Rafa - Rotation paying off

Liverpool boss defends policy

Rafa Benitez believes Liverpool are hitting their peak at the right time because he rested players earlier in the season.

Benitez has been criticised for his rotation policy but he feels it is unfair for him to be singled out.

"I have always said that when Sir Alex Ferguson rests players at Manchester United he is changing his team, yet when I do it I am rotating," he reasoned.

Liverpool have established a six-point lead over Everton in the race for fourth place in the Premier League, while they are also well placed to advance to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League after a 1-1 draw at Arsenal in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

Benitez insists the secret behind his side's good form is that his key players are all still fresh.

He said: "I explained earlier in the season that if a team wants to win trophies then it is important for a manager to use all his squad. I wanted us to be alive in all the competitions.

Good chance

"We can only win the Champions League now, but we have a good chance because the players have all had a rest.

"I have used the same group of players now and our form has been good.

"There is some tiredness but physically we can manage.

"When we played Arsenal in the Champions League we got the result because the players were able to work at their peak until the last minute."

Benitez is confident that Liverpool will finish the job against Arsenal at Anfield on Tuesday, but is wary of the threat posed by Arsene Wenger's men.


"I think the hard part has been done, but also we know we have a lot of respect because Arsenal are a very good team and will be dangerous on the counter-attack.

"They showed in the last round, when they drew at home against Milan and won 2-0 at the San Siro, that they can win at difficult places."

Benitez also urged the Liverpool fans to play their part, adding: "It is natural for them to want us to attack because we are at home, but we will also have to be careful because of the way Arsenal play.

"We need the fans to make it a great atmosphere but we also need them to be patient.

"I have confidence in our supporters because they understand the game."