LONDON, May 10- Despite dispiriting recent setbacks, Liverpool will approach their final game of the Premier League season against Newcastle United on Sunday in high spirits, according to manager Brendan Rodgers.
Liverpool were on course for a first league title since 1990 until a 2-0 loss at home to Chelsea two weeks ago and followed that up by throwing away a 3-0 lead in a 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace last Monday.
It means that Liverpool can only claim the title if they beat Newcastle on the final day and leaders Manchester City lose at home to West Ham United.
Rodgers’s side looked devastated after their draw at Palace, in which they conceded three goals in the last 11 minutes, with star striker Luis Suarez sobbing on the pitch.
But while their title destiny is no longer in their own hands, Rodgers says that his players have shaken the trauma of Selhurst Park out of their systems.
Asked about the team’s spirit in the wake of the game at Palace, Rodgers told his pre-game press conference: “It has been excellent.
“You could see the emotion after the game and that was pretty much the same in the dressing room afterwards. But we know the areas we need to improve.
“We won’t dwell on it. You can’t think about what might or could have happened. You can only really focus on what has happened and look forward to getting better and improving.”
Having scored a relatively modest 71 goals last season, when they finished seventh, Liverpool have undergone an extraordinary transformation this term, amassing 99 league goals in their 37 games to date.
However, they have also conceded 49 goals — a worse record than both Southampton and Crystal Palace — and Rodgers says that it is in this area of the pitch that they must make improvements.
“We’ve played in big games this season and showed real solidity defensively, but we went away to Cardiff and yes, we scored six goals, but we conceded three; went away to Stoke, scored five and conceded three; Palace, three; Hull, three,” he said.
“Yes, there’s an element of quality from the opponent, but I look at and analyse the games intensely and a big part of it is concentration, organisation, concentrating on your job.
“But our work is continual. We will really focus on that part of our game over the course of pre-season. Like I said when I came in, we had to improve our goals tally, so we went from 47 scored in a season (2011-12) to now 99 and whatever it finishes at this weekend, and we’ll do the same with the defence.”