Brendan Rodgers hails 'warrior' Martin Skrtel and Liverpool character
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes the character his side showed in their 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal shows they can still challenge for the top four.
Martin Skrtel's thunderous header in the seventh of nine minutes of added time -- coincidentally because of a head injury sustained by the Slovakian -- rescued a point after substitute Fabio Borini had been sent off.
After dominating the game but having only Philippe Coutinho's opener to show for their efforts, Liverpool conceded on the stroke of half-time to Mathieu Debuchy and were then punished on the counter-attack by Olivier Giroud before the late drama.
Rodgers believes the resilience shown by his side, plus a return to the up-tempo game they performed so thrillingly last season, shows things are turning around.
"It says everything. Slowly we are getting back to where we want to get to,'' he said. "That is one defeat in eight. Our performance today was outstanding: the passing and intensity and the pressing in our game is starting to return so we are disappointed with the goals we conceded, especially at the end of the first half.
"But the character and the quality of the team was very good. We have played better and dominated more than we did last year when we won 5-1 [in March]. I think that tells you everything about the performance.
"We conceded only three shots on target to one of the top teams in European football at keeping the ball and, very importantly for me, I see our our idea starting to return again.
"It [the top four] is always going to be a big challenge and of course we have to make up points but we have shown this is a club that can go on a run of games. In the second half of last season we went on a run of 11 wins. If we can put a run together than can quickly move you up.
"The most important thing is the confidence and align that with bringing back [Daniel] Sturridge in January and we can get back to being that team we have been. There is a bit of work to do but at least we are moving in the right direction.''
Rodgers hailed Skrtel, who had eight staples in a head wound inflicted by Giroud's boot. "He is a strong character, a real warrior, and thankfully he stayed on and scored a great header,'' he added.
But the manager was less happy about the defensive performance, however.
"We lost three one-v-one headers [for the first goal],'' he said. "We have to be better at that. That is not about organisation, that is about winning the duel.''re under threat to concede a second.''