It’s do or die for Liverpool

February 27th, 2009 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Fernando TorresLondon, Feb 27 (DPA) It’s do or die for Liverpool in the English Premier League this weekend as they look to keep alive their flickering hopes of winning the title for the first time in 19 years.

Rafael Benitez’s side go to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough, knowing only victory will be enough to convince leaders Manchester United that the title race is not already over.

With United playing Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup final Sunday, Liverpool can close to within four points of their rivals by winning at Middlesbrough 24 hours earlier.

While their 1-1 draw at home with Manchester City last weekend was typical of the problems they have had finishing sides off at Anfield this season, their away form has been superb and they go into the match on the back of a well-earned 1-0 win at Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Captain Steven Gerrard, who returned for the last few minutes in Madrid, is likely to start, though Benitez has to wait on the fitness of striker Fernando Torres, who turned his ankle in midweek.

“I was told by the doctor that Torres’s ankle wasn’t that bad and we could keep him on the pitch,” Benitez said after the Spaniard stayed on until the hour mark at the Bernabeu.

“He was struggling in the second half so we took him off for fresh legs. Torres will probably now miss some games. We have a game in three days so it will be difficult for him to make that.”

Chelsea, three points behind Liverpool in third place, have looked a different side since the arrival of Guus Hiddink to replace Luiz Felipe Scolari as manager.

The London side play Wigan at Stamford Bridge with renewed belief that perhaps the gap between themselves and United may not be insurmountable.

“We’re 10 points down on Manchester United, which will be very difficult but we will give it a try,” the Dutchman said.

“The players are used to winning trophies so let’s try and repeat it. If they don’t you can’t be happy.”

Aston Villa, one point behind Chelsea, continue their quest for a Champions League spot with a home clash against Stoke City on Sunday, while Arsenal can close to within three points of them if they see off Fulham at the Emirates Stadium the day before.

At the other end of the table, bottom side West Bromwich Albion face a tricky task as they play Everton at Goodison Park, while Hull City, without a win in 10 league matches, entertain Blackburn Rovers.

Bolton Wanderers play Newcastle United and West Ham take on Manchester City in the weekend’s other games.

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