Football

Brendan Rodgers not his usual self, gives short answers at press briefing

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was in an uncharacteristically abrupt mood ahead of tomorrow's visit of Arsenal.

The Northern Irishman, usually so expansive in detailing his thoughts, provided only short responses to questions at his weekly press conference.

His briefing routinely lasts at least 15 minutes, but yesterday's session in the press room at the club's Melwood training ground took all of four-and-a-half minutes - and that included 11 questions.

Rodgers should have been in an upbeat mood after a morale-boosting League Cup quarter-final victory over Bournemouth in midweek, not only because of the result but also aspects of the performance, but it seemed far from it.

Criticism of Liverpool and their manager has grown over the course of the season, which has so far failed to ignite for a variety of reasons after the fireworks of the previous campaign saw them finished second.

Most of it has made little difference to Rodgers' demeanour but the Reds boss is known to be unhappy about recent media coverage suggesting there is unrest in the dressing room.

He has denied there is a problem.

CURSORY

He was reluctant to provide anything other than cursory answers but did confirm Liverpool have accepted Mario Balotelli's one-match ban, imposed on Thursday for his controversial social media posting, that Brad Jones would continue in goal and that they missed out on Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez in the summer.

Balotelli indicated on Thursday evening his intention was to comply with the judgment of the independent panel and Rodgers confirmed that was the course of action Liverpool were taking.

"We accept the ban, so that's fairly clear," he said.

Asked about the goalkeeping situation, whether he would consider signing a replacement in next month's transfer window and whether he had money to spend, Rodgers said: "There's no change. It's not something I'm thinking about at the moment."

Rodgers faces the prospect of his primary summer target Sanchez returning to haunt him at Anfield tomorrow.

SANCHEZ SETBACK

He had hoped to secure the Chile international as part of the deal which took Luis Suarez to Barcelona but, when that was not possible, he lost a straight fight with Arsenal, with the striker preferring London over Merseyside.

"All I know is that he's a world-class player. He was identified as someone who could come in and be perfect for us," Rodgers said.

"He's a brilliant player with outstanding quality and even bigger work-rate. We know he will be a threat."

- PA Sport.

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