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Thursday March 13, 2014 MYT 10:27:03 PM
Thursday March 13, 2014 MYT 10:27:03 PM
by martyn herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Sunday's north-west derby with arch-rivals Manchester United cannot come fast enough for Liverpool, according to manager Brendan Rodgers, whose side will start as favourites.
Four consecutive victories have propelled Liverpool into second place in the Premier League, seven points behind Chelsea with a game in hand, if they make it five at Old Trafford, talk of a first English title since 1990 will look realistic.
Liverpool have not played since a 3-0 win at Southampton on March 1, but Rodgers is not worried that the momentum they have built up will be disrupted.
"It was interesting really as we had an adaptation day after they had been off for a few days," Rodgers said in an interview with radio station TalkSport on Thursday.
"It was supposed to be a low intensity session, but the quality and the intensity they worked at was incredible. I actually had to take them off it a little bit."
Liverpool's resurgence this season after finishing seventh in Rodgers' first season in charge has coincided with United's struggles under new manager David Moyes.
It is a long time since Liverpool made the short trip to Manchester as favourites, although Rodgers is refusing to get too carried away by talk of a title push in the remaining 10 games of the season.
"People will know it's unprecedented really to go from seventh to winning the title, especially when you look at the squads of Man City and Chelsea," he said.
"(Chelsea coach) Jose (Mourinho) is right in that Man City have the power in terms of their squad.
"If they win their three games in hand they will go to the top and you would expect them to win those.
"I have never made a big push publicly about us winning the title. For me it's not about playing down expectations or mind games, it's really about taking a humble approach to the season.
"We have been letting our actions on the pitch do the talking and remaining dignified in our approach to everything. We've been looking to improve our performance levels and they've been getting better all the time."
Liverpool have scored 73 goals in the Premier League this season, four more than any other team, with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez scoring 42 of them in what has become one of the most formidable strike partnerships in Europe.
Sturridge has flourished in a free-flowing Liverpool side after being something of an enigma at previous club Chelsea and is now an integral part of the England team
"Daniel is potentially world class," Rodgers said.
"He has got everything to be a world class striker. He's been given an opportunity here at a huge club and a lot of people are helping him to implement his talent.
"He's a boy at 24 years of age who has all the tools - the speed, the power, two great feet and he's getting better in the air. He still has a lot of improvements to make but the combination between him and Luis gives us a real threat."
Liverpool last won at Old Trafford in 2009 when they went on to finish runners-up.
Daniel Agger, one of the few survivors from that clash, believes Liverpool can handle the pressure of the run-in.
"Part of playing for this club is being able to handle that pressure," he told the Liverpool Echo.
"I think the players here have proved over the course of this season that they are more than capable of doing that."
(This story corrects number of goals scored by Suarez and Sturridge to 42 from 33 in 13th paragraph)
(Editing by Mitch Phillips)
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