Liver­pool un­der pres­sure ahead of clash with Bolton

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

BOLTON: Liver­pool travel to Bolton to­day know­ing they des­per­ately need a victory to get their Premier League ti­tle chal­lenge back on track.

Rafael Ben­itez's side have lost two of their open­ing three matches to raise ma­jor doubts about their prospects of a first league crown since 1990.

The Reds fin­ished just four points adrift of Manch­ester United last sea­son and lost only two matches in the whole cam­paign. But, while Ben­itez’s team ran Sir Alex Fer­gu­son’s team close last term, there is a con­cern among their sup­port­ers that if they al­low an early gap to de­velop to the likes of Chelsea and United they will not be able to close it.

The An­field team ac­cept there is now lit­tle mar­gin for er­ror if they are to end their long wait for a ti­tle.

Pepe Reina has al­ready con­ceded five goals in his side’s 2-1 de­feat at Tot­ten­ham and shock 3-1 loss to As­ton Villa at An­field on Mon­day.

But the Span­ish goal­keeper be­lieves that three con­sec­u­tive wins would put Liver­pool right back in the race for the cham­pi­onship.

“The fans can trust us un­til the end be­cause as a team we have al­ways been strong,” Reina said. “Ob­vi­ously we are dis­ap­pointed be­cause it is not nor­mal for us to play three games and lose two of them, but we have to look for­ward, try to im­prove and carry on.

“We are the same team as last sea­son – the same team that won 86 points in the league,” he said. “Noth­ing has changed ex­cept that some play­ers have left and some have come in, but we are still a strong team.

“We have plenty of good play­ers in the dress­ing room and we have to look for­ward be­cause as soon as we win two or three games in a row things will change a lot.”

Liver­pool picked up an im­pres­sive to­tal of 86 points last sea­son but Reina be­lieves that im­prove­ments by other teams will make it a more open divi­sion this time around.

And he feels that will trans­late to the cham­pi­ons re­quir­ing fewer points this sea­son.

“Teams like Villa, Tot­ten­ham and Man City will be in­volved in the ti­tle race and I think the even­tual cham­pi­ons will prob­a­bly win no more than 82 points this sea­son,” he said.

The Reds are still without Ital­ian mid­fielder Al­berto Aquilani due to an an­kle prob­lem, but Greek de­fender Sotiros Ky­giakos could make his de­but af­ter join­ing from AEK Athens last week.

Bolton have started the sea­son with two de­feats – to Sun­der­land and Hull – and have not man­aged to score. – Sapa-AFP

MAN UN­DER FIRE: Pepe Reina saves from Spurs’ Rob­bie Keane on the open­ing day of the sea­son… the Liver­pool keeper has had a busy time lately.

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