Benitez looks to strikers to seize initiative

Whoever leads the Liverpool front line against Anderlecht, be it Peter Crouch, Fernando Morientes or Djibril Cissé, they will do so knowing the pressure is on. This applies to Cissé even though Saturday's winner against Blackburn was his eighth this season. Cissé, though, is the only member of the trio not signed by Rafael Benitez. As such the rumour mill continues to suggest he will be exiting via the transfer window come January despite the manager's denials.

Crouch, meanwhile, is without a goal for club or country since his £7m summer move and Morientes' recent failures in front of goal appear to symbolise his curious struggle to settle in England.

"We need to score goals but now, with Cissé more confident, Morientes coming back, Crouch working hard and Harry Kewell another option. I think that we will have more possibilities," said Benitez yesterday.

Morientes is the marginal favourite to play tonight, not least as he needs matches. Benitez said he was surprised at his misses against Blackburn but did not think it indicated he was failing to adapt to the Premiership. "They didn't have anything to do with the English style of football," he said. "They were clear chances. He's a good finisher so it wasn't normal that he should miss them. He's playing well and working on his physical condition. I think match fitness will come as he plays more games.

"He's determined for sure to prove himself in England," added Benitez. "He understands the game here better now, but we need to understand his game better."

The same could be said to apply to Liverpool's relationship with Crouch and it remains to be seen whether Kewell's eventual return improves the delivery from the flanks. For the meantime Benitez must use strikers in wide positions such as Cissé, Garcia, or Florent Sinama-Pongolle who may get a rare outing in red tonight.

Whatever combination is tried tonight with Steven Gerrard - who has scored seven goals in Europe this season - injured there is even greater onus on the strikers to deliver against an Anderlecht side which lies second in the Jupiler League but is pointless and goalless in the Champions' League. An attempt to prepare for tonight's match with a friendly against Plymouth Argyle earlier this month almost backfired when they trailed 2-0 at half-time before gaining a draw.

However, they do have some decent players, notably the veterans Bart Goor and Par Zetterberg striker Mbo Mpenza and winger Christian Wilhelmsson. The coach Frankie Vercauteren scored in Anderlecht's 1978 European Super Cup victory over Liverpool.

This will be Liverpool's first match in Brussels since the Heysel tragedy at the 1985 European Cup final, when 39 fans died after a charge by Liverpool fans. This match will not be in the rebuilt Heysel Stadium, but in Anderlecht's Constant Vanden Stock stadium, named after the club's ex-president, who was implicated in match-fixing.

Anderlecht (4-4-2): Proto; Vanden Borrre, Deschacht, De Man, Tihinen; Wilhelmsson, Vanderhaeghe, Zetterberg, Goor; Mpenza, Jestrovic.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore; Sissoko, Xabi Alonso; Cisse, Garcia, Riise; Morientes.

Referee: M Busacca (Switzerland)

The Lowdown on... Anderlecht

* How do they beat you?

Domestically, Anderlecht have 27 goals in 10 games this season. They are second in the Jupiler League. In midfield the veteran Swede Par Zetterberg will play to striker Nenad Jestrovic, who has scored four in his last three league games.

* How do you beat them?

Anderlect's Champions' League record is poor. They hold the record for the longest run of lost games in the competition, currently standing at nine. They have not scored in their last three matches and are bottom of Group G.

* Key man? Marius Mitu is strong in midfield. Last season he scored 10 and was credited with 10 assists.

* Any familiar faces?

Defender Hannu Tihinen was on loan at West Ham for four-months during the 2000-01 season.

Life and Style
health

Do you qualify – and how do you get it?

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
i100
News
Privately schooled, Oxford educated and a former editor of arguably the world's poshest magazine 'The Lady', it's perhaps unsurprising that Rachel Johnson rarely mixes with ordinary Proles.
people

The Mayor of London's sister, Rachel Johnson, apologises for shocking tweet about the PM

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environmentNepenthes zygon had been growing for almost a decade and helping to keep down cockroaches
News
This artist impression shows a modern-day Atlantis
news
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital