Date: 30th December 2013 at 6:20pm
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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has praised his players and their performance once more despite a second loss in three days…

Liverpool’s festive double-header against title challenging duo Manchester City and Chelsea may have yielded zero points but there were plenty of positives, according to Kop boss Brendan Rodgers.

The Reds severely tested both sides with their brand of incisive, attacking football and had key decisions gone their way it’s not inconceivable that they might have won on each occasion.

As in the 2-1 defeat to City, Liverpool took the lead at Chelsea on Sunday when Martin Skrtel converted from close range in the opening minutes.

The early goal spurred the hosts into action though and they were in front by half-time through goals from Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o, who was lucky to be on the pitch after a nasty early foul on Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool had chances to equalise in the second half and also had a couple of strong penalty shouts ignored as they slipped from first at Christmas down to fifth in the standings.

Analysing the game at his post-match press conference, Rodgers commented: “It was always going to be a tough schedule for us, even if we had everyone fit, because of the squad being so thin. But I can only give credit to the players.

“At Manchester City, we were outstanding but didn’t quite get the result. Today, we showed moments of the quality we’ve shown throughout the course of the year and this season. We were unfortunate with the first goal, and the second one was a poor goal from our perspective.

“It shows you, even with the group we had, to keep the game so tight and I’m sure Chelsea are very happy with the win, everything about the determination and the will I have in the squad. I can give them nothing but credit.

“We’re disappointed with the result, but we have taken on two squads that are some of the strongest in Europe. For us, it demonstrates again the work we have to do.”

Rodgers and his men will need to bounce back quickly with Hull City, who beat them earlier this month, visiting Anfield on New Year’s Day.

On paper at least, the fixture signals the start of an easier run and with the transfer window reopening there is also the opportunity to reinforce a severely stretched squad.

The substitutes bench at Stamford Bridge featured two unproven teenagers, Brad Smith and Jordan Rossiter, while Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho both joined the club’s lengthy injury list during the encounter.

Reflecting on the subject of strength in depth, Rodgers added: “It was difficult, there was no balancing – we had to play the same team bar one. I looked at Manchester City’s team yesterday and I think they changed seven players. Today, Chelsea were able to do that.

“But that’s where we’re at – the squad has been thin all year. We have been fortunate we’ve kept players fit. It’s just unlucky that we have played two of the best squads in the league back to back. That would always make it tough for us.

“That’s why I’ve got so much credit to give to the players, because especially at Manchester City, they were outstanding. Today, they have given everything to the game.

“Over this year and in the first 19 games this season, we have shown that if we get players back and get some help in January with a few more players, we can be in the shake-up. That was the biggest thing.

“Liverpool were never in the conversation for the last couple of years. At least now we are being recognised in terms of what we’re trying to do in our work, and hopefully we can add to it and get somebody into the group because that is something that really helps you in the second part of the season.”

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