Glen Johnson calls for improved home form

 

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The Independent Online

Glen Johnson has admitted Liverpool must replicate their superb away form at Anfield if they are not to throw away the chance of breaking back into the Barclays Premier League top four this season.

England full-back Johnson was today still basking in the sensational solo goal which helped sink former club Chelsea at Stamford Bridge yesterday and move the Reds within striking distance of a Champions League spot.

The 2-1 win put Liverpool level on 22 points with their opponents, Tottenham and Arsenal in arguably the most fiercely contested battle ever to qualify for Europe's premier club competition.

Throw third-placed Newcastle into the equation as well and there is little margin for error for any of the sides currently hanging onto the coat-tails of Manchester City and Manchester United.

Liverpool, who have failed to qualify for the Champions League for the past two seasons, are certainly doing the business on their travels, having now won five successive matches away from home in all competitions.

But their inability to beat United, Norwich and Swansea at Anfield over the same period has proven costly.

"Normally a team's best form is at home," Johnson said.

"As long as we can start picking up a few more points at home and doing what we are doing away then we won't be too far away.

"We haven't been playing badly at home.

"We've created some fantastic chances and if we'd taken one of them in a few games then we'd have nine or 10 more points and it would make it a whole new ball game."

There will be no better time for Liverpool to begin to put that right than Sunday's mouthwatering game against City.

Defeat yesterday would have left the Reds languishing 15 points behind the leaders but a win gave them a slim hope of reeling in Roberto Mancini's men.

That game will also see Johnson go head-to-head with one of the men aiming to displace him as England right-back, Micah Richards.

Richards has been ignored by Fabio Capello despite arguably being in the form of his life, although Johnson has also been hugely impressive for both club and country since recovering from the injury that saw him miss virtually the entire first two months of the season.

Describing yesterday's game as "probably the best I have felt", he added: "Hopefully the injuries are behind me now."

The 27-year-old proved that with the lung-busting 87th-minute run that saw him expertly bring down Charlie Adam's crossfield ball, nutmeg Ashley Cole and drive into the box before slotting home.

"It was great to score," said Johnson, who spent four years at Chelsea.

"There was plenty of space all day and I told Charlie I was waiting 75 minutes for that pass.

"He'd been trying to do that all game but once was enough. It was a good goal and I'm pleased.

"I tried not to celebrate too much because I had a few great years here, but when you score a late winner like that, it's hard not to celebrate.

"We finished the stronger. We dominated the first half but Chelsea are a great side and we expected a reaction.

"Chelsea will have periods whoever they play when they are on top and I thought we dealt with it quite well other than the goal.

"We showed great character to bounce back. Last time out (against Swansea) was disappointing so to come here and win was fantastic.

"We are aiming for the top four - that's what we are fighting for."

Johnson's goal was his first since February and he dedicated it to goalkeeper Brad Jones' five-year-old son Luca, who lost his long battle with leukaemia on Friday.

"We have had a tough week with Brad Jones and I'd like to dedicate my goal to the memory of his little boy," Johnson said.

"It was a sad moment and I can't even begin to know what Brad is feeling."

PA

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