Premier League - Rodgers backs Gerrard after horror gaffe

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers attached no blame to Steven Gerrard for the error which proved so pivotal in the 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea.

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Premier League - Rodgers backs Gerrard after horror gaffe
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Liverpool's English midfielder Steven Gerrard reacts after Chelsea's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, northwest England, on April 27, 2014 (AFP)

WHAT HAPPENED

Gerrard's slip in first-half injury time allowed Demba Ba to race clear and put Jose Mourinho's men in front, with Willian adding a second late on as the Reds' run of 11 wins on the bounce came to a shuddering halt.

"Steven is a boy who has picked up this club so many times and it was just really unfortunate because he slipped at a crucial moment and it was right on half-time," Rodgers said.

"He was doing everything he possibly could and we hoped there would be one or two who would step up to the plate instead of him, but we couldn't quite do that. There's certainly no blame because we are in the position we are in now because of him; he's been instrumental for us this season.

"It's just unfortunate that he's slipped over. It could have happened to anyone. This is a guy that is so strong mentally.

"He probably got frustrated but I thought he showed his courage because after that he still kept getting on the football, he still tried to pass; at times, he broke through and broke the line to get in. But he and our other attacking threats just couldn't quite make the breakthrough. Give credit to Chelsea for that; they sat in really deep."

EUROSPORT'S VIEW

While Liverpool’s approach to football is highly commendable, this possession-based style of play has led to issues before – Martin Skrtel had a similar mishap back in August 2012 against Manchester City. While that day it cost the Reds two points, this error could cost Liverpool the title. Much has been made of Liverpool's dramatic turnaround in fortunes under Rodgers – and while his commitment to an expansive style of play is admirable there also comes a time for pragmatism. Mourinho has been heavily criticised for his side’s lack of ambition against Liverpool but Chelsea came away with a win that could see Liverpool miss out on the title. A draw may have been enough to see Liverpool win the league and a more pragmatic approach against an ultra-conservative Chelsea side may have been a better approach. A bore draw it may have been but the record books record title wins. Hindsight is, however, a magnificent thing.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Quite simply, if Manchester City win their remaining three fixtures - against Everton away and Aston Villa and West Ham at home - they will win the Premier League by virtue of their superior goal difference, even if Liverpool also beat Crystal Palace away and Newcastle at home. Gerrard's slip appears to have handed City the title on a platter, with only Everton looking like offering any kind of resistance. Even then, would they want to beat City and effectively crown their local rivals? Chelsea, two points behind Liverpool, should beat Norwich and Cardiff but will need their rivals to slip up.

WHAT THE MEDIA SAID

Barney Ronay (Guardian): Chelsea will probably not end up title-winners this season but they would seem to have had a fairly decisive say at the last in who will, after a brilliantly engineered defensive performance. The debate on what kind of spectacle we are allowed to expect or demand will continue in the background to this game but on this occasion, as in Madrid last Tuesday, Mourinho's team has exposed an opponent's weaknesses through relentlessly focusing on their own strengths.

Paul Hayward (Telegraph): Gerrard is the captain, quarterback, local hero and spiritual guardian of this Liverpool side. The rebirth of Brendan Rodgers’s team has been two stories in one. First, the quest to win the English title for the first time in 24 summers. Second, Gerrard’s mission to complete his medal collection with a Premier League disc. His loyalty and perseverance have come to express the whole club’s striving to be back on the pedestal they were knocked off over two demoralising decades. None of that changes with one bad first touch and a slip of the studs. We cannot be so reductionist that we condense a whole campaign into one trip.

WHAT THE FANS SAY

Neville Common (Eurosport-Yahoo! user): As an Evertonian, I have to say it's completely unsporting to blame Gerrard for that result just because he slipped over.

Mr Anfield Aces (Eurosport-Yahoo! user): We should have played 'keep ball' in the centre of the pitch and in front of the Chelsea backline of 8 - and just probed away without being too desperate to find that goal. You have to probe away and 'draw out' the opposition from his defensive lines...and then try to get through.

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