Torres admits Liverpool must change targets

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The Independent Football

Fernando Torres has admitted Liverpool are now Premier League also-rans, even if his manager Rafael Benitez still thinks differently.

The Anfield chief maintains his struggling outfit will finish in the top four, and looks to the new axis of Torres, Steven Gerrard and Alberto Aquilani to at least give Liverpool a better second half of the season than their first was.

However, his star striker admits he is 'changing his targets' for the rest of the season.

Against Arsenal on Sunday, Torres will almost certainly make his first start for Liverpool since early November after a prolonged groin injury.

And the Spain striker believes he has to prove himself after an injury-hit campaign.

"I am looking forward, and trying not to have any more injuries," he said.

"I want to be 100% fit now for all of the season, and of course the World Cup finals.

"We are out of the Champions League, we are really far away from the top of the Premier League, so we have to change our targets.

"We have to look to the Europa League, the FA Cup as the only competitions we can win this season. And making sure that we stay in the top four."

He added: "I know I am considered one of the key players and people are expecting a lot from me, plenty of goals, and my team mates expect that from me too.

"But for me it is just nice to be back fit, and for me to try to make those things possible. I just want to play and to help the team.

"After the injuries I have to prove that I am able to live up to those expectations. Hopefully we can now play together as a team, much better than we have been doing now.

"When we play them at Anfield it is always a special game, and we know we can beat them with our fans behind us."

But Benitez is clearly not giving up the chase just yet, at least for a top four slot, even though his side have won only three of their last 14 games.

Skipper Gerrard looks fully fit after his injury problems, while Aquilani is desperate to face the Gunners at Anfield after his full debut on Wednesday in the Champions League defeat by Fiorentina.

That gives Benitez hope.

He said: "Always I have to think of the positives. We cannot change the Champions League, but we can improve everywhere else.

"But if I am negative that can spread to the players and the fans. It is my responsibility to avoid that, part of the job is to keep everyone positive.

"We are not happy with what has happened in Europe, but we have to find positive ways to approach things.

"We have a tough spell now before the Europa League starts again in February. There are a lot of games before then, and it is a crucial period in the English league.

"Crucially we now have Torres and Gerrard fit. When they played together last season, we finished second. Aquilani is ready too."

He added: "We are better than we look, now we have three quality players all available and all fit. Now let's see whether we can improve our position and get into the top four.

"We will be there. Arsenal will do that too. We can improve, we can be in the top four and we can win a trophy. It is only what you would expect from a top side.

"We have had a bad spell but we are still very close to the top four. And our top players are available.

"We must start again, maybe it will be too late (in the league), you never know."

Benitez has a virtually injury-free squad to select from, and said: "Sometimes teams have bad moments, that is the same with every club. To change that you have to work hard and do things better.

"I have to think of the positives. Torres returning, Aquilani starting a match, Gerrard getting fitter every game. We will now be in a better position if we do not have any injuries over the coming weeks.

"Aquilani starting against Arsenal is an option, but we must assess him in training over the next two days.

"Torres and Gerrard playing together is also a real advantage now. They have not done that too much of late, but if both are fit then we can use them together, push them now, but we still must be careful with them. We saw against Fiorentina that Aquilani has quality."