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Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 16:45 UK

Gerrard below par, says Benitez

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard scored 16 Premier League goals last season

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has questioned the form of skipper Steven Gerrard after two defeats in the Reds' first three Premier League matches.

Benitez's side have lost as many league games in a fortnight as they did all last season.

"Gerrard will know he has played a couple of games that are not up to his best level," said the Spaniard.

"Because he so often plays really well, people maybe can see the difference. I know he will be ready now."

Liverpool were beaten 2-1 at Tottenham on the opening day of the season and suffered a 3-1 defeat at home by Aston Villa on Monday.

And, aside from Gerrard, Benitez also queried the lack of collective responsibility among his senior players.

He said: "We have a problem because we are losing matches. People can be critical of our system and suggest we have been worked out. But everybody knows all the systems, it is nothing really new.

"It is not systems, it is the players out on the pitch. Maybe we do not have squad depth at the moment and there were youngsters on the bench.

"But we have three key players to return - Fabio Aurelio, Danny Agger and Alberto Aquilani - and that will make a difference.

606: DEBATE
Zaboore

"The commitment of the players and the training sessions have been very good. That is the most important aspect.

"The players accepted my words in the right spirit. They have experience and they know they can improve. They have been listening to me for five years so they know what I feel.

"The team wants to show that we are good enough [to challenge for the title]. We know we can improve and I can guarantee that the players will be fighting hard from the very first minute [at Bolton on Saturday].

"We were so close last season to the title and now people are expecting us to win lots of games in a row. But the Premier League is very difficult.

"We have lost to two of the clubs who will be chasing the top four, Villa and Spurs, and there are good teams now trying to get into the top four. It will be more difficult for top sides now to win every game."

New signing Sotirios Kyrgiakos played for the reserves on Thursday and is in line for his league debut.

The Greek international played 45 minutes of the 3-2 defeat by Blackburn and, with concerns still over Martin Skrtel's jaw injury, the centre-back could play at the Reebok Stadium.



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see also
Bolton 2-3 Liverpool
29 Aug 09 |  Premier League
British clubs avoid Euro giants
27 Aug 09 |  Europe
We are in title hunt - Benayoun
26 Aug 09 |  Liverpool
Title bid not over, says Benitez
24 Aug 09 |  Premier League
Liverpool 1-3 Aston Villa
24 Aug 09 |  Premier League
Liverpool sign defender Kyrgiakos
21 Aug 09 |  Liverpool
Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool
16 Aug 09 |  Premier League


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