Monday, April 26, 2010

Gerrard admits Loss of Torres has hit like a rock

The Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, has admitted the recent absence of Fernando Torres damaged belief within the squad but says the team have overcome that obstacle in recent weeks, inspired by the prospect of a Europa League final.

"I won't lie. Sometimes when you lose your top striker, it can damage belief and affect your confidence," said Gerrard. "But this was much better," he said, following Liverpool's 4-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League. "It was important we scored a few goals against Burnley and won convincingly." Gerrard scored twice in a match for the first time this season as Liverpool condemned Burnley to relegation. He then looked forward to the second leg of their Europa League semi-final against Atlético Madrid at Anfield. The Spanish take a one-goal advantage into the match.

"We are now going to pile everything into Thursday's game, which can't come quickly enough," said Gerrard. "The players are up for it and we have to leave every bit of sweat and blood out on that pitch on Thursday. Let's hope we don't have to score a lot of goals and we can win it with two. But if they score we have to score three; we'll have to adapt during the game and do whatever it takes to win.

"There have been many occasions when we've had our backs to the wall and people have doubted us but we go into every game believing we can win and do anything possible to win on the night. But we have done it before and we hope to do it again."

Gerrard has struck up a good understanding with the January signing Maxi Rodríguez in recent weeks but the Argentinian will be ineligible for Thursday's match, having played for Atlético earlier in the season. The Liverpool captain believes it is another big loss for them.

"Maxi has been terrific for the last five or six weeks," said Gerrard. "It would have been great to have him on Thursday because he's an intelligent player who can unlock defences. He is on the same wavelength and, as a footballer, it is a pleasure to play with good players and that is what Maxi is, a fantastic player."

Gerrard also had one eye on wrenching fourth place in the Premier League from the other three contenders for the final Champions League place, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Manchester City.

"We've got a couple of games left and the idea is to take maximum points to sneak into fourth via the back door," said the England midfielder. "We know it is going to be difficult but, who knows, the clubs above us might slip up.

"We won't give up but it would be stupid of me to say this or that is going to happen. It's important to be realistic. We are underdogs to sneak this fourth position but our fans know that we have also got Everton breathing down our necks and we certainly don't want them finishing above us."

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