Who’d have known at the start of the year that with just seven matches remaining in the Premier League season, Liverpool would be fully in contention for the title?
Brendan Rodgers, the Reds’ manager, has brought the best out of his side from minute one back in August to now as we approach the climax of yet another thrilling campaign in the English top flight.
In their last three Premier League campaigns, Liverpool have finished seventh, sixth and eighth, per Anfield Online, making this year’s achievement that much more commendable.
The visit of Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield on Sunday is the first mission of the Liverpool boss’ title quest, and he gave some rather interesting insights at Melwood in his pre-match press conference on Friday. James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo reported the opening exchanges via Twitter:
Rodgers: "There is certainly no pressure on ourselves. We are playing with no fear."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) March 28, 2014
Rodgers: "Everyone is fit. The conditioning of the players is very good. Only Enrique missing."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) March 28, 2014
With the majority of the squad fighting fit, Rodgers is likely to lead with the side that swept Cardiff City and Sunderland aside over the preceding week, with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez starting up front.
Suarez has scored 28 league goals this season and his contribution to the cause has been unquestionable.
The Uruguayan has been so effective in the Red shirt that it prompted Sunderland manager Gus Poyet to jibe that, “without Suarez, they [Liverpool] would probably be in mid-table,” as reported by SkySports.
But Rodgers was quick to respond to Poyet’s statement during his press conference, as Liverpool FC Online posted on Twitter:
Brendan Rodgers on Gustavo Poyet: "It's disrespectful to say without Luis Suarez we would be mid-table. We have won games without Luis."#LFC— Liverpool FC Online (@SS_LFC) March 28, 2014
Indeed, there have been several key players during Liverpool’s fruitful campaign besides the Premier League’s top scorer, including captain Steven Gerrard.
The Englishman has scored 11 league goals this season to take him within just one goal of Kenny Dalglish’s record and the top six of Liverpool’s all-time scoring charts, per LFCHistory.net.
Rodgers acknowledged the skipper’s contribution to the cause to the press, as the Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce announced on his Twitter feed:
Rodgers on Gerrard being one goal away from equalling Dalglish's goal tally for #LFC: "It's incredible. Shows true quality of the man."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) March 28, 2014
Rodgers: "Steven has that respect. You saw from his performances, he still has that big quality in his game."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) March 28, 2014
When Liverpool met Tottenham in the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane, they dominated proceedings from start to finish and breezed to a 5-0 victory.
While this will bring the utmost confidence to Rodgers and his players, the 41-year-old said that Spurs are a different animal under their new manager Tim Sherwood, per This Is Anfield:
“When we beat Spurs 5-0, we played fantastic attacking football, and kept a clean sheet. Tim's done really well, brought passion back. We’re at Anfield this weekend. We expect to win every time, whoever we’re playing.”
Rodgers’ is the kind of attitude that fans want from their managers, a stark contrast to that of Manchester United boss David Moyes, which Liverpool fans revelled in on Twitter:
Moyes prior to us at home "Liverpool are favourites" Rodgers today "we're at Anfield; we always expect to win at home" Spot the difference— Thomas (@Ayedeadon) March 28, 2014
Sunday’s showdown with Tottenham is the first of three big tests for Rodgers to see whether his side have what it takes to go all the way.
With title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea still yet to visit Anfield, Liverpool and Rodgers will look to give Tottenham a similar hiding to the one that they inflicted upon them in December to really heat things up at the top.