06 March 2008


By Paul Walker, PA Sport

Rafael Benitez has stressed Liverpool's players must lift themselves above the club's current off-the-pitch turmoil to secure success on it.
The current intrigue over the future ownership of the club could easily distract the team for Wednesday night's Barclays Premier League home match against West Ham.
If Liverpool win they will reclaim fourth place in the table, and be in pole position to ensure qualification for the Champions League next term.
"This is now a really important for us," their manager said.
"That fourth spot is always important; if we win this game we are there, and from then on everything will depend on us and what we do."
Liverpool would be fourth only on goal difference from Everton if they are successful against the Hammers, but Benitez would know that if they match their Merseyside rivals' results for the rest of the campaign they will almost certainly hold on.
He added: "I have confidence. It's not easy at this stage when you play in the Champions League as well, but we have some experience.
"We know we have to concentrate and be focused on every game, and see if we can progress in both competitions."
Benitez is still smarting from the 1-0 defeat at West Ham last month, following an injury-time penalty.
He said: "I can promise you I was very disappointed. We controlled the last 20 minutes; we attacked and attacked but then conceded after one of our own corners when they broke quickly to the other end. It was very frustrating for me.
"The lesson is that sometimes, if you cannot win the game in 90 minutes, you must not lose the game in the last minute."
Benitez, who will be without Steve Finnan for the match because of a groin problem, is unsure how West Ham will react to their 4-0 home drubbing by Chelsea at the weekend.
He said: "Maybe they will be low on confidence, but maybe they will say to themselves 'We need to show character and quality'.
"I prefer to say they will be positive but really I don't know."
Benitez is aware of the potential dangers from a side who have won more away league games than they have at home this term.
He said: "They have some good players. Carlton Cole is a decent target man, as is Dean Ashton when he plays.
"They also have good wingers. Freddie Ljungberg can get into the box and be dangerous, while they have some key players who can also be dangerous.
"They are also good on the counter-attack, because they have pace and energy.
"It has been a difficult season for their manager Alan Curbishley, because he has had a lot of injuries to contend with, but I think he is doing a good job now."

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