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Mar 28, 2014

Rodgers: Reds more than 2-man team

LIVERPOOL -- Brendan Rodgers insists that Liverpool's push towards the top of the Premier League this season is proof that they are not a two-man team.

Liverpool are more than just Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, manager Brendan Rodgers says.

Macintosh: Season a success
Kelly: Improvement needed

Rodgers is adamant that his team's performances have given a lie to the idea that they are overly reliant on captain Steven Gerrard and top scorer Luis Suarez.

Gerrard struck a crucial free-kick in Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Sunderland, and is now one short of equalling Kenny Dalglish's tally of 172 Liverpool goals as he prepares to face Tottenham in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday.

And Suarez is the division's leading scorer with 28 goals, despite having to wait until the end of September to make his first appearance of the season as he completed a 10-match ban for biting an opponent.

Liverpool go into the weekend's fixtures second in the Premier League, one point behind leaders Chelsea.

And their manager believes that is down to the emergence of a strong group of players, with Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Jon Flanagan all hitting good form to help the push for a first league title since 1990.

Rodgers hit back at Sunderland boss Gus Poyet, who claimed before Wednesday's match that Liverpool would be a mid-table side without the goals of Suarez.

The Liverpool boss said: "It was levelled at us the other night that if we didn't have Luis Suarez's goals, we'd be mid-table, which is probably quite disrespectful to the other players.

"At various times while I've been here, we've had Luis out and won games, we've had Steven out and we've won games, we've had Coutinho out and we've won games, we've had Sturridge out and we've won games, so what we're building here is the collective.

"And actually, when Luis was playing, I believe the team finished eighth and seventh, so it's not just about one player. It's about creating a collective spirit and quality to our game, and that's what we've done."

Nonetheless, Rodgers acknowledged that Gerrard's leadership skills have been a key part of Liverpool's bid for glory.

The captain has continued to provide goals -- scoring nine in his last 13 appearances -- despite being moved to a deeper midfield role while Lucas Leiva recovered from a knee injury sustained in January.

Rodgers said: "I think people wondered about his position -- would it affect him, moving back into that controlled position?

"Moving him back into that position hasn't stopped his goal threat.

"He's a player I think, because of his incredible intelligence and ability, if you give him enough time, he can play in any position on the field.

"But for most of his career, he's played as an attacking player, and he's been one of the world-class players.

"So to get to those numbers and maybe equal someone of Kenny's quality and status just shows you the true quality that the guy has.

"And he has a few more years to go yet. I hope he'll score more goals.

"I think he's shown that leadership right the way through for me, from when I came in.

"He's first class. You saw him the other night, making orders of the team, and telling people what he expected, which is important.

"It's too late if you're in the changing room, and you've conceded a goal. He's very short, sharp and concise with his information, and his qualities are continual every day.

"He's leadership in the changing room every day is first class. He's a wonderful captain and it's been a huge pleasure for me to work with him. Long may it continue."

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