Brendan Rodgers stays grounded as Liverpool fans dream
LONDON: As Liverpool fans start to dream of a first Premier League title in 24 years manager Brendan Rodgers is intent on keeping feet firmly on the ground.
Liverpool are fourth, four points adrift of leaders Chelsea, after forcing their way into a four-way scrap at the top with swashbuckling recent displays including a 4-0 win over local rivals Everton and a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal.
With 56 points, they have their highest tally at this point in a Premier League season, although that could be interpreted as an indictment of their struggles over the past two decades.
Their gung-ho attack has also plundered 70 goals, the highest in the top flight, hitting four or more in nine of their 27 league games.
"You`re judged on your numbers," Rodgers said on the club website (liverpoolfc.com).
"It`s a great marker of where we`re at, we`re four points off the lead, but at the same time we can`t be complacent.
"It`s great for the supporters to dream, and it`s brilliant being around the city and listening to people talk. I sense a real excitement and anticipation, and they deserve that," he added.
"For us, we`re very calm, we`re focused on what it is we need to achieve and we just go into every day looking to maximise the most we can out of our training. Hopefully, then we can take that confidence into our games."
Liverpool have gained a reputation for serving up entertainment with their attacking exploits complimented by a leaky defence which has shipped five goals in their last two league matches.
Although Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have 41 league goals between them this season, Rodgers has struggled to find an equally reliable partnership at the heart of his back four.
The manager has been hampered by injuries at key points of the season to Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho, but there remains a sense that he has yet to settle on a preferred centre-back pairing.
Achieving balance between defence and attack, he says, is next on the agenda.
"When I came in, it was one of the key focuses - we wanted to score more goals and improve our attacking game," he said.
"To be the leading team in terms of goals is a great credit to the work of the players and their attitude in the game.
"Of course, we`ve got areas we want to improve and the overall balance of the team, but that will come. Most importantly, we`re winning games at this point in time and that`s what it`s about."
Rodgers took the unusual step of confirming that Agger would start the Premier League visit to Southampton on Saturday, after being substituted during last weekend`s topsy-turvy 4-3 win over Swansea City.
Sakho is nearing a return after missing the last two months with a knee injury and could be back for their trip to Manchester United on March 16.
"Mamadou has been excellent. He`s been back in a week or so now and looks very strong and aggressive," he said.
"I still think he`s got a wee bit of time because he was out for nearly 10 weeks and that`s a long time, so it may be too soon for him this weekend - but certainly by the next game against Manchester United, he should be fit and raring to go."