Liverpool set minimum target of top six finish by Brendan Rodgers

The Reds have enjoyed a strong start to the campaign

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has set his side the minimum target of remaining in the league's top six until he can bring in January reinforcements.

The Reds topped the league with a 100 per cent record after three matches but a draw at Swansea and defeat at home to Southampton last weekend have seen them drop to fifth.

They are still only two points adrift of leaders Arsenal but with an unbeaten Everton just a point behind and champions Manchester United a further two back in eighth there is increased competition for space at the top.

Rodgers hopes to use their exit from the Capital One Cup at the hands of United on Wednesday as a positive for the next three months.

"Now we can only concentrate on the league up until Christmas," he said.

"So we have to make sure we stay up in that top six in the league and keep fighting and hopefully we can reinforce in January.

"I think the players have made an excellent start. We were flat and subdued at the weekend and we couldn't get going - part of that was because of the players we had available."

Liverpool have been hampered by injuries in recent weeks with the absence of playmaker Philippe Coutinho, sidelined after a shoulder operation until the end of October, and right-back Glen Johnson (ankle) out making a considerable difference.

With left-back Jose Enrique's knee complaint requiring careful management Rodgers has had to experiment in an attempt to find a solution.

Fielding four centre-backs against Southampton back-fired but a 3-5-2 formation at Old Trafford had more success and it is an option the Reds boss is willing to try again.

"It is something that has been forced upon us in terms of players that we have available," said the Northern Ireland international.

"I have never in my life played four centre-halves in any game and anyone who knows me and my work knows that is not how I operate.

"But when you have no choice that is what you have to do. I try to get as many attackers on the field as I can.

"I just felt that system (three at the back) suited the players we had and I thought the players suited the system well and we got numbers forward.

"If we have to play that system again for a period of time until players are fit - we obviously have to work on it more - but the players are comfortable in.

"It gives us three players to dominate midfield and two strikers up front (Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez) who are top strikers in the league and still keeps us secure at the back."

PA

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