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Thursday 18 September 2014

Rodgers targets silverware

Published 16/08/2014 | 14:46

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Brendan Rodgers wants to end the campaign with some silverware

Liverpool may have been surprise title contenders last season but as the new campaign kicks off manager Brendan Rodgers is targeting a trophy and a top-four finish.

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The Reds were pipped by Manchester City in the final week of the campaign despite an extraordinary run, which saw them record their highest league finish since 2009.

Disappointment at missing out on a first championship for 24 years was only slightly tempered by a return to the Champions League but Rodgers knows if they are to maintain their progress they have to at least secure a long-term place among Europe's elite.

As a result he has tried to lessen the expectations of another title challenge - at least until their primary aim is achieved.

Asked whether his side were contenders the Northern Irishman said: "Not according to the bookies we're not.

"I've seen some odds and I don't think we are even in the top four.

"I think people will look at Manchester City and Chelsea, with their squads.

"We probably arrived a year early to where we were but we will look to be up there challenging again this season.

"What happened last year counts for nothing, that's all gone now. The one thing that will carry on from that is the belief.

"Our aim is to be competitive. Like the top teams, we want to win a trophy. That would be an aim. In the league, it's about sustaining Champions League football.

"For that you want to arrive in fourth. Once you have consolidated that, you can look beyond that. That's certainly our aim this season."

New Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana will miss the visit of former club Southampton on Sunday as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

Fellow summer signing Lazar Markovic (ankle) will also not be fit but both players are expected to return to full training next week.

Striker Rickie Lambert and centre-back Dejan Lovren, who also both moved from the Saints this summer, are available but defenders Jon Flanagan (knee) and Daniel Agger (calf) are sidelined by injuries.

Southampton could hand out a number of debuts. Only new defensive acquisition Florin Gardos (hamstring) is a certain absentee.

Ronald Koeman believes his first game in charge of Southampton will come against a Liverpool side stronger than last season, despite the departure of Luis Suarez.

The Uruguay forward, named player of the year for his efforts as the Reds fell just short in the Premier League title race, left for Barcelona following a biting scandal at the World Cup.

However, Liverpool boss Rodgers has invested heavily in his squad over the summer, bringing in almost £50million worth of talent from Southampton alone with the signings of Lallana, Lambert and Lovren.

Further additions have been made in the shape of Markovic, Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno, with Koeman expecting a tough assignment from his maiden game in charge of Saints as he looks to replicate the 1-0 victory the south-coast club achieved at Anfield last year.

"Luis Suarez is a great player who scored a lot for them," he said.

"But if you look through the squad of Liverpool they have so many good football players. Liverpool for this season is much stronger than last season.

"It's a great start for us to play away against Liverpool, we know it's a tough one but everybody starts on nil.

"The players know how to win at Anfield, I know as a manager what is winning at Anfield and we are ready to play."

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