Dropped points frustrate Benitez

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Rafael Benitez admits the priceless points Liverpool are haemorrhaging at home are starting to worry him.

The Liverpool boss has tried to find the positives from what, as far as Anfield fans were concerned, was a bitterly disappointing 1-1 draw with Merseyside rivals Everton on Monday.

That was the fifth time this season that Liverpool have been held at home in the Barclays Premier League, and the Spanish boss was frustrated yet again at seeing the total of home points squandered rise to 10 in their battle to grab the title from Manchester United.

Previously Hull, Fulham, West Ham and Stoke have drawn at Anfield, but the point Everton deservedly claimed has done severe damage at a time when Manchester United are running into title-winning form.

United now lead the league on goal difference from Liverpool and their league records over the last 10 games make interesting reading.

United have won eight of their last 10 games, incredibly without conceding a goal in that run, dropping just four points from 30.

Liverpool have stuttered badly just as the race has heated up, winning just four of their last 10 and taking only 18 points compared to United's 26.

Benitez said: "We are disappointed and frustrated at the amount of points we have dropped at home this season.

"Generally this season we are much better in terms of points won, and especially away from home we are very strong. But at home we are facing games that will eventually be a massive difference for us.

"I have tried to be positive with the players. I told them that back in August when we started, everyone was asking where we would be come January.

"And now we find ourselves level on points with Manchester United at the top of the table now that January is here.

"We have to be positive. This is a good position. But we are disappointed because we are losing some home points we could win.

"But in England you say the bottle is half-full or half-empty. We feel it is half-full."



Now Liverpool face an FA Cup fourth-round home tie with Everton on Sunday, knowing the Toffees cannot wait to inflict more damage on their neighbours' season.

Benitez expects to change his side from the one held last night, with Alvaro Arbeloa, Javier Mascherano and Daniel Agger all in contention.

He said: "We may have to play with different players for the cup tie on Sunday, because afterwards we have two important games the following week at Wigan and then at home to Chelsea.

"We have players coming back from injury and it is important that they get the chance to play matches like the cup tie.

"But we expect Everton to play in a similar way, they do it well and they have been successful here.

"But we have had the likes of Martin Skrtel, Fernando Torres and Alvaro Arbeloa all returning from injuries and they are all much closer to their best now."

Benitez was criticised for taking off Torres and Robbie Keane in the later stages when a second goal was crucial.

But he said: "Torres was tired after being out for so long. And what good would it have been to have him on the pitch when we were defending a free-kick in those final minutes?

"We were better in the second half with more possession and chances. But it is still disappointing that we have lost another two points at home.

"But Everton played well, once we had scored they became more direct with balls up to their front players and we had to defend such situations.

"We were defending deep at times, but you can only defend against long balls by being deeper. You try to push out, but if they play another long ball then you end up dropping back again.

"It meant we were deeper and it was harder to break out when we had tired players (Torres).

"The positive is that we are still fighting to win three competitions.

"Torres had a great chance when he was through in the first half, and you must take those chances. Everything changes then and if you do not take a clear chance, the game becomes very close."

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