‘Pressure, what pressure?’ was the mantra as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers shrugged off the strain of hunting down the club’s first league title in 24 years ahead of Sunday’s crucial clash with Manchester City.
Liverpool faces a decisive test of their credentials when they welcome City to Anfield in a match that could decide the destination of the Premier League trophy, but Rodgers said on Friday he is not losing any sleep. His league leaders can increase their advantage over their rivals in third to seven points, albeit with City having two games in hand, and that is enough to leave him feeling excited, rather than under the cosh.
“People talk about pressure but for us it’s excitement,” Rodgers, who was named Premier League Manager of the Month for March on Friday, told a news conference. “I’m sleeping well. This is what we work for as coaches and managers. It gives me great joy to see how the players have embraced the ideas.
“It’s vitally important we stay calm against City. We showed that at West Ham last weekend.
“The beauty for us is this game is at Anfield. It’s a special place. We will unleash our supporters.” Liverpool hold their Premier League destiny in their own hands and know that five consecutive wins from their remaining matches will be enough to land a first top-flight crown since 1990.
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Last Sunday’s 2-1 win over West Ham was Liverpool’s ninth on the spin and moved them to 74 points from 33 games. That is two more than second-place Chelsea who are also still to visit Anfield in the run-in, while matches against Norwich City, Crystal Palace and Newcastle United make up their remaining fixtures.
To beat City they will have to overturn a poor recent run against the Manchester club, having lost twice and drawn three times in their last five league meetings. City’s only league defeat in their last 20 games came against Chelsea two months ago, but Sunday’s hosts will be buoyed by their home record against the top clubs having won all four matches against teams in the top seven at Anfield.
Liverpool welcome back centre back Agger into squad after he sat out the win over West Ham through injury. “Only Jose Enrique is out. We have 20 players fit and raring to go,” Rodgers added.