Liverpool must perform to silence critics, says captain Henderson
Captain Jordan Henderson insists Liverpool will answer the critics who claim they are 'bottling' their title bid with performances on the pitch.
A goalless draw in Sunday's derby at Everton left Jurgen Klopp's side a point behind Manchester City with their destiny no longer in their own hands for the first time since December.
The Reds have still lost only once this season but have taken just 10 points from a possible 18 over the last six games to hand the initiative to the defending champions.
But Henderson dismissed suggestions they were feeling the pressure and said actions and not words - as shown in the 3-0 and 5-0 victories over Bournemouth and Watford respectively last month - mattered.
"It's no good talking about it, we have to respond on the pitch," said the England international.
"There are nine games left, so plenty of football to play, and it is down to us to do the business on the pitch and win as many games as we can.
"Football is a lot to do with mentality. Obviously talent, which we've got in abundance, but we need to show mentality in the next nine games - plus the Champions League - that we can achieve what we want to.
"I think we deserved three points (against Everton) but we couldn't manage to get the ball in the back of the net.
"I think if we score one or two goals everyone goes, 'It's a good away performance in the derby', but when you don't score people start analysing differently.
"But I can't remember them having a clear-cut chance. There were pressure moments in the game, set-pieces and stuff, but we coped well with that and I think we created enough to win.
"There is still a long way to go so we'll keep fighting."
Henderson said the fact the initiative was now with Pep Guardiola's side made no difference to their thinking.
City still have to play Tottenham and go to Old Trafford in back-to-back league matches, are also still involved in two cup competitions and are starting to pick up injuries.
Liverpool, meanwhile, host Spurs and Chelsea of the top six and play six of the current bottom seven in the Premier League, as well as aiming to go the distance in the Champions League.
"It'll not change our mindset. We take it game by game and we need to carry on doing that," Henderson added. "We have to stay confident we can win every game. It will be tough as we play some good teams but we have to keep going, stay confident, keep creating chances and keep defending well."
Everton's fans celebrated the goalless draw with even more gusto knowing they had put a dent in their rivals' title hopes.
So has that had the effect of firing up Liverpool?
"We shouldn't need added motivation to win the Premier League," said their captain. "I know how much this group of players want to win every game and that's motivation enough: to do it for each other, for the club, the city and that's enough for us."
Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is to make his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury for Liverpool's Under-23s later in the week.
The 25-year-old has been sidelined since the Champions League semi-final first leg against Roma last April but it is understood he will make his comeback for Neil Critchley's side at Derby on Friday.
Meanwhile, Seamus Coleman believes Everton should focus on improving their own season rather than taking satisfaction from damaging Liverpool's title chances.
The Republic of Ireland international admits the Toffees missed a great opportunity to end their woeful Merseyside derby record - now 17 without a win - in the goalless draw at Goodison Park.
Sunday's result leaves Everton in 10th place and they are are currently a huge 19 points off the top six.
And Coleman says he is more concerned with improving his own side's position than Liverpool's battle at the top.
"I'm more pleased with the performance and more disappointed we haven't got the win as I thought they were there for us," said the defender. "It is going to be a tough battle between them and Man City but we want to be having more of an impact on our own season rather than putting dents in other peoples'."