Seven games into the Premier League campaign, Liverpool is sitting outside of the top ten with only one win and a couple of draws to show for a drastic lift in performance and play.
This assertion may prove erroneous however, with our wafer-thin roster of players and the circumstances of our next encounters being major factors to consider.
First off we take on Reading at home, a game I feel should be the easiest of the next four. Writing a team off that has held an out-of-sorts Newcastle, prolific Swansea and managed a victory over QPR (overlooking they’re seemingly poor form this season), could be quite perilous. Rodgers might look to rest some of his more experienced legs but must be cautious not to leave us vulnerable to a good Reading showing.
Next, we face our current Europa League group leaders, Anzhi Makhachkala, in a must win game (that is if the Europa League is a priority for Rodgers). Anzhi are set-up much like Udinese but have a terrific track record this season and have been dominant in most of their games. They have good stewardship in the form of Guus Hiddink and an unmistakable talisman in Samuel Eto’o. This match will be crucial if Rodgers is eyeing a second round berth. Regardless of his ambitions in the competition, I doubt that poor performances on home soil will be something he’ll want to make a habit of in his early days as manager either.
Whether or not we clear our Europa League hurdle will mean very little to fellow Merseysiders Everton, who await us at Goodison after our clash with Anzhi. Everton have had quite a good start to their league campaign and have already managed to upset a strongly fielded Manchester United. Having suffered defeat in our two most recent meetings, they will be hungry for revenge and the likes of Fellaini and the ever-threatening Jelavic will undoubtedly look to torment and test the resolve of our new system. Rodgers should be well-informed of the importance of Merseyside bragging rights, and might need to be quite tactful to find his way around both Anhzi and Everton.
They may not be as daunting as United, City and Arsenal but with our dwindling squad options and the increasing pressure with every bad result, each game is crucial from now on and must be approached with lots of tact and discipline. We must also bear in mind that we still have Chelsea, Spurs and Newcastle to play – other top four contenders.
This coupled with mid-week European clashes puts quite some strain on the youngsters who have been brilliant thus far, but how long can they keep this up before fatigue and minor injuries set in? We have already lost Lucas, Borini and Kelly, with Enrique struggling to find form. Allen, Sterling and Suarez have been immense in our first XI and our team performance greatly hinges on their performances. It’s quite sad but in my honest opinion we cannot afford to lose any of them if we are to make it through to January with any realistic hopes of a top four finish.