Papers on the 5-match challenge

Last night saw Manchester United go three points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 victory over Bolton at Old Trafford. Meanwhile Tottenham Hotspur held Chelsea to a thrilling 4-4 draw at White Hart Lane and could have snatched victory in the dying seconds, but for a great save by Blues ‘˜keeper Carlos Cuddicini from a Dimitar Berbatov shot.

This morning’s papers are looking ahead to Liverpool’s next five games ‘“ easily Rafael Benitez’s men’s biggest challenge of the season. The fixture list sees them play Manchester United at Old Trafford, followed by the Merseyside derby at Anfield a week later and then two trips to the Emerites and a visit from the Arsenal in the space of six days shortly after. It surely is make or break time for the Reds’ season as they look to maintain their form both domestically and in Europe.

The Times’ James Ducker warns that the upcoming international fixtures, in the midst of all this fixture congestion could stall Liverpool.

Benítez will lose many of his senior squad to international duty after the match against United, with the Liverpool manager particularly irked that Javier Mascherano, the midfield player, must travel to Cairo for Argentina’s friendly against Egypt on Wednesday, four days before a Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield that is likely to have a huge bearing on the fight for fourth place in the Premier League.

He also discusses Benitez’s rotation policy, and the news that Jamie Carragher believes it will be key to the success of the end-of-season run in of games.

Benítez has made 16 changes to his line-ups during that time at an average of a little less than 2.29 changes per match, but with Manchester United to play at Old Trafford on Sunday in the first of five mouthwatering fixtures over a 17-day period ‘” not to mention next week’s international schedule ‘” Jamie Carragher is adamant that the Spaniard will soon be ringing the changes once again.

The Telegraph goes with a story about how Arsenal‘s Gael Clichy is unfazed by the task of playing Liverpool three times in a week, twice in the Champions League and once in the league as the Gunners hunt down the Premier League crown.

Clichy, 22, feels the team will take lining up against such familiar opposition in their stride. “I don’t think that affects the players at all,” the French defender said.

“We did it last season when we played the FA Cup and Carling Cup together. In fact it’s quite good fun because it doesn’t happen much. We will look forward to it and hopefully we will come out as the winner.”

The Liverpool Daily Post carries a story about why Harry Kewell will not be at Old Trafford for the crucial clash against arch-rivals United this Sunday.

While Rafael Benitez’s side take on leaders Manchester United in a pivotal Premier League clash on Sunday, Kewell will line up for Australia in their friendly in Singapore the previous day.

‘œI’ve got a contract until the end of the season and I’m still fighting for another one at Liverpool,’ said Kewell. ‘œI’ve got the Aussie spirit of never say die and I’ll take that all the way to the end. I won’t give up until the final whistle.

‘œThe best thing for me is to get some games so I can be fighting fit for Liverpool. There’s a chance here to play two games and the manager was very happy for me to come across.”

And finally, a happy birthday to Fernando Torres, who turns 24 today!