sport

Lucas has City in his sights

Liverpool midfielder Lucas maintains the Reds can tackle Premier League champions Manchester City with confidence this weekend.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers recalled his first-team regulars for Wednesday night's clash at Emirates Stadium, having drawn much criticism for his team selection in the FA Cup fourth-round defeat at Oldham on Sunday, when even the late introduction of Steven Gerrard could not stop last season's beaten finalists crashing out against the League One side.

For an hour, everything was going to plan as Jordan Henderson added to Luis Suarez's early goal to give the visitors a commanding 2-0 lead.

However, the Gunners suddenly kicked into life to make up for their defensive shortcomings as two quick goals saw them level through Olivier Giroud and a blistering strike by England forward Theo Walcott.

Brazilian Lucas feels even if they could not see the game through, Liverpool can now head into Sunday's showdown with City at Etihad Stadium all set to produce another determined display.

"We were responding very well from the FA Cup tie. We showed a lot of attitude and the right mentality at Arsenal, we just have to keep going to get the points against Manchester City," the midfielder said.

"We didn't win at Arsenal, but we showed we are capable of fighting against and beating the top teams.

"For so long we did well but unfortunately in 10 minutes we conceded two goals. We have another opportunity to get a good result against a top team this weekend."

Liverpool have made steady progress under Rodgers, climbing up to seventh in the table.

However, Lucas knows if the Reds want to harbour hopes of forcing their way into the Champions League qualification shake-up, then they have to start producing big results.

"We were talking about things before the Arsenal game, and we know we have to win against the top teams if we want to be in a better league position at the end of the season," he said.

"We have to start winning against the top teams if we want to achieve a better position."

Lucas added: "City will be desperate to win the game as well after their draw at QPR.

"It will be an open game and we have dangerous players who can create chances."

Liverpool have already moved to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window, with midfielder Philippe Coutinho joining Daniel Sturridge at Anfield after completing an 8.5million move from Inter Milan.

Rodgers, though, conceded a move for Blackpool winger Tom Ince was unlikely to happen before Thursday's 11pm deadline.

Goalkeeper Alexander Doni would appear to be surplus to requirements and set for a return to Brazil, with the club said to be ready to terminate his contract.

One player very much part of Liverpool's future is Suarez.

The Uruguay forward took his goal tally to 22 for the campaign with the opener in Wednesday night's 2-2 draw at Arsenal.

The often controversial Suarez has quickly become a cult hero on The Kop since his 22.8million move from Ajax on transfer deadline day two years ago.

The 26-year-old intends to continue to drive the Reds on as they look to develop into Champions League challengers once again.

"I hope [to be at Liverpool] for a very long time because it's a massive club that kids dream about playing for," Suarez told the club's official website.

"I have been very proud to be at a club like Liverpool and to have made the decision to come here.

"In two years I've lived through some spectacular and very special moments that I will never, ever forget.

"There have been a few difficult times as well, but with the support of my family, the club and the fans, things have gone well for me."