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Rodgers demands Liverpool rally after Cup shock

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 3:44am

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has called on his players to bounce back from their humiliating defeat by Oldham and keep their slim hopes of making the top four alive by beating Arsenal in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium tonight.

The Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup by third-tier League One side Oldham on Sunday, which left Rodgers furious.

Arsenal will be a tough ask, considering Liverpool are yet to beat a team in the top half of the table this season.

"Sunday hurt, very much so," said Rodgers. "It is bitterly disappointing when you lose such a game. As a manager it has to give you greater motivation to push on. If we are going to progress, we have to make sure the players are hungry in every game. We need to do better against teams in the top half."

Rodgers is set to restore Steven Gerrard to his starting line-upand he warned his younger players they must learn from the Reds legend.

"They won't have a greater role model to follow," he said. "If they are clever and bright enough they will learn from him; if not they might find themselves playing in League One. They will regret the opportunity that they had playing with world-class players."

Theo Walcott believes Arsenal's season is beginning to gather some momentum after the Gunners followed up the 5-1 league victory over West Ham with a hard-fought 3-2 FA Cup win at Brighton.

"It's going to be an intense game against Liverpool," Walcott said. "Both teams are fighting for that fourth position and are very close together. But I think the way we played at home the other day against West Ham shows that we are strong enough to beat them."

Meanwhile, Chelsea will attempt to close the gap on second-placed Manchester City when they return to Premier League action at Reading.

Centre-back Gary Cahill believes Chelsea's second-half fightback at Brentford confirmed manager Rafael Benitez had the full backing of the dressing room.

"There is a lot of pressure from the fans but we needed to just try to do the job," Cahill said. "In the end, we grafted it out on a horrible day and we now need to show our quality at home.

"It was the character we needed to dig in and just get the result we needed. Obviously we wanted the win but at least we have taken it back to the Bridge."

Benitez and his players will be well aware they will have to deliver an improved performance if they are to claim victory over Brian McDermott's improving Reading side.

Chelsea lie 11 points behind league leaders Manchester United and while Benitez admits his side's title hopes are fading fast, he believes a run of victories could transform the picture.

"If you win two or three games in a row in the Premier League, you never know what can happen," Benitez said.

Manchester United will have the opportunity to stretch their lead in the standings when they host Southampton.

All eyes will be on new Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino, who said: "We definitely respect Manchester United and what they're doing in the league right now. They're an amazing team, but we're going with a mentality to win."

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