Reds boss Brendan Rodgers was happy with the effort and commitment of his players as they ended their losing run against Stoke City on Saturday…
Liverpool enjoyed their first win for a month yesterday as an 85th miniute Glen Johnson header secured a hard-fought 1-0 Premier League victory over Stoke City at Anfield.
The result ends a run of three consecutive defeats in the competition and helps to ease the pressure on Reds boss Brendan Rodgers and his players.
It was far from a vintage performance though as the visitors enjoyed plenty of possession and threatened to prolong Liverpool’s agony on a number of occasions.
However, given the circumstances, the three points were all that mattered to Rodgers, who was also pleased to see his team keep just their third clean sheet in 20 matches this season.
“I’m satisfied,” commented the Northern Irishman at his post-match press conference. “People look at how my teams like to play and I think they think I’m happy with 5-3 and 6-4 – I’m equally, if not more than happy, with 1-0. You can’t play perfect football.
“We have shown wonderful character this week; we should have won our game in the week, and in Europe it is never easy. Today, in the Premier League against a good team, we have kept a clean sheet and won against a team that doesn’t concede many goals.
“I was very satisfied and my overriding feeling was that I was delighted for the players because they are a wonderful group to work with.”
It was a game of contrasts as a timid first 45 minutes gave way to an exciting, end-to-end second period in which both sides created a number of chances.
Just as the match looked set to end goalless, Johnson reacted quickest after Rickie Lambert had struck the crossbar; showing commendable courage to put his head amongst a melee of flying boots and Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic.
Analysing the goal, Rodgers remarked: “The cross comes into the box to Rickie, who’s been brilliant for us and today showed great courage to get his head on the ball.
“It looked like it was going in and if you watch Glen’s anticipation, he was on the move and he shows great courage and bravery [to connect with the ball]. That’s something that the players have had, so it’s disappointing that we haven’t showed that of late.
“I think that confidence has been a little bit low. But before the Ludogorets game, we spoke in terms of how we are going to move forward and the standards that we have set here and how we need to get back to that. It’s not going to go back immediately, but you have to show resilience and courage and then football will come out.
“I thought in spells today our football was excellent. But we had to defend and we have to ensure that we defend with that mentality and then we’ll get results.”
Liverpool’s team sheet was an interesting one with club captain Steven Gerrard relegated to a place on the bench, where he sat alongside five of the summer signings who had cost a combined fee of approaching £90m.
Stoke’s visit to L4 marked the 16th anniversary of the midfielder’s debut but, with Leicester City coming up on Tuesday night and two full matches against Crystal Palace and Ludogorets Razgrad already played over the past week, resting the 34-year-old wasn’t the surprise it would once have been.
“Steven is at the part of his career where he’s not going to be playing in every game and every minute of every game,” explained Rodgers.
“He’s played against Crystal Palace and in Ludogorets, where he was outstanding and put a huge amount of effort into the game.
“We’ve got other players who can come in and do the job, and Steven understands that.
“I wasn’t actually aware it was 16 years until I walked into the changing rooms and saw the programme, but with Steven you wouldn’t know whether he was playing or not because he’s a guy who is very much a team player. He’s a great guy and he always plays a part in our work.
“I need to look at each game and position the players and team that I think can get the result.
“We’ve got good players on the sidelines who are fresh. Steven came on and gave a great contribution towards the end. His experience and stature in the game helped us at that point, but the team overall was excellent…
“Lucas Leiva has come into the team and been outstanding in his two games – very tenacious, aggressive and can pass the ball. Kolo Toure‘s experience coming into the team has been good for us. The team is mostly full of players that have got the experience.
“The younger players will get an opportunity over time, of course, but we are in a moment where we need to get results and improve our style of football.
“We need to have confidence in the team and we’re slowly, in the last couple of games, getting back to a confident level.”
Liverpool move up one spot to 11th in the Premier League standings.
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