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English Premiership

Reds must rediscover defensive steel

HULL, April 24 – Pepe Reina admits Liverpool have to re-discover their defensive steel to stand any chance of winning the Premier League.

LIVERPOOL_FANSAhead of their trip to Hull, the Reds are relying on a serious slip by leaders Manchester United to let them back into the title race.

United capitalised on Liverpool’s 4-4 draw with Arsenal by beating Portsmouth 2-0 on Wednesday to move three points clear at the top with a game in hand.

Rafael Benitez’s side had forced themselves right back into contention with a run of five straight wins in the Premier League before having to settle for a point with the Gunners.

That impressive run has been based on a new-found attacking potency that has seen them score four or more goals in six of their last eight matches in all competitions.

But the downside of that has been a leakier defence and Spain goalkeeper Reina has let in 11 goals in his last four appearances.

Reina is desperate for Liverpool to continue with their free-scoring attitude but acknowledges they also have to find a way of being more solid at the back.

He said: "We are scoring a lot of goals but we have to try and improve in defence. "Scoring goals is the most difficult thing in football but now we must sort some of the problems we’re having in defence.

"We’ve always had the balance between attack and defence. That’s why we’re always there in the Champions League and cup competitions, because we are a team with balance. We have to get back to this way."

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Despite United now looking clear favourites to retain their Premier League crown, Reina is adamant that Benitez’s players will fight on until the final game of the campaign.

He added: "We knew it would be difficult for United to drop points in two games, and now it’s even harder because they have to lose those games but we have to still believe and keep going until the end.

"It’s not worth looking at the fixture list. All we can do is win our games, so we don’t look at United’s fixtures. We just have to do our job and win our five remaining games.

"This club has been many, many years without being in this position going into the last five games.

"To be involved at this stage is beautiful, but to win the league would be massive, so we have to give our all."

The Reds are hoping that captain Steven Gerrard will overcome a groin problem that has kept him out of their last three matches.

But the England midfielder is likely to miss out at the KC Stadium where Hull are desperate for points for a very different reason.

Phil Brown’s Tigers enjoyed an impressive start to the season but have won just once in 17 Premier League matches and are three points above the relegation zone.

In the first half of campaign, Hull won at Arsenal and Tottenham and have also drawn at Anfield and at Chelsea in their first season in the top flight.

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And veteran midfielder George Boateng hopes his team-mates can use those performances as an inspiration against Benitez’s side.

He said: "We have been to places where people gave us no chance, like Arsenal where we won. What were the odds there?

"When we play against Liverpool no one will give us a chance but we can surprise them.

"Hopefully Tuesday’s game will have taken a lot of energy out of them but I look forward to it and the team does."


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