Benitez struggles to shake off blues

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Manager Rafael Benitez was in gloomy mood on Monday as Liverpool aim to contend with disappointment on the field and continued uncertainty off it.

Saturday's defeat at Middlesbrough left the Reds seven points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United in the Barclays, who still have a game in hand. And as he prepares his side for Tuesday's home league meeting with Sunderland, Benitez is acutely aware recriminations are beginning to fly.

Benitez said: "We have talked about the mistakes we made (at Middlesbrough) and the future. And the immediate future is playing Sunderland, trying to get three points and then waiting to see what happens with Manchester United."

He will again be without striker Fernando Torres against the Black Cats, with full-back Alvaro Arbeloa still out with a hamstring injury.

But less than a week after the memorable Champions League victory in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid, you can sense Benitez is having to deal with broken spirits following the shattering defeat on Teesside.

That defeat, the culmination of just one win in seven league games, all but ended Liverpool's chase for the title, regardless of whether they can continue their fine form in Europe.

He added: "The title was difficult before, it is more difficult now. What we have to do is take our chances, and that is something that has been the same problem the whole season.

"Maybe if Torres had not been injured so much things would be different, but we cannot change the situation now. Everybody has players who get injured.

"Since the Champions League win in Madrid we have had some problems, several players have been injured, among other things.

"The worst thing has been the injuries to Torres. He has been our main striker and scored a lot of goals for us last season. And this season could have been totally different with him."

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Premier League
Fernando Torres
Manchester United
Alvaro Arbeloa

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