Although Liverpool have found themselves in a good run of form as of late, it’s still a bit too early to get excited about their climb up the table. The Reds go into tomorrow’s meeting with Aston Villa only five points out of the Champions League places, but competition remains stiff for a spot in Europe’s premier club competition — so, nothing new there.
Outside of the top two spots, there’s a points pile-up with at least six clubs realistically in the battle for third and fourth place. The traditional gap between the top and the bottom has started to narrow over the last couple of seasons and that trend has continued in earnest this year with the likes of Southampton and West Ham United mixing it up in the upper echelons of the table. A slow start to the campaign saw Brendan Rodgers side all but ruled out of the race, but a steady string of results is putting them back in the picture, though they’ll have to right some early season wrongs if they’re going to keep up the charge.
After playing out a dreadfully boring scoreless draw only five weeks ago at Anfield, you’ll excuse me if I’m a bit apprehensive of our chances going into this weekend’s trip to the Stadium of Light.
After signs pointed to something resembling a resurgence for Liverpool a few weeks back, our forward momentum has slowed somewhat with a close fought draw with Leicester City and a narrow 2-1 victory over League Two side AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup making the seemingly inevitable sunrise of the Reds season look more like just another false dawn. While that might seem overly pessimistic, there is cause for hope coming firmly on the back of the fact that Sunderland hasn’t fared that much better recently — though that begs the question of whether this will give either side an opportunity to break of out their respective funks, or if it’ll just provide them with another chance to display their collective mediocrity.
Liverpool’s resurgent style of play looked to have a bit of a hiccup during the narrow win at Turf Moor on Boxing Day, but Tuesday’s thrashing of Swansea City set the Reds back on course for a improved second half of the season — something they’ll look to carry on against Leicester City tomorrow.
Brendan Rodgers will be hoping his side can avoid the kind of hangover that saw them labour to victory over Burnley, but to fair, as long as his side come out on top, you won’t hear too many complaints come from the Northern Irishman. Since switching up his formation and tactics, the Liverpool boss has watched his side claw their way up the table, though with their top four ambitions very much public knowledge, their position still remains a touch precarious.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers continues to insist that his side have what it takes to break into the top four, and if there’s any truth in that, the Reds next four matches will have to be the catalyst for an extended charge up the table.
They may have barley scrapped a win against relegation bound Burnley on Boxing Day, but at the end of the season the only thing that’s going to matter is that they got three points on the day — not how they did it or whether they deserved it. That being said, when Swansea City visit Anfield tomorrow, they’re going to have to be better than they were at Turf Moor — sentimentality aside, Gary Monk won’t be in a generous mood.
The league table certainly makes for strange reading going into tomorrow’s trip to Turf Moor. Where the Reds were top of the heap last Christmas, they’re now at the lowest they’ve ever been going into the festive fixtures since the inaugural season of the Premier League.
If that’s not bad enough, with only 22-points to their name, history is very much against them. Retaining a place in the Champions League spots come May would have been the minimum requirement laid out at the start of the campaign, but no side with our current point tally at this point in the season has ever finished higher than sixth when their all tallied up — a fact that won’t be lost on anyone in the Reds hierarchy.