Brendan Rodgers has categorised Daniel Agger among the finest central defenders on the continent and accepted that a top-four finish will now be 'very difficult' for Liverpool this season.
At his pre-match press conference on Friday, the boss also discussed the visit of his former club, Swansea, on Sunday.
We've picked out the best bits from the Melwood briefing, while LFC TV Online subscribers can watch Rodgers' chat in full on demand by accessing the video below.
After last night's result, how do you assess the season as a whole now?
It's still all to play for. We're certainly not out of it by any means. The number of chances we created last night shows we can get goals in the tie. Of course, to lose the game 2-0 was disappointing having, up until 70 minutes, probably played the perfect away performance. This is a football club where you have to fight and you're playing for pride in every single game that you play - we've still got a lot of big games to play between now and the end of the season.
What lessons have to be learned from the last couple of games?
It has probably typified our season. We arrived into the last couple of games on the back of two outstanding performances - away at Arsenal and Manchester City. Going into the game against West Brom we were very confident, didn't take our chances and got punished late on in the game; likewise last night. It's not a tactical or technical issue, it's not physical - it's one where more maturity in our performances can give us the results that we need. That's something that we need to improve, and will do.
You're 12 points behind Spurs now - is that too much of a gap to make up?
Being a realist, it's going to be very difficult. You never lose your optimism and I'm always optimistic but it's going to be a huge task. The reality is that losing the game on Monday night makes it very difficult. It means we can still do it but we have to pick up a win somewhere else when maybe we were looking at our home games in particular as games to build on our good form at home and try to get some results away. In short, it will be difficult.
How has Daniel Agger been this week?
We've had to manage Daniel all the way through the season. It was another example of him not coming out to make sure he was okay for the weekend game. He stayed at home and trained - he'll be fine for the weekend. He's been outstanding this season, he has got that real warrior spirit. There is no blame on individuals, it's us as a group and a team. In his last three or four games, we haven't defended as well as a group as we had done. We arrived into the West Brom game with the best home defensive record in the league so it shows there's a lot of great work going on. He's one of the top European centre-halves and we're very happy to have him here.
How worried are you that tiredness might have an effect on Sunday's game?
I may need to freshen the team up a wee bit. But we'll arrive into it with the same ambitions and drive and determination to get a result. We had a similar thing earlier on in the season where we went away to Udinese - which was a tough trip - and had a decent performance, came back and were away to West Ham and won the game. Thankfully we don't have to travel away and the players will really be up for the game at the weekend and looking to get a good result.
How might the upcoming final next week change Swansea's approach?
Knowing a lot of the Swansea players, they'll want to do well and play every game. They have had a terrific season - it's a football club which over the last 10 years has just grown and grown. It's a big game next week for them because it's the first chance to get their hands on a trophy. But it's also a big game coming to Liverpool to play, hence the reason why I think they'll probably still be a strong side. We played earlier on in the season in that competition and it was two contrasting teams.
You must be desperate to get one over your former employers?
No matter who it is, I always want to win. We had a good game in the league at the Liberty Stadium, which I know is a difficult place to go. We'll be looking for the same this weekend. I've only got happy memories and I want to wish them well because they're a terrific club, but I'm the manager here at Liverpool and I'm desperate for us to succeed. Whoever we play, no matter who, I'll always want to win.
After the results against West Brom and Zenit, you talked about 'growing pains'. How do you go about improving on that?
We just need to continue working hard on the training ground, analysing the mistakes and where we can be better. The players are giving us everything. Over the course of the season, they're enjoying the model of work and we're going into games with a positive approach. It's continual work on the training ground, retaining the players' confidence when the morale is low - when you pick up a couple of results like that you can quickly lose your confidence. But as we've seen throughout the season, our reactions have always been very good. We'll be looking for that at the weekend.
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