After his Liverpool side suffered a 2-0 defeat by Arsenal on Saturday evening, Brendan Rodgers reflected on the 'huge challenge' his team are determined to take on this season.

When the action kicked off at the Emirates Stadium, the Reds knew a victory over the Gunners would allow the visitors to leapfrog their opponents and reclaim top spot in the Barclays Premier League.

However, goals in either half from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey handed Arsene Wenger's side the spoils and with it a five-point advantage at the summit.

Rodgers accepted afterwards that the better outfit had triumphed in North London, but pledged that his players are ready to continue their pursuit of the division's pace-setters.

He told reporters post-match: "I thought we played very well. It was a game they deserved to win, but we were always in the game because of our ability to create chances.

"We're obviously disappointed with the result - sometimes when you get beaten by the better team, you have to accept it.

"We're disappointed with the two goals we conceded; we didn't press tight enough on the first one. And for the second one, we have just been moved across the pitch and we've left a space - but he's finished it very well.

"They are five points clear of us, but there's a hell of a long way to go. I always thought I would assess the league after 10 games - we've made an excellent start.

"Tonight was a disappointing result for us but if you look at the squads that are around us, they have been in the Champions League now for a number of years and they have invested quite a lot.

"So I can't ask any more from our players; they're pushing everything into every game. Tonight, Arsenal's mobility and quality won them through, but we were still always in with a chance.

"They have made a great start and when you're the one at the top, you're always the one to catch.

"We've still got a long way to go before we're ready to compete consistently. We've got a great bunch of players who are working very, very hard, but I think it's a case of modern football.

"If you win one game, like we did with a terrific performance against West Brom, everyone is looking at you and talking about your front two.

"Tonight we weren't quite firing as we would want to be so, with that expectancy, I'm sure people will look at it and be a bit more realistic.

"But for us the ambition is to be up there and fighting to be in that top four. It's a huge challenge for us in terms of where we're at, but we're ready to take on the challenge.

"We'll need some luck along the way in terms of keeping players fit - I think that's vitally important for us.

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"People are talking about a lack of quality in the league compared to other years, but I don't think there is.

"I think what you had in years gone by was a top couple of teams who were much better than the other teams, who would accumulate a lot of points.

"What you have seen over the last couple of seasons is that teams from the middle to the bottom are investing a lot of money because the rewards to stay in the league are massive.

"So teams are gaining more confidence. It's an open league, but we can only really focus on ourselves and trying to maintain the run that we've been on. We've done very well this calendar year and we just need to keep that going."

Midway through the first half, just moments after Arsenal had broken the deadlock, Liverpool had the ball in the net via Jordan Henderson at the conclusion of a quick free-kick.

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Referee Martin Atkinson recalled play, though, to book Gunners defender Bacary Sagna - and the manager was questioned on his view of the decision.

He responded: "I got an explanation from the fourth official on it - and I think what they were saying was because it was the next phase of the game, he was going to give him a yellow card.

"And because of the free-kick, he can only give him the yellow card at that point. When we spot it and play, and go into the next phase of the game, and cross and score, by all accounts he can't give that."

One positive for the boss to consider during his return to Merseyside is the comeback to competitive action of Philippe Coutinho, who completed 45 minutes on Saturday.

"To get even 45 minutes out of him was good because he only got clearance on his shoulder on Tuesday," said the Northern Irishman.

"So there's no way he could have been able to play more than the length of time that he did.

"The system that we have been playing has worked really well and I think in every system you can get exposed, and in the system that we play that can happen on the sides.

"In parts of the first half, I wasn't so happy because they had good possession and were able to exploit us in that area - hence the reason why we made the change."

Glen Johnson missed the Emirates encounter completely after being withdrawn from the matchday squad shortly before kick-off due to an illness.

"About half an hour before I named the team, before we were doing our final preparations, he had to come out of the team," Rodgers explained.

"It's a medical issue that he had to go to hospital with, so I'll know afterwards when I get the full report on where he's at.

"We'd hopefully expect him to be out of hospital this evening. It was unfortunate that he couldn't play because he has been in great form. He was out due to an illness."