Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool-Arsenal ‘Wonderful,’ But Reds Still Developing

Liverpool - ArsenalLiverpool made a definitive statement by dismantling Arsenal 5-1 on Saturday, but manager Brendan Rodgers insisted afterward that there is “still a long way to go” for his side.

The Northern Irishman oversaw one of the best Barclays Premier League displays in recent memory, as the Reds pulverized the visitors, rattling them with four goals inside the first 20 minutes.

Liverpool afforded Arsenal no time to regroup throughout an encounter that was arguably as good as anything Anfield has witnessed since Nottingham Forest was hit for five in April 1988.

Martin Skrtel scored two for the first time in his Reds career, as did Raheem Sterling, while Daniel Sturridge was at his unflappable best to add his name to the scoresheet.

Rodgers hailed the manner in which his players controlled the game after flying out of the blocks to unhinge the Gunners. However, he refused to get too carried away with the stunning victory.

“We’ve still got a long way to go for me, in terms of where we want to go and where we want to be, but across the board it’s very pleasing,” he told Liverpoolfc.com. “We’ve got so many young players who are still growing and developing, and our squad is small. So I feel that we’ve still got work to do. But when we play like that and perform like that, people are obviously going to ask the question [can you win the league?].

“We’re five points behind Arsenal, four behind Manchester City and six behind Chelsea, and we still have them to play here at Anfield. But the main objective is just to finish as high as we possibly can, and let’s see where that takes us.

“Right the way through this season and throughout my time here, we’ve started to just chip away in our development and improve.

“It was another wonderful result for us, and what was particularly pleasing was the performance. It was an incredible display from a group of young men who are growing and getting better all the time. It was very pleasing.”

Rodgers fielded the same starting 11 as the group that shredded Everton’s ranks with a similar first-half showing in the 4-0 Merseyside derby demolition at Anfield in late January.

The manager switched his front three around for the Arsenal visit, releasing Sturridge through the middle and playing Sterling down the left. But behind them, Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard picked up where they left off against the Blues.

“I think you can see we had a couple of changes,” Rodgers said. “We played Daniel through the middle. Raheem has been playing a lot down the right of late, but we moved him out to the left.

“The three midfield players, their objective was to control the game, and I thought our control and management of the game was exceptional. At 3-0 and 4-0, we were able to control the game. You saw just before halftime that the supporters really appreciated that.

“It was a wonderful demonstration of managing the game. It was very exciting, and we’re probably a wee bit disappointed that we gave away a goal, but I can’t have too many reasons to be disappointed after that performance.

“Arsenal have been leading the way for most of the season, and they are an excellent side, so to put in that type of performance at that level was very encouraging. I’m just very pleased for the players, and it was great for the supporters.”

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