Luis Suarez grabbed the headlines at the DW Stadium with a stunning hat trick to add to Stewart Downing‘s opener, but the Reds’ goalkeeper was required to produce several acrobatic saves to thwart the hosts over the course of the 90 minutes.
Reina also assisted with Liverpool’s first goal — his long pass finding Philippe Coutinho in the build-up for Downing’s header — and Rodgers was delighted with the all-round performance of his custodian.
“I said to the players afterwards: That was an outstanding performance from Pepe,” the manager said. “He made big saves at critical moments. Sometimes goals, especially away from home, can change the momentum of games, but Pepe was focused throughout.
“His pass for the first goal to Philippe Coutinho opened up the pitch really well. He was deserving of his clean sheet — our 11th in the league this season.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers says the tactical organization of his players is improving all the time due to the hard work being put in on the Melwood practice fields. The boss says this was perfectly highlighted by the performance at Wigan.
“Going into the last quarter of the season, you can see the players have comfort in this way of working — the style and the system. Three of our four goals at Wigan were built from the back by playing fast football. We’ve said it’s about tactical discipline as well, and it’s very important we have that defensive organization.
“Look at the intensity and how we pressed the game. If they have two defenders there, make sure we get three players around the ball. If they have three, then make sure we have four. We blocked the spaces high up the pitch. And when we couldn’t press high, we dropped in, and the lines were nice and tight.
“We don’t want to take unnecessary risks at the back. If we get stuck, we can kick it up the pitch. But the players are showing the confidence they have. Everyone is available for the ball.
“Tactically, we were terrific at Wigan, and it doesn’t just happen with a click of the fingers. It’s about hard work on the training ground.”
“Wigan has been a difficult place for the club, having not won there since 2007, so for us to play like we did was another great marker,” Rodgers added. “We’re better with our concentration, and we just need to cut out the mistakes. There’s still a long way for us to go. We still need to strengthen the squad, but the signs are very good.”
Photo via Liverpoolfc.com
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