Liverpool assistant manager Steve Clarke wasn't surprised by the performance of Maxi Rodriguez against Chelsea, as the Argentine crowned his first Barclays Premier League game of the season with a goal.

After finishing last season with seven goals in his last four games, including hat-tricks against Birmingham and Fulham, Maxi has seen his opportunities limited following the Reds' summer spending spree.

Previous to being handed a start against the Blues, the 30-year-old had featured just once in the Barclays Premier League this season, meaning he'd be forgiven for being off the pace, something that never worried Clarke in the build-up to the game.

"Everybody here knows the qualities of Maxi," he said. "He's been unfortunate this year that he's not had an extended run in the team, but what it does say about him is that he is a complete professional.

"When you're not in the team, it's difficult to come in every day, work hard and be prepared for your chance. Maxi has worked hard every day in training.

"Not just Maxi, but all the squad of players - they've worked hard in training, they wait for their chance. When Maxi went in, he did a fantastic job for us."

Kenny Dalglish had the luxury of making three changes for the trip to Stamford Bridge, with Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt both handed starts along with Maxi, and Clarke says victory over Chelsea showcased the depth of the club's squad.

"Everybody has spoken about the squad we've got this year," he added. "We feel it's an improvement on what we inherited when Kenny and I came to the club.

"The squad is stronger this year and I think the weekend proved that. If you look at the bench, it was very strong.

"What you try to create at a club like Liverpool is competition for places. Everybody has that competition for their place now and it can only be helpful for the group going forward."

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