Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Rafa tells Gerrard to lead Liverpool’s fightback

9th: Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez on £11 million

Rafael Benitez is set to unleash Steven Gerrard on Chelsea from the start tomorrow night in a bold attempt to keep Liverpool’s Champions League dream alive.

Liverpool face a monumental challenge at Stamford Bridge — with the Blues holding a 3-1 advantage from the first leg — but Benitez will ask his skipper to spark an inspirational comeback.

Gerrard is nursing a groin injury but he was left out of the side that demolished Blackburn Rovers 4-0 on Saturday.

“The risk was there but he has got more chances (of playing Chelsea) now,” Benitez said of Gerrard. “The physio will work with him, so hopefully he’ll be there.”

The seven-day break between the Stamford Bridge second leg and Arsenal’s arrival at Anfield in the league provides the recuperation Gerrard would need from a major contribution to what will need to be one of their greatest fightbacks to progress to another semi-final.

Fernando Torres, whose two goals against Rovers took his tally to 11 in 19 league starts, said the manner of Liverpool’s victory had lifted hopes that they can score the three they need in West London.

“We have kept our confidence after the Champions League game and it was important to win for the fans,” Torres said.

“I think Chelsea will play for a win. If they score one or two it is over, so they will not just defend.”

Michael Essien, whose command of Gerrard was crucial in the first leg, will be fit for tomorrow, having been rested on Saturday.