BRENDAN RODGERS believes it will be “easy” for his shell-shocked Liverpool players to bounce back from their Boundary Park humiliation at Arsenal tonight – because they are “hurting” just as much as their stunned supporters.
The Reds are back in action just three days after their shock 3-2 FA Cup exit to League One strugglers Oldham.
But Rodgers is confident there will be no Cup hangover.
“It’s quite easy (to move on),” he said.
“It’s one of the things you have to be able to do in modern football, and especially at a club like this.
“However disappointing the Cup was, we’ll get a reaction on Wednesday. Just seeing the players, the small group we had working (on Monday morning), they had a real focus and concentration.
“That hurts, and I’m glad it does, because that shows that they care. We’ll enter the game with even greater motivation to win.
“We’ve seen over the last few weeks the quality in the group so we mustn’t forget that as well, however disappointing Sunday was.
“We must really focus in on the game on Wednesday, it’s an opportunity against a good opponent but an opponent that’s around about us in terms of points so we have to go there with the confidence and focus that we’ve shown in the league of late.
“And if we do that we’ll have a great chance of getting a good result.”
Liverpool would join Arsenal on 37 points if they can repeat last season’s victory at The Emirates.
And they will take extra motivation from the corresponding fixture at Anfield earlier this season, when Arsenal outplayed their hosts and came away with a 2-0 victory.
Playmaker Santi Cazorla was particularly impressive that day, and Rodgers said: “They’ve got some wonderfully talented players and Cazorla’s come in and done terrifically well in his first season.
“The game at Anfield was probably as poor as we’ve been. There were a number of reasons behind that. Psychologically we weren’t in a good moment, and rightly so we lost the game.
“But this is a chance to put it right. We’ll need to make sure everyone’s fighting, everyone’s together, and I’m sure we will be. We need to do better against the teams that are in the top half, there’s no denying that.”
Rodgers is likely to revert to a more familiar line-up after heavily criticising his young players for their performance at Boundary Park, and the Liverpool boss hinted it may be quite a while before some of those players get another chance.
“You might not always be at your best, but you have to give your best, and maybe one or two of our players looked like they didn’t want to be there, which is the worry,” he said.
“But we’ll put that right going forward. The only way you get to find out those things sometimes is by actually throwing players in so no one this season will be able to say they didn’t have a chance.
“The Oldham game actually makes decisions going forward much easier for me. We’ve got some good young players, but they’re not that good. I don’t have a young player here like Steven Gerrard when he was 18 or 19, or Jamie Carragher.”