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Brendan Rodgers’ Crystal Palace Press Conference: Talks 3-5-2, Henderson and Injuries

Brendan Rodgers spoke to press at Melwood on Thursday afternoon ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League encounter with Crystal Palace at Anfield this Saturday.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, July 9, 2012: Liverpool's new manager Brendan Rodgers during a press conference to launch the side's North American pre-season tour of Toronto, Baltimore and Boston at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Liverpool will be looking to build on the impressive 3-1 victory away at Sunderland last Sunday which saw them rise to second in the league table.

Victory over the Eagles this weekend will see Liverpool go top for at least 24 hours, until Arsenal face West Brom on Sunday.

On recent form

Rodgers spoke highly of his players working well as a team lately.

“We’re just enjoying working well at the moment. The beauty for me is we’ve still got a lot of improvement to make.

“Ive always asked teams to control the ball, dominate the ball, be aggressive in your defending and press really aggressively and high up the pitch”. “But that can be in whatever system. The system is irrelevant.

“There’s lots of areas we can be better at, but we have that confidence and belief at the moment.”

On the opposition

The Northern Irishman was not set to underestimate Liverpool’s opponents this weekend. Ian Holloway’s men are newly promoted to the Premier League. On Crystal Palace he said:

“Every game is a very, very difficult game. It’s a competitive League. They’ve done brilliant to get promoted and Ian’s an excellent manager.

“It will be a really difficult game. Again, treat it like a Cup Final, work hard.

“We’ve gained consistency, we just need to increase that level of performance. Our reaction since the defeat to Southampton has been very good.”

On the new 3-5-2 system

His comments about the new system of playing three defenders at the back were particularly interesting.

“We looked at it last season, we’ve tried it in training. It can be a system that works for us, it gives us numbers going forward. It’s a system that the players can flip to quite easily.”

He was also in praise of the fans at Anfield this season:

“Atmosphere at Anfield this season has been excellent. Record at home needs to be very, very good to challenge in the league.”

On individuals

On midfielder Jordan Henderson‘s versatility, after the 23-year old has been used in several positions this season including, last week, right-wing-back:

“His versatility is a compliment. Ive been so impressed. Jordan’s become better and better. At the end of last season he played as a false winger on the left.

“Jordan’s got quality and he’s enjoying playing.”

On goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Rodgers said:

“Any good team always has a top goalkeeper.” “He’s going to be very very important for us, he’ll save us points this year.”

Lucas Leiva will miss this Saturday’s game after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Sunderland last weekend, earning him an automatic one-match ban.

“He’s started the season well. He’s been bery committed. We will give someone else an opportunity.”

On the return of legends at the Academy

On Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Rob Jones beginning to work at the club’s youth academy this week, Rodgers said:

“It’s important that clubs of this status that you’ve got players who people can identify with”.

On the Champions League

Rodgers also said he attended Manchester City‘s Champions League game against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night and was full of praise for the German and European Champions:

“Bayern Munich were fantastic, their work-rate was second to none.”

On injuries

Rodgers also told press he hopes to have Glen Johnson return to full training after the forthcoming international break. Johnson has been out since sustaining a high ankle sprain in the victory over Manchester United last month.

Joe Allen should be back for Liverpool’s trip to Newcaslte on 19th October, whilst Philippe Coutinho should start running again at Melwood next week. Liverpool’s home game against West Brom on Saturday, October 26th has been penciled in as his possible return date.

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