Benitez admits Gerrard must improve

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The Independent Football

Rafael Benitez has revealed that Steven Gerrard has expressed concern about his own form during Liverpool's ill-fated Champions League and Premier League assault.

Gerrard was in the form of his life this time last season and had 11 goals to his name as Benitez's side went into the festive programme at the top of the table. Yet the Anfield captain has been a shadow of his former self during a frustrating season disrupted by injury. Gerrard has managed just four goals so far for his club, who start this Christmas in eighth spot, 14 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.

"Steven knows that he has to improve, but that for me is very positive," said Benitez ahead of today's home game with Wolverhampton Wanderers. "He realises he is a very important player for us and we were analysing his stats and he was doing much better. The last game he wasn't at the same level but that can happen in one game. He knows he is improving physically and the main thing now is confidence."

Gerrard has looked out of sorts since returning to action after an adductor problem. He has not scored in his last eight outings while his milestone 500th appearance for the club earlier this month ended in anti-climax, a 0-0 stalemate against Blackburn.

But Benitez is confident that the England midfielder will quickly rediscover the type of form that saw him score 25 times for club and country last season. "I am 100 per cent sure that he wants to give more," he said. "He is the captain and he is very important for the team and the club. He is someone who is pushing now and wants to improve.

"Have I had a meeting with him about it? We have a lot of corridors here and we bump into one another. We don't need to organise a proper meeting.

"I have a lot of conversations not just with Steven but a lot of players and they know they want to improve. Sometimes they try too hard. I was talking this week about how to improve. I was really pleased because they were positive.

"Everyone talks about Gerrard and Torres – they are very important for us and in any team it would be the same. They have to be good and play well and that means the rest of the team would be better.

"But if everyone can improve a little bit it will be good for the team."

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