As Liverpool prepare for Europa League duty and take on Lille OSC on March 11th, manager Rafael Benitez is undoubtedly under pressure to get his side to perform. Last season's Premiership runners-up are seemingly falling away in the race for fourth place with Monday's defeat to Wigan, and the Europa League is probably the only real bit of success the club may find this season.
As I highlighted earlier this season, Liverpool need to either buck up their ideas or look at investing in new players, however with the transfer window shut, they can completely forget about that, and Benitez is going to have to rely on "good old fashion" teamwork.
Benitez has recently been quoted claiming off the field problems, have been affecting matters on the field... Now lets be honest, Portsmouth went into administration a few weeks ago and last weekend they made it into the FA Cup Semi-final. Benitez needs to keep his players focused, fit and commited to the cause. Fair enough the likes of Aurelio (consistanly injured) and Skrtel are now possibly out for the rest of the season, but with quality of the returning players, there are no more excuses for the Spaniard.
So what to do?
The only real positives is that Liverpool have their injured players returning for the final 3rd of the season. Glen Johnson, who is undoubtedly England's best right back, has returned after 2 months out with a knee injury, Yossi Benayoun also back in the squad and most importantly Fernando Torres is returning to full fitness and will start scoring again.
But for Rafa to really solve the problems and get Liverpool playing again, he has to stop playing this theory of playing Javier Macherano in defence, and put him in midfield!!! PLEASE!! how can you expect Gerrard to regain any kind of form just relying on Lucas to hold the midfield? Fair enough Johnson was out injured, but im sure Benitez could possibly re-train another player to play at right back (just like when he re-trained Alvaro Arbeloa to left back when he was originally a right back). Also give Aquilani a run in the team! it shocks me that week after week he sits on the bench as Rafa doesn't want to "rush the Italian back" from injury. Also why keep Ryan Babel around, if he isnt going to be used? Again there must be some underlying disciplinary or attitude issue, if the Dutch winger is still not being given a chance. Finally Benitez should revert to the 4-3-2-1/4-5-1 formation which saw Kuyt, Gerrard and Torres link up so well last season, causing teams all sorts of issue's with the interchangable movement.
Time will only tell if Liverpool can salvage anything from the season, but if we look at their remaining fixtures, Benitez's side can still influence the title race and still collect some silverwear by the end of the season.
Liverpool's final fixtures
21/3 Man United
19/4 West Ham
Can Benitez or Liverpool save anything from the season? Can Liverpool win the Europa League? Do you think Benitez will be sacked in the summer? Leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org