Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers sang the praises of Stewart Downing after his side thumped Fulham 4-0 on Saturday.
The victory – Liverpool’s fourth in their last five matches – lifted them to eighth on the English Premier League table and with his club just five points behind third-placed Arsenal, Rodgers has every reason to be encouraged.
He was particularly happy with the form of Downing, who capped off a terrific performance with his first league goal for the club since crossing from Middlesbrough for a reported fee of 20 million pounds in July last year.
And Rodgers revealed that a heart-to-heart discussion about the winger’s form has had a positive outcome.
“I thought he (Downing) was brilliant today in every aspect of the game,” Rodgers said after the win.
“He’s in his late 20s, an England international a few years ago and he wasn’t playing so we spoke about how he could get into the team and if he wasn’t playing then we would’ve looked at it in January.
“I think his reaction from that moment – like it has been for Jose Enrique and one or two of the others – has been outstanding. His goal today was a fantastic strike.
“His pass for Steven (Gerrard)’s goal was superb so if he keeps playing like that he’ll be going nowhere.”
Rodgers was also delighted with his side’s overall performance and is hopeful his side can kick further up the table in a busy festive period.
“Their pressing was outstanding and the quality of their football and goals was brilliant, so it was a great three points for us and terrific performance,” he said.
“Over this (Christmas) period there are four games in quick succession so we’ll recover the players well and make sure our focus is right because it’s a great opportunity to pick up points and keep moving forward.”
Fulham manager Martin Jol was disappointed with his side’s defending as they again were leaky at the back.
Only one side in the Premier League, Reading, have conceded more goals than the Craven Cottage outfit and Jol was not happy.
“If you get goals like we conceded today you’re almost playing against yourself,” Jol said.
“That is what we did after the second goal. We had a problem in the midfield and Damien (Duff) was not there, (Mladen) Petric was injured, (Mahamadou) Diarra was injured and they all will come back next week hopefully.
“We said we wanted to put (Liverpool) under pressure and then get support to (striker, Dimitar) Berbatov, but we didn’t do that the first half.”