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Brendan Rodgers on Mario Balotelli and why Sterling started on the bench


Aston Villa caused a major upset on Saturday after getting all three points against Liverpool at Anfield.

Manager Brendan Rodgers believes the Reds have yet again failed to start the game quickly, finding it incredibly difficult to dismantle the Villa defence.

"We normally start quickly but the two games we've had here this season, we haven't done that," Rodgers told The Liverpool Echo.

"As a team we probably didn't quite have the intensity and speed to our game. It was disappointing.

"We gave away a poor goal. We picked up the tempo after that and the players gave everything, but we lacked that wee bit of quality and final ball."

"Whenever you play against a team that goes 1-0 up, you need to get around the sides quicker. Everything we did was centralised, which is where Villa were very compact.

"The second half was much better in terms of domination and getting the ball wide. But apart from Philippe Coutinho hitting the post, we didn't really create much."

19-year-old Raheem Sterling started the match on the bench with new signing Mario Balotelli clearly upset by the treatment received from Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker.

"I said at the beginning of the season that I want to trust the players we have," added the manager.

"We have a really exciting couple of months coming up. Looking at it, I thought this was a game where we could rest Raheem.

"If he hadn't played international football earlier in the week it would have been a different case.

"Raheem is a big player for us and is going to be a big player for us this season. He will certainly play on Tuesday night.

"I don't think Balotelli came in for too much stick. It's a man's game. I don't think Villa were overly aggressive at all.

"I haven't seen the Balotelli incident [with Senderos], so I don't know."

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Brendan Rodgers, Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling