Rodgers: Heat is on Man City
LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers insists all the pressure will be on Manchester City when his English Premier League leaders take on their title rivals in a crucial showdown at Anfield next weekend.
The Reds returned to the top of the table with a contentious 2-1 win at West Ham on Sunday that showed they can cope with the stress of challenging for their first English league title in 24 years.
Their ninth straight league victory moved them two points clear of second-placed Chelsea and four ahead of third-placed City, who have two games in hand on the leaders.
Liverpool's red-hot run is the best in the division since Manchester United recorded 11 consecutive victories in 2008-09. Rodgers' team will end their long wait to be crowned champions if they win their last five matches.
City's visit to Anfield on Sunday will play a major role in deciding the destiny of the title. But Rodgers is convinced Liverpool should be able to play with freedom because, compared to Manuel Pellegrini's expensively assembled side, his players have nothing to lose.
"The pressure is on City because they have spent money. They have invested well to win the league and win the Champions League," he said.
"They have world-class players, but it's about us as well. We have young players and there's no pressure on them, so they can just go out and play."
While Liverpool have been enjoying a purple patch of form, the same cannot be said of Arsenal, who led the standings early in the season.
After his side were humbled 3-0 by Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted the race for the final Champions League place has been blown wide open.
The gap between Arsenal in fourth place and Everton in fifth spot is now just a point, and the Toffees have the advantage of a game in hand on Wenger's side.
Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League for the past 16 consecutive seasons, a proud record bettered only by Real Madrid and Manchester United.
Wenger said: "The fight is very open and is depending not only on us. Everton are in a strong position, but we have been confronted with that before and it is how we respond.
"I am absolutely 100 per cent determined to fight for the top four; it will be difficult."