Rodgers focused for United clash

15 March 2014 01:46

Manager Brendan Rodgers is keen to focus on the future and avoid comparisons with the teams of Liverpool's past as they head to Manchester United looking to maintain a title challenge.

The Reds' last won at Old Trafford in 2009, which was the last time they genuinely contended for the Premier League but ultimately finished four points behind their arch-rivals.

Their title drought is into its 24th year now and while Rodgers insists his side remain outsiders he does not want to start drawing comparisons with other teams who have either won, or come close, to lifting the championship.

"The performance back in 2009 (a 4-1 victory) was a terrific one, but it's a different group of players, different mentality and different managers," he said.

"We will go into the game with the belief we can win - and that will be no different. Nothing will move us from that. We'll be ready for it."

A win on Sunday would take Liverpool beyond their points total for the whole of last season (61) but having got within touching distance of a shot at the title, that will not be sufficient.

They have registered just 15 league wins at Old Trafford in 80 visits over 118 years and the last time they finished above United in the table was in 2001-02.

But if they are to keep in touch with Chelsea, who began the weekend seven points ahead having played one match more, they must return with three points.

"It'll be another marker for us. We've had a number of those statistics this year," said Rodgers.

"We hadn't won away at Tottenham for quite a while and we performed there.

"We hadn't won at Southampton, which is a real tough away game, for 11 years and we won there - we'll take the very same approach going into this game.

"We know it's going to be a difficult game because of the level of opponent but we'll go in with the same aggression and confidence that we can cause problems for any opponent.

"At the minute we have great confidence and over the course of the season the biggest thing we have is belief."

Where Liverpool have the advantage over United, who are 11 points behind, is in their attacking options.

Rodgers can call on the top-flight's two best strikers on current form in Luis Suarez (24 league goals) and Daniel Sturridge (21) while behind them the likes of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho are becoming increasingly important cogs in the set up.

Sturridge is on a run of 12 goals in as many matches for club and country and Rodgers believes the 24-year-old is starting to mature into the striker he showed the potential of being at former clubs Manchester City and Chelsea.

"He's humble, but he's also full of belief and confidence, which the best players have," he said.

"He's a very mature young guy and he's come into this club, scored the goals that he has as well as shown world-class traits.

"He has been at two very good clubs before and it hadn't quite worked out for him but when you come to Liverpool there are not many bigger.

"Had it not worked out (at Anfield) it probably would've been difficult for him.

"I told him when he came in that our aim over the next three years was to help him develop into a world-class player.

"He's got all the abilities and he must just continue showing them on the field.

"He just needed a platform to develop and he's made great strides since he's been here," the manager added.

"At 24, he still has a lot more development and he's focused on being the best he can be."

Suarez will debut a revolutionary pair of knitted boots at Old Trafford but Rodgers has no concerns about the change of equipment.

"If he scores goals in them it doesn't matter. As long as they get the job done," he added.

Source: PA

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