‘We need to start turning up in big games’ insists Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool lost 2-1 to Manchester United before the international break ' Juan Mata scoring a brace for the Red Devils
Liverpool lost 2-1 to Manchester United before the international break ' Juan Mata scoring a brace for the Red Devils

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers accepts his side cannot afford not to turn up in another big game if their top-four ambitions are to survive.

Prior to the international break the Reds’ 13-match unbeaten league run was ended at home to Champions League-chasing rivals Manchester United, leaving them five points adrift of the qualification places.

Defeat at third-placed Arsenal would be a huge blow to their aspirations of returning to Europe’s elite for a second successive season.

Rodgers knows they must avoid a repeat of the disappointing first-half display against United which led to their defeat.

“We’ve made it difficult for ourselves because of our last performance and result, but it’s certainly achievable,” he said of their top-four chances.

“Over the course of the last three months, apart from the last game, we’ve performed very well and we have got results.

“I think people might look at it (the trip to Arsenal) as a must-win game. For me, it is a must-perform game, we want to perform well and we know that when we do that we’ve got every chance of winning, whether that’s at home or away.

“We’ve had a long two weeks, it’s probably one of the few games where after the international break we’ve had to suffer a little bit, because we didn’t perform and lost, but there is extra motivation there to get something from the game and that is something that we clearly want to achieve.

“These final eight games are going to be exciting games and there is still every possibility for us to make the top four.”

Many see the two sides as being similar in their approach to how they play, particularly in relation to how they like to keep the ball.

That was a feature missing in the United game and it cost them dearly and Rodgers has spent a fortnight over the international break assessing where it went wrong after enjoying so much success in the previous three months.

“Our possession wasn’t good enough in our last game,” he added.

“The key for us in the first half against Manchester United was that we didn’t keep the ball well enough and, positionally, we were never in position to receive the ball and press the ball.

“We’ve talked about that, we’ve analysed that and we’ve worked on that; in order for us to maximise how we’ve been working we need to keep the ball better and be technically better.”