It was foolish of me to think I could just sit down and pound out a quick match preview for tomorrow’s meeting with Queens Park Rangers wasn’t it? The entire post was outlined and I even had a witty closing line to cap the whole thing off — then I saw the news that Daniel Sturridge was injured again.
The tone of this just drastically changed. I’ll re-iterate the fact before we go any further that one man does not a team make, but there’s no denying the mental lift that comes along with having arguably your most potent attacking threat on the verge of a return from a long injury lay-off. Likewise, there’s no denying the inevitable plunge in morale when that same player, already out for six weeks after being injured with the national team, faces a setback on the eve of the match.
By this point last season, we had nothing but the Premier League to focus on until the FA Cup rolled around in the New Year. Listening to opposition managers chalk up our immense league form to a lack of European football sounded more like sour grapes than a fair analysis at the time, but we’re starting to remember how difficult it is to play two matches a week.
Woe is not us and there’s no pity on offer — top clubs play in the Champions League and they cope with it week in and week out. Following Wednesday’s disappointment in the Champions League, one would think that Liverpool will be well motivated to bounce back when West Bromwich Albion visit Anfield later today, and though that may very well be the case, there’s been precious little time to shift our focus and prepare for the inevitable challenge the Baggies always pose.
Even though FC Basel got hammered by Real Madrid in their opening Champions League fixture, that result means very little for a Liverpool side that continues to stall and stutter at every turn.
Maybe last year we’d be able to say that we’re going to take advantage of their precarious position, but with this years incarnation of the Reds looking quite different from the barnstorming side of the past season, it could very well be the Swiss taking advantage of our own on-field problems — as we’ve seen in recent weeks, there are more than enough of them go around.
As much as I hate to admit it, you can roll the dice on the first Merseyside Derby of the season. With both Liverpool and Everton playing far below standards, no one knows what’s going to happen.
The old adage that the form book goes out the window for fixtures like this is just something that’s said by people like me to liven up the occasion; now, correct me if I’m wrong, but the team that’s in the better form going into the match usually comes out on top, no? Well, if you want to use that as a barometer, the Reds — having barely scraped by Championship side Middlesbrough in the League Cup on Tuesday — hold a slight edge over their neighbours who were knocked out of the same competition by Swansea City. If there is an edge to be had, it’s being held on to by fingernails alone.
Ok, I think by now we’ve established that things aren’t exactly going to plan. Even though they came sandwiched between a win in the Champions League, back to back league losses against Aston Villa and West Ham United have certainly dampened the mood around Anfield.
This early in the season, fatigue is no excuse, but things are already starting to get hairy with Championship side Middlesbrough visiting Merseyside tomorrow in the League Cup. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers brought in a significant number of reinforcements over the summer to not only help bring up the overall quality of the squad, but to give him rotation options when meetings like this rolled around. Well, with all the injuries we have, it looks like we should have signed a few more faces.