FA Cup Results: Brendan Rodgers Unhappy with Missed Penalty Decision, Praises Sturridge Despite Striker's Profligacy
By Deepak Vikraman | February 17, 2014 3:27 PM EST
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was impressed by his side's "outstanding" performance against Arsenal, despite going down 2-1, while bemoaning the "clear penalty" that wasn't given in an enthralling FA Cup fifth round fixture at the Emirates on Sunday.
Goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski were seemingly taking Arsenal to a comfortable-enough victory, before the latter suffered a brain-freeze, bringing down Luis Suarez inside the box just before the hour to allow Liverpool back into the game.
Steven Gerrard nonchalantly converted that penalty, and could have had another opportunity to make his mark from the spot-kick had referee Howard Webb decided to point to the spot for a second time after Arsenal's other goalscorer Oxlade-Chamberlain impeded Suarez.
"I think the first one, Luis gets clipped and it's a clear penalty," Rodgers said. "I thought the second one was even clearer. We're bitterly disappointed to have not got that because then it would have kept our momentum going for the final stages of the game, in which I thought we were on top.
"We're a team that is really aggressive in our attack and we provoke a lot of challenges because of the aggression in our offensive game. Especially Luis -- he's always in and around the box, he's always asking questions of defenders. He's got one penalty but should have had two today."
Try as he might Suarez could not find the back of the net, however, with the Uruguayan enduring a frustrating first half on the right, before coming more to his own in the second 45. The most culpable player in front of goal, however, was the in-form Daniel Sturridge, who missed three one-on-one chances, with the first two coming within the first five minutes of the match.
"He's a wonderful player," Rodgers added. "He'll be really disappointed because he had a chance to break a record today. He's had three chances that, for him, are big chances.
"He's always a threat, that's why you keep him on -- his pace will always take him in there. He's disappointed and he's disappointed for the team as well because he takes on that responsibility.
"It's always difficult straight after the game because there's so much emotion in it. The players know what I feel and my thoughts on it -- I thought they were outstanding in their performance level.
"We could have easily had another five or six goals today, but we weren't as clinical. Daniel will be fine. He'll be disappointed because we've lost and he'll think he should have scored, but we'll refocus and go again next week."
Weekly fixtures will be the only thing that Rodgers and his team will now have to worry about, with Liverpool only having the English Premier League to focus on, having been knocked out of the final Cup tournament they were involved in.
It might work in Liverpool's favour, with the Reds having plenty of time to recover from games, as the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal continue to play a part in various other Cup competitions, including the energy-sapping Champions League.
"It doesn't feel like that [an advantage] now because we want to play and we want to be in as many competitions as we can," the 41-year-old former Swansea manager said. "But I suppose it narrows our focus now to one competition.
"We'll just continue with the confidence and the belief that we have been playing with. You saw it today and if we play with that aggression, we're going to have a really exciting 12 games to finish the season.
"But I wouldn't like to say that we want to be out, because it was a competition that we wanted to get to the final of. Unfortunately, we've lost, so congratulations to Arsenal, who go through. We've got to go home and lick our wounds."
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