• Manager says it will be tough for City to win both their games
• 'The title race is certainly not over by a long way'
Brendan Rodgers doubts whether Manchester City will win their final two games of the season and has insisted it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Liverpool could overturn a sizeable goal difference to win the Premier League.
City joined Liverpool on 80 points with a 3-2 win at Everton on Saturday and home wins against Aston Villa on Wednesday and West Ham United on Sunday would, in all likelihood, secure a second title in three seasons for Manuel Pellegrini's team. But Liverpool's manager is adamant there will be another twist in the compelling three-way fight for the Premier League and that his team can still claim their first league championship since 1990.
Barring a City slip-up, Liverpool need to beat Crystal Palace on Monday and Newcastle United on Sunday while overhauling a goal-difference deficit of nine in the process, in order to clinch the trophy. And Rodgers insists the task of winning at Goodison Park plus two home fixtures at the Etihad Stadium inside nine days will stretch to the limit a City squad that lost Sergio Agüero to injury at Everton.
"It is a tough ask for City," the Liverpool manager said. "To play three games at this stage of the season that really, really matter is a real tough ask. Aston Villa are an incredible team on the counterattack and better away from home, and West Ham on their day can be a really difficult opponent.
"Manchester City need to win all their games which means they will have won five games in a row and they have done that only once this season, so it will be a wee bit new for them. It is certainly not over by a long way. If we can win our two games then it could go a long way to deciding whether we finish top or not. But it is about concentrating on our game against Crystal Palace.
"City's result [at Everton] won't deflate us because we know we have to win against Palace no matter what. We know we have to win at Palace and win against Newcastle. That hasn't changed and that is our focus."
Both City and Liverpool have scored 96 league goals this season and Rodgers has not discounted the prospect of his team pipping their rivals to the title on goal difference, despite City having conceded nine goals fewer.
He admits the aim at Selhurst Park is not simply three points. The Liverpool manager, who expects Daniel Sturridge to be available against Tony Pulis's team, said: "If there is any team that can score goals and turn it around it will be us. There is no question. That will be our aim. No question about that. I have seen it before. Chelsea beat Wigan 8-0 in the last game of the season [in 2010, when Chelsea won the title]. I am not paying any disrespect to Newcastle at all but if there is a team that has shown it can score goals, it is us. We are not a 1-0 team. We showed that at the beginning of the season but what we have shown since is we can score goals.
"Manchester City won the league on goals scored a couple of years ago. That's why, when I came in here, I spoke about a team that could score goals because ultimately that is what it could come down to. We scored 47 goals in the first year I was here and now we have 96. That is what gives us the chance. We could sit and get the team to defend and not want to score but ultimately it's the team that scores the goals that will win."
Defeat by Chelsea last Sunday ended a run of 11 consecutive victories for Liverpool but Rodgers, who gave his players four days off after that setback, is adamant his team's form and confidence will not be derailed. He added: "There was disappointment for everyone last week, players, staff and supporters. After the game you have a couple of days to grieve because it was such a big game but champions get on their bike and go again and that is something I hope I have instilled into this team. It's something we will look to do. It has given us an opportunity to recover mentally, press the default button and go again. You can't dwell on it.
"The only thing that will come from Chelsea is a positive experience for us. I have seen it in training. The players are going again very quickly and when we come up against that gameplan again we'll come up with better solutions to break through. It will prove useful for us."