Once the disappointment of suffering a 2-0 defeat by Barclays Premier League rivals Chelsea seven days ago had settled, Brendan Rodgers began to transform the result into a lesson for future reference for his Liverpool team.

Following 11 consecutive games in which the Reds had defied logic to produce one swashbuckling display after another - and each with the same outcome of three points - the run was brought to a halt on a sunny afternoon at Anfield.

Aside from the missing breakthrough, the opening 45 minutes against the Blues had unfolded in a similar pattern to most fixtures on home soil this season. The hosts were in charge of the ball and their opponents were pinned back in their own territory.

With the clock ticking into added time for the first half, though, a desperately cruel slip by Steven Gerrard presented visiting striker Demba Ba with an opportunity to collect the loose ball, surge forward centrally and plant into the Kop end net.

A response from Rodgers' players was expected and, naturally, attempted; a block of stubborn bodies stood in the way, however, and the decisive blow was struck in stoppage time when the away side stormed clear on a counter-attack and Willian tapped in a second.

Supporters drifted away from the ground, television sets, computer screens and radios pondering the scoreline's ramifications for the race at the summit of the Premier League, where their team are locked in combat with Chelsea and Manchester City.

So did the boss, of course. But his remit demands analysis, answers and solutions; and that is why Sunday, April 27 will be remembered and used as a teaching tool - an example from which to develop and fine-tune the Reds' weapons.

At his press conference to preview Crystal Palace, Rodgers firstly allowed a brief reflection on what had passed last weekend: "That's the job for me this week - to help the players find the solutions in those types of games.

"What we've shown over the course of the season is that we can play in many different ways - possession or counter-attack, our ability to score goals has been there.

"I analysed the game last week and I thought lots of parts of our game were very good; the speed of our game was excellent, we just need to find other solutions in the final third. That's my job as a coach, to work with the players, and that's something that we've looked at this week - we've analysed where we can be better.

"I've always worked with a team and with players. The crime is not losing the game; it's looking and finding the solutions the next time. That's something we've worked hard on and the players have responded brilliantly this week."


Whatever happens in Liverpool's remaining two fixtures of an exhilarating campaign, Rodgers and his players have ensured that the distinctive anthem of the Champions League will reverberate around Anfield next season.

Having reached the semi-finals of Europe's elite competition, Chelsea could be regarded as a litmus test for the challenges which await the Reds when they return to a tournament they have triumphed in on five separate occasions.

Rodgers certainly thinks so; most pleasing for the 41-year-old, though, is the knowledge that the squad are equally as hungry and willing to extract long-term meaning from what unfolded when Jose Mourinho brought his team north.

"It's clear that our methods this season have worked," continued the boss, who has overseen 25 victories and 96 goals with the fourth-youngest average age group in the Premier League.

"We ran out of patience in the game; that's something that we know going forward - for the remainder of this season and, looking forward, we go into the Champions League next season and we're going to have more games like that - and that's something that we will look to improve on.

"But I must stress that as a coach, I believe it's one of my strengths - I learn fairly quickly. And the great thing about my players is that they are also great learners.

"They are honest enough to reflect on the game that even though we played well in a lot of the game, in the last 20 minutes our patience probably ran out. But that's natural when you play against top players and a team that's in the Champions League semi-final, with huge experience and players that are mobile and can cover the ground.

"That's something that I deem as natural. We're certainly not perfect - I've always said that. We've a long way to go and that game will help us in our development going forward."

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The next obstacle for the Reds to hurdle arrives in the form of Palace, who had racked up five successive wins before being overturned by City immediately after the final whistle had been blown in L4 last Sunday.

Tony Pulis' hard-working, industrious and confident team have conceded just five times in their eight most recent encounters, a sparkling run of form that lifted the London outfit clear and away from any thoughts of relegation.

Rodgers' charges, meanwhile, have claimed three points from each of the last six Premier League away matches as a well-balanced diamond formation has thrived - matching attacking zest with defensive protection to rewarding effect.

But any suggestion that the manager's philosophy has subtly altered from a thirst for possession to an overriding penchant for counter-attacking is quickly dismissed by the man himself. Instead, he believes the Reds can navigate many routes to a result.

He concluded: "Each game brings different problems and you've got to find the solutions in order to win. We'll always look to create, and dominate the ball.

"I've read over time that our methods have supposedly changed and we are now a counter-attacking team, which is totally wrong. We've scored nine goals out of 96 through counter-attack; we just have a way of winning games, and whatever it takes, that's what we look to do.

"We know that Crystal Palace are a very strong team, well organised and will be super compact in the game. There won't be a lot of spaces. They have great support, the supporters get behind them. They are already staying in the division for next season and obviously enjoy playing against the bigger opponents.

"For us, it's respecting that but bringing our game into it and really focusing on our qualities and the huge threat that we have in the game."