LONDON (AFP) - Having seen Manchester City seize the initiative in the Premier League title race, Liverpool have no option but to win when they visit Crystal Palace on Monday.
Liverpool’s title challenge was compromised by their 2-0 loss at home to Chelsea last weekend and they were knocked off the summit on Saturday when City won 3-2 at Everton.
City’s success at Goodison Park means that they will be practically assured of claiming the title if they win their last two games, both of which are at home, against Aston Villa and West Ham United.
They currently lead Liverpool on goal difference alone, however, and although they have a nine-goal advantage in that regard, it is a slender enough margin of superiority to give Brendan Rodgers’s side hope.
Liverpool were unable to find a way through Chelsea’s defence last weekend despite enjoying 73 per cent of possession, but Rodgers has vowed that they will not abandon their patient approach.
“You are always going to get that criticism when you try to play and work and pass the ball. It is something I’ve had since I was a young coach,” he said.
“What we did do was run out of patience in the (Chelsea) game, and going forward, playing games in the Champions League next season, we are going to have more games like that.
“That is something we will look to improve on, but it is something I believe is one of my strengths. I learn fairly quickly and the great thing about my players is they are also great learners.
“When they reflected, they know we played well in a lot of the game, but our patience ran out in the last 20 minutes. But that is natural when you play against top opponents who are in a Champions League semi-final with huge experience and players who are mobile and can cover the ground.
“We are not perfect, I have always said that, and this will help in our development.”
Rodgers added: “We had 73 per cent possession, but the focus for us is on the dangerous possession and in that final third we didn’t have enough, and that is something we will work on.
“We had a good week to analyse and hopefully we will improve.” Liverpool will once again be without their England midfielder Jordan Henderson, who completes a three-game ban for his dismissal in last month’s 3-2 win over Manchester City.
The visitors are otherwise expected to be at full strength, while Palace’s only injury doubt concerns South African central midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi, who has a knee complaint.
Having seen his side secure their Premier League status after a storming run of five straight wins, Palace manager Tony Pulis is looking forward to the challenge of tackling Liverpool.
While strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have garnered plaudits for their 53-goal haul, Pulis believes that their captain Steven Gerrard has been every bit as influential.
“Gerrard has been absolutely outstanding,” said the Welshman. “He’s led by example. He’s been a wonderful, wonderful player for England and for Liverpool.
“And the forward line is exceptional. You only have to look at the two centre-forwards and the number of goals they’ve scored between them to know they’ll be a threat.
“The two of them have formed a great partnership so it will be tough on Monday, but it will be great for the supporters to see top, top players like that as well.”
Although Palace have nothing material left to play for, Liverpool have not won on their last four visits to Selhurst Park and the home side will be eager to sign off in front of their fans with a strong performance.