Premier League

Masch refuses to give up

Midfielder looks ahead to crucial three-game spell

Mascherano: Optimistic

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Javier Mascherano believes Liverpool can rescue their season in their next three games.

Liverpool kept their slim title hopes alive on Tuesday with a 2-0 home win over Sunderland to close the gap on leaders Manchester United to four points, although they have played two games more.

The Reds now face a critical period in their next three games with the return leg of their UEFA Champions League tie with Real Madrid followed by Premier League tussles with Manchester United on 14th March and Aston Villa on 22nd March.

Mascherano, who played at right-back against Sunderland as cover for the injured Alvaro Arbeloa, is acutely aware of the importance of all three games, for differing reasons.

"It is important that we do not slip away in the table," he said. "We must keep concentrating and see if we can get closer.

Fighting

"We must keep fighting. We are in a competition with Chelsea for second, but we still must not give up on the chase to catch Manchester United.

"We won't give up. Let's not talk about the title, let's make sure we win our matches.

"We have a very important Champions League game with Real Madrid next week and then we go to Manchester United before Aston Villa are at Anfield next.

"We must take it step by step, try to get to the Champions League quarter-finals and then turn our attention to the next two league games. The next three matches are very, very important for us."

Maschareno admitted playing at full-back was a new experience for him, but that he was happy to play anywhere for the side.

"The boss asked me to play at right-back, and I tried to do my best. I don't know if it was good or not but I just tried to do my best," added Mascherano.

"I have played as a right-winger in Argentina, but I am a central midfielder and that is where I am best.

"I knew the new role was just for one game, and I am prepared to do that for the team.

"I always try to think about the team. For this game and with the injuries we knew we had nobody else."

Praise

Mascherano also singled out rookie striker David Ngog for praise after he scored his first Premier League goal for the club against Sunderland.

Mascherano said: "We were all pleased for David. He is young and will be a very important player, and you can see how hard he works in training.

"It is important for him that when he does get a chance to play, he makes the most of it."