Match 16
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12:00 PM UTC
Match 15
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6:00 PM UTC
Match 17
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12:00 PM UTC Jun 20, 2018
Match 19
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Saudi Arabia
3:00 PM UTC Jun 20, 2018
Match 18
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6:00 PM UTC Jun 20, 2018
Match 20
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Rodgers fumes over Chelsea tactics

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was clearly frustrated by Chelsea's defensive focus after his side's title hopes were hit by Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Anfield.

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Goals from Demba Ba and Willian handed the initiative back to Manchester City in the race for the title. Jose Mourinho has defended his defensive tactics, and Rodgers was quick to give his opinion on Chelsea parking not one, but two buses.

He said on Sky Sports: “Congratulations to Chelsea, they won the game. We just couldn't find the breakthrough. They obviously sat very deep.

“I think there were two buses parked today, never mind one. It was like a back six with three midfield players in front of that. That's 10, with the goalkeeper, for 90 minutes consistently behind the ball.

“Unless you get that early goal, it doesn't entice them to come out. It was clear that they'd come certainly not wanting to win the game, with the time-wasting and whatnot.

“The players gave everything and we couldn't quite get that wee bit of luck.”

Drawn further on Chelsea, Rodgers added in his news conference: “They have a different style to us but if it gets results, great. Jose will be happy with that. Congratulations to Chelsea as they won the game, although they came for a draw.

“It is totally opposite to how we want to play but give credit to them for winning the game. It is not difficult to coach, putting 10 players on the edge of the 18-yard box. They got booked for time-wasting in the 92nd minute but I think everyone could see from the first whistle that was their plan -- to frustrate.'' 

Rodgers was reluctant to praise Mourinho, adding: “I don't think it's a tactic. Anyone can ask a team to just sit back and defend on the edge of the box.

“It's the nature of how Chelsea play. They've got some wonderful players but they play a defensive game and hope to hit you on the counter-attack or with a mistake.

“We were disappointed with the goal, it's just one of those things. There's no blame for Stevie [Gerrard]. I said to him he's been a wonderful player for this club and he's a massive part of why we are where we are.”

Rodgers added: “Steven is a boy who has picked up this club so many times and it was just really unfortunate because he slipped at a crucial moment and it was right on half-time.

“He was doing everything he possibly could and we hoped there would be one or two who would step up to the plate instead of him, but we couldn't quite do that.

“There's certainly no blame because we are in the position we are in now because of him; he's been instrumental for us this season. It's just unfortunate that he's slipped over. It could have happened to anyone. This is a guy that is so strong mentally.

“He probably got frustrated but I thought he showed his courage because after that he still kept getting on the football, he still tried to pass; at times, he broke through and broke the line to get in.

“But he and our other attacking threats just couldn't quite make the breakthrough. Give credit to Chelsea for that; they sat in really deep.'' 

Should City and Liverpool both win all their remaining games, they will finish level on points and City currently have a superior goal difference.

Rodgers said: “The bigger picture is that we're still two points ahead of a team that has spent an absolute fortune. If we win our two games we'll finish above them and then we'll see what happens with Manchester City.

“We achieved our objective of Champions League football and we just go on to our next game against Crystal Palace. Today's game will probably prepare us for that because of the nature of how Crystal Palace play.”

Rodgers added: “City will now feel they can go on and win their games. We'll just recover now, we'll focus on the next game and continue with that positive mentality that we've had throughout the season -- because that's the reason why we are where we are.'' 


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