Thursday 17 January 2019

Brendan Rodgers hopes this afternoon's Merseyside derby can provide the same injection of pace into Liverpool's season as last year's Anfield clash with Everton.

'Pool boss aiming for repeat of last season to set Reds on the right road

Brendan Rodgers hopes this afternoon's Merseyside derby can provide the same injection of pace into Liverpool's season as last year's Anfield clash with Everton.

The 4-0 victory over their neighbours in January was the start of a run that brought Liverpool 37 points from a possible 39 and rocketed them to the top of the English Premier League table.

They would almost certainly have ended their long wait for a league title but for a defeat by Chelsea that ended the sequence.

The Reds' hopes of exceeding or at least matching their achievements of last season have been dealt a blow by three losses in their first five league matches, making a good result in the derby even more important.

Boss Rodgers said: "We haven't made the best of starts this season but in the like-for-like games last season, we're only a point different.

"We still have positives from it. We've got young players that have been introduced into our team, which is what we look to achieve to try to help them and educate them to come through and play for the first team.

"We go into this game with a great opportunity to get a victory in a derby game, which we will hope can provide a platform for us to go on consistently, like it did last year."

Losing Luis Suarez has inevitably had a big effect, while Rodgers has had to expand his squad to cope with the extra demands of the Champions League.

Injuries have not helped either and, instead of the exhilarating football that blew teams away last season, Liverpool have stuttered, managing only seven goals in their five league games so far.

"At this moment, we're refocusing, reintroducing the principles into our game that have brought us the win ratio we've had in the last 18 months," said Rodgers. "Probably the early part of the season, apart from the Tottenham game, we've moved away a little bit from that. Our game was based on a real fast, pressing game, really high intensity and the speed of our football.

"We put a lot of hard work into those first six to 12 months we were here, and a lot of those processes became natural. The consequence of that is winning.

"But when you introduce a raft of new players and you lose the core of players that were important, because that's obviously a factor, then it becomes a little bit broken. That's how our game has looked for a big part of the season.

"Where I'm fortunate is I have a group of players here that identify with that. We're all in this together and we just need to get back and focus on what has allowed us to win games consistently over the last 18 months to two years."

Where Rodgers can take a lot of confidence is from Liverpool's recent record in derbies.

The red half of the city has dominated, with Everton failing to win any of the last eight matches, while their winless run at Anfield stretches back 15 years.

The visitors need the points just as much as their rivals after winning only one of their first five league matches, and the encounters rarely disappoint as a spectacle.


Rodgers, who has drawn three and won one of his four derbies, said: "I've loved every second of it. They've been great, both home and away.

"But of course the performance at Anfield last season was really special because Everton were on a good run of form, they were building and developing well under Roberto (Martinez), and obviously came to Anfield with maybe an eye on winning, and we were exceptional.

"Every aspect of the game, our performance, our counter-attack and our finishing, was fantastic. It's a really special game between two great football clubs."

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