Skrtel confident on season targets
Liverpool have three targets left to aim for this season and defender Martin Skrtel sees no reason why they cannot secure the lot. Qualification for the UEFA Champions League remains the primary aim, as it was when the campaign kicked off, but the League Cup final appearance scheduled for the end of the month gives the Reds a chance to end a five-year trophy drought.
But Skrtel does not think they should settle for that and with Brighton the visitors to Anfield on Sunday in the fifth round of the FA Cup the Slovakian international is thinking about a cup double. "At the start of the season our targets were to qualify for the Champions League and to win some trophies," he said. "Now we are in the League Cup final, still in the FA Cup and close to the top four - our targets are still reachable.
"It's up to us to ensure we qualify for the Champions League. When you look at our games with the teams who are in those positions at the moment I don't think they are that much better than us. We've had close games with (Manchester) City, (Manchester) United and Spurs and we beat Chelsea. I believe we can get there. We just need to focus on the next game and try to win that. Then, when all the games are played, we'll see how many points we have at the end."
But first up is the visit of Championship side Brighton, whom the Reds defeated in the League Cup earlier this season, at the weekend. The FA Cup was the last silverware Liverpool won back in 2006 but despite the history of the competition Skrtel believes the League Cup has equal significance for them, not least because it will guarantee a route back into Europe albeit via the UEFA Europa League.
"Some people say the FA Cup is more important than the Carling Cup. I don't see it that way," he told LFC magazine. "They are both trophies and if you win one or the other you qualify for Europe. I want to win both of them. I don't think one is more important than the other."
Over the last four months Skrtel has forged an impressive partnership with Daniel Agger at the centre of defence, keeping vice-captain Jamie Carragher on the sidelines. The Reds have conceded just 23 goals in 25 league matches, a record bettered only by Premier League leaders Manchester City. Considering the shortage of goals at the other end (29) it is that form which has helped keep them in touch with the race for fourth place and they are only four points adrift in seventh.
Left-back Jose Enrique, a summer signing from Newcastle, thinks the Skrtel-Agger partnership is the best of its kind in England. "I wouldn't change our centre-backs for any centre-backs in the league. They are both playing amazingly," he told liverpoolfc.tv.
"We have one of the best right-backs in the world, because Johnno (Glen Johnson) is really good, and one of the best 'keepers, and we have amazing players in front who help us to defend. Clean sheets are really important because if you keep one, you have one point for sure. But if we won each game 6-5, I wouldn't care. The most important thing is winning the games but I'm really happy when we keep clean sheets.
"We are doing well. We defend and attack as one - we play together. I'm happy because as a team we're doing well - only Manchester City are ahead of us in clean sheets. We have to keep doing this and score more goals."