LONDON - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has defended his players amid media reports of an acrimonious squad meeting following the 4-1 loss at Arsenal at the weekend, their second Premier League defeat in a row.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Wednesday's FA Cup quarter-final replay at Blackburn Rovers, Rodgers praised "a great bunch of players who work tirelessly every single day and give me everything".
Asked whether a reported 'crisis meeting' had taken place at the club's Melwood training ground, he added: "It was nothing really, it was just purely analysing performances and where we are at ... it's just unfortunate something else was made of it".
Rodgers said the heart to heart with his squad was par for the course at fifth-placed Liverpool who also lost their previous league match at home to Manchester United. "We have lots of meetings here in terms of analysing performances," he explained.
"This was no different really to a whole host of meetings that we have had throughout the year." Rodgers said Liverpool, who are now seven points adrift of the Champions League qualification places, would now focus firmly on the clash with Championship club Blackburn. "It's a real strong objective for us this season to do well in the cup competitions and this is an opportunity for us to get to another semi-final," he added.
"This was always going to be a game that was very important for us despite the (Arsenal) defeat." Rodgers is expecting a tough match following the 0-0 draw in the first game at Anfield last month.
"They have some excellent players and they defended well when they came to Anfield," he said.
"We go there really focused and determined and we can't wait to play again after the weekend's disappointment. The group is very committed to winning this trophy and hopefully we can finish the season strongly."