Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers remains insistent that his team cannot win the English Premier League despite apparent evidence to the contrary in their stunning 5-1 victory over former leaders Arsenal. The Anfield side raced into a 4-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes of Saturday's game; the start of an outstanding performance that hauled Liverpool to within six points of the league summit.
Earlier in the week, Rodgers had claimed a top-four finish, and UEFA Champions League football next season, was his side's only realistic goal, and he clung to his position after the game.
"Yes," said Rodgers, when asked if he still believed Liverpool were incapable of ending a 24-year wait for a league title. "You only need to look at our squad - that's an indication. We've been outstanding for a big part of the season. In the main, the consistency and quality of our game has been incredible and the objective has always been to finish as high as we possibly can.
"But you only have to look at other teams around - the money that Man City have, you only have to look at who Arsenal had on the bench today (Saturday). We will keep focused and keep concentrating and I want to be in a position where we can really challenge for the title one day. The players have been incredible and we hope to continue that development and see where it takes us.
"We were brilliant today. It was a wonderful performance in such a prestigious game between the two teams and it's another marker for us that we're getting better and improving all the time."
Martin Skrtel, from two set-pieces, Raheem Sterling, and Daniel Sturridge produced the first four goals before Sterling added his second and Liverpool's fifth early in the second half. Mikel Arteta claimed a consolation for Arsenal from the penalty spot, but it was an afternoon to forget for Arsene Wenger's side, who entertain Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Wenger looking for response
"Overall our performance was just not good enough for me," said Arsenal manager Wenger. "Maybe it's better I don't talk too much, go home, and respond on Wednesday night because I put myself in that performance. It raises questions we have to answer on Wednesday.
"I understand completely why people will question us, but it's not about what people say, it's how we respond that matters. I can completely understand people who raise questions and we have only one way to answer that. That's on Wednesday. Of course we can still win the title. Whatever happens, it is mathematically possible. It's always what you do after a defeat that decides your future. We have a lot of questions to answer and a lot of answers to find."
At least Wenger has recent history to point to in his quest to rebuild his side's confidence. After an emphatic 6-3 defeat at Manchester City before Christmas, Arsenal responded by taking 20 of the next available 24 points.
"If we do that in the next games, it's OK," Wenger continued. "Let's respond well on Wednesday night. It was very disappointing today, but let's not lose our confidence and belief we can still do it. It was a similar situation against City - Saturday morning, 12:45 (kick-off), early goals. We have to analyse what happened, why it happened. Today we didn't look sharp physically as well."