Manager Rafael Benitez wants fresh start for Liverpool
Boss Rafael Benitez thinks Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League can reignite their poor domestic form.
Liverpool ended their Group E campaign with a 2-1 defeat by Fiorentina and have won only three of their last 14 games in all competitions.
But with £20m signing Alberto Aquilani making his first start on Wednesday and Fernando Torres returning, Benitez believes better fortunes lie ahead.
“It is the beginning of a new season for us now, I hope,” he said.
“To see Aquilani, to see Torres, those were the real positive things for the next match and the rest of our season.
The result and the way it happened just about sums up our Champions League campaign
“Aquilani showed his quality, his touch was good. His vision and passing were good but obviously he will have to work on his match fitness.”
The Italian midfielder was signed from Roma during the summer but has only recently recovered from a knee injury that has kept him out of action all season.
Aquilani’s return to fitness, coupled with the comeback by top scorer Torres, who has missed five successive matches because of a groin strain, has given Benitez a huge confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s crucial Premier League encounter against Arsenal, a match that could reinvigorate Liverpool’s indifferent season.
“Everyone is available for Sunday, if Aquilani trains well he could well be involved against Arsenal,” added Benitez.
“We are still trying to see the positives, we are playing better and we must now take that into a very important game.”
Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino’s injury-time goal at Anfield sealed a disastrous Champions League campaign for Liverpool, who finished third in Group E after winning only two of their six matches.
“The result and the way it happened just about sums up our Champions League campaign,” added Benitez, whose team will now compete in the Europa League.
“Another last-minute goal, and we are disappointed with that for the third time in this group.
“We worked so hard against Fiorentina and we had chances – they are the only positives we can take from the game.
“We will not be seeded in the Europa League. We must cope with that and handle whatever comes our way now.”