Agger: Reds have to stop the rot

BY foxsports • December 12, 2009

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger admits standards have slipped at the club but has stressed they cannot afford to fall any further.

Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth on Saturday was the Reds' seventh of the season and, combined with other results, saw them slip to eighth in the Premier League table.

They are now closer to Pompey, still rooted to the bottom despite a fourth win of the campaign, than they are to leaders Chelsea and the pressure is increasing on manager Rafael Benitez.

However, Agger said the players have to take responsibility for their below-par performances, which they had to put an end to heading into the busy festive period.

"It goes without saying that we are extremely disappointed and we know that it simply isn't good enough for this club," said the Denmark defender.

"We have got to change this around. It didn't happen against Portsmouth but we can't let it go on any further."

Confidence appears to be at an all-time low among the squad and in recent matches the concession of a goal has immediately provoked a negative reaction from many of the players.

That is partly down to a woeful run of just four wins in 17 matches.

"Why is this happening? It's a bit of everything I suppose but we have got to try to get some confidence from somewhere soon," the 25-year-old Agger told the Liverpool Echo.

"You get that by winning games but we are not doing that at the moment.

"It's a fight every game for this club. Every game we need to focus and need to make sure we get three points.

"It's always a question of sticking together and we need to do that now more than ever."

Benitez continues to put up a steadfast defence of his methods and is confident the players can lift themselves out of their current slump.

"Obviously we prefer to win. We have quality and if we play well we can score goals," said the Liverpool manager.

He will have to change his preferred line up over the next four matches, however, as defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano will serve another suspension after being sent off at Portsmouth.

The Argentina captain would have missed the festive games regardless as he injured the medial ligament in his left knee tackling Tal Ben Haim in the challenge which led to his sending-off.

"The player had a scan which confirmed the medical team's initial diagnosis that he suffered a medial ligament sprain in his left knee," a club spokesman told the club's website.

"He is expected to be sidelined for two to three weeks."

It means Benitez has to decide whether to drop Steven Gerrard back from his attacking role behind striker Fernando Torres or possibly play £20million summer signing Alberto Aquilani, who was left out at Fratton Park after injuring a calf in training.

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