Liverpool's eyes not on the prize

Brendan Rodgers doubts his side will lift the Premier League trophy but a win over Arsenal may change his mind

    Rodgers said his squad didn't have enough depth to challenge for the English Premier League [Reuters]
    Rodgers said his squad didn't have enough depth to challenge for the English Premier League [Reuters]

    Liverpool were afforded the luxury of ruling themselves out of the title race this week, but their fans at least will hold on to the dream if a win over leaders Arsenal reduces the gap between them to five points.

    It's been many years since a Liverpool manager was able to seriously ponder the question of winning the English Premier League at this stage of the season. But Brendan Rodgers did that ahead of Saturday's early kickoff, and came up with a considered "no".

    Liverpool, without a league title since 1990, were early leaders this season but defeats to rivals Manchester City and Chelsea over Christmas checked their progress.

    But with a strike force that has seen Daniel Sturridge score 14 goals so far and Luis Suarez 23, the Reds could make it a bad start to a very difficult month for Arsenal – and perhaps make Rodgers think again in the remaining 13 games.

    "I think for us, as a team, it's too early for that (the title)," Rodgers told Sky Sports on Wednesday.

    "I was at the Manchester City-Chelsea game the other night and I look at the squads they have, which they have built up over the last few years, and it's very difficult for us, even though we have competed right the way through the season.

    EPL fixtures

    Saturday February 8

    Liverpool v Arsenal
    Aston Villa v West Ham
    Chelsea v Newcastle
    Crystal Palace v West Brom
    Norwich v Man City
     Southampton v Stoke
    Sunderland v Hull

    Swansea v Cardiff

    Sunday February 9

    Tottenham v Everton
    Man Utd v Fulham

    "So, I wouldn't say for us this year, no. We wouldn't be challengers for it."

    Arsene Wenger will know by the end of the month how likely it is his side can maintain their push for a first Premier League crown in 10 years, and will be desperate for this campaign not to disintegrate, like so many have before, when his team kick off at Anfield at 1245 GMT.

    The Gunners play Liverpool again in the F.A. Cup next week after hosting Manchester United in the league – and all that in the lead-up to the visit to North London of treble-winning European champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

    Resources have been stretched by long-term injuries to Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey, while the man signed on loan to fill in, Kim Kallstrom, was sidelined for six weeks with a back injury the day after posing for his photoshoot in the Arsenal kit.

    There may be some good news though as Wenger tries to stave off City and Chelsea, both two points behind and who play Norwich and Newcastle respectively on Saturday.

    "We might have Wilshere back," Wenger said of England midfielder Jack, who has been out with an ankle injury since January 24.

    “It's important to have as many players back as possible in the squad. In the big games it is always decided by having the complete squad available."

    Legal matter

    A man who suddenly found himself with no squad available this week was Michael Laudrup. The former Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid star, who won the League Cup with Swansea City last year, received a letter dismissing him as manager after one win in 10 games.

    He's considering legal action, saying he was given no reason for his sacking.

    Swansea are 12th, but only two points clear of the relegation zone, with the bottom half of the table looking even more intriguing than the top.

    It could get worse, with local rivals Cardiff looking to inflict the first home-and-away victory in a South Wales derby in 102 years.

    "They (Swansea) are probably in disarray but come 5:30pm (1730 GMT) tomorrow we will see what happens," new Cardiff striker Kenwyne Jones said, as he looks to fire the Bluebirds above Swansea and out of the relegation zone.

    "We are trying to inflict as much pain as we can as I believe we need the points more."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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