Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been ruled out of their crunch Premier League clash against Arsenal at Anfield on Tuesday.
Gerrard’s groin injury is threatening Liverpool’s bid for a first English league title in 19 years, with manager Rafael Benitez admitting that it will be “difficult” for him to recover in time for Saturday’s match at Hull. “It’s always disappointing when Stevie isn’t in the team but we have won games without him and played well without him at times this season,” Benietez told the official club Web site www.liverpoolfc.tv. “We have quality in the squad and I am sure we can still play nice football, score goals and win games, whoever is in the team.” Gerrard missed last week’s Champions League classic at Chelsea as the Reds bowed out of Europe’s premier club competition in a blaze of glory. Benitez believes their exit at the quarterfinal stage may prove a blessing in disguise in the title race. “Hopefully the other teams around us are distracted by the Champions League. When you are playing in two massive competitions it can be difficult and so we have to be ready if other teams make a mistake.” Liverpool, who are a point behind leaders Manchester United having played a game more, can regain top spot with a draw or win against fourth-placed Arsenal. Defending champions United are at home to Portsmouth on Wednesday night, looking to bounce back from their disappointing FA Cup semifinal exit on penalties to Everton on Sunday.