Brendan Rodgers has declared his disappointment with Liverpool's younger players, after the Reds were eliminated from the fourth round of the FA Cup by League One side Oldham Athletic. The Premier League club made six changes to the side which beat Norwich City 5-0 last week and succumbed to a 2-3 defeat to a side several places below them in the rankings.
"We have young players and it's great to put them in, but you have to have personality. Today our young players disappointed me, they didn't have the right mentality and you can't do that at Liverpool," Rodgers explained after the match, adding, "Premier League games are nice, teams stroke the ball about and give you time to get your shape. This is a different type of football, you have got to roll your sleeves up and be strong and aggressive - and we didn't do that."
The defeat will come as a particularly harsh blow to the Reds; the FA Cup was their best chance of a trophy this season. Liverpool are seventh in the Premier League, with 34 points from 23 games and 22 point gap to leaders Manchester United. Winning the league, therefore, is out of the question. The next best possibility - a top four finish and Champions League football next season - is an achievable target but Rodgers will be very aware that performances like those at Boundary Park cannot help.
The ex-Swansea City boss does tend to rotate players for cup games, with group stage games from this season's UEFA Europa League an example. However, he may regret having left key first team players like Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva out of the line-up against Oldham, particularly if, as he says, the club were keen to win this trophy.
The club now travels to the Emirates on Wednesday, to take on sixth-placed Arsenal. The Gunners are three points ahead of Liverpool and both clubs are in hot pursuit of Everton, who occupy the final qualifying position for European football next year. The reverse fixture, at Anfield, finished 2-0 to Arsene Wenger's men, with summer signings Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski opening their accounts.
"It's not enough to play for Liverpool and get up for the Arsenal and Manchester City games. If you're going to win trophies and go far in competitions, you need to be able to come to places like this and win. We weren't good enough for that," Rodgers concluded.
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