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Liverpool wary of Gerets effect

Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benítez fears the arrival of a former adversary could well galvanise Olympique de Marseille when the French outfit come to Anfield.

Rafael Benítez knows all about Erik Gerets
Rafael Benítez knows all about Erik Gerets ©Getty Images

Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benítez fears the arrival of a former adversary may have a galvanising effect on Olympique de Marseille when the French side visit Anfield in UEFA Champions League Group A.

Gerets return
Erik Gerets was in charge of Galatasaray SK when they lost 3-2 at Liverpool in last season's group stage, although the Turkish club triumphed by the same scoreline in the return fixture in Istanbul. Gerets has recently replaced Albert Emon at the helm of Marseille, and Benítez said: "It is dangerous when the team changes a manager and Marseille have had ten days to prepare for this game. They know that they are not having good moments in the league, so the Champions League will be a priority for them. If they can change their mentality, the quality will be there."

Porto escape
Liverpool started their Group A challenge with a 1-1 draw at FC Porto two weeks ago, with the five-time European champions relieved to escape with a point having played the last 32 minutes with ten men following Jermaine Pennant's dismissal. "We started really poorly and we need to improve – we know that," Benítez conceded. "Maybe it was because Porto were doing a good job but we showed character, playing 30 minutes with ten men away from home."

Unbeaten start
The Merseysiders are unbeaten in eleven games in all competitions this term and won 1-0 at Wigan Athletic FC on Saturday, although in addition to the suspended Pennant, Daniel Agger and Xabi Alonso are both missing with broken metatarsals. Benítez, meanwhile, is confident Steven Gerrard's performance will not be affected by the captain's involvement in a car accident on Monday which left a ten-year-old boy with a broken leg, explaining: "I've talked with Steven and he's fine. He was disappointed but he's spoken to the boy and his family and everything is OK. He's been training normally and is ready to play."

Domestic troubles
Marseille have had a poor opening to the season, winning just one of their nine Ligue 1 matches and losing 2-0 at AJ Auxerre in their last outing on 22 September. Gerets, who has only watched videos of his new charges in action, said: "What a fantastic opportunity it is to start off your career here at Anfield against a team like Liverpool in the Champions League. Liverpool are one of the best sides in Europe. They deserve all our respect, but we don't need to be fearful."

Old boys' act
Ronald Zubar returns having been banned for the 2-0 home defeat of Beşiktaş JK on Matchday 1, although Samir Nasri is out with a virus and Jacques Faty has not travelled because of a thigh problem. Djibril Cissé and Boudewijn Zenden return to Anfield having departed for Marseille in the summer, yet the former only resumed training on Monday following a leg injury. "It's important if you have two players who have played for Liverpool in the past," said Gerets, before adding: "I just hope the things they have told me are right, otherwise they will get a serious punishment!"