Argentina captain Javier Mascherano wants his Liverpool team-mates to be inspired by his country’s example as they seek to end a run of four straight defeats against Manchester United.
Sunday’s match at Anfield threatens to be a pivotal fixture for the struggling Reds, who are seven points behind Premier League champions United and in danger of falling out of the title race before the end of October.
But midfielder Mascherano has already come out of one slump this term, with Argentina turning round a a poor run of results to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa.
“I am relaxed now that Argentina have qualified for the World Cup finals, I can concentrate only on Liverpool,” Mascherano said. “I can think of Liverpool and not Argentina. This is not a good situation at the club, and I want to give Liverpool my best.
“I am captain of my country, and we were really under pressure in the final two qualifying games; people said we were out, that was very difficult.
“But we won both those games. We have qualified. Maybe it will be the same for Liverpool now if we start to win, things will start to happen for us like they did for my country,” he added of Rafael Benitez’s under pressure side.
Liverpool, beaten 2-1 in the Champions League by Lyon in midweek, hope to have striker Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson back from injury but captain Steven Gerrard is still doubtful with a groin problem.
Liverpool did though beat United twice last season and a positive Mascherano said: “We have a very important game now with Manchester United. We must stop thinking and worrying about what happened against Lyon.
“If we can beat United then the confidence will be back, it is important to do that. “We beat them twice last season. We know what we are capable of. Hopefully our form will be like that on Sunday.
“We must win the next game, against Manchester United. If you have confidence you can do anything.
“The team is not playing well, and a lot of players are not in the best form. That is not good and we are losing confidence, but we have to believe that we can overcome this.”
And he insisted they could cope without Gerrard and Torres.
“Even without Steven, or Fernando, we believe we can still win matches. We won a lot of games last season without the pair of them on the pitch together.
“But obviously they are our key players and we do need them back against United. We are trying all the time to give our best. Maybe now we have to show character, personality and hard work.
“It is difficult. Liverpool is not a team that loses a lot of games. Now we have lost six games this season, that is different for us and difficult.
“We cannot let that bother us. We must think only of winning on Sunday. That will bring back the confidence.
“We can still win the league, but we must start winning and stop dropping so many points.”
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