Friday, December 11, 2009

Masch admits Liverpool can't have any more excuses

avier Mascherano has told Liverpool that the time for excuses is over, as their season enters a critical stage.

The Anfield midfielder believes that he and his team-mates must start doing their talking on the pitch, after a disastrous start to the campaign, which has seen them crash out of the Champions' League, and effectively out of the title race.

The Reds face Arsenal tomorrow, knowing that defeat could leave them with a real struggle to even make the top four, and qualify for the competition which is vital to the club's finances.

Everyone at Anfield is aware of the implications of missing out on the Champions' League, and Mascherano believes that the players now have to stand up and be counted, as they put the mistakes of the past months right.

Fernando Torres has admitted this week that performances so far simply haven't been good enough, and the Argentine midfielder echoed that sentiment when he insisted they now have to make a fresh start, with a totally different attitude.

"The season starts again for us now. Obviously everyone would have liked to have started it in a different way, but we can't change anything about that," Mascherano explained.

"What we can do is change it from now and into the future - and we will try to start this weekend. Beating Arsenal is a great chance for us and would be a great way to start. It would be a big statement from us for the rest of the season.

"Really, we don't need to talk too much, we need to prove it on the pitch. We could talk for days and days about what we've done before, but this season we have to start doing it again with no excuses."

Mascherano has endured his own problems with form and fitness during the opening months of the campaign, as interest from Barcelona and pressures from captaining his country took a surprising toll.

There are still uncertainties about his future, with Barca still maintaining an interest and with the player himself in no hurry to enter into contract negotiations to extend the two years he has remaining on his current Anfield contract.

Yet the midfielder believes that he has only one duty at present, which is to address the criticism that he and his team-mates have been forced to face, about their readiness to take responsibility for the mess Liverpool are in.

Sir Alex Ferguson recently offered a stinging attack on modern players when he said that they now look to readily for excuses instead of looking at themselves, and that criticism has been levelled at the Liverpool squad.

Mascherano though, wants his team to now stand up and be counted, with a performance against Arsenal that will show the Reds mean business as they attempt to turn their season around.

"We know Arsenal will be very tough because they're such a good side. But we've also shown we can beat them, we've done it before and know we have the players and the team which can do it again," he said,

"Everyone knows we can beat anyone, we showed that by beating Manchester United at home and playing really well. What we need to do now is prove we can beat another top side.

"When we do get it together we will really beat someone, but we are all in this together. We have to start again and get it right, and when we do, then we have the side to achieve what the fans want."

Arsenal sitting on the coat-tails of the leaders in the Premier League, and Manchester City already ahead of Liverpool in the race for fourth, it leaves little room for error from now on for the Anfield club.

City will spend big if they need to in the transfer window, to ensure they kick on in the second half of the campaign, which will put Liverpool under even more pressure.

But Mascherano is convinced that his side - with their big name players finally back from injury - will also be a different proposition as the season progresses, and he added:

"We had Torres back against Fiorentina, Stevie is getting fitter with every game and of course Alberto Aquilani started too. All those things can only be good for us," he said.

"What we must do now is start winning again and show to people that we are a top side. It is all about confidence, but we all know we're a better team than we have shown so far.

"Sometimes, when your confidence is low, it makes it difficult to show your real qualities. In football 80 per cent is from the head and the other 20 is about the physical and tactical side.

"We know December is going to be a crucial month for us - and a great time to change everything. If we start winning, the confidence will return."

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