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Premier League

Liverpool can end title drought, says Rush

Ian Rush still believes Liverpool can win their 19th English league title. Yesterday marked 19 years to the day since he scored a goal which helped clinch championship No 18. Rivals Manchester United will join the Reds on 18 titles if they finish top of the Premier League this season, but Rush is adamant the race is far from over, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side still having to play Arsenal and Manchester City in their remaining five games.

Rush, whose goal against QPR on 28 April, 1990 secured that year's First Division championship, wrote in his Liverpool Echo column: "I genuinely do not believe this title race is over. United have to face a derby match still. If Liverpool were ahead in the title race, the last thing they would want is a derby against Everton. But United have to face Manchester City plus an Arsenal side on a 20-match unbeaten run. All Liverpool can do is keep taking points and not worry about United.

"Liverpool are back at Anfield this weekend with a good chance of another three points [against Newcastle]. Everyone remembers earlier this season when Liverpool did a demolition job on Newcastle at St James' Park when a 5-1 win could have been 10. I do not want Newcastle to go down, having played for them, but like every Liverpool fan I want them beaten on Sunday. Because if Liverpool can keep winning there will be twists and turns in this race yet, believe me."

In the Rangers match, Roy Wegerle put QPR ahead but Rush equalised before the break and the newly-crowned Footballer of the Year, John Barnes, netted the penalty winner.

Few there that day would have believed that Liverpool would go almost two decades without winning the title again. For Liverpool to catch United, who are three points clear with a game in hand, they must pray Ferguson's side slip up in a minimum of two of their final five matches.

Rush would like to see Liverpool rediscover their defensive qualities to make sure they at least win their last four league games this term.

"There is no such thing as a bad victory, so the three points at Hull were very welcome after those draws against Chelsea and Arsenal," he said.

"But there will still be concern at Anfield at some elements of the defending. The goal Geovanni scored when Hull were down to 10 men on Saturday will have raised eyebrows. It followed a few recently which have been partly down to individual errors.

"The Reds will be desperate to put this right. Restoring the clean sheets is a priority and they have been renowned for defensive solidity under Rafa Benitez. For me it is all about getting back to basics. That means players not losing concentration and the back-four focusing simply on stopping the opposition. Everyone likes to see good football being played from the back but sometimes you have to accept that if a ball belongs in Row Z, then that is where it must go."