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Reds boss: We'll take it on chin

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (L) reacts during their  Premier League match against Chelsea. Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (L) reacts during their Premier League match against Chelsea. Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples

Liverpool's Luis Suarez. Photo: Barry Coombs/PA

Liverpool's Luis Suarez. Photo: Barry Coombs/PA

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (L) reacts during their Premier League match against Chelsea. Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples

LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers insists his players will take their setback against Chelsea on the chin as they focus on keeping their Premier League title chances alive.

The 2-0 defeat at Anfield took the destiny of a first championship in 24 years out of their hands, with Manchester City, three points behind with a superior goal difference and match in hand, now the favourites.

By the time the Reds play Crystal Palace on Monday evening, they could be third in the table and will be relying on near-neighbours Everton to do them a huge favour by taking points off Manuel Pellegrini's side at Goodison Park on Saturday.

There was a tangible atmosphere of deflation around Anfield, which had been a cauldron of noise just 90 minutes previously as it had in many other home games in the last few weeks, but Rodgers will not allow that to permeate into a squad which had won 11 successive league matches prior to Sunday.

DISAPPOINTMENT

"I think we have been on a run of games in which the games we have won has been exceptional and to lose against Chelsea is a big disappointment because we haven't had many games we have lost," said the Reds boss.

"This is a great group of players and we will take this on the chin and will continue to work on. We'll recover and go again and hopefully we'll get the win against Crystal Palace."

Rodgers has always argued that making the leap from seventh to first was unprecedented and that his side had exceeded expectations this season.

That they are still leading Chelsea and City, who have spent considerably more, is an achievement in itself and the Reds boss believes there are plenty of positives to be achieved from taking six points from their remaining two fixtures.

"We are two points above Chelsea, which is phenomenal when you see the squad they have, and if we win our last two games we will finish above them," added Rodgers.

"If we can finish off the season and win these two games, we'll finish above them and maybe above Manchester City – but there's still a way to go."

Off the field, the £260million scheme for the regeneration of the Anfield area – including the building of two new stands at the club's ground – took another step forward after the Strategic Regeneration Framework was agreed by Liverpool City Council after public consultation closed.

Meanwhile, Rodgers has hailed Luis Suarez as "magical" after the striker was awarded the Professional Footballers' Association's Player of the Year award on Sunday night.

The Uruguayan has endured a mixed time since arriving in England with controversies often deflecting from his performances on the field, which have seen him score 30 league goals in 31 appearances this season.

That tally comes despite the fact he missed the first five matches of the campaign as his ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic carried over into this term.

Suarez also publicly stated his desire to leave Anfield last summer but that all seems a long time ago as the Reds go into the final two matches of the season still with a chance of claiming the Premier League title and Rodgers is delighted he managed to hold onto his star forward.

"We're one of the biggest clubs in world football," he said. "Sometimes you have to demonstrate your power and that's what we did.

"From the first year, he knew I would shape the team around his qualities. The way we set the system up is to be intelligent.

"Probably what people don't see with Luis is that he's a very, very highly intelligent man off the field – and maybe sometimes in the past that intelligence on the field hasn't been seen so much – but that imagination is part of how we work.

"In and around the box, he's magical," Rodgers said.


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