Lucas demands successive victories
Lucas Leiva has insisted Liverpool must bounce back quickly, with two home wins within a week, if they are to erase the memory of their losing start to the new Premier League campaign. The Reds went down 2-1 yesterday at Tottenham Hotspur, a team that beat them twice last season in the league and Carling Cup.
Now Liverpool face two Anfield dates to put things right; against Stoke City on Wednesday and Aston Villa next Monday. "Everyone is very disappointed but we haven't got time to think about this for long," said Lucas.
"We have another game on Wednesday and then next Monday, and we have to put the defeat by Spurs behind us. We must look forward and we now have two games at home in front of our own fans. We must aim to get six points."
Liverpool only lost two league games throughout last season, so another slip-up in the next week will see the club engulfed in criticism. And Lucas has not forgotten how tough Stoke made it for Rafa Benitez's team last season at Anfield by forcing a damaging goalless draw, one of the several poor home displays that ultimately cost the Merseyside giants the title.
"It will not be easy against Stoke because they will get men behind the ball and they won't give us space," explained Lucas. "We had two draws against them last season so we know what to expect. But at home we will have a lot more possession than we had at Spurs, and hopefully we will create more and score more goals."
"We knew it would be a difficult match at Spurs for us but in the first half we did not play well. Spurs were pressing high and that made it difficult for us, but we did not keep the ball well enough. We had a plan to play deep, to wait and then try to play on the counter-attack. But we only had a few promising attacks and did not create much."
It was Liverpool's first opening-weekend defeat for six years, with just a Steven Gerrard penalty to their credit. That cancelled out Benoit Assou-Ekotto's brilliant opener for Tottenham, who then won the match from a Sebastien Bassong header.
"We had more possession and more chances in the second period, but we were disappointed to concede twice to set-pieces," Lucas continued. "It is only one game and there's a long way to go, but that performance was not good enough."
Benitez agrees that it is good that Liverpool are quickly back into action after the disappointment of White Hart Lane. And has urged his players to turn things around quickly. "The positive thing is we have another game in three days, and you can change everything," he said.
"We know we have to win the next game, and then everything will change. But we did not play well. We are disappointed. We showed more character in the second half and we were a threat, but it was still not enough."
Liverpool have serious injury problems. Daniel Agger missed the Spurs game with a back injury, and both Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher needed stitches in head wounds. Fabio Aurelio is a long-term injury, while new boy Alberto Aquilani will not be fit for two months.
Midfielder Yossi Benayoun had missed training during the week with a rib injury, but did well enough when he came on as substitute to replace the ineffective Ryan Babel against Tottenham. "Ryan was trying to do well," said Benitez.
" We decided to use him because Yossi had a problem with a (bruised) rib and during the week he was not training. So we decided to use the pace and ability of Ryan and he was trying to do well. Afterwards, when the game was open, Yossi was also a big influence for us.
"We had a lot of injury problems before and during the game, and we were not comfortable because we were not well organised. We were trying to adjust to new positions, too many of them."