Romanian side. "It is up to me to try to choose a team which will win the game and possibly give some of the players [who are] needed to play against Manchester United a well-deserved break,'' he said.

"I will use games in Europa League and Carling Cup in order to try to get a better knowledge of he players to make certain, as time goes on, I have no doubts what our best XI is. Dirk Kuyt (shoulder) is out and Fabio Aurelio (Achilles) we have to wait for but we are not picking up injuries so I have quite a big squad to choose from.

"Everyone in the country understands that to play the number of games we and teams like ourselves have to play you have to change the team. What I don't really understand is how every time you change the team and they do not win the selection is criticised.''

Hodgson also insisted he was satisfied with Liverpool's start to the season after criticism in some quarters. "We've played eight, won five, drawn two and lost one (in all competitions) - I don't think that is a bad start to the season by any stretch of the imagination. It is a new team and it has been a tough start to the season in terms of the programme.

"Like many teams at the moment we have fewer points that we would have liked and are firmly stuck in a group of teams between six and four points, which takes into account 90% of the league."

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