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Rodgers demands defensive improvement

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says his team must improve defensively if they are to return to the top four in the English Premier League.

Goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez saw Southampton to a surprise 3-1 win over Liverpool at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Liverpool, who briefly pulled back to 2-1 through Philippe Coutinho, were without Jamie Carragher and have now conceded more goals away from home than any other top-half team.

“We just weren’t very good,” Rodgers told reporters.

“We only started playing when we were 2-0 down. We didn’t defend well enough and you have to give credit to Southampton, who played very well.

“When the team starts as it has done, it is always difficult. There’s no question that (defence) is an area of the field we need to be better at. That is one of the reasons we brought Carragher back. I know it is one area we need to improve and develop as a group.

“We were unfortunate this week that a few of the players had niggles and missed training, like Lucas, who came on in the second half was excellent.

“It was a poor day at the office and the problem is we have to live with that for two weeks now (due to the international break).”

Rodgers said Liverpool had been left under no illusions regarding their shortcomings as they seek to rejoin the elite teams in the top flight.

“Today is a reminder that we still need to build a squad and need to improve,” he said.

“The players can’t be brilliant every time they play. There are eight games left and we just have to concentrate on ourselves.”

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino was unsurprised by his team’s performance as they moved seven points clear of the relegation zone.

“The players don’t really impress me because I know them and how good they are,” he said. “What’s really important is they show their talent in all the games.

“I think we set out the game in a positive way, and I think the players totally believed in our system. We made Liverpool really uncomfortable, pressed them quite a lot and played a lot high up the field in their half.”

The Argentine coach reserved special praise for young defender Nathaniel Clyne, who turned in an impressive display against the likes of Coutinho and Luis Suarez at right-back.

“He has the potential and skill to one day play in the national team, if he keeps on playing like he did,” Pochettino said.

Sat 16 March, 2013
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