Wednesday 7 December 2016

Reina demands focus amid cup distractions

Carl Markham

Published 21/01/2012 | 05:00

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina is confident the squad will not allow dreams of Wembley to interfere with a vital trip to Bolton today.

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The Reds are just 90 minutes away from their first final in six years -- and a first visit to Wembley since 1996 -- as they hold a 1-0 lead going into Wednesday's Carling Cup semi-final second leg at home to Manchester City.

After that there is more knockout action as they host arch-rivals Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup in what is bound to be a heated affair in the wake of the Luis Suarez affair.

However, it is the club's Premier League form which needs addressing after just one win from their last five matches, which has included frustrating draws at home to Blackburn and Stoke and away at Wigan.

And while the lure of silverware is an obvious one for the players, Reina insists the focus has to be on arresting a slide which has seen them drop to seventh in the table, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

"We know how huge it is to play a Carling Cup semi-final second leg at home and everybody knows how big the tie against Manchester United is going to be," the Spain goalkeeper said.

"It definitely won't be difficult to put those games to the back of our minds because the first game is Bolton and is therefore the most important of all three.

"It is vital for us. We have to get some momentum going and keep winning games. It's important not to lose -- but it's even bigger to win the games and get three points after three points."

Last weekend's goalless draw to Stoke -- the seventh time they have been held at Anfield this season -- was possibly the most disappointing performance of the campaign. Liverpool have had problems with converting chances at home but against the Potters they struggled to even create opportunities.

"It's always frustrating when you don't win at home but that has been the case so many times this season and it is disappointing," added Reina. "Sometimes when you are creating those opportunities, it is easy to stay cool and calm but when the opportunities don't come along, it is difficult to explain why."

Liverpool's away form has brought them more victories (five) but they have also lost four and scored only 10 goals in as many games.

Manager Kenny Dalglish is keen to put the Stoke performance behind them and admitted there was very little in the way of positives to come from the game.

"We are not going to dwell on it," he said. "If you see the players every day the quality of the passing and movement is brilliant -- they've just got to take it into a match.

"We know what's there, we know what's in their locker -- we just need to find the key to get it out of them."

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