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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 14:02 GMT
Alan Hansen's view
Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Rafa Benitez
Benitez's job is unlikely to be on the line but he is under pressure
This is a massive week for Liverpool Football Club.

They face Besiktas on Tuesday in a Champions League match they simply must win.

I watched the away fixture in Turkey and, frankly, they didn't play particularly well.

But if the Reds perform like they did against Arsenal and Blackburn then there shouldn't be anything there for the Turkish side.

I expect them to win their Champions League home fixtures, which just leaves the match in Marseille.

However, my concern is that Rafa Benitez's men are under pressure because they have only one point from three games - this will make playing well more difficult.

They are the only team of the four Premier League sides in the competition that I'm concerned about.

It was a very different story at the start of the season - there was so much hope and optimism.


Striker Fernando Torres was causing a lot of problems for opposition teams by playing down the middle and banging in the goals but the moment he was injured, things changed.

That was evident against Blackburn on Saturday. Liverpool created a lot of good chances but could not put them away because they did not have a 20-goals-a-season man.

Steven Gerrard usually bails his side out when things are not going their way but they cannot afford to rely on him all the time.

To put it bluntly, they will have to get a result against Besiktas because failing to make the knockout stages will be catastrophic for the club.

Chris Hutchings
Hutchings was unlucky but from chairman Dave Whelan's point of view, it's good to change things early

On a brighter note, Rangers have got a great chance of edging themselves closer to qualification when they visit Barcelona on Wednesday.

It looked like a tough group when the teams were pulled out of the hat but, like Scotland's national side, Rangers have surprised many.

Full credit to Walter Smith and the staff for what has been achieved so far at Ibrox.

Meanwhile, the green and white hoops of Celtic will be hoping to beat Benfica in order to get themselves back in contention in a tight Group D.

I believe that Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal should have no problem in making the next stage of the Champions League but it is likely that only the latter two will be challenging for Premier League honours.

Saturday's 2-2 draw was a belter. United and Arsenal proved that they are really strong outfits.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be happy his side showed so much resilience, while United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be delighted with his solid defence and attacking potency.

Obviously, things can change in the Premier League and Chelsea and Liverpool may still be in with a shout come March and April.

At the other end of the table, it's bad news for Chris Hutchings, who has been sacked by Wigan.

The Latics started the season well and it seemed as if they would avoid a relegation battle - but then they lost striker Emile Heskey, who is a big, big player.

Smaller teams have not got that financial muscle and rely on two or three big players.

So the moment there is an injury to one of them, these teams suffer.

Hutchings was unlucky but, from chairman Dave Whelan's point of view, it is good to change things early.

In a nutshell, dropping out of the Premier League would be a disaster for them.

  • Alan Hansen was talking to Saj Chowdhury

    Hutchings sacked as Wigan manager
    05 Nov 07 |  Wigan Athletic
    Liverpool v Besiktas
    05 Nov 07 |  Europe
    Schalke 04 v Chelsea
    05 Nov 07 |  Europe
    Celtic v Benfica
    05 Nov 07 |  Europe
    Barcelona v Rangers
    05 Nov 07 |  Europe
    Man Utd v Dynamo Kiev
    05 Nov 07 |  Europe
    Slavia Prague v Arsenal
    05 Nov 07 |  Europe
    Arsenal 2-2 Man Utd
    03 Nov 07 |  Premier League


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