'THEY WILL GET THE JOB DONE'
Manchester City's 3-2 victory at Everton on Saturday put them in control of the title race and Liverpool needed three points at Palace to stay in the running for a first English championship since 1990, only for a late collapse to leave City needing just four points from their final two games.
"Yes, for me it is (over), admitted Rodgers. "For me we needed to win tonight to keep the pressure on.
"It's still in the hands of Manchester City, so us winning tonight would have given them a little bit of pressure in the Aston Villa game.
"Aston Villa will go and make it difficult like they have done against the top four teams this season, but I think everyone will look at Manchester City's squad and know they can get the job done."
Liverpool were sitting pretty at the top of the table after 11 successive wins and there was growing belief on Merseyside that the team were on the brink of the title.
But Chelsea ground out a 2-0 victory at Anfield last weekend to put Manchester City in control of their bid to claim a second title in three years.
As the Liverpool players trudged off the Selhurst Park pitch with their heads in their hands, Rodgers admitted his side were deflated but spoke of his pride at the way they have performed this season.
"It feels like a loss when you are 3-0 up and concede goals like that," said the Northern Irishman, whose side host Newcastle United in their final match of the season at Anfield on Sunday.
"I think we got carried away and thought we could get one or two more. We lost the defensive structure to our game and to concede the three goals we did at the end was hugely disappointing as we worked so hard to get 3-0 up.
"But for us to keep improving like we have been gives me immense pride and when we have got time to reflect on it at the end of the season, we will see it has been an outstanding season."
It was an almighty collapse from Liverpool and one that will sting for quite some time. Liverpool have been praised for their style of play all season but their defence has creaked and creaked and last night they finally had to pay the price for such leakiness. Brendan Rodgers has been rightly praised for the job he has done this season but he also needs to take some criticism for the way he has lined up his side in the last two games. Liverpool could have sleepwalked to a valuable draw against Chelsea if they reined in their gung-ho approach and again last night their desire to rack up a big score saw them take their eyes off the most important prize of the night – the three points. It has been a fantastic season for Liverpool, but if Manchester City, as looks likely, lift the Premier League title, fans of the Reds might struggle to look back on the campaign without constantly thinking about what might have been.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Manchester City now have a valuable piece of insurance going into the final two matches. They face Aston Villa on Wednesday night and West Ham on Sunday. It seems practically impossible that they could mess it up now but stranger things have happened. Liverpool are now 9/1 to win the league but City were as big as 33/1 after their draw with Sunderland - and that 2-2 with the Black Cats at the Etihad shows why you should never give up until you're mathematically out of things. Samir Nasri scored a late equaliser that night and it seemed like a meaningless consolation, but ultimately it could prove to be the goal that kept City in the title race. It's not over until the fat lady sings as the old cliché goes, but she is definitely clearing her throat, and has the lyrics of 'Blue Moon' in front of her.
WHAT THE MEDIA SAID
Henry Winter (The Telegraph): Intoxicated by the thought of eating into Manchester City’s superior goal difference over them, Liverpool’s lust for goals cost them dear here and has surely cost them any chance of the Premier League title. Liverpool ended the evening top of the table but so downhearted…The desire to rack up the goals was understandable, and clearly ordered by Brendan Rodgers, but there was still naivety staining Liverpool’s efforts. Balance is required. The great Liverpool teams of the past had accomplished defenders, who could close out games. They have conceded seven goals in their last three games, damagingly at the business end of the season.
Matt Dickenson (The Times): As the goals poured through the holes in Liverpool’s defence, the mind flashed with images of another side hailed as the great entertainers with a soft underbelly. It made you think of Kevin Keegan slumping over an advertising hoarding as his Newcastle United cavaliers surrendered a 3-2 lead to lose 4-3 in injury time at Liverpool in 1996 and, with it, the league. There was that same sense of craziness and disbelief. Newcastle had thrilled us but that collapse, and the inability to see the job through, proved defining. Keegan was gone midway through the following season and, though Newcastle finished second in the division two years running, they are remembered as nearlymen, as reckless pursuers of glory, as a side that could always score four goals but might let in five. The question last night was how far the parallels might run with Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester City
- Brendan Rodgers
- Aston Villa