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Title burden sits well with Rodgers

03 Dec 2013 01:16:51

Title burden sits well with Rodgers

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insisted his side can cope with the growing expectancy at Anfield as he urged them to return to winning ways against Norwich City.

The Reds have been labelled as potential Champions League qualifiers, and even outside Premier League title contenders after an impressive start to the campaign.

Liverpool suffered a surprise 3-1 defeat by Hull City in their last Premier League outing after a lacklustre display at the KC Stadium, which acted as a stark reminder that Rodgers's side are far from the finished article.

The Reds have never lost two league games in succession since the Northern Irishman was appointed, though, and he backed his players to respond positively against Norwich on Wednesday.

"The expectancy here is to win every game," Rodgers said. "That's the reality of being a Liverpool player or manager. Over the course of this year, we've been very good.

"We've upgraded on a lot of parts of our performance that we wanted to do. We've got an exciting team.

"In the time I've been here, we've never lost two games on the spin, and that's really down to the positivity of the players and how they can bounce back and recover after a defeat.

"You can't dwell on it. You've got to refocus and reset and go again, and that's what we will look to do.

"I always have to look at the bigger picture and, for me, the bigger picture is still very bright. We just need to get over the disappointment -- which we will do. We can cope with the pressure here."

Rodgers is poised to include Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho in his starting line-up after he played just under 30 minutes in the 3-1 defeat against Hull City but striker Daniel Sturridge (ankle) has been ruled out for six weeks.

"Coutinho allows you to penetrate -- I think that was one of the things that was missing from our performance (against Hull)," Rodgers added.

"We were too slow and too predictable. Then when he came onto the pitch, people started to run beyond and get forward because he plays the forward pass.

"Daniel is going to be out for a period of time, but we'll cope. It's the responsibility of everyone. We can't rely on one player -- it has to be about the team and that's what we'll focus on.

"The responsibility is for the people coming in and for the rest of the team. We have to find a different way of getting the result and I'm confident, as I see enough of the players every day, to know that we will fight in order to do that."

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton challenged his players to improve on their away form at Anfield.

The Canaries have only won one of their six matches away from Carrow Road this season, losing the other five and conceding 16 goals in the process.

"We want to make amends because apart from a very, very good performance at Stoke we've been disappointing away from home," Hughton said.

Hughton has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the match and urged his side to build some momentum following their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last time out, having had something of a stop-start campaign.

Two of Norwich's four victories in the Premier League followed the international break, but now they face the Reds and West Bromwich Albion in the space of a week.

"Sometimes you want to get straight back into it and after that feeling from not what was only a good result, but what was a very good first half performance," Hughton added.

"There are no new injuries so nothing has changed from where we were before the game on Saturday. That's a plus for us.

"It was a much-needed win and we need to take that confidence into these next couple of games."


AFP

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