English Premiership

Suarez influence played down

2014-03-02 11:02
Brendan Rodgers (AFP)

Southampton - Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists that the Anfield giants' pursuit of the Premier League title is not all down to Luis Suarez despite another virtuoso performance by the livewire Uruguayan.

Suarez, on his 100th league appearance for the club, was named man-of-the-match in the 3-0 win at Southampton that lifted Liverpool into second place in the table.

He scored the opening goal before his cross was swept home by Raheem Sterling for the second before his turn in the area proved too much for Jose Fonte in the last minute and Steven Gerrard converted the penalty.

But Rodgers would not single out Suarez for special praise.

"It helps when you have a team and a squad. Luis was sensational. Although he has only scored four of our last 33 goals he is a huge influence," said Rodgers.

"But today was all about the squad and the collective."

Saturday's win at Southampton, although never quite as comfortable as the margin of victory suggests, took Liverpool into second place thanks to Arsenal's 1-0 defeat at Stoke.

A rare clean sheet and Suarez's first goal in six games had fans who made the trip to St Mary's singing about the title.

But Rodgers refused to get dragged into talk of the title, especially with Chelsea enjoying a four-point lead and with Manchester City having two games in hand.

"It's good for the supporters to dream, but I'm not focused on the title," said Rodgers.

"I'm focused on winning the next game. We've had an outstanding performance today, a significant performance against a very good side with an excellent manager.

"The players were tactically brilliant, we had a clean sheet, scored three and could have had five or six. But we'll stay calm. Ten games to go, we're in a good position and we want to continue working at the level we've been at."

On Saturday, Rodgers packed the midfield in an attempt to nullify Saints' strengths, dropping Sterling to accommodate Joe Allen before Sterling eventually appeared to score with his first touch after Suarez had opened the scoring in the first half.

"We analyse the strengths we have against the opponent we are playing," Rodgers said.

"The style will always be the same, we want to play and control and dominate the game. We blocked off their space and were a threat going forward."

He added: "It's good for the supporters to dream and they have seen the evolution of this team. Consistently over a year we have been playing at a really good level. So we stay calm, don't get carried away and look at the next game."

Captain Gerrard also refused to make Liverpool favourites, although he agreed that he has a chance of lifting the trophy.

"Credit goes to the manager," he said. "We got it wrong here last season and when they beat us at Anfield but today he got the tactics spot-on.

"We played longer and left two up top and if teams want to play two-against-two against Suarez and (Daniel) Sturridge, all the best."

"I am sure many people are looking out for us because we have got no Europe, we're fresh going into every game. All we asked for at the beginning of the season was: 'Can we be in it with ten games to go?' and we are.

"I think Chelsea and Man City are still favourites. We just need to keep going and trying to win every game and with players like Suarez in the team we can beat anyone."

Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino regards liverpool as among the favourites with ten games remaining.

"They are candidates to win the league," he said. "It's a team with people of ability to do it. When you're not clinical as we weren't against teams like Liverpool it's always going to be difficult."

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Fixtures
16 August 2014
Manchester United v Swansea City, Old Trafford 13:45
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur, Boleyn Ground 16:00
Stoke City v Aston Villa, Britannia Stadium 16:00
Leicester City v Everton, King Power Stadium 16:00
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City, Loftus Road Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland, The Hawthorns 16:00
Arsenal v Crystal Palace, Emirates Stadium 18:30
17 August 2014
Liverpool v Southampton, Anfield 14:30
Newcastle United v Manchester City, St. James' Park 17:00
18 August 2014
Burnley v Chelsea, Turf Moor 21:00
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