Focus on the football urges Benitez

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Football News

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has told his players they must put everything which has happened in the last week behind them and focus on Monday's Merseyside derby at home to Everton.

In the last nine days the Reds have been held to a goalless draw at Stoke, had to read about their manager rejecting a contract extension and watch Manchester United overtake them as Barclays Premier League leaders.

Victory over Everton would put the Anfield club back on top and Benitez believes that is the only thing the players should be concentrating on, saying: "It is not affecting preparations for the game. I want to be focused on the game because we know that is the most important thing."

He added: "Playing against Everton is something different. The atmosphere in the stadium is really good.

"Every single year you can understand the rivalry more and what it means for everyone here so it is a game you want to win.

"Hopefully we will win and it will be a fantastic game and normally that means more confidence for the team.

"We know we didn't play well (against Stoke). "It is a difficult stadium. You had to give credit to Stoke. They had won 21 points, 18 at home where they beat Arsenal and Aston Villa.

"But now we have to think about the derby, Anfield and a totally different scenario.

"The defenders, midfielders, strikers, the staff, we were not good enough.

"The team had to improve. If you want to win these kind of games you have to improve."

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Stoke City
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