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Is Rafa’s finger of blame pointing in the right direction?

Football FanCast columnist Rob Facey wonders whether Steven Gerrard is in the right frame of mind to help Liverpool get their season back on track after yesterday's defeat.

Rafa Benitez has levelled blame at his senior players – including Captain Steven Gerrard – for Liverpool's 3-1 defeat last night, a loss that leaves them way off the pace in the Premier League.

Despite only being three games into the new season, Liverpool have already lost as many games as they did all last term and questions are being raised over their title credentials.

They bettered Aston Villa in all departments yesterday apart from the one that mattered – putting the ball in the back of the net.

Benitez made his excuses but did not hold back in pointing to the reasons for defeat.

"If you look at the goals we conceded, the first [the Lucas own goal] was a mistake and the second was in injury time," said Benítez, as reported in The Times.

"Then we scored and, at a crucial moment, we gave away a penalty. We made too many mistakes at crucial times. It was a clear penalty."

Lucas, not the most popular player at Anfield even before of his inept display last night, bore the brunt of the anger although, as Benitez pointed out, maybe it is time for the fans to accept Gerrard was partly to blame.

"It was not only Lucas. We have to be fair. Gerrard gave away the penalty. There were too many people involved. If you want to analyse the mistakes of each player, you would have to analyse a lot of things in the game. We are talking about some names, but clearly the team has to improve and it depends on the experienced players to take more responsibility."

Benitez has already warned the battered and bruised Fernando Torres to stop remonstrating with officials and opponents and with Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher playing with broken bones and bandages wrapped around their skulls, it seems as if the club have already gone ten rounds with a heavyweight.

As a whole they look tired and frustrated. Gerrard has his own distractions off the pitch, of course. Could it be that the court case and subsequent appeals are taking their toll on the talismanic midfielder?

Or are the concerns more far reaching? Liverpool look rudderless without Alonso and their frenetic yet somehow aimless play last night highlighted the fact, but right now that is the last of Benitez's problems.

He does not have the same calibre of players as his rivals. No other club would bring on Voronin, a striker that has been touted around Europe and who is effectively still for sale, to chase the game.

It is insane to write a team off so early in the season, but the fact is that teams that win the league, historically, do not lose more than a few games. This means that the Reds may have to go the next 35 games unbeaten.

Liverpool must get their season back on track this weekend against Bolton, but that will need Gerrard to be fully focused on the huge task in hand.

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    Article title: Is Rafa’s finger of blame pointing in the right direction?

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