By James Cox
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has admitted his side are no longer favourites to finish in fourth place in the league this season after the Reds failed to beat Birmingham on Sunday.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
With Tottenham losing at Sunderland the day before, Liverpool had an opportunity to close the gap but failed to take it after Birmingham full-back Liam Ridgewell cancelled out Gerrard’s opener in the 1-1 draw.
“It will be difficult. We have the experience and we are hoping that will be vital in the end, but I think it will go down to the wire,” said Gerrard.
Liverpool will now most likely have to win all five of their remaining fixtures, including the visit of Chelsea to Anfield to have any chance of pipping both Tottenham and Man City to the fourth Champions League spot.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez’s decision to replace Fernando Torres with David N’gog with twenty five minutes remaining was baffling and backfired when the young Frenchman missed a host of chances that Torres would surely have scored.
Gerrard’s face as Torres left the field said it all as the skipper seemed bemused as to why Benitez would take off their in form top goal scorer when the game was still level.
I cannot see why Benitez has insisted on giving N’gog so many minutes this season, he will be a good player in the future but he is far too inexperienced to be playing as a lone striker in Torres’ absence for a team that were supposed to be challenging for the league title this year.
Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani was once again on the bench with Lucas preferred in the middle, it seems if the £20 million summer signing isn’t injured he is rested, adapting to English football is difficult for any player but Benitez has never given him a run in the side to show his undoubted talent.
While Benitez’s stubbornness in the past has produced results, it has cost his team dearly this season. Injuries have revealed Liverpool’s lack of squad depth and now even the most loyal fans must be questioning whether the Spaniard truly is the man to take the club forward.