By Chris Rowland.
Four league games stand between now and the next – shudder – international break. Not to mention the little matter of two games against Real Madrid and a League Cup game against Swansea.
We asked our Symposium panel what they expected from those league games:
Dave Cronin: It’s hard to know what to expect from this Liverpool team because we don’t yet know a lot about it. If we were discussing last season’s Liverpool I’d expect nine or ten points from this sort of run. If we’re discussing the team that harvested nil points from Aston Villa (h) and West Ham (a), I’d expect only disappointment.
But there are new reasons for optimism. We won our last game before this international break. Sturridge should be back. Adam Lallana has begun to impress. Sterling has had a rest (not that anyone has mentioned it). Gerrard looked ace in a cameo playing further forward against West Brom. Glen Johnson is fit again. And as lousy as our start to the season has been, we are only four points off second place, a point off fourth, level with Arsenal and four points clear of Everton. We’re right in the mix with our expected rivals for Champions League qualification and a decent run of League results would soon elevate us into that top four. Given that, I expect wins against QPR (a) and Hull (h).
The main danger I can foresee is allowing the intervening home match against Real Madrid to distract focus from those games. We could do with something from the Real game after our calamitous result in Basle but our priority has to be those two League games or we may well blow any chance of competing in the same competition as the Spanish club next season. We then have to be sensible over the League Cup tie against Swansea ahead of the trip to Newcastle. No first XI players. Break out the Lamborini strike partnership and send in the young Jordans!
Newcastle (a) is a funny fixture but they find themselves in the relegation zone right now so I certainly think we should be targeting a win but a point away is never to be sniffed at. Then we face a massive week in prospect with Real (a) followed by Chelsea (h). Realistically, there’s no way Rodgers is going to be able to field a weakened team or that the players selected aren’t going to be inspired to try and maintain our 100% win record at the Bernabeu whether Chelsea is on the horizon or not. Chelsea have a bigger and better squad than ours, are in far better form and Mourinho’s football appears to be the kryptonite to Rodgers’ Super Reds. Mourinho will expect he needs only a clean sheet at Anfield to secure a win as we’re bound to concede at some point even if we have to put in our own goal. I can’t see us getting anything from that game but you never know. Maybe if we can go into that on a run of wins, we could raise our game and get what would be an impressive win, just like with City last season. I’d gladly take a draw from this one.
So to summarise, nine points would be great, ten excellent and 12 would have me in dreamland. Seven or eight would be OK and less than seven would be disappointing. If we can get seven or more points whilst also picking up a point or more from the double header against Real, our season will look a lot more promising than it has done.
Joe Pepper: Bit worried to be honest, and mainly because we haven’t really been creating enough chances. I don’t think the QPR game is a formality and will be delighted if we win.
I also think the perception of Sturridge as a panacea to all our attacking problems is slightly over stated. The simple fact is we were struggling to create chances in games before he was injured too and it stretches back to the end of last season when even Suarez was in the side.
If we can muster 10 points from these four games I will be absolutely thrilled, but the way we’ve played this season (which has been mostly poor) means I wouldn’t be surprised if we come away with five points.
Anthony Stanley (Dannyluke10): It’s extremely hard to say what I expect at this stage; what I hope for though is a minimum of ten points.
Every time Liverpool take to the field so far this season, it’s all but impossible to predict what will happen. Right now, I can’t say I’d be be massively surprised if Liverpool fail to beat QPR as the start of the campaign has just been so stop- start. But having said that, I think (hope) we may see a team more resembling last year’s way of playing. It could be a marker and we could thrash them. One thing is a certainty though – anyone with top four pretensions should be winning that game.
There could be a domino effect. Beat QPR convincingly and confidence surges. Hull, while looking like a potential train wreck in the making, should be relatively straightforward. That’s if we’re not all walking wounded again. Of course, I said they should be straightforward last season…both games against the Tigers were tough for differing reasons … the away one was an absolute Greek tragedy.
Newcastle? Who knows. Bonkers team who tend to show up against us. I’ll go for 3-1.
Chelsea. The bus parking twats who have metamorphosed into Hungary of the 1950s according to all and sundry. Just shows the difference two world class players can make. I’d take a draw right now but, again, no result would surprise me. It’ll be a strange game; the graveyard of last year’s dreams of champions, the scruff who delighted in rubbing our noses in it as Willian stroked home the second will probably be the apotheosis of gentlemanly charm as he wears a dapper looking suit and wins magnanimously.
But I’ve a funny feeling. 2-1 to Liverpool and riotous celebrations.
If we manage to get twelve points from these fixtures (doable, just), that’d be 22 from 11 games and more than likely sitting third in the table (while hitting the two points per game projection). My personal opinion is that this year around 70 points may be enough for fourth place. Ten points – what I genuinely expect from these games – will have us, more than likely, in the top four and well on course for that.
And, as the Mancs have a less than easy run, we could be way ahead of them by the time the Hodge comes calling again.
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