Toure: Reds still title contenders
Published 19/01/2014 | 13:57
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure believes their Barclays Premier League title hopes are not over, despite losing ground on the leading sides, but admits some perspective needs to be applied in regards to their position.
In the build up to Saturday's 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa, Reds manager Brendan Rodgers said they should be mentioned as genuine rivals to Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.
They began the weekend six points behind leaders Arsenal but dropped points at home mean the gap is now eight.
Toure accepts the Merseysiders under-performed against Villa but stressed prior to the start of the season that no-one expected them to be as close to the top as they are.
"We are still in that (title race) because every team can lose points," he told Press Association Sport.
"For us we just need to think about the next game 100 per cent, try to win and be positive.
"What we have done so far no-one was expecting at the start of the season.
"We need to take that on board and just keep going. When you have hard times you see a strong team and we are a strong team.
"The first half was very hard but the reaction from the team was great after going 2-0 down to a good Villa side - last year they won (3-1) here and it wasn't easy for us.
"We got a point and that showed the character of the team. We don't want to lose and that is very important, especially at home.
"Other teams will make errors. We just need to maintain our focus and believe in ourselves. In 16 games a lot can happen."
Rodgers said he was willing to take the blame after his decision to pick an attacking line-up backfired in the first half.
He dropped defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva in order to accommodate Daniel Sturridge, making his first start since November 7 after injury, and although the striker repaid him with a goal Liverpool were already 2-0 down at that point.
The benefits brought by Sturridge's inclusion were offset by the absence of Lucas as Steven Gerrard struggled in the holding role despite Rodgers' lavish praise for his performance in that position at Stoke.
Lucas was introduced at half-time, allowing Gerrard the freedom to move further forward and supply the pass which resulted in Luis Suarez being brought down by goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Gerrard converted from the penalty spot but Liverpool could not force a winner.
"Every time we play at home we want to win and we didn't cope very well with that as a team from the start," said Toure of the offence-minded line-up.
"When you want to win games you have to put attacking players in and that is what we tried to do.
"Every season you have games like that and our reaction showed we don't want to lose at home.
"We didn't have a solution but the manager adjusted the team and then everything changed from there.
"The manager is very clever and our team can adapt to any system. We have the flexibility to do that and if one thing is not working, we change."
Liverpool saved their worst 45 minutes under Rodgers for the visit of principal owner John W Henry, over from America with chairman Tom Werner.
The Reds boss had already spoken to the pair the night before the match and received assurances there was money available in January to strengthen the squad.
"We had a good chat Friday night. I am very happy with everything they said," said Rodgers.
"If there are players available that we can get here then we will be able to do that business but I've known that for a number of months."
Villa boss Paul Lambert felt his side would have repeated last year's surprise win had they been more clinical in a dominant first half.
"We should have been out of sight and I thought we played better than we did last year when we won," he said.
"I thought we were outstanding, the whole game we were fantastic, and there were some massive performances. I thought we should have won."