Football

Trophy chase so close to the end

REDS ON A ROLL: Brendan Rodgers (above) has led Liverpool on an unbeaten run of eight games (six wins, two draws) since losing to Manchester United last month.

It is almost certainly Liverpool's best chance of silverware, and Brendan Rodgers will be desperate to get his hands on a first trophy as manager, although any clash against a Chelsea side ruled by Jose Mourinho is bound to be a formidable challenge.

The Reds host the first leg of their League Cup semi-final tomorrow morning (Singapore time), having lost only one of their last 14 games in all competitions.

Rodgers has urged his men to continue their recent resurgence ahead of the big game.

The Northern Irishman found himself under increased scrutiny at Anfield following an indifferent start to the season but, since losing to Manchester United in mid-December, the Reds have been unbeaten in eight games.

After that 3-0 loss at Old Trafford, Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-1 in the League Cup quarter-finals to set up this last-four tie against the Premier League leaders.

While delighted after last Saturday's 2-0 win at Aston Villa, Rodgers insisted there was still room for improvement.

"There has been a lot of hard work. The players have got confidence now in the way of working and they have been performing very, very well," he said on goal.com.

"There's a lot of improvement left in this team and group but we're building towards the future here at the club. We have been progressing very well.

IMPROVE

"You will always be looking to improve, no matter how well you are doing. It's the challenge when you work with young players; you saw the youthfulness in the team (on Saturday)."

The Villa win was achieved without Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren, who were absent due to injury or illness.

Rodgers added: "We obviously had a bump in the road in the early part of the season but, in this period, the team are performing at a good level - defensively strong and playing some wonderful football. It's pleasing but we have to keep improving."

Rodgers will be under no illusions as to the scale of the task facing Liverpool, though, with Chelsea - who beat Derby County in the last round - looking imperious for much of the campaign.

Mourinho's side have scored 51 goals in their 22 top-flight fixtures this season - 20 more than eighth-placed Liverpool - and hammered Swansea City 5-0 away last Saturday.

Chelsea also have fond recent memories of going to Anfield, having won 2-1 there last November, just six months after all but ending the Reds' 2013-14 Premier League title dreams with a famous 2-0 victory.

However, Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson believes the Reds are shaping up well.

He said: "They are a fantastic team but so are we... I believe we can go and really put Chelsea under pressure. If we defend like we have been doing recently... then we know we have the pace and the talent going forward to hurt them." 


- Wire Services.


RODGERS SAYS...

ORIGI STAYS AT LILLE

“There were a few discussions in January between the clubs, but... the likelihood is that he will stay at Lille.”

— Brendan Rodgers on striker Divock Origi

‘NOT MUCH’ MOVEMENT

“I think it will be quiet. I said earlier on in the window that we wouldn’t be doing much over the course of January.”

— Rodgers on the possibility of reinforcements this month

STURRIDGE RETURNING

“We’re hoping that somewhere near the end of this month, he should be back.”

— Rodgers on the return of Daniel Sturridge