Rafael Benítez has called on his players to arrest Liverpool’s decline after last night’s 3–1 home defeat by Aston Villa continued Anfield club’s poor start to the new Premier League season.
Liverpool were beaten at Anfield in the league for the first time in 32 matches – a sequence stretching back to December 2007 – after Martin O’Neill’s team out their own troubles behind them to record a first win of the campaign.
The result leaves Liverpool’s title hopes in jeopardy, with the club having already lost as many games term as they did in the whole of the 2008/09 campaign. However, Benitez believes it is now up to the players to turn things around.
“It is up to the team to improve, not just some names, but it is also up to the senior players to take the responsibility and take us forward,” said the Liverpool manager.
“In the first 20 minutes we created plenty of chances and played well. Then we conceded the own-goal and started to make more mistakes. We were not playing well, and we were up against a team who are excellent on the counter-attack.
“Their keeper [Brad Friedel] made some great saves, but when that happens we just have to make more chances. This squad is virtually the same as last season, so I believe it is good enough to mount a title challenge. But we must do more, we must win at Bolton.”
The contest turned on the own-goal by Lucas but Benítez refused to single out the midfielder for the defeat.
“I decided to take Lucas off because I wanted another striker on the pitch, not because he was playing worse than anyone else. I felt we had a chance when Torres scored but then Gerrard gave the penalty away – and it was a clear penalty – and there were many people involved in the second goal. If you want to analyse individual players you will have to analyse a lot of things.”