The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
MANAGER BRENDAN Rodgers guided his side back to the top of the Barclays Premier League yesterday after a three-month gap but insisted the pressure remained with Chelsea and Manchester City.
A resounding 4-0 win over Tottenham courtesy of an own goal fromYounes Kaboul after just 100 seconds and one apiece from Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson gave the Reds a two-point advantage at the top and enhanced belief they could end a 24-year wait for the title.
The last time Liverpool were top was at Christmas but they immediately dropped out of the top four with two defeats to Chelsea and City. With both still to come to Anfield next month, Rodgers was asked whether they were the ones under pressure. “I believe so,” he said. “I don’t think anyone expected us to be where we are, especially as the last two seasons we were eighth and seventh.
“We go to every game to win but what has been great to see has been the idea and methodology of our work bearing fruit in the game.
“There are some great teams up there and world-class managers so we understand it’s going to be difficult but we just do what we can do and see where it takes us.
“For us, the mantra has always been to focus on the next game, we never get too carried away.
“It is very difficult; there’s lots of people dreaming about Liverpool winning the title but for me it is installing in the players that there’s a process, it’s not just about the end result.
“It’s been about simple hard work and focus and concentration. There are only 18 points to play for but you can only take three at a time.
“Upton Park (West Ham next weekend) will be a tough game for us but our confidence and belief is at a good level.”
Rodgers said the demolition of Spurs — they have scored nine goals against them without reply this season — proved his players can handle expectations.
“I have said all along I feel that when there are pressure situations the players can cope,” he added.
“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.”
Spurs boss Tim Sherwood bore the brunt of fans’ criticism after chants of: “Where is our manager?” were directed at him as he sat unmoved in the directors’ box all game.
He publicly criticised his players after a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea earlier this month but chose to keep his squad in the dressing room for 45 minutes after the final whistle atAnfield.
“They are entitled to have an opinion,” Sherwood said of the chants.
“I have sat up there for the last few games and got a better view but it is a learning curve for me.
“I am not shirking any responsibility. At 2-0 and the game going away at 3-0, I am going to learn more from my players from sitting up there rather than getting in trouble on the touchline.
Everton continued to snap at the heels of the Barclays Premier League top four after plundering three second-half goals at Craven Cottage that nudged Fulham closer to relegation.
Having seen Fulham dominate the first 45 minutes, the Toffees responded with strikes from substitutes Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith and an own goal by David Stockdale.
Only four points separate Everton from fourth-placed Arsenal — the rivals meet at Goodison next Sunday — with the Toffees also benefiting from having a game in hand.
The result leaves Fulham rooted to the foot of the table, five points adrift of safety.