Fiorentina v Liverpool: Steven Gerrard to play more defensive role says Rafael Benitez
In the absence of Javier Mascherano, who has remained on Merseyside because of a slight hamstring strain, Benítez is likely to ask his captain to partner Lucas in a deep-lying midfield role at the Stadio Artemio Franchi tonight. It is a role Gerrard has occupied against Hull, West Ham and Burnley in recent weeks and the Liverpool manager believes his captain has proved he is good enough to adapt his game even against top-class opposition, despite the Spaniard's long-held doubts over Gerrard's positional discipline. "We can manage with Stevie playing there," said Benítez. "We could put someone else in and play him somewhere else, but it is a position he can play well. "Losing Javier is not good and of course we are not happy that he is not here, but we can cope." Little wonder Liverpool's confidence is burgeoning to such an extent. After a shaky start, encompassing defeats to Tottenham and Aston Villa, Benítez's side have now won six games in a row, capping off their excellent run with a 6-1 rout of Hull on Saturday. That streak has given Liverpool their best goal tally from their opening seven games in 115 years, and their manager clearly feels that, despite much attention being lavished on his team's defensive troubles, should be enough to put an end to the belief that he is a cautious coach in charge of a defensive team. "Everyone has always said we are strong in defence, that that is what we are famous for," he said. "But last season, we scored 119 goals, more than anyone else. Now we have scored more goals than any Liverpool side since 1895. This team is an offensive team, one built to attack. "We are good enough in attack but we have to manage the balance between going forward and defending, because we are not happy to be conceding goals and making mistakes. We will improve, though. It is just small things we need to change and we will be better."
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