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More to come from Reds, Benitez warns PSV

Rafael Benitez has predicted that his Liverpool team can still take their game to another level despite their flying start to the season.

The Reds are second in the Premier League — behind Chelsea only on goal difference — after an unbeaten start to their domestic campaign.

Even though they have not won the league since 1990, there is a growing feeling of optimism around Anfield after early season victories over their bitter rivals Manchester United and Everton.

And ahead of their first home Champions League game against PSV Einhoven, they are looking comfortable in their group after a 2-1 win at Marseille in the opening round of fixtures.

The Spaniard is satisfied with the way his team have started the season but thinks that several factors mean that there is still more to come.

He said: “We had some critics at the beginning of the season who were saying 'you are not playing well' and 'you are not losing but' and I was trying to explain why.

“We had some players at the European Championships, the Spanish players were there until the final and then we had the Olympics. It was really difficult trying to keep the team together training every day.

“These things affect the performance of the players, the understanding of the players and their condition. Now, little by little we are improving and I think that we have room for more improvement and that's the most positive thing.

“We can improve physically, and tactically we are well organised and the understanding between players like Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane, if we have these players playing games and training together, the team will improve a little bit more.

“Every year we are signing two or three good players with quality. If every year you can sign a Javier Mascherano, a Daniel Agger, a Pepe Reina or a Torres, the squad is improving every year.”

Swiss full-back Philipp Degen, who broke two ribs in the 2-1 League Cup win over Crewe last week, is Liverpool's only absentee ahead of the game at Anfield, with Javier Mascherano having overcome a calf problem.

While Benitez maintains circumstances are different, he will pick his strongest team against the Dutch side after the problems Liverpool experienced in qualifying from their group last term.

The Reds picked up just one point in their opening three matches, putting them at serious risk of not reaching the knock-out phase.

Benitez will not be taking any chances against Huub Stevens' team, despite PSV having lost their opening game 3-0 at home to Atletico Madrid.

He added: “We have the experience of last season and after three games we had one point. Now we have played one game, have three points and we're in a much better position.

“I would like to be after two more games almost qualified but you have to win every game. After three games if you're on nine points you've almost qualified but that is 'almost' and you have to be 100 percent sure.

“For the fans it's important to enjoy it and you can understand why they might be saying 'we can win this and we can win that'.

“It's part of the game but it's more important that the players are focused and they're working hard.”

Tue 30 September, 2008
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