Brendan Rodgers expects Liverpool to be in contention for Champions League spot
Manager adamant Liverpool can inflict a third successive home defeat on Arsenal
Liverpool’s influential Brazilian Phillipe Coutinho who is available for selection against Arsenal this weekend after recovering from shoulder surgery. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
The Liverpool manager has refrained from predictions during his team’s impressive start to the campaign but admitted he expects to be in contention for a top-four finish. Liverpool are third, two points behind Arsenal, and tomorrow’s game represents the toughest assignment so far in their quest to return to the Champions League for the first time since 2009-10.
Rodgers is adamant Liverpool have the ability to inflict a third successive home defeat on Arsene Wenger’s team and will have Philippe Coutinho available after the influential Brazilian’s recovery from shoulder surgery.
Regardless of the outcome, Rodgers insists Liverpool have already demonstrated the quality and consistency required to rejoin the European elite next term. “It is a good benchmark for us. We have shown that we have quality, that we’ve got a winning mentality and that we can consistently bring that to the table. Saturday won’t be the be-all-and-end-all in terms of whether we can make the top four or not, but I think what we have shown so far is that we are going to be in the conversation.
“I believe we are in a good moment. We have started the season as we would have wanted – strong – and I think we can only get better and improve. We have a lot of young players who are still developing and improving and that goes for the front two who everyone is talking about [Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge].
“Daniel is still only 24 and improving all the time. Everyone talks about Luis’s goals and work-rate but I’ve seen an improvement in his footballing ability and his maturity this year. That bodes well for us. We won’t get carried away. We have to keep our concentration and continue to work hard on the training field.”
Scored 10 goals
Sturridge has scored 10 goals in 11 appearances for Liverpool this season and, in a dig at his former club Chelsea, has credited his outstanding form to being granted the centre-forward’s role he rarely received at Stamford Bridge.
In an interview with Sport magazine, the England international said: “When I went to Bolton (on loan), I was able to show what I can do because I was playing as a centre-forward.
“At Chelsea, I never got the chance to do that, and I’ve got that opportunity here. I’m just playing the position that I enjoy playing in. My faith in God, my self-belief and the hard work I put in on the training field; they’ve all helped me become the player I am now, but I’d say the biggest difference is I’m back to my natural thoughts and I’ve got no clouded vision when I’m on the field. That’s probably the main thing that has changed.”