Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says his side have rediscovered their identity following their 2-0 victory over Aston Villa.

The Reds were 10th and seven points off the top four after a 3-0 defeat by Manchester United in December.

But they have since won four and drawn two of six league matches and are seventh, five points from fourth place.

"We have regained our identity in how the team has played for two years," Rodgers said.

Fabio Borini put the Reds in front against Villa before Rickie Lambert's late goal secured the victory.

Liverpool finished Premier League runners-up last season but, despite spending £117m in the summer, struggled to match those exploits at the start of this campaign as they claimed just six wins from their opening 19 games.

Liverpool's Lazar Markovic

Lazar Markovic was signed by Liverpool for £20m from Benfica during the summer

But improvement from the Anfield side has coincided with their summer signings slowly having more of an impact, with a change of formation to playing a three-man defence also proving key.

In particular, summer arrivals Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno and Emre Can are playing more first-team football and all started the win over Villa.

"It was fair to say in the opening four months of the season we were nowhere near what we had been, so we needed to find a solution," Rodgers said.

"I had seen enough of the dynamic to see the side had enough going forward. We will always look to improve and the challenge is to improve.

"We're building towards the future and progressing really well. The team is performing at a good level and playing some wonderful football.

"If we can get through to the end of January, getting to the top four is still an objective."

He added they could have scored one or two more goals at Villa Park.

"The system is working very well for us. In my time here we've played a lot of different systems but this one is exciting. The players that we bring in are footballers anyway," he said.

"The most important thing for me is the identity and style of the team."