Monday 11 December 2017

Brendan Rodgers keen to win mind games

Pool boss wants to deliver early psychological blow on rivals

Brendan Rodgers believes his team will go to the Emirates full of confidence
Brendan Rodgers believes his team will go to the Emirates full of confidence
Mario Balotelli’s exit from Anfield could be moving closer after talks with AC Milan on a potential loan deal

Liverpool can land a psychological blow on English Premier League rivals Arsenal with victory at the Emirates Stadium tonight, according to manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Reds travel to the capital for an early meeting with another side who have top-four aspirations this season and aim to continue their bright start after back-to-back 1-0 victories over Stoke and Bournemouth.

Rodgers admits the result is unlikely to have too much impact on the final standings at this stage, yet appreciates an away win over Arsene Wenger's men can greatly enhance the confidence among his group.

"You're playing one of the rivals that you're hoping to be competing with at the top end of the table; these games are important," Rodgers acknowledged.

"They don't give the full picture in terms of how it will finish up - you can draw or lose these games and still go on and achieve what you want to achieve. Of course it's for the confidence and psychologically they are important. No matter when these games come in the season they are always good for the psychological effect.

"We've got a tough game away from home but we'll arrive into the game with confidence. We know they're an outstanding group of players and some quality individual players but there's a real focus in this group for this season, a real toughness, mentally.


"We know that we've got that ability to scrap and fight to get a result as well as play good football. If we can go there and perform like we think we can and keep to our game-plan we're confident we can get a result."

In studying Arsenal's recent home defeats, Rodgers has discovered his side may not necessarily need to match their opponents in the ball-retention stakes to prosper.

Both sides have earned plaudits for being aesthetically pleasing under their current managers but Rodgers will be happy to cede possession to the hosts if it means they follow West Ham in taking three points at Arsenal this month.

"If you assess Arsenal's last 10 games they've lost at home, the teams that have won, it's been about dangerous possession," Rodgers noted.

"The teams that have been there have only averaged about four shots on target, with 43% possession.

"It tells you that you can go there and you don't need to dominate the ball, but you can dominate the space and that's something that is important when you go away.

"For us, tactically, we'll arrive into the game in a good mind of how we can win it. Like Arsenal, we do like to dominate the ball, but there are certain games where tactically you look at the approach of what is going to get you the result.

"That's something we've done and been working on this week."

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is in talks over a return to former club AC Milan on loan.

It is understood the 25-year-old Italy international met Milan boss Sinisa Mihajlovic in Italy this weekend to discuss the potential move.

Milan's general manager Adriano Galliani hinted that there could be some truth to the reports.

"I'm not going to comment, but like (Italian singer) Antonello Venditti once said, there are certain loves which go such a long way and then they come back," he said. "And I and the president are both romantic people."

Balotelli spent two seasons with the Rossoneri before moving to Merseyside last year. He made 43 Serie A appearances for the Milanese club, scoring 26 goals.

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