The Reds were unable to win at Anfield in their League Cup semi-final encounter but the Blues’ obligation to come out of their shells at Stamford Bridge comforts the manager
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers feels that his side are well set for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final despite only drawing 1-1 at home against Chelsea.
The Blues took the lead at Anfield through Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty before Raheem Sterling broke through their disciplined back line to score a fine solo equaliser after the break.
The Reds could not win in front of their own fans but Rodgers believes that Chelsea’s obligation to play more expansively in the return leg at Stamford Bridge could play into his team’s hands.
“Delighted with the performance, disappointed with the result,” he told Sky Sports after the match.
“We showed wonderful character. We went behind to what was the only shot on target they had, the penalty. Some of our play – the aggression, the defending, how we continued to take the game to them – it was very, very impressive.
“[It was a] wonderful performance and it sets up the second leg perfectly for us because they’re at home and they’ve probably got to open up a wee bit more. But my players, they were absolutely superb. I think it’s still all to play for.
“I thought it was a great game. A cup competition, two big teams, really fighting to get an advantage… but I was really pleased with our performance because that shows, again, the improvements that we are making and the creation of our chances was very impressive. Hopefully, in the second leg, if we can put a few of those away, we’ll be in a better position in terms of the result.”
Sterling’s goal came in his second match back after a brief January holiday permitted him by Rodgers and the manager says that he is feeling the benefit of time away from the pressure of the top-flight spotlight.
“Well, this is about the boy’s life and his career,” the manager noted. “Plenty of people will probably comment on it but I’m only worried about what we do for the kid. He’s a very young talent but you saw tonight that he’s fresh.
“[It wasn’t] physical rest as much as mental rest for a young player who’s had so much thrown on him so sometimes, as a manager, you’re looking at each individual player and for him, he’s come back refreshed and is ready for a big second part of the season.”