Liverpool were held to a goalless draw by Saturday’s opponents Sunderland who put in a strong defensive showing to halt the two-match winning streak of Brendan Rodgers’ side.

The Liverpool manager revealed in the post match interview that his side were slow to start the game which ultimately shaped the pace in the first half, “The first half was a little slow in intensity – there wasn’t too much happening in the game. The second half was much better.

“Our intention was obviously to go and win the game. In the second half, we pressed the game much better and had enough pressure in the right areas but the ball wouldn’t drop to us and we maybe needed a little bit of luck.

With his side’s poor defensive record, the emphasis has shifted more to being a compact side at the back and despite the draw, Rodgers was happy that his players put in the effort and kept a clean sheet, “It was a big effort by the players. They have given everything that they have in the last few weeks. They are giving their all. It was important that we kept a clean sheet.

“We’re having to go back to the basics of our game, making sure that we’re solid and hard to beat. It is two clean sheets in three games and seven points out of nine this week.”

Rodgers also added that after last year’s performances at Anfield, teams no longer come to Anfield with an open-minded approach, instead they line-up very compactly at the back, “Teams maybe come here a little bit deeper this year, and you’ve got to give Sunderland credit today as well – they defended well.

“We’re a different team to last year, with different players at the top end of the field. Guys like Rickie Lambert are giving their all and working very, very hard.

“The supporters are used to seeing goals and that creativity, but it’s a different team with different players. We have to continue to work hard – and that’s what the players are doing.”

Gerrard will be key in an important December period for Liverpool

Liverpool face key games in the next few weeks as fixtures in the Champions League, Capitol One Cup and the League will ultimately define the outcome of their season. As a result, Rodgers had rested skipper Steven Gerrard for the upcoming tie against FC Basel. However, he had to bring him on in the 67th minute as his side were struggling to carve out clear -cut chances. Rodgers commented that Gerrard is being managed well for the upcoming games, “We have a big month. December is a big month – if you look through from now until the New Year, there are big games. The management of Steven is fine.

“There is no problem with that and we can’t always solely rely on him. His talent is world-class, but the contribution has to come from around the team – it can’t be up to him every single game to be the catalyst.

“He was excellent when he came on and, of course, he plays on Tuesday night. Stevie coming onto the field gives the world-class quality that the team needs and I thought he was brilliant when he came on.

“It’s very hard to replace that quality – you saw that pass when he first came on. There are not too many players in the whole league that could play that pass.

“Certainly, it’s something we need to find – a player of that stature, that quality. He’s still got that talent. He’s got world-class ability and at this stage of his career it’s about me managing that along with him in order to play in the games.”