LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Liverpool can still finish in the Premier League’s top four and claim a place in next season’s Champions League, manager Brendan Rodgers said on Sunday after a 2-2 home draw with Arsenal.
The point, earned by Martin Skrtel’s last-gasp header, left Liverpool in 10th place going into the hectic Christmas fixture list, nine points behind fourth-placed West Ham United.
While it looks an unpromising position, Rodgers believes his side are beginning to gel after a poor start to a campaign which has already seen them bow out of this season’s Champions League.
“Slowly we are getting back to where we want to get back to,” Rodgers told reporters. “I‘m delighted with the performance. I thought we were outstanding.”
When asked if a top-four finish was possible, Rodgers replied: “Absolutely!”
“We’ve got to make up (the gap) over the next part of season. We’ve shown we can put together a run of results.”
Liverpool produced one of their best performances of the season, dominating Arsenal with a speedy passing game in which Philippe Coutinho and Serb Lazar Markovic were instrumental.
They enjoyed 65 percent of possession and had four times as many attempts on goal, yet still trailed 2-1 going into stoppage time after the visitors had come from behind with goals from Frenchmen Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud.
Brazilian Coutinho had put the hosts ahead but with the goals of the departed Luis Suarez and injured Daniel Sturridge missing, Liverpool are proving toothless up front this season, as well as guilty of costly mistakes at the back.
Suarez has long gone to Barcelona, but Sturridge hopes to return from a thigh injury in the New Year having spent the festive period with specialists in the United States.
“That will be really exciting for this team. Put him back in and we will be back to that flow in our game and results hopefully,” Rodgers added of England forward Sturridge who scored more than 20 goals for the Reds last season.
“He’s gone to Boston to pick up the next stage, then he’ll move on again to a specialist facility out there and hopefully in the early part of the New Year he’ll be back and be somewhere close to being fit and playing.” (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)