JOHN ALDRIDGE: Travel sickness needs curing to get Liverpool FC into Champions League

By John Aldridge on Mar 27, 10 08:52 AM in Columnists

LIVERPOOL'S home form is good enough to guarantee a place in the Champions League - but will results on the road be able to back them up?

For whatever reason, we find ourselves in a desperate fight to get into the top four and the only way the Reds will salvage the situation is by picking up results at Birmingham City, Burnley and Hull.

Last week at Old Trafford was indicative of the way things have gone on our travels; we started brightly, managed to nick a goal - our first in the Premier League away from Anfield since Sotirios Kyrgiakos bundled in at Stoke - but ultimately came up short.

That means we now have no room for error. What's more, with Tottenham clicking into gear, it is a major worry that one more slip will see the 'dream' die as our destiny is no longer in our hands.

The only thing Liverpool can do is apply the pressure by winning as many games as possible, starting tomorrow against a Sunderland that boasts two excellent strikers in Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones.

Sunderland have hit a bit of form in the last seven days, beating Birmingham then drawing with Aston Villa, but I've no doubt that if Liverpool get about them, the scope is certainly there to get some goals.

But why haven't Liverpool been able to do that on the road? We have lacked creativity and it has all too often been a bit of a grind.

What gives me reason for optimism, however, is that Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham are all going into uncharted territory and they may just feel the pressure when it matters most.

All Liverpool can do is concentrate on the task in hand and beat Sunderland tomorrow - then they have got to beat Birmingham and show the travel sickness can be cured.


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Benfica against Liverpool FC test is so eagerly awaited

EUROPE comes back on the agenda next week and though the competition might not be the one Liverpool want to be in, we have got a fantastic game ahead of us.

I have been in Portugal for most of the past week and I can tell you that all anyone is talking about is Liverpool's Europa League showdown with Benfica; it has really captured the imagination.

Benfica was undoubtedly the most difficult tie Liverpool could have been given but the atmosphere will be amazing and I would imagine Rafa Benitez is determined to prove a point back in the Stadio da Luz.

The last time Liverpool played there in 2006, we threw a great chance away and ended up being comprehensively beaten over two legs. Since then, Benfica have blossomed and are a team going places.

It will be a difficult test but it would be great to think we could take a step closer to Hamburg by getting a result in Lisbon.

The winners of this tie will be favourites to lift the trophy.

* ONE piece of good news to emerge this week was the fact Javier Mascherano is ready to commit his future to the club. He has been Liverpool's best outfield player this season by some way, even starring as a makeshift right-back, and since he has been at Anfield he has blossomed into a top player. The longer he stays, the better.

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