Brendan Rodgers eyes strong Anfield run for Liverpool
Liverpool manager is hoping to make the most of home advantage in their bid to catch leaders Chelsea over the final stretch and win the title
Agence France-Presse in Liverpool
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is hoping his team can boost their title hopes by capitalising on a run of home matches.
As they prepare to host Sunderland at Anfield on Wednesday night, the Reds have not had a home game since February 23. They have won all three matches on the road since that date, however: 3-0 wins at Southampton and Manchester United and a 6-3 victory over Cardiff at the weekend.
Rodgers' side, unbeaten in the league since the turn of the year, with 29 points from 33, trail leaders Chelsea by four points and are in contention for a first league title since 1990.
Five of their remaining eight league matches are at home and a win over Sunderland in their game in hand on Chelsea would close the gap to just one point.
After the visit of Sunderland, they entertain Spurs at the weekend before travelling to West Ham and then hosting Manchester City.
Following a trip to Norwich they are at home to Chelsea, then head to Crystal Palace before finishing the season against Newcastle at Anfield.
Rodgers is optimistic home advantage will count and said ahead of welcoming Sunderland: "We're really looking forward to playing at Anfield. Hopefully the supporters can really get behind the team well before kick-off, get the atmosphere revved up.
"We believe we can perform well and get results. Cardiff was the fourth away game on the spin we've won.
"We ended up with six against Cardiff - arguably we could have had more. But it was a wonderful demonstration of our mentality, resilience and our strength mentally. It was another demonstration of our offensive power.
"It may or may not be this year but there's no doubt we're on the right road to winning a title here.
"We are nowhere near the finished article but we are learning and improving. "
Spanish left back Jose Enrique is Liverpool's only enforced absentee as he continues to struggle with a long-term knee problem.
The trip to Anfield is just the start of a testing series of away fixtures for third-bottom Sunderland as they attempt to retain their Premier League status.
Between now and the end of the season, they are also scheduled to travel to Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.
It is conceivable they will not pick up a single point from those games, but midfielder Liam Bridcutt is one player who is relishing the challenge after spending most of his career in the Championship with Brighton.
Bridcutt is looking forward to tackling Liverpool and said: "No, it's not daunting. We all know they are a top team, but we also know we can do well if we are on our game."
Sunderland are so stretched that manager Gus Poyet has recalled Connor Wickham from his loan at Leeds.
Of Poyet's other striking options, Steven Fletcher is injured and Fabio Borini is ineligible to play against his parent club, while Ignacio Scocco is struggling to adapt to the pace of the Premier League and Jozy Altidore is bereft of form and confidence after 19 games without a goal.