Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher admits his side's lacklustre performances at Anfield are damaging their hopes of getting back into the Champions League.
Kenny Dalglish's sixth-placed side had set their sights on a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, but they are currently five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea after a frustrating run of draws in front of their own fans.
The Reds are unbeaten in 11 home league matches this term but they have drawn seven of those games -- including a 0-0 stalemate against Stoke on Saturday -- and Carragher knows those 14 dropped points could well be fatal to their top four bid unless they improve quickly.
"It wasn't the result that we wanted but Stoke are a tough nut to crack and they have proved that a lot of times this season," said Carragher.
"They have got a very strong back four and unfortunately we couldn't break them down.
"It's been a problem a few times at Anfield this season.
"We need to sort that out before the end of the season if we want to get to where want to be, which is obviously the top four."
Ironically, Carragher and his team-mates would settle for a draw when Manchester City visit Anfield for the second leg of the League Cup semi-final on January 25.
Liverpool lead 1-0 from the first leg and a draw would send them through to their first Wembley final since 1996.
There is less chance of a draw being greeted happily when Manchester United arrive for an FA Cup fourth round tie later this month.
But Carragher believes they can rise to the occasion against the league's top two sides.
"A draw at home against City would be okay - we wouldn't have a problem with that and we would take that now," he said.
"You wouldn't want a draw against United, as you wouldn't want to be going to Old Trafford for a replay.
"I don't think anyone is looking at those games from that point of view.
"Maybe when you play sides who will come on the front foot, it makes things a bit easier.
"Teams have come here this season and made it difficult but you would expect that City and United will come and try to win the game - that may make it easier for us."