We are able to challenge - Rodgers
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes his side have sent out a strong warning to their title rivals despite surrendering top spot this week.
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The Reds were knocked off the Barclays Premier League summit, and slipped down to fourth, as they slipped to a 2-1 loss at Manchester City on Boxing Day.
Yet the manner of their performance in the battling - and at times controversial - defeat earned many plaudits.
Rodgers believes the message sent out by that display was as emphatic as the recent 5-0 win at Tottenham.
"Apart from the two goals we gave away, I thought we were excellent," said Rodgers, whose men face another stern test at Chelsea on Sunday.
"Our attitude, confidence and belief was very strong against an opponent who, a few weeks ago, went to Bayern Munich and won.
"We went toe to toe with one of the best teams in Europe. We take great confidence from that.
"When you miss the chances we missed, and play as well as we did, it is disappointing not to get a result.
"It wasn't to be but certainly it was another game where, a bit like Tottenham, although we haven't won or scored five goals, we have come away from leaving an imprint in terms of how we are moving and progressing.
"That was a big statement from us. I think we have shown we are improving.
"When you go to the Etihad Stadium, where it has been remarkably difficult for teams, and the top teams, and perform like we did, it means we are going to be able to challenge."
Liverpool's performance has been overshadowed somewhat by Rodgers' post-match comments about referee Lee Mason.
The Football Association has asked Rodgers to explain remarks in which he questioned the appointment of a Greater Manchester official to a fixture in Manchester.
Rodgers had been frustrated by a number of decisions by Mason, who is from Bolton, or his assistants during the game.
The most controversial of these saw Raheem Sterling incorrectly flagged offside during the first half.
At the time Rodgers labelled the refereeing as "horrendous", and he was in no mood to backtrack as he met media again to preview the game at Chelsea.
He said: "I think it was continuous throughout the game, the decision-making being poor. I think there was evidence of that."
Rodgers insists, however, he did not intend his comments about where Mason is from as an attack on his integrity.
He said: "In terms of geography, I certainly wasn't questioning the integrity of referees.
"It was more the logic of it in terms of having a referee from that part of the world refereeing a game in Manchester.
"I wouldn't suspect that Mike Dean, from the Wirral, has refereed many games for Liverpool over the years."
The reference to Dean was interesting, given that that particular referee was stood down from the 2006 FA Cup final between Liverpool and West Ham on geographical grounds.
Rodgers has until January 2 to respond to the FA's request.