Liverpool must 'deal with the expectancy' after moving five points clear at top of Premier League table, says Brendan Rodgers
Victory over Norwich at the weekend means Liverpool are in touching distance of a first title since 1990
Monday 21 April 2014
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers intends to keep every one of his players grounded as the club closes in on a first championship in more than 20 years following the 3-2 win at relegation-threatened Norwich on Easter Sunday.
England World Cup hopeful Raheem Sterling scored twice and Uruguay hitman Luis Suarez broke the 30-goal barrier as the Reds moved five points clear of Chelsea, whom they host at Anfield next weekend.
Norwich - just two points above the drop-zone - rallied after Gary Hooper reduced the deficit in the second half following a poor punch by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Sterling slotted home a deflected third on the break.
Robert Snodgrass set up a tense finale with his far post header with 13 minutes left, but the Reds stayed resolute to secure what looks to be a priceless victory and leaves Liverpool fans a step closer to their dream.
Rodgers, who revealed the coaches had used the inspirational words of Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall as part of the pre-match team talk, intends to stay totally focused.
"You never get too carried away when you win, and you never get too disappointed when you lose," said the Northern Irishman, whose side are now guaranteed a top-three finish and with it a return to the Champions League.
"You can't win every game, but dealing with the expectancy is all part of being at a huge club like Liverpool.
"All I know is my players give me everything and I cannot ask for any more. For me, that is what is important.
"Now it will be about recovering. It is going to be a brilliant game next weekend with Chelsea coming to Anfield.
"The supporters will be right up for it and the team will look forward to it."
The Liverpool boss continued: "We were at the memorial service this week, there was hope for the families there as well.
"I used some words of Margaret Aspinall, we put them up on the wall (in the dressing room). She talked about stress and how it can prove difficult for you, but it can also offer you great determination to fight.
"This is all one club at this moment in time and we are all fighting to achieve the ultimate goal."
While Liverpool are odds-on favourites to claim the title, Norwich appear unlikely to avoid relegation.
The Canaries are perched 17th in the wake of a third successive defeat, with away matches at Manchester United and then Chelsea before hosting Arsenal on the final day.
However, manager Neil Adams - who replaced Chris Hughton following the 1-0 home defeat to West Brom on April 5 - has to remain positive.
"The way we came out second half, and got about it, the belief, the conviction, I was absolutely delighted with it," he said.
"No doubt people will ask if they have got that in the last three games, but the two performances since I have been in charge have been first class.
"The belief is there we can get enough to stay in the division."
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