Rodgers keen to take on Gunners, United
LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers said he had Arsenal and Manchester United in his sights, after his team closed in on the Champions League places with a 2-0 success at Southampton.
A glorious 30m strike by Philippe Coutinho put Liverpool ahead in the third minute of Sunday's game at St Mary's, and after a number of vain Southampton penalty appeals, Raheem Sterling sealed victory late on.
Liverpool will play second-placed Manchester City next weekend before tackling fourth-placed United and third-placed Arsenal over the next six weeks, and Rodgers is confident they can close the two-point gap separating them from the Premier League's top four.
Asked if he was apprehensive about Liverpool's fixture list, which also includes a trip to Besiktas in the Europa League on Thursday, Rodgers replied: "Not at all.
"We might have been at the beginning of the season because of how we were playing. But when the team's in the condition it has been for these last 21/2, three months, then we relish every game we play.
"We have Man City and Man United at home, Arsenal away. For us, it was a big step today (Sunday), considering the start we've had to the season. It really shows the consistency the players are at."
Filip Djuricic, making his first Southampton start, had penalty appeals waved away by referee Kevin Friend either side of Coutinho's goal, and manager Ronald Koeman felt that the second - when the on-loan Serbian forward appeared to be felled by Joe Allen - merited a spot-kick.
Southampton were also aggrieved when Simon Mignolet raced out of his box to repel an attempted lob by Eljero Elia shortly before half-time, in an incident that saw the ball strike the Liverpool goalkeeper on the chest before bouncing up and hitting his arm.
"The situation of Elia, hands or no hands of the goalkeeper, it's difficult to see," said Koeman, whose side remain fifth, a point above Liverpool.
"I can understand the decision of the referee, but I don't understand the second situation in the game (Allen's challenge on Djuricic) because that's a clear penalty.
"But I'm proud of how the team played today. We know in the last few games we've struggled with scoring goals.
"If you play three times in a row and don't score (at home), it's difficult to win games, but that's part of football."
Koeman also revealed that Senegalese forward Sadio Mane started the game on the bench because he had reported late for the team's pre-match meal.
"Everybody can be late one day, in the morning," the Dutchman said. "But you can't be late at one o'clock when you have to play against Liverpool."