Sterling: Home form key to Reds title tilt
Raheem Sterling believes that Liverpool’s formidable home record can carry them past rivals Manchester City and Chelsea to their first league title in 24 years.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have gone top of the Premier League with six games to play after beating Tottenham 4-0 at Anfield on Sunday. They replaced Chelsea, beaten 1-0 at Crystal Palace a day earlier, and know that they will be champions if they win all of their remaining games.
That is not a straightforward task, as both Chelsea and third-placed City still have to visit Anfield. But Liverpool have won 14 of their 16 home league games this season, and have been beaten just once on their own ground in all competitions over the last 12 months.
Winger Sterling, 19, has been a key figure in a team who have dropped four points in 13 Premier League matches since the beginning of 2014, and feels Liverpool can beat anyone at Anfield, including City and Chelsea.
He said: “With the remaining games, it is going to be difficult with those two coming here. But we’ll take it as it comes as we really fancy ourselves against anyone coming here. We will take it step by step and do the business when they come.
“I think as the season goes on we have gained a bit more belief but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We have to take it game by game. But coming to the last six games there is a really good atmosphere at the training ground.”
Manager Rodgers has played down Liverpool’s title chances all season, but expectation is growing among the club’s fans thanks to their three-month unbeaten league run.
The team coach was greeted with a noisy reception when it pulled into Anfield ahead of last Wednesday’s 2-1 home win over Sunderland. And there was also an expectant roar from the home crowd at the end of Sunday’s home victory over Tottenham.
Sterling said: “It feels like it is a good moment. It is the first time I have seen the fans like that -- I’ve heard about it in the Champions League -- but it was great to see it not only on Sunday but against Sunderland in midweek.
“It was a great atmosphere, the best I’ve seen. It is a credit to the fans. There is a real belief from the supporters and a togetherness too, not just with the fans but the players as well. Long may it continue.”
The form of Sterling, a regular in the side since the start of December, has made him a contender for England’s World Cup squad, and national team assistant boss Ray Lewington was at Anfield on Sunday to see his performance.
But the teenager’s immediate priority is to ensure he retains his club place, having returned to the starting line-up against Tottenham after being a substitute for the previous two matches.
“It was disappointing being on the bench for two games but I knew I had to be ready if I was called back," Sterling said. "I am grateful to the manager for having the belief to put me in for a big game and the team got the win.”