'Fearless' Reds await City

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard (above right) put his club back at the top of the EPL with two high-pressure penalties against West Ham. The Reds escaped unscathed from a  contentious Hammers goal, in which goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (below right)  w
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard (above right) put his club back at the top of the EPL with two high-pressure penalties against West Ham. The Reds escaped unscathed from a contentious Hammers goal, in which goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (below right) was fouled moments before Guy Demel scored.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard (above right) put his club back at the top of the EPL with two high-pressure penalties against West Ham. The Reds escaped unscathed from a  contentious Hammers goal, in which goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (below right)  w
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard (above right) put his club back at the top of the EPL with two high-pressure penalties against West Ham. The Reds escaped unscathed from a contentious Hammers goal, in which goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (below right) was fouled moments before Guy Demel scored.PHOTOS: REUTERS

Liverpool head confidently into title decider after dodging Hammer blow

LONDON - Brendan Rodgers has pledged that Liverpool will adopt a fearless approach to Sunday's potential Premier League title decider against Manchester City.

City will travel to Anfield four points behind the leaders after the Reds' 2-1 success at West Ham on Sunday, but with two games in hand. If either club win all their remaining matches, they will be champions.

Rodgers acknowledges that City are favourites for the title, but insisted that Liverpool will be full of confidence after notching their ninth successive league win - the best run in the division since Manchester United recorded 11 straight victories in 2008-09.

"With the team we have put together, the mentality is to be fearless. It doesn't matter who we play," Rodgers said.

"The pressure is on City because they have spent money. They have invested well to win the league and win the Champions League... but it's about ourselves and the confidence we have to play."

Liverpool's hard-earned win at West Ham provided some evidence that Rodgers' side can cope with the stress of challenging for their first English league title in 24 years.

Despite being hit by a controversial equaliser against the Hammers, the Reds displayed the desire and composure of potential champions.

Having taken the lead through Steven Gerrard's 44th-minute penalty, they conceded in first-half stoppage time when Guy Demel bundled home after Andy Carroll clattered into Simon Mignolet, causing the Liverpool goalkeeper to drop the ball.

It was a clear foul and linesman Stuart Burt appeared to flag for the offence, but referee Anthony Taylor overruled him and awarded the goal.

Liverpool's players were seething but they responded by snatching the points in the 71st minute when Gerrard converted another penalty - another dubious decision by Taylor, after West Ham goalkeeper Adrian got to the ball before Jon Flanagan, who tumbled over his out-stretched arm.

Hammers manager Sam Allardyce was clearly frustrated with Taylor's performance.

"Unfortunately we are talking about the officials and not the game," he said. "The referee made big mistakes."

Yet, with Liverpool prevailing, the focus is now sharply back on the title race.

A draw this Sunday would suit City more than Liverpool, but City manager Manuel Pellegrini has vowed not to play it safe.

"Maybe I am wrong but I always think in the same way as a manager - if you play to draw, you will lose," said the Chilean.

"So we are going to play to win. Of course, after the game, if we couldn't win the game and we draw it's a good result, but we are not going to play against Liverpool thinking we must draw. We don't know to play in that way."

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

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