Thursday 22 February 2018

Rodgers: Six points from next two games crucial for Top Four chances

Brendan Rodgers is targeting two wins this week
Brendan Rodgers is targeting two wins this week

Rory Dollard

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes his side must record back-to-back victories over Norwich and West Ham to stay in touch with their Champions League ambitions.

The Reds suffered a major setback on Sunday with a 3-1 defeat at Hull - a result Rodgers had not accounted for - and only two wins this week will do for the Northern Irishman.

He set his team a goal of 10 points from a five-match block that started against Fulham on November 9 and ends with the Hammers' trip to Anfield on Saturday.

Things started well with a 4-0 defeat of the Cottagers before a 3-3 draw in the Merseyside derby and the surprise defeat at the KC Stadium.

With Norwich and West Ham each enduring difficult seasons and both games at home, successive wins are certainly a possibility for Liverpool and Rodgers wants nothing less.

"When we went into the Fulham game we had targets for the number of points we wanted from the next five games. If we get two victories in the next two games that will put us on course for the bigger picture of two points a game," said Rodgers.

"That is the points total that should get us where we want to arrive.

"If we were going to lose a game in that run of five I wouldn't have expected it to be at Hull. That's no disrespect to them but this was a game where we should come and do much better. We didn't play well enough and there were too many individual mistakes.

"It hurts us all because we were nowhere near our level, but it's the bigger picture we need to reflect on, because we haven't had too many days like this. It's now a massive game against Norwich in Wednesday and we must focus to get the points in that game.

"Anfield has been a really good place for us this calendar year so we need to get over this and get three points on Wednesday."

Hull have little time to enjoy one of the finest results in their history - and arugably the biggest home scalp in the top flight - with a trip to table-topping Arsenal on Wednesday.

Manager Steve Bruce can at least head to the Emirates in the knowledge that his side can take on the division's heavyweights and succeed.

"It gives you a little bit of belief," he said.

"It's always hard when you bring a team out of the Championship. Some of these lads haven't really played in the Premier League, certainly they haven't played enough.

"This gives them that little bit of self belief that they can play here, but every week we have got to be at our best.

"It doesn't give me any more delight that it's Liverpool, it's that we've got 17 points by December 1st.

"We've got five wins and we need another five to stay up I think. If we get another five...10, 11 wins is usually enough in my opinion.

"Other teams are the bottom have got a lot to do in terms of winning 10 games if they've only won one or two so far."

Bruce, meanwhile, appealed for the assistance of reporters to credit his side's final goal to Tom Huddlestone.

The former Tottenham midfielder has been growing his hair for over a year and has pledged not to cut it until he scores.

He celebrated as though he had done so on Sunday afternoon but his shot appeared to be going wide until Martin Skrtel headed it past his own goalkeeper and it seems destined to be chalked down as an own-goal.

"I need you lot to give us a hand here," said Bruce.

"Tom thinks the back spin was coming back in (to the goal). It means he's half a stone lighter if he gets the barnet cut have to give it Tom. Help me, then he can get his flaming hair cut."

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