For Liverpool to keep alive any wild dreams of perhaps mounting a title challenge and finishing within the top four at this stage in the season then they must be able to pick up at least 13 points from their next five fixtures. This is the kind of form that would replicate a team serious about their title ambitions and allow them to stay with current leaders Arsenal who seem to show no signs of slowing after last Saturday night’s showing.
Four of the next five games are easily winnable if Liverpool shake off last weekend’s no-show and replicate the form that took apart Crystal Palace within 45 minutes and also the 4-1 demolition of W.B.A. which flattered the away side when awarded with a dubious penalty. The tricky fixture will be the derby as Everton consistently find an extra gear when playing Liverpool which marks them as one of the toughest sides to play every season.
If the recently returning Coutinho can show sides of his best form whilst feeding both Suarez and Sturridge then accumulating a strong amount of points from the next five fixtures should not be in doubt. The ‘SAS’ partnership may have seemed a little strained against Arsenal but if they can recapture their slick link up play, which has given each one of them a healthy tally for the season, then scoring should never be an issue in games. Jordan Henderson needs to remain a fixture in the starting eleven as his work rate and willingness to close the ball down in the opponents half is pivotal to allowing Sturridge and Suarez to take up positions in space ready to be released when the possession changes hands. In my eyes Lucas needs to be put under more pressure to perform, I feel he has gotten comfortable in his protective role due to no competition and should show more creativity when the ball is at his feet rather than relying on Gerrard to link up the play from the midfield to the forwards. Defensively we have been sound, however Johnson and Enrique can’t come back from injury soon enough as they give the team more shape and strength down the wing which was evident last weekend.
The run of good form needs to start with a comprehensive win over Fulham at home. I feel that the Fulham game could have two possible outcomes, either a deflated side will turn up and ‘SAS’ will pick apart a defence with no confidence and therefore possibly make Martin Jol the second managerial casualty of the season. On the other hand we could see a Fulham team ready to use Liverpool as a turning point in their season and take inspiration from teams like Southampton who have left Anfield with three points recently. However the reds should be out to prove a point and take all three points with a handsome victory after allowing Arsenal to look like a team that could run away with the title with the loss to them in our last game.
Taking a point from the Derby would be a good result as Everton have been showing good form since the start of the season. Despite having a good record away at Goodison, Martinez will be looking to make a grand entrance in the Merseyside Derby and so will have his team fired up to the maximum. Our 3 centre halves will have their hands full with the presence of Lukaku and the deliveries from Baines. A goalless affair may be what no fans want, yet it will be a good stepping stone for the next three fixtures.
Hull away and both Norwich and West Ham at home should be seen as an opportunity to pick up 9 points by Brendan Rogers. Three wins accompanied by dominating performances against these three teams is what is necessary to stake our claim as top four quality and perhaps a dark horse in the title race.
Obtaining the thirteen points from fifteen is a must as a tricky set of fixtures over the Christmas period, starting with Tottenham away, will be a real test for Rodgers and the team to see if we truly are top four quality. It is from there on we will know if it is a genuine possibility for Liverpool to mount a challenge for the title and be in a strong position to finish in the top four