Benitez: Liverpool confidence flowing back

Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez said Liverpool's 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday showed confidence is flowing back into his side as they keep up their momentum to rejoin the Premier League's top four.

With Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal virtually assured of filling the top three places, the race for the precious fourth spot which brings with it a Champions League qualifying berth has been wide open this season.

Aston Villa, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have all occupied it at times with Spurs hanging on to the position at present.

However, their hold on it was lessened considerably after Liverpool beat Bolton with Dirk Kuyt and a Kevin Davies own goal giving them the points; Villa winning 2-0 at Fulham and Spurs conceding a sloppy late goal in a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.

Tottenham have 42 points from 24 matches followed by Liverpool (41 from 24), Aston Villa (40 from 23) and Manchester City (38 from 21).

City could take advantage of Spurs' slip when they host bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth on Sunday.


Benitez told Sky Sports News that Saturday's win was very important for his team, who are now unbeaten in their last six league matches.

"It was another clean sheet which is really positive and will be good for our confidence before next week's game against Everton (at Anfield).

"We have to win games and now we are winning some of them. When we drew against Wolves in the week people said we had missed an opportunity but we have won now and it's important to keep winning every week."

Villa boss Martin O'Neill, whose side had gone four matches without a goal, losing to Arsenal and Liverpool, was also happy about his side's performance with the points secured thanks to two goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

O'Neill told the BBC: "We had been in a very good run up until we played at the Emirates before Christmas but after that we should have beaten Liverpool and West Ham.

"There has been a lot made of the fact we haven't scored a goal so it was nice to right that today. They are three very valuable points as we try to stay with the leading pack. I thought it was an excellent performance."

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was not so happy though. Spurs seemed set for three points after Jermain Defoe put them ahead after 69 minutes but conceded a stoppage time equaliser to Liam Ridgewell.

"I'm disappointed after a game we controlled throughout. You go 1-0 up and we went into injury time and switched off. It cost us. We didn't react. It was pretty horrific defending," he said.