How Liverpool Can Handle the Pressure of Premier League Title Run-in

Max MuntonLiverpool CorrespondentMarch 31, 2014

Associated Press

In amongst the superlatives and league-table calculations, a lot has been made of the intensity of the pressure Liverpool are under going into the final six games of the Premier League season as leaders.

How do Brendan Rodgers' side go forth with the eyes of the world watching and fully justify their title credentials?


Logic Is Against Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers congratulates Jon Flanagan and Steven Gerrard of Liverpool at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 30, 2014 in Liverpool,
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It’s an unusual situation. A team jumping from finishing seventh the season before to being crowned champions is unprecedented in the Premier League. History says no.

Liverpool’s 4-0 victory over Tottenham on Sunday to take advantage of both Chelsea and Manchester City dropping points on Saturday arguably takes the pressure on the players and manager to a new level. It undeniably raises the stakes.

Inexperience would argue against a Liverpool title win on the surface. After all, Brendan Rodgers has never been in this type of title-chasing situation before nor have many of the players. A Premier League-winning team has never spent the season out of Europe, either.

But does that matter? Does it indeed count for anything?


Pressure Has Been There all Season

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 30, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

When questioning whether Liverpool can handle the pressure to stay top of the league for another six games, the answer probably already lies in the season’s results. 

After all, Liverpool set out to achieve Champions League qualification from 2013-14. Before and throughout the campaign, that has been the underlying objective.

The intense pressure to achieve a top-four finish against a herd of rivals was there way before last weekend's results and, barring some sort of catastrophe, Liverpool’s players have shown they can very comfortably deal with that pressure.

Rodgers concurs, explaining on Sky Sports that his players are not new to pressurised situations:

I have said all along, I feel that when there are pressure situations the players can cope. 

That is what you want, the courage to play. We made it the game it was because of our intensity, our focus, the quality of our football.

We work to deal with pressure, to get on the ball. The players know 100 per cent if they make a mistake I will take the blame. 

What has happened now, courtesy of an eight-game winning streak, is the opportunity to further that objective in the most glorious way possible.


Concentrating Pressure to the Pitch

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring their third goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on February 12, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The rest of the season isn’t played out in one day—there are six matches for Liverpool to contain and exert pressure on the teams that stand in their path.

Each game will be taken patiently and in the focused manner Liverpool have shown all season, with the sole goal of taking home three points game-by-game. Any advantage those three points may give the Reds over their fellow title chasers is secondary.

While Jose Mourinho throws around his pantomime mind games off the pitch, Liverpool are in complete focus on it. That is what it boils down to; what happens in each of those crucial 90 minutes. 

Breaking it down into the six games, and Liverpool will undoubtedly be faced with six high-pressure environments from which to win. But it’s nothing new for this team.

Twice behind at Fulham in February, Liverpool pushed until the end—Steven Gerrard slotting home an injury-time penalty to beat the Cottagers 3-2. Coolness personified from the Reds’ skipper. 

At Cardiff in March, Liverpool again fell behind twice, but their sheer might in attack overcame the relegation strugglers 6-3.

Even just this week, football focused its eyes on Liverpool, fascinated by how they would react to Chelsea and City’s dropped points. The result was like any other game—with Anfield their fortress, the Reds ran riot on hapless Spurs.

Liverpool’s character, resolve, unity and mental strength this season means the title won’t be won or lost in a pressure cooker but in how Rodgers’ side play their football.