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Dec, 29, 2013

Rodgers praises Liverpool effort

After losing 2-1 to Chelsea, Liverpool have been defeated for two games on the bounce, falling from first place on Christmas Day to fifth heading into the New Year but manager Brendan Rodgers was happy with their efforts.

• Brewin: Mignolet at fault

Rodgers insists his side played well in challenging away games against Manchester City and now Chelsea -- both 2-1 defeats -- and remains confident the Reds are in the title frame.

"I thought it was a great effort by my players,'' he said. "We've had two really tough fixtures against two of the strongest squads in the Premier League. To get them back-to-back at this time of year was always a big ask and with so many injuries as well. To keep the game in the balance to the very end, you have to give credit to the players.

"Of course we're disappointed but right now I'm more worried about the group, we're nursing injuries and we'll see where we are tomorrow.''

Rodgers, in trouble with the FA for his remarks after the loss to City, praised Howard Webb's overall performance, saying: "He's a top referee, Howard. I'll stay calm today."

But, added that Samuel Eto'o was lucky to be around to score the winner.

"He [Eto'o] should've been sent off," Rodgers said. "I know we scored from it, but that was a wild challenge, where he's raked down his knee and down his shin and didn't even get a yellow card.

"Luis will always provoke a challenge from defenders, that's why he's world class. What he probably doesn't expect is to provoke a challenge from someone who's not involved in the contact.

"He's running to challenge Azpilicueta and Eto'o is street wise, he's cute, he blocks him. On another day you could give that as a penalty, because it's obstruction in the area.

"Of course, he [Mourinho] will defend his player and I will defend mine."

Rodgers' Liverpool are six points behind Arsenal in fifth place despite recent injuries to captain Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge.

"I think it's open," he said.

"Christmas Day eating our turkey we were top of the league. A few days and games later we're fifth. I think that's the way it will go between now and the end of the season.

"I think it's brilliant and it makes it really exciting."

Rodgers could be active when the transfer window opens on Wednesday, when his side play Hull.

"I think that's always been the case,'' he said. "The squad is very shallow. It shows the size of the challenge that you can lose two games and go from top to fifth but I'm confident if we can get some players back and maybe add one or two more we can be well set.

"We've already shown we can be a team that is exciting to watch with confidence and creativity, and we've still got improvements to make.

"We've shown in the first 19 games this season that if we get players back, get some help in January with a few more players, we can be in the shake-up here.

"Liverpool was never in the conversation for the last few years. At least now we're being recognised in terms of what we're trying to do and our work.

"Hopefully we can add to it and get some depth to the group, because that is something that really helps you in the second part of the season."

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