Brendan Rodgers revealed the 96 Liverpool supporters who lost their lives during the Hillsborough disaster are on the minds of his squad as the Reds continue their charge for the Premier League title.
Liverpool brushed West Ham aside 2-1 during their latest win, a victory that puts them four points clear of Manchester City, who have two games in hand and visit Anfield on Sunday.
Rodgers acknowledged his players wish to land the prize for Liverpool's passionate supporters, and in particular, those names who cannot be here to witness the team's success, per Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail:
I know there are 96 people in the sky who will always be supporting this team. We want to do this for the great support and football family of Liverpool and if we are to achieve anything this year the 96 in the sky will always be in our thoughts, and their families.
Rodgers' team progressed through a testing match at Upton Park. Liverpool's attack didn't get going like it has in previous weeks, but Luis Suarez's probing runs continued to test a West Ham defence that weathered as the game elapsed.
Steven Gerrard's penalty double once again sent the team to victory, although the second was granted for an innocuous coming together between Jon Flanagan and goalkeeper Adrian. Previous to this incident, Andy Carroll appeared to foul Simon Mignolet in the build-up to Guy Demel's equaliser, signalling a difficult day for referee Anthony Taylor.
Even so, Rodgers didn't want to get in trouble for discussing West Ham's goal, per ESPN: "I don't want to get fined. It was a difficult game to officiate. The nature of West Ham's style is physical; they asked a lot of questions."
The result is all that matters for Liverpool. Currently two points clear of Chelsea on equal games, this is a team who have their destiny in their own hands. This will remain the case as long as the Reds keep winning, ahead of a five-game stretch that amounts to the most important run in the club's recent history. City visit Anfield next, then it's an away trip to lowly Norwich before Chelsea head to Merseyside.
Such is the flux of Premier League football, Rodgers' success coincides with him being one of the longest-serving managers in the division, reported by Tony Barrett of The Times:
The Liverpool board are sure to be expecting a lengthy tenure with the current boss. Rodgers has built an entertaining, resilient side in the space of two years. His players appear focused on the upcoming challenge, but this is partly due to the confidence and fearlessness Rodgers instills as boss.
Indeed, Barlow's report confirmed "there's no nerves" as Liverpool's destiny approaches. The manner of victory hardly matters now; Anfield's collective voice will get stronger each time three points are racked up. City's visit proposes the stadium's most important match in recent history: Beat Manuel Pellegrini's men and Rodgers can start to think about lifting the trophy in four weeks' time.
With vocal support and the inspiration of the 96 Hillsborough families firmly behind them, Liverpool have all they need to land their first domestic title since 1990.
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