Friday, May 26, 2017

Chelsea v Liverpool: Rodgers out to topple the champions

SoccerNews in English Premier League 8 May 2015

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for Premier League champions Chelsea, but insists his side will not be overawed when they travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

So close to winning the title themselves last season, Liverpool have been well off the pace in 2014-15, but still harbour hopes of overtaking Manchester United and claiming a top-four finish.

With three matches remaining, Rodgers’ side are four points behind their arch-rivals, and the Northern Irishman knows they must target a maximum return in west London.

“We’re going into the game at the weekend looking to win,” Rodgers said.

“Chelsea are obviously deserved champions, they’ve been the best team, but all we can do is control the last three games, look to win those and see where we end up. I’m purely focused on the game.

“I congratulated [Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho]. They’re the deserving champions and to win it with a few games to go is obviously pleasing for him.

“But it doesn’t take away from what we’re looking to do and we want to finish the season strong.”

After confirming their status as champions, the Chelsea players were reportedly given four days off to celebrate – a claim Mourinho has denied – but in any event, Rodgers is not exp
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ecting any hangover.

“I think if they’ve had a few days off then they deserve it,” he added. “They’ve won the league and they can celebrate that.

“They’re top players, professional players and every game is important for them and they’ll look to go into our game and win that.”

Mourinho, meanwhile, pinpointed Chelsea’s 5-3 loss at Tottenham on New Year’s Day as the pivotal moment in their title challenge, with the champions unbeaten in their 15 league matches since then.

“The key moment was the stability after losing at Spurs, everybody stuck together and we were very calm,” he said on Friday.

“What pleases me is winning the title, the way we did it and the consistency we’ve shown in difficult periods.

“We want to win our matches, we have three difficult games. We don’t need to win but we want to try to win points.”

Mourinho still has fitness concerns over Diego Costa (hamstring), Ramires (illness) and Oscar (thigh), while for Rodgers, Mario Balotelli (foot) is back in contention although Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) remains out.

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