Rodgers expects big midfield battle
7:02am Saturday 12th April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers demands his side should always dominate in midfield and has warned that will be more crucial than ever when title rivals Manchester City visit on Sunday.
The Reds' pressing and passing, with Steven Gerrard playing a holding role, has been a key to their success this season.
But against City they will come up against one of finest midfields in the top flight, and Rodgers knows whoever comes out on top in that area is likely to do so in the game.
"Midfield is always a key battleground, it's the jungle of the pitch," he said.
"They have a world-class player in Yaya Toure. I've seen him a lot since he came to this country - he has been a real attacking force for them.
"Before that at Barcelona he played as a holding player and at centre-half in some games. He is a player of immense quality.
"Fernandinho has come in and been a real rock for them and they've dropped David Silva into that number 10 role and he is one of the best in the world.
"We will look forward to that battle in there, it is an area where we look to dominate in a lot of our games and I am sure it will be contested competitively.
"We will play with no fear because that is the way we know how to play football."
Reds fans have mobilised themselves again in preparation and will line Anfield Road in their numbers armed with flags and banners to welcome the team coach before kick-off, and Rodgers issued what sounded like a rallying cry to those troops.
"We will unleash the supporters this weekend yet again on the opponent," he said.
"Anfield is a special place to play football and a difficult place for teams to come and play.
"I sense a real nostalgia about the place, the feel of the old Liverpool, and we will always respect that and it is important it drives us forward in the future."
Despite being top of the table, Rodgers has played down their title chances, but even he could not dismiss Sunday's encounter as just another game - although he does not believe it will be defining in the race for the championship.
"It is a significant game, there is no doubt about that," he added. "It is two teams who have done extremely well this season in their own different ways but there is still a lot of work to do.
"Our focus is on the three points because at the end of the day that is all that comes out of the game - even after this game there are still 12 points to play for.
"I am sleeping very well but I've not dreamt of lifting the title.
"Our objective remains to qualify for the Champions League, only then can we think of other things. Once we've cleared that hurdle we can look at other objectives."