Speaking ahead of Sunday's highly anticipated clash with Manchester City, Brendan Rodgers insists there is more to Liverpool's silverware hopes than just this weekend's outing.
The Reds' helmsman kept a cool demeanour in preparation for the fixture, which has been billed as a Premier League title decider. He was quoted by the Liverpool Echo's James Pearce as saying the following in Friday's pre-match press conference:
Rodgers: "It's a significant game. 2 teams who have done extremely well this season but still a lot of work to do after it."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) April 11, 2014
Rodgers: "Vitally important we stay calm. We showed that at West Ham last weekend. People talk about pressure but for us it's excitement."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) April 11, 2014
Rodgers appears eager to divert attention away from this Sunday's collision against a Manchester City side that has lost just one of its last 20 Premier League fixtures.
Who will win at Anfield on Sunday?
However, there's no denying the importance of three points if either team is to assume a position of power in the race. As things stand, Liverpool lead the way in first place, four points ahead of the Citizens but having played two games more.
The winners at Anfield will have sole control over the destination of the Premier League title.
This weekend's fixture also has special significance for the Merseysiders in that it falls on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Ian Herbert of The Independent quotes Rodgers, who says the tragedy is something of a fuel for his squad:
Rodgers on Hillsborough 'We carry it every day of our lives here. The 96 are with us every day. Its one of the reasons we try to work well'— ian herbert (@ianherbs) April 11, 2014
Even though this reaching for the stars is new to many of those at Anfield, Rodgers spoke of days gone by and the nostalgia of an "old Anfield" feeling at the ground, per The Guardian's Daniel Taylor:
Rodgers: 'I sense a real nostalgia about the place at the moment. There’s a feel of the old Liverpool. It helps to drive us forward" #lfc— ian herbert (@ianherbs) April 11, 2014
After four consecutive seasons of finishing outside the top four, Liverpool's 2013-14 campaign has been a booming success and will have come as a surprise to many.
Prior to the beginning of the season, Manchester City and Chelsea were the two main names being thrown up as potential title contenders, but the Reds have crashed the party in dramatic fashion, showing once again what entertainment value the Premier League's wide-open expanse can hold.
However, the one constant through thick and thin has been Anfield and its support, which Rodgers notes will be of major significance on Sunday:
Rodgers: "We will unleash the supporters this weekend. Anfield is a difficult place for teams to come and play."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) April 11, 2014
Of course, the Northern Irishman is correct in his assessment that the season doesn't end here. If Liverpool's resurgent rise has taught us anything, it's to never count one's chickens too early.
As much excitement as this season has created, one eye remains cast toward the future, with Liverpool hoping to enter a new golden era under their current manager, per Taylor:
Rodgers: "For us, it's not about this one game, this one season, it's hopefully going to be like this for a number of years." #LFC— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) April 11, 2014
One big boost for this weekend's hosts is hearing that centre-back Daniel Agger will be fit to play, although it's uncertain whether he'll feature as part of the starting XI, per Pearce:
Daniel Agger back in the squad for #LFC. Enrique the only one missing for City showdown— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) April 11, 2014
However, a supreme advantage will be handed to whichever side might be able to collect maximum points at Anfield, with two of the Premier League's strongest outfits set to collide.