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Saturday 2 August 2014

Rodgers seeks big bounce

LIVERPOOL will have no shortage of motivation for tonight's Premier League clash with Arsenal.

The Reds are back in action four days after their embarrassing FA Cup fourth-round defeat by League One side Oldham, while they are also seeking revenge for Arsenal's victory in the reverse fixture at Anfield in September.

Santi Cazorla was particularly impressive that day as Liverpool's poor start to the season continued and Reds boss Brendan Rodgers wants his side to show the progress they have made.

Disappointing

Although Sunday's result was hugely disappointing, Liverpool had won eight of their previous 11 games and head into tonight's game only three points behind their opponents.

Rodgers said of Arsenal: "They've got some wonderfully talented players and Cazorla's come in and done terrifically well in his first season.

"The game at Anfield was probably as poor as we've been. There were a number of reasons behind that. Psychologically we weren't in a good moment, and rightly so we lost the game.

"But this is a chance to put it right. We'll need to make sure everyone's fighting, everyone's together and I'm sure we will be. We need to do better against the teams that are in the top half, there's no denying that."

Rodgers picked a much-changed team for the cup, with only three players aged over 23 in the starting line-up, and the Reds boss has been particularly critical of his young players.

But he said: "We've seen over the last few weeks the quality in the group so we mustn't forget that as well, however disappointing Sunday was.

"We must really focus in on tonight's game. It's an opportunity against a good opponent, but an opponent that's around about us in terms of points so we have to go there with the confidence and focus that we've shown in the league of late. And if we do that we'll have a great chance of getting a good result."

Welcome

Liverpool will welcome back fit-again trio Jose Reina, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson tonight, while Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho is close to completing a move to Anfield.

Rodgers is likely to revert to a more familiar line-up and the Liverpool boss hinted it may be quite a while before some of the club's young players get another chance.

"You might not always be at your best, but you have to give your best and maybe one or two of our players looked like they didn't want to be there, which is the worry," he said.

"But we'll put that right going forward. The only way you get to find out those things sometimes is by actually throwing players in so no one this season will be able to say they didn't have a chance.

"The Oldham game actually makes decisions going forward much easier for me."

Fray

One player who did impress against Oldham was Steven Gerrard, who entered the fray as a second-half substitute.

Rodgers believes that showing was indicative of Gerard's importance to the club. "Steven is a unique player. At Oldham, it was like someone had dropped him from heaven because we went to a totally different level," he said.

"Unfortunately, I can't say that without him we would be all right, because I don't believe we would.

"With each day that goes by, you see his real importance to the club.

"At 32 years of age, he still looks so fit and strong.

"You can see his influence on the team. As a captain, he's been phenomenal."

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