Monday 07 April 2014
Brendan Rodgers is looking forward to taking on Manchester City next weekend in a match that could decide the destiny of the Barclays Premier League title.
Speaking after his side had returned to the top of the table with a hard-fought 2-1 win over West Ham United, courtesy of two Steven Gerrard penalties, the Liverpool manager is keen to pit his wits at Anfield against City, whom he has yet to beat while in charge at the Merseyside club. Liverpool's victory at the Boleyn Ground put them two points ahead of Chelsea and four above City, who are third, although Manuel Pellegrini's team have two matches in hand.
"The team we've put together, the mentality is to be fearless"
Speaking on BBC's Match of the Day programme on Saturday, City captain Vincent Kompany called Liverpool the strongest team he has met this season. That caught Rodgers' attention and the Liverpool manager is taking confidence in three near misses.
"It was interesting to hear Vincent Kompany talk about [how] we're the best team that they've played," said Rodgers, who saw Kompany score an equaliser after Philippe Coutinho had opened the scoring in a 2-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day. "We should have won at the Etihad this season. We should have won there last season and drew 2-2. We should have beaten them at home [last season] - we were 2-1 up and made a mistake and it was 2-2.
"The team we've put together, the mentality is to be fearless. It doesn't matter who we play. We have to respect them because they've got world-class players but it's about ourselves and the confidence that we have to play.
"For the youngsters, they'll embrace it and enjoy it - there's no pressure. Just go and play and whatever pressure there is, I will take. The most important thing is focus on the ball and the team and not yourself. When you do that it'll take you a long way."
Rodgers, who guided Swansea City to a 1-0 win over City during the latter's 2011/12 title-winning season, is under no illusions that his players will face formidable opposition on Sunday but is determined to enjoy the occasion.
"They've spent money and what they've done in the last couple of years has been fantastic," he said of City. "They’re a wonderful football club that's invested and invested well in top players. But they've invested to win the league and to win the Champions League. So, for them, they'll be looking to come to Anfield and get a result. For us, it's a wonderful place to play. We're just going to enjoy it and in all the big games this year, in the main, we've done really well.
"The message is to stay calm and every time we go out on the pitch we leave every ounce of energy out there"
Speaking after the West Ham match, Gerrard sought to downplay whether the match at Anfield would determine the champions but said the meeting with City was huge and called on his Liverpool team-mates to be calm.
"I'm not convinced just yet [it is a title decider]," he told Sky Sports. "There are some very hard games to go. We've got a huge game next week. The message is to stay calm and every time we go out on the pitch we leave every ounce of energy out there."
For stats, photos and more manager reaction from yesterday's match go to the Carlsberg Live Match Centre on the link below
West Ham United 1-2 Liverpool | #WHULIV | More on the Live Match Centre >>