Rodgers citing refs for Liverpool pain
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is convinced his side do not deserve to be just four points above the Premier League relegation places, citing refereeing errors as a key reason for their plight.
Rodgers saw Liverpool lose 2-1 away to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, with Gareth Bale setting up Aaron Lennon for the first goal, scoring the second himself direct from a free-kick and then unluckily accounting for the visitors' goal when Lennon blasted a clearance straight into his face.
Rodgers was convinced referee Phil Dowd had committed a series of misjudgments at White Hart Lane, including awarding Tottenham the free-kick from which Bale scored, and turning down two Liverpool appeals for penalties, first when Mousa Dembele tackled Steven Gerrard in the first half and then when Luis Suarez went down under William Gallas's challenge after the break.
For the former Swansea manager, these were just the latest in a long list of incorrect decisions that have so far blighted his first season at Anfield.
"I thought we should have had two penalties," he said. "It's incredible we haven't had a penalty and the statistics will tell you we have been in the penalty box as much as anybody.
"We know we need to be more clinical and finish our great play but to arrive at this part of the season without having had a penalty is incredible. I don't know what the players had to do.
"Steven Gerrard's, it was nearly assault, the first one. How that isn't a penalty is incredible.
"And then Luis Suarez swings and William Gallas swings his left foot and catches him.
"For the free-kick Clint Dempsey has been clever and had a hand on his back. Jordan (Henderson) has worked really hard to get back and he goes down.
"At Swansea at the weekend, Everton away, Sunderland, Norwich away even though we won the game there was a clear penalty. So it racks up the points.
"I hear pundits saying it evens itself up throughout the season. Well, if so then in the second half of the season we are going to get a lot of decisions and a lot of points."
Tottenham are in fifth place and are now just three points behind Chelsea in third, but manager Andre Villas-Boas admitted fortune may have favoured his side on this occasion.
"On the penalties, I'm not sure," he said. "Phil Dowd is one of the referees who gives the most penalties in the Premier League – that is a statistic that I am aware of. He knows how to judge situations like that.
"Today (Wednesday) it might have gone our way and we were lucky. But it is up to the referee to decide and they can't decide right all the time."
Indeed, Dowd also booked Bale for diving when it looked as though he had been fouled by Daniel Agger.
"I have been told there was some sort of contact," Villas-Boas added.
"He (Bale) is very quick and sometimes it is difficult for the referee to judge the situation. It is very difficult to judge a player of his pace."
But the former Chelsea manager was keen to point out that his side's superior start, which saw them go 2-0 up within 16 minutes, was also a significant factor in the victory.
"It was important in the beginning to put Liverpool under pressure and we did it very well," the Portuguese said. "In the second half Liverpool we getting more of the ball and it was difficult for us.
"It was an important result bearing in mind it was a midweek Premier League fixture. Other teams have dropped points and we have gained and it puts us in an extremely good position."