Masch plays down Gunners game
Javier Mascherano insists Liverpool's showdown with Arsenal on Sunday is not a 'must-win' game.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 11/12/09 10:12am
Javier Mascherano insists Liverpool's showdown with Arsenal on Sunday is not a "must-win" game, but the midfielder reckons three points would do morale the world of good at Anfield.
Wednesday's home defeat to Fiorentina put a sour end on a horrendous UEFA Champions League campaign for the Reds, who failed to qualify for the knock-out stages in what seemed a winnable Group E.
It was the earliest exit manager Rafa Benitez had endured in the competition since taking over in 2004 and the Spaniard will now be looking to mastermind European success in the not-so prestigious Europa League.
Liverpool's domestic form has done little to help their quest to return to Europe's top tier next season with Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa pushing hard for a top-four finish.
Mascherano admits the players must start putting things right against the Gunners at the weekend, but the combative ball-winner claims a draw would not be a bad result.
"We finished the Champions League in a bad way this season and we are sad," admitted the Argentina captain, who on Thursday refused to be drawn on whether he will sign a new contract on Merseyside.
"We have to do the right things in the Premier League and the Europa League.
"The confidence is not here at the moment but we have a big game on Sunday to show ourselves, to show the fans and to show everyone that Liverpool still has a good team that can fight for something.
"It's not must-win on Sunday but it's really important. It's not just about the three points, it's about the situation."
Consistency is now the key for Liverpool and a good run over the festive period could stabilise their season, and Mascherano added of the Gunners clash: "It is a great chance for us.
"All of us want to win and to get the confidence. We want to play like we can play.
"We have to show to everyone that Liverpool is still a big team and can play against anyone."
Mascherano said he felt Liverpool could prove their detractors wrong by winning a trophy this season and the South American has targeted glory in the Europa League.
He said: "The Europa League is not the same as the Champions League but it is still a competition so we have to try to win it because all of us know when we play for Liverpool it is a big club with a great history."