Benitez: Goals trump clean sheets
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has shrugged off criticism of his side's defensive lapses ahead of tomorrow's UEFA Champions League clash with Fiorentina and pointed to the positives of a 24-goal haul so far this term.
Benitez, frequently blasted for being overly cautious, finds himself defending a club who have started a season with their best goals record for more than 100 years.
Benitez will be without hamstring victim Javier Mascherano in the Stadio Artemio Franchi against Fiorentina, currently fourth in Serie A. But he insists that his attacking policy will not change and that Fernando Torres - who has scored eight goals in eight English Premier League games - can get even better.
"Our form has a lot to do with Torres, obviously. In the last three games he has been outstanding," the boss said. "Torres can still improve, because he likes to learn. He is on fire at the moment and is a key player for us, but the Champions League is more difficult and he is aware of that.
"His confidence has grown as the team has started to do well," the Spaniard went on. "We are creating more chances and there are plenty of options for him. When you are winning matches, opponents have to attack more and leave space, and that is what Fernando is exploiting. He can use his pace and ability. He is playing more games, he has acquired match fitness and is making life very difficult for defenders."
Benitez added: "We are scoring more goals and not really worried that we have conceded a few more. Our aim is to score goals and win matches, keeping clean sheets is a bonus. This has been a very good goal-scoring start to the season, I'm told the best for over 100 years at this club.
"But even if you score goals and also concede, then someone will see the negative of that," Benitez went on. "But we always look to the positives, we are scoring a lot of goals and we aim to continue to do the same. We can improve in defence, of course, and I would like a lot of goals and none conceded, but that is hard to do if you do try to attack.
"We will try to find the balance but I find it is easier to improve defences because you can work in training on basics, repeating the same things. With strikers it depends more on the quality of the player, that is more difficult."
The gaffer is looking to claim a second Group E victory to put qualification for the last 16 within sight. Liverpool beat Hungarian champions Debrecen a fortnight ago and Benitez added: "To start a Champions League group winning matches is very important. We have won our first game, now we am to win the second.
"That will be fantastic, we will be in a very strong position. Certainly much better than a couple of seasons ago when we started the group so badly we were under pressure all the time, fighting for every point," he said. "We have not faced Fiorentina before in Europe and this will be a big occasion. Hopefully we can score some more goals and that will almost certainly put us into the group stages. But Fiorentina play good football and will be dangerous. They are fourth in Serie A and have excellent players."