Benitez points to players` belief

Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 by PA

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insists it is belief among his players and not a change in tactics which has made his side more attacking this season as he prepares to welcome Hull to Anfield.

The Spaniard has a reputation for being a defensively-minded coach and certainly his teams in recent years have been well organised and difficult to score against.

There were both positive and negative effects of his approach last season as Liverpool's number of clean sheets helped push Manchester United all the way in the Barclays Premier League title race.

However, such a disciplined approach sometimes meant the team lacked a creative spark.

The emphasis has changed this campaign and, after two defeats in their first three matches, Liverpool have now won three successive league games and five in all competitions.

They have already had two 4-0 victories - against Stoke and Burnley - and have beaten Bolton and West Ham 3-2.

"It is similar to last season - we are creating more or less the same situations but now we are scoring more goals because the accuracy is better," said Benitez, who believes his players are better for their title run-in with United.

"It is true we score a lot of goals. It's funny because people were talking before about us needing to score more goals because we were good in defence.

"Now they are saying we are scoring goals but conceding goals - so we can never win.

"Maybe it is because we are more offensive - but it is not because we are changing the system."

Defender Andrea Dossena and midfielder Alberto Aquilani are the only two absentees from Rafael Benitez's squad to face Hull.

Dossena injured a groin in the midweek Carling Cup victory at Leeds while Aquilani, who has yet to make his debut since a #20million move from Roma in August, has stepped up his rehabilitation and has started running again.

Benitez will revert to his strongest line-up having fielded a second-string side at Elland Road.

Hull were one of the teams who last season left Anfield with one of the seven draws at home which cost Liverpool the title.

On that occasion the then Premier League newcomers took a two-goal lead before Liverpool pegged them back to 2-2.

The Tigers have had a woeful start to their second top-flight campaign and are next-bottom with just four points from six matches.

But Benitez will not under-estimate Phil Brown's side.

"We have to respect Hull because they were really good last year," he said.

"The comeback against them last year showed our character but we cannot make mistakes at the beginning of the game."

Hull defender Anthony Gardner could be back in contention for the clash.

The former England international has been out for the past month with a knee injury but will travel to Anfield with the rest of the squad.

Ibrahima Sonko is also available after being cup-tied for the midweek Carling Cup loss to Everton, Jimmy Bullard (knee) is making encouraging progress but is not yet ready to feature while Steven Mouyokolo (hamstring) is still sidelined.

Youngsters Tom Cairney and Liam Cooper could play a part after impressing against Everton.

Brazilian midfielder Geovanni signed a new two-year contract with the club ahead of the game.

The 29-year-old has scored 10 goals in 44 appearances for the Tigers, including their first in the Premier League against Fulham 13 months ago.

He joined the club on a free transfer in July 2008 after being released by Manchester City.

The former Barcelona and Benfica player was one of the stars of Hull's first season in the top flight.

His new deal extends his previous arrangement by one year, committing him to the club until 2011.

Manager Phil Brown said: "It's fantastic, great news for me and great news for the club.

"He has committed for another two years and, who knows, maybe further.

"Maybe that could be a catalyst. He was a big player for us last year with eight goals and a number of assists.

"I'm not just happy with his form, I'm happy with his work-rate.

"He has certainly shown me that he has learnt the English way, the game we play it. He has fitted in very nicely this year."

Geovanni has featured in each of Hull`s matches this season, scoring twice, and says he is pleased to be staying at the KC Stadium.

He said: "I am very happy, I am pleased to be here for two more years. I want to stay."




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