Rodgers hails Reds’ character


Published: Sunday 21st December 2014 by The News Editor

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes the character his side showed in their 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal shows they can still challenge for the top four.

Martin Skrtel’s thunderous header in the seventh of nine minutes of added time – coincidentally because of a head injury sustained by the Slovakian – rescued a point after substitute Fabio Borini had been sent off.

After dominating the game but having only Philippe Coutinho’s opener to show for their efforts, Liverpool conceded on the stroke of half-time to Mathieu Debuchy and were then punished on the counter-attack by Olivier Giroud before the late drama.

Rodgers believes the resilience shown by his side, plus a return to the up-tempo game they performed so thrillingly last season, shows things are turning around.

“It says everything. Slowly we are getting back to where we want to get to,” he said.

“That is one defeat in eight. Our performance today was outstanding: the passing and intensity and the pressing in our game is starting to return so we are disappointed with the goals we conceded, especially at the end of the first half.

“But the character and the quality of the team was very good. We have played better and dominated more than we did last year when we won 5-1 (in March). I think that tells you everything about the performance.

“We conceded only three shots on target to one of the top teams in European football at keeping the ball and, very importantly for me, I see our idea starting to return again.

“It (the top four) is always going to be a big challenge and of course we have to make up points but we have shown this is a club that can go on a run of games.

“In the second half of last season we went on a run of 11 wins. If we can put a run together than can quickly move you up.

“The most important thing is the confidence and align that with bringing back (Daniel) Sturridge in January and we can get back to being that team we have been.

“There is a bit of work to do but at least we are moving in the right direction.”

Rodgers hailed Skrtel, who had eight staples in a head wound inflicted by Giroud’s boot.

“He is a strong character, a real warrior, and thankfully he stayed on and scored a great header,” he added.

Rodgers was less happy about the defensive performance, however.

“We lost three one-v-one headers (for the first goal),” he said.

“We have to be better at that. That is not about organisation, that is about winning the duel.”

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger felt some of his players suffered from the memories of last season’s 5-1 hammering, in which they were 4-0 down after 20 minutes.

“We had problems to get our flow going,” he said.

“We did not have enough possession in the game. In the first half it was down to tactical and some psychological reasons: maybe bad memories from last year. Some players were not at their best.

“I felt we played with the handbrake too much, in the first half especially, in the second half we played much better but at 2-1 we sat back too much.

“When you don’t score goal number three you are under threat to concede a second.”

Wenger, too, was unhappy with his side’s defending.

“Overall I think once they were down to 10 men they were not dangerous any more,” he added.

“To concede the corner that was a bit unlucky but then we didn’t jump with Skrtel.

“Overall it is a fair result but a frustrating result for us because they came back when we had plenty of defenders on the pitch and could have defended the set-piece much better.”

Published: Sunday 21st December 2014 by The News Editor

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