Kop boss Brendan Rodgers has described the thrilling 5-3 win over Stoke City as ‘brilliant’ and believes his side can maintain their title challenge…
Liverpool emerged victorious from a dramatic encounter at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium on Sunday to move back into the Premier League’s top four.
Goals from Luis Suarez (2), Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and a Ryan Shawcross own-goal eventually earned the visitors the three points after the hosts had recovered from 2-0 down to head into the break all-square.
Victory was Liverpool’s first at the Britannia in the Premier League and ends a run of three consecutive away league defeats against the Potters.
Consequently the Reds now trail current leaders Manchester City by five points and manager Brendan Rodgers believes they are still very much in the title mix.
“It was a brilliant win for us,” said the Northern Irishman at his post-match press conference. “Someone said beforehand that Liverpool had never won here in the Barclays Premier League and we all know why.
“It’s a notoriously difficult place to play. But I want to give immense credit to the players today. I thought it was a really difficult game on paper and on the field.
“We were under a bit of pressure because a lot of the teams around us won yesterday, so we knew we had to put in a performance. To come here and get five goals and be that inventive and creative was fantastic. It’s great credit to them.
“We entered into the game today with 18 games to go, nine at home and nine away. Seven of those nine games away from home are against teams that were in the bottom half. That doesn’t mean they are gimmes, by any means – it’s a very tough league.
“But we’ve certainly shown enough over the course of the season that we’re going to be challenging. That’s all we’ve ever wanted to be; we’ve never stated that we’re going to win the league. We just needed to be in the conversation.
“Today was a massive game because a lot of the teams around us had performed. We know the areas that we can improve and we’ll analyse that to develop and make that better, but we’ve shown today that we can score goals.”
England international Sturridge contributed with a goal scoring return after seven weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury and the ex-Chelsea forward instantly rekindled his understanding with Suarez.
The pair setup crucial goals for each other, following Sturridge’s entry into the fray as a 61st minute substitute, and Suarez now has a phenomenal 22 for the season.
Rodgers analysed: “Both of them combined really well. They’re both outstanding players and outstanding talents. You could see from their link-up for Luis’ goal, where Dan has slid it round the corner to him and Luis has finished it really well.
“Then there’s Dan’s movement for Luis to play him in [for the fifth], which was exceptional. It was such a short space and he’s taken a defender in, put it back over his shoulder and scored. Butland has made a great save – I thought it was in the first time.
“Luis has shown in his time at Liverpool and in particular in this last year or so that he’s nearly unplayable. On his own he can occupy a back four with his movement and cleverness. He’s such an outstanding talent.
“The second finish – when Daniel put it round the corner to him – he didn’t have a lot of the goal to aim at but he just opened up his body and it was a sensational finish.
“You see the work-rate that he puts in for the team as well, he has got to drop in short and be tactically good as well. He is an outstanding talent.
“In the early period of the second half, Stoke were getting a bit of joy down our left-hand side and so I made a decision then to block that up when we went in front at 3-2.
“We had to sacrifice Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson went to that side, but it gave us Dan’s pace and power on the counter-attack.”
The performance wasn’t all about the SAS however and Rodgers was keen to deflect some of the attention on to other individuals such as Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson.
“I think we’ve got other guys in the team as well,” added the 40-year-old. “Raheem, for a young kid, was exceptional today in his pressing and he kept going.
“Jordan joined in from midfield and then I thought Steven Gerrard, in that controlling position, was fantastic. I thought Martin Skrtel was excellent today at centre-half.
“I think as a team, we really came together and this is where you show your mentality and your desire to get a result and it was great credit to the players that they did that.”
Liverpool are next in action on Saturday when they welcome Aston Villa to Anfield.
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