Liverpool boss Rodgers has respect for Stoke

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has a lot of time for Boxing Day opponents Stoke City.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has a lot of time for Boxing Day opponents Stoke City.

The Potters currently have the Premier League's meanest defence and while their robust style has been criticised, Rodgers insists it is something you just have to deal with.

"I've always respected Stoke," he said. "There's no right or wrong way to play football but I think Stoke sometimes have got a lot of unfair criticism.

"How they play the game, they challenge you physically, which is fine because it is a physical sport and at the top level that is what happens.

"The players are very committed to the cause, Tony has them very well organised and has some outstanding players.

"We'll just have to deal with what the game throws at us. My focus is on ourselves; I'd rather Stoke worry about how we play.

"But at the same time you have to respect their game and the strengths that they have and combat that. At times that isn't always pretty. Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted.

"We have a mix and a balance which allows us to compete physically while also playing football.

"If you want to be a winning team, you have to have that balance."

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