Liverpool have to answer naysayers on the pitch – Henderson
The Reds are now a point behind Manchester City in the title race after drawing four of their last six games.
Captain Jordan Henderson insists Liverpool will answer the critics who claim they are ‘bottling’ their title bid with performances on the pitch.
A goalless draw in Sunday’s derby at Everton left Jurgen Klopp’s side a point behind Manchester City with their destiny no longer in their own hands for the first time since December.
The Reds have still only lost once this season but have taken just 10 points from a possible 18 over the last six games to hand the initiative to the defending champions.
But Henderson dismissed suggestions they were feeling the pressure and said only actions and not words – as shown in the 3-0 and 5-0 victories over Bournemouth and Watford respectively last month – mattered.
“It’s no good talking about it, we have to respond on the pitch,” said the England international.
“There are nine games left so plenty of football to play and it is down to us to do the business on the pitch and win as many games as we can.
“Football is a lot to do with mentality. Obviously talent, which we’ve got in abundance, but we need to show mentality in the next nine games – plus the Champions League – that we can achieve what we want to achieve.
“I think we deserved three points (against Everton) but we couldn’t manage to get the ball in the back of the net.
“I think if we score one or two goals everyone goes ‘It’s a good away performance away from home in the derby’ but when you don’t score people start analysing differently.
It's no good talking about it, we have to respond on the pitch. Jordan Henderson
“But I can’t remember them having a clear-cut chance. There were pressure moments in the game, set-pieces and stuff, but we coped well with that and I think we created enough to win the game.
“There is still long way to go so we’ll keep fighting.”
Henderson said the fact the initiative was now with Pep Guardiola’s side made no difference to their thinking.
City still have to play Tottenham and go to Old Trafford in back-to-back league matches, are also still involved in two cup competitions and are starting to pick up injuries.
Liverpool, meanwhile, host Spurs and Chelsea of the top six and play six of the current bottom seven in the Premier League, as well as aiming to go the distance in the Champions League.
“It’ll not change our mindset. We take it game-by-game and we need to carry on doing that,” Henderson added.
“We have to keep confident we can win every game. It will be tough as we play some good teams along the way but we have to keep going, stay confident like I know we will, keep creating chances and keep defending well.
“I know how good City are. They are a top team so you have to be on it every single week and to be fair I think we have been.
“There have been one or two games where we have maybe dropped below the standards we have set, but overall I think we’ve given everything and we’ll carry on giving everything until the end of the season and fingers crossed it’s enough to win.”
Everton’s fans celebrated the goalless draw with even more gusto knowing their had put a dent in their rivals’ title hopes.
So has that had the effect of firing up Liverpool?
Strong defensive performance from the team today. We’ll take that point and keep working. Onto Newcastle next week 👊Cheers for the support as always, class atmosphere today 👌 pic.twitter.com/RkchCmJ0cT— Jordan Pickford (@JPickford1) March 3, 2019
“We shouldn’t need added motivation to win the Premier League,” said their captain.
“I know how much this group of players want to win every game and that’s motivation enough: to do it for each other, to do it for the club, the city really and that’s enough for us.”
Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is to make his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury for Liverpool’s Under-23s later this week.
The 25-year-old has been sidelined since the Champions League semi-final first leg against Roma last April but Press Association Sport understands he will make his comeback for Neil Critchley’s side at Derby on Friday.