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Skrtel one of the best, says Rodgers

The center back scored twice as Liverpool hammered title rival Arsenal 5-1 on Saturday, with his manager hailing the player who looked likely to leave Anfield last summer

Brendan Rodgers has hailed Liverpool's Martin Skrtel as one of the top defenders in the Premier League following his double against Arsenal.

The 29-year-old had been tipped to leave Anfield in the close-season after falling out of favor last term, but has re-established himself in starting XI this campaign and played a key part in the 5-1 win on Saturday.

"It is big credit to him that he's been able to prove me right," Rodgers told reporters. "I brought in a way I wanted to work, on the training field and in games, and for the second half of last season he didn't feature much.

"He had a choice, he could either throw the toys out the pram, or he could sit down with the manager and the coaching staff and see what areas he needed to improve.

"Now, you see a player with great intelligence in his defense, his use of the ball is composed and he has taken on a real leadership role. His performance levels, consistently, have been of a high level.

"He is up there with the top center halves in this league, and I am delighted for him."

Liverpool, placed fourth in the Premier League, remains three points clear of Tottenham in the race for the final Champions League qualification spot but Rodgers is wary of a slip-up when the Reds visit Fulham in midweek.

"Make no mistake, I want to get in the Champions League, both for the club and for the city," the Northern Irishman added.

"But the focus is on improving the players, performance level, and you can see continuation in that development.

"We're still evolving, but I take great pride in seeing development of some of my players. We understand that it will be a difficult game [against Fulham]. There are no easy games, especially away from home.

"We have a belief and a confidence in our game. Hopefully we can take that into Wednesday."

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