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Michael Taylor 19th Oct 2009 - 15:39

Life’s a beach for Liverpool if Torres and Gerrard aren’t fit

If Rafa Benitez thought his bad luck had peaked with the news that Gerrard and Torres were unavailable for Saturday's game at Sunderland then, as we now know, a beach ball was quick to correct him. Now the entire red half of Merseyside is left wondering whether things may finally improve, starting with a much needed three points against French giants Lyon.

Well the bad news is that Torres and Gerrard aren't guaranteed starters as they both attempt to make rapid returns from groin injuries.

It has long been said that the Reds lack the squad strength of their Big Four rivals, an idea only reinforced by woeful, scoreless performances against Fiorentina, Chelsea and Sunderland, but the loss of their two stars is always going to be disastrous.

Gerrard is the very epitome of everything Liverpool are about while Torres, on his day, can boast to be the best striker in the world; it's a combination that can lead to trophies and, when they're out, a whole lot of grief.

Now for the good news and I personally think there's a fair bit despite their recent form.

Firstly, Torres and Gerrard may be back in time. In fact, knowing Benitez's often negative feelings towards competing in the Premier League, they may even have been fine for the Stadium of Light.

If those two return then forget David Ngog and Lucas being seen as the creative men, they'll have the real men to bring Anfield to simmering point, and we all know how European opponents crumble under that pressure.

Even without Liverpool's big hitters though you have to think the once mighty, now not so quite, Lyon are not well enough prepared to come close to justifying what I see as a short 4/1 match betting price.

As if their 2-0 home defeat this weekend to Sochaux wasn't embarrassing enough on its own, they also had the dubious honour of being watched by big screen hard man Clint Eastwood.

Rumour has it that Eastwood described his day as good at first but, during the match, it turned bad and then just plain ugly. Whether that's true is uncertain but even the untrained football scout eyes of the film legend could tell the French side would be little to no match for the Reds.

They were edged out of the Ligue 1 title last season by Bordeaux and under Claude Puel they just don't carry the same level of expectation as they have in days gone by.

It makes you think that even if Liverpool were to plump for a forward line of Ngog and Voronin they may still win the game - and at 8/13 they are certainly a tempting proposition.

The biggest issue is getting over their goal-less streak.

You rarely talk about a big side having problems scoring but Benitez's boys have now gone 270 long minutes without finding the back of the net - ironically the run started after a 6-1 drubbing of Hull.

At this point there wouldn't be one person in Anfield who cared whether Hugo Lloris was beaten with a Stevie G 30 yard special or Javier Mascherano handball, as long as they break a much unwanted duck.

The forever busy Dirk Kuyt perhaps looks the best value to get on the scoreboard first at 13/2 thanks to his willingness to chase any ball, won or lost cause, and try to give his side momentum.

However, I prefer the 2/1 about Torres of Gerrard to score first, perhaps just to highlight the Reds complete and utter reliance on them.

For Lyon, in the absence of Karim Benzema, they'll be looking towards Lisandro Lopez (2/1 anytime scorer) to keep their Champions League hopes alive.

And who knows, if both teams continue their weekend form, you may see Rafa throwing a few beach balls towards Lyon's box at half time.



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