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Liverpool Still Looking for a Solution with "Focused" Sterling

Raheem Sterling did himself no favors by arranging an interview with the BBC ahead of Liverpool's crucial league encounter with Arsenal, but Brendan Rodgers insists that both player and club are focused on the football.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

His actions in the buildup certainly left him open to criticism, and while his performance was by no means overwhelming, there was little to take issue with as far as Raheem Sterling was concerned in the 4-1 loss to Arsenal on Saturday. First operating as the lone striker and then on the left after the introduction of Daniel Sturridge, the versatile forward got himself involved when possible, but, like the rest of nearly all involved for the visitors, had little match-changing influence.

There weren't any harsh words from his manager, who was effusive in his praise of the 20-year-old's display on a day when few in a Liverpool shirt excelled, and went on to underline the club's intention to find a mutual solution to talks that have, apparently, become increasingly strained:

"Anyone can see from his football that Liverpool Football Club is the best place for him. There's no question about that. He has the opportunity to play, which is key for a young player. You look through the other teams and clubs, and the model the owners have put in at Liverpool is one where they want to bring on world class talents.

"Raheem has shown he can play in a number of positions which has made him more aware tactically, and technically he has improved. He's not long turned 20, and there's still a long way for him to go. He has a lot of potential and I believe that potential can develop over the coming year at Liverpool. But it will be the job of his advisers to see what possibly may be beyond that. He has two-and-a-half years left on his contract and won't be going anywhere in the summer, that's for sure. We will sit down again (in the future) and look to find a solution."

Unlikely that Rodgers was looking forward to addressing the issue post-match, but equally unlikely that he would manage to make it through his presser without fielding a question or five about the goings-on of the past week. On a day when few Liverpool players excelled, Sterling was among those on the positive end of the mediocrity spectrum, forcing the issue a handful of times and winning the penalty that got the visitors their only consolation of what was a roundly disappointing performance.

Focus on the football. It's been said ad nauseam over the past two weeks, and while it didn't quite ring true before the football was back, it certainly does now, and it would be awfully nice if that were possible.

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