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Gerrard boost for Liverpool, but can they shrug off ‘FIFA virus’?
In Spain, the sports papers refer to the exodus of players during international weeks as the ‘FIFA virus’ and it will be interesting to see if Spanish Liverpool can cope with its effects this weekend.
To recap, Liverpool were in spectacular form before the latest interruption to the domestic season, banging in 13 goals in three games against Real Madrid in the Champions League and Manchester United and Aston Villa in the Premier League.
The international break could not have come at a worse time for coach Rafa Benitez. Sure, there was more good news on Friday as the club announced captain Steven Gerrard had signed a contract extension that will tie him to the club until 2013 but the euphoric mood will be punctured if they do not win away at Fulham on Saturday.
Victory in that game would put them top for at last one night as United, who hold a one-point lead with a game in hand, are not in action until they host Villa on Sunday.
Alex Ferguson might have been more grateful for the break, and a chance to regroup after successive defeats by Liverpool and Fulham.
PHOTO: Steven Gerrard leaves Liverpool Crown court after appearing charged with affray, Liverpool, northern England April 3, 2009. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis