SUNDAY’S game, depending on the result, could be coming at either the best or the worst possible moment for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
A win, or even a draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford would keep up the spirits at Melwood which could be used as a springboard to keep pushing for better performances aesthetically as well as in terms of goalscoring.
A defeat would break the slight momentum Liverpool have built, with the last two league games showing a fair bit of promise.
After United, there will be Norwich City at Anfield and while there’s a good chance of that being 3 points in the bag for Liverpool (4 years ago, that would’ve been an even surer bet than it is these days mind) it would be nice if that added up to at least 4 points from 2 games.
Arsenal and Manchester City away are then up next.
Bear in mind, this is more to say what kind of outcome wouldn’t disappoint you as a Liverpool supporter.
This doesn’t mean the team itself should head to Manchester looking for a share of the spoils, despite the fact the Red Devils are far ahead at the top, in great form at home, and Liverpool haven’t beaten anyone above them this season.
There are some positives from the last couple of games which Liverpool can draw on though.
Andre Wisdom has continued to impress every time he’s been brought in to the side and though Jose Enrique’s absence will be felt in the final third, the youngster’s ability to match up to the physical strength is needed against a side like this.
Robin van Persie somehow needs to be kept quiet though and while some may be saying Wayne Rooney’s absence is a bonus, it only makes way for someone like Javier Hernandez to again come out of nowhere to deliver a sucker punch to the Liverpool defence.
Van Persie’s been quick, alert and incredibly good in front of goal. However he hasn’t been a one man show and usually his last minute goals have been a result of the rest of the team rallying on to provide the service for the Dutchman.
That service must be blocked off, otherwise it doesn’t matter how many attacks are piled up on the United defence, they will score the moment they’re given a sniff.
Let’s be realistic and lay aside the rivalry and dislike for a brief second – they are simply much, much better than Liverpool at the moment.
Before the strikers are even mentioned, the main engine needs to function overtime come Sunday, i.e. the midfield.
Movement among the midfielders, especially during attacking moves, must be sharp and fluid. Or else the United defence will block any threat out.
Every player on the pitch must stay focused for the entire game. Switch off for a second and it’s most likely going to be another shot of Ferguson smiling in the papers the next day.
Liverpool have continually shown this erratic tendency to forget why they’re on the pitch after scoring a goal, and while other sides haven’t always punished that error, Manchester United will and that’s a guarantee.
Now to the strikers. Luis Suarez – enough said. But he can’t win a game on his own. Daniel Sturridge will probably play as well but Suarez’s other talents on the ball need to be exploited by playing him as a second striker behind Sturridge.
The Uruguayan’s tendency to roam around the entire pitch may even allow Steven Gerrard to exploit options up front.
Whatever Rodgers tells his players this weekend he must pull aside the attackers and have them practice shooting on target though. Liverpool need to finish off more chances.
Finally, Howard Webb’s going to be charge of this game. Last time he officiated in a game between the two sides, he inexplicably decided to consider Dimitar Berbatov’s blatant dive as a foul by Daniel Agger.
Now if those events repeat themselves, then there’s only so much a manager and his players can do. Let’s hope it doesn’t get turned in to another analysis of whether a Liverpool player had made any real contact in the box or not.
The only contact inside the penalty area we want to see, is a Liverpool player making it with the ball, on his way to shooting it in to the back of the Man Utd net.