Brendan Rodgers believes his rebuilt Liverpool
side have proven they belong back in the Champions
League as he seeks to consolidate the club’s qualifying position.
Although Liverpool remain in title contention with 12 Premier League games
remaining, finishing in the top four has always been the prime objective.
Luis Suárez has stated how simply hearing the Champions League anthem on
television in midweek has whetted his appetite to experience the competition
For Rodgers, the club’s exile from the competition – currently into a fifth
year – is brought into sterner focus during those weeks when England’s top
clubs take on the continent’s elite.
Although no one at Anfield is biting on questions regarding a possible title
win, it is clear any inferiority complex that has existed when assessing the
top three has gone. Rodgers says Liverpool’s performances have been, at
least, the equal of any of the current European competitors from the Premier
Asked specifically if his side are capable of competing with the Champions
League clubs, Rodgers had no doubt.
“Yes, I would have confidence in saying that,” he said. “Our performances and
results have shown that. Even in the cup game last week you look at the
reaction from Arsenal. You could sense that they felt they were playing
against a very good side. I spoke to Arsène after the game. He and his staff
said they felt we were the most dangerous attacking team they had played all
season, which is a great compliment when you think of some of the games they
have played in.
“I didn’t go to any of the games in midweek but I watched it all. I have
certainly been to a few over the course of the season, such as Schalke
against Basle in Germany and some of the games here in England.
“I think we have shown in our performance level that we are as good as any of
the [English] sides this season. We just need to do it over the next 12
games and prove it on the field. If we do that it will take us to that
level. It is a competition that this club has a wonderful history in. It’s a
level that we want to get back to.
“The first job is to consolidate our place in the top four. Once you’re in
there then you can look beyond that. Our ambitions are still further but we
have to take it game by game. We just want to keep pushing. Over the course
of these next 12 games, we will be prepared and ready to get maximum points.
We know that will be difficult but we have real confidence at the moment in
Rodgers has Glen Johnson available once more following his absence with an
Jose Enrique, however, has been in the United States being treated by knee
specialist Dr Richard Steadman. Enrique has not played in 2014.
“We’re not sure when he will be available,” said Rodgers.
“We are hoping he won’t be out for the season. It has just been slower than
what we thought.”