Brendan Rodgers acknowledged it was difficult for his players to pick themselves up following Liverpool's devastating 2-0 loss to Chelsea last week, but he remained optimistic in the Reds' chances of winning the Premier League title in Friday's pre-match presser.
Much had been made about Steven Gerrard's crucial error that led to the Blues' opening goal, and per the Liverpool Echo's James Pearce, the captain wasn't the only one who was hurting:
Rodgers: "Stevie was like us all - we were all hurting. It was a big game, it was just unfortunate he slipped."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) May 2, 2014
But great players will gather themselves and continue moving forward, and that is exactly what Rodgers expects Gerrard to do:
Rodgers: "Steven has picked himself up many times over the years and will do so again."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) May 2, 2014
Manchester City have the inside track to the Premier League title, and winning their final three games will more or less guarantee the Citizens finish the season at the top of the standings.
Rodgers doesn't think their task against Everton will be an easy one, however, per The Times' Tony Barrett:
Rodgers: "Everton are a great club & they're fighting for a CL position so they'll be looking to get a result (against Man City)."— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) May 2, 2014
Everton have been one of the revelations of the 2013-14 Premier League season, with fresh, attacking football and solid organisation. Despite the well-documented rivalry between the Merseyside teams, the Blues could be one of the biggest factors in Liverpool winning their first English title in 24 years.
Rodgers is well aware of this fact, and he was in no mood to pretend not to be too concerned with the result of the match between Everton and City, as shared by Barrett:
Rodgers: "I'll be watching Everton v Man City. I'm not one of those who says he'll be on the golf course."— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) May 2, 2014
Per the Liverpool Echo's Ian Doyle, the manager emphasised the result of his own team would have to come first:
BR: "Never mind City and Everton. We still have to do our bit. We have to do our own job."— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) May 2, 2014
BR: "We have a way of winning games and whatever it takes, that's what we will have to do."— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) May 2, 2014
BR: "Our away record demonstrates the character of the team. We look to continue that."— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) May 2, 2014
As shared by This is Anfield, Rodgers seemed happy with the work he has put in over the past two seasons and showed appreciation for the vocal support he has received from the club's fans:
BR: The methods we’ve implemented over a period of time since I came here have worked. Now we continue improving and growing.— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) May 2, 2014
BR: I take great pride when I’ve met Liverpool fans this week who say they’re finding pride in their club again. That is very satisfying.— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) May 2, 2014
When reporters kept pushing for a quote regarding the loss against Chelsea, the Reds' boss finally gave in. Rodgers confirmed he called Jose Mourinho to congratulate him on the win and even called the Portuguese coach his friend:
Rodgers: "I sent congratulations to a friend (Mourinho). They defended very well and got a great result."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) May 2, 2014
Rodgers also took full responsibility for Chelsea's second goal:
BR: The second goal against Chelsea was my fault - I put two centre-halves forward, but I wanted to get something from the game.— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) May 2, 2014
As shared by Pearce, Daniel Sturridge is yet to train this week due to a hamstring problem, but he should rejoin the team on Saturday:
Daniel Sturridge hasn't trained this week due to ongoing hamstring problem. He is set to rejoin training on Saturday. #LFC— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) May 2, 2014
Liverpool's title chances took a hit following the loss against Chelsea, and the Reds no longer control their own fate. But City are not yet guaranteed the title, and one poor result for the Citizens would be enough to put Liverpool back in the driver's seat.
The Reds have to focus on winning their own matches, starting with their trip to London to take on Crystal Palace. The hosts have been in fine form in recent weeks and will be looking to continue their excellent run against a Liverpool team that will have no choice but to attack early and often to secure the win.
Regardless of the way the rest of the title race plays out, Rodgers and his young team will be able to look back on an excellent campaign that saw the squad re-establish itself among the elite teams of English football.