Rodgers searching for answers at home Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers admits he is not entirely sure why the team's home record has been so poor in recent times, but insists there is no major "psychological" problem with his players at Anfield. Thursday's 3-2 Europa League defeat to Udinese means the Reds have now gone five games in all competitions without a win on their own turf, with their only victory there this term coming in a qualifier for the continental tournament against Belarusian outfit FC Gomel. Liverpool also struggled at Anfield last season under Rodgers' predecessor Kenny Dalglish, taking maximum points in just six of their 19 home Barclays Premier League matches. It is something Rodgers finds difficult to comprehend, but he has stressed the players are working hard to address the issue and is not convinced they are suffering any kind of stage fright. Speaking ahead of Sunday's home clash against Stoke, Rodgers said: "Sometimes it is just a confidence factor, and you also have to imagine that when any team comes to Anfield, it is one of the biggest games of the (visiting) players' lives. "Playing at home is certainly not a distraction. I think to play at Anfield is a real honour and a privilege and the support we get from the crowd is incredible. "The backing we get every time we play there is fantastic, so it is just one of those statistics there is no explanation for. "What you have to do is just try to work very hard. "We have performed well there this season - in the Europa League (qualifying) game we have won, and we have come close in a number of the Premier League games and should have won." Following his appointment as manager over the summer, Rodgers has had a mixed start to his tenure at Liverpool, with the team accruing only five points from their opening six league fixtures. He has been trying to introduce a dynamic, aesthetically-pleasing style of play at the club which is in sharp contrast to the direct approach Stoke are associated with.
It is hard to deny that the Potters have impressed in terms of the way they have adapted to life in the Premier League since their promotion in 2008, achieving consistent mid-table finishes under boss Tony Pulis. Rodgers has nothing but praise for his opposite number and feels Stoke do not get the credit they deserve. "No matter what brand of football you play, playing against any team in this league is difficult, and Stoke are certainly one of those teams," Rodgers said. "I have great respect for Tony and the work he has done. He has taken Stoke a long, long way from the time he went in there." Stoke manager Tony Pulis expects a stern test by Liverpool despite the Reds' loss against Udinese on Thursday night. The Potters travel to Anfield with former Reds Michael Owen, Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam in their squad, as they go in search of their second Premier League victory of the season. Stoke opened their winning account last weekend against Swansea while Liverpool, who have made a stuttering start to their campaign and are currently in 14th place, got their first win against Norwich. Pulis knows his team will face a much-changed side from the Liverpool outfit who lost 3-2 to Udinese, with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers likely to keep the faith with the side who crushed the Canaries 5-2 last Saturday. Pulis said: "I thought they were very unfortunate (against Udinese). "They were in complete control of the game and then they scored just after half time and it was a totally different game. "It gave Udinese a lift. The second goal was an unfortunate goal. They played well, Liverpool, and it will be a tough game. "Obviously they missed, or didn't start with, half a dozen players who will be playing against us. "Steven (Gerrard) didn't start, (Luis) Suarez didn't start. (Raheem) Sterling didn't start. I'm expecting a completely different side. Maybe three players who started will play against us." Despite ominous signs that Liverpool are returning to their best after a lacklustre beginning to the season, Pulis is refusing to focus on anything other than his preparation. "You can never call a game," the Potters boss said. "The players have trained really well during the week and then you play poorly on the Saturday and then you'll have another occasion where the lads won't train so well during the week and they'll get a result. "It's a funny old game so it will be the team who turns up and plays well and hopefully we will get a few breaks. Udinese got a few and ended up winning the game so we need a few breaks."