Points vital to upbeat Benitez

Rafael Benitez has admitted Liverpool can ill afford to drop points in Saturday's Merseyside derby if they are to maintain a serious challenge for a top-four finish.

The resurgent Reds host city rivals Everton at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime knowing that a win would move them ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Title challengers Arsenal and fellow top-four hopefuls Manchester City are then next up for Liverpool so Benitez is aware of the need for a maximum haul this weekend.

He explained:"We talk about crucial times and this period is very important.

"I've spoken with the players and we have been analysing what we have until the end of the season and this is the most crucial phase.

"We are close to the top four and we cannot make too many mistakes and we play against three teams that are around us.

"It is important to keep winning games to maintain the momentum and it would be fantastic to win all three but you have to start with the first one.

"We want to make sure we get back into the top four and this is the first opportunity to try and do that."

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