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Rodgers Hails Focus and Mentality in Key Southampton Win

It was far from perfect, but away from home and in difficult conditions Liverpool found a way to get all three points against Southampton, and Brendan Rodgers praised his squad's perseverance in what could prove to be a significant result.

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Last season it came via explosions and an avalanche of goals. Liverpool mild dip in form through the winter was erased by a stunning tear through the final half of the league campaign, one that very nearly gave them their first league title in over 20 years. Nearly everywhere they went there were goals by the handful, and nearly every team they played eventually submitted to an attacking force that was as good as Merseyside had seen in decades.

This season it's been different. No Luis Suarez, no Daniel Sturridge for long stretches, no set-piece magic, no breaking the will of the opposition. But now, after a extended spell of disappointing results and even worse performances, there's a sense that Liverpool are heading in a similar direction as last season. There's still no Suarez, still barely Sturridge, and still no set-piece magic.

And while their breaking of the opposition's will is debatable, there can be no arguing that they're starting to find a ruthlessness that's long been lacking, and their ability to wear teams down with increased defensive solidity and timely goals has impressed all the same. Combined with a renewed team spirit, this iteration of Liverpool look to be peaking at the right time yet again, a trend that Brendan Rodgers today attributed to their mentality and focus:

"Today was a huge win. To come here and win at any time, it is always a good victory if you can get a win here. But to come here on the back of a tough European game in the week, not concede and score two goals really shows the level that the players are working at. This is arguably as good, if not better, than the result we had here last year, when we played very well.

"When this team is in the condition that it has been for the majority of the last two-and-a-half months, we relish every game that we play. We have got Manchester City and Manchester United to play at home, and Arsenal away. It was a big step for us today to go three points behind, considering the start we had to the season. It really shows the consistency of the players. Hopefully, we'll use the experiences of last year, where we had a lot of young players gaining experience of the run-in - they coped with that very well and just missed out last year. Hopefully now we can keep the mentality and focus, and keep the performance level."

It was, in all honesty, a performance level that did not appear to be quite as good as in recent weeks. It lacked the attacking verve of the Spurs win and the controlled confidence of the FA Cup victory over Palace, and wasn't quite as comfortable, at least defensively, as the 1-0 against Besiktas. But in its own right it was another impressive Liverpool victory, one that proved a testament to the work Rodgers and his staff have done to help bring this season back from the brink at the end of November.

They can't afford to celebrate too much, as they have enough time left in the season for problems to re-emerge, but they can be plenty proud of their efforts today. Hopefully there's more where that came from.

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