The reverse fixture last term was indicative of the Reds season as a whole. Wilting outside the Champions League places, they were torn between not losing their final home game of the campaign, and giving a helping hand to arch rivals Manchester United in their quest for a 19th league title. The solemn trudge around a sparsely populated Anfield following the final whistle was as big an anti-climax as Liverpool’s futile assault to finally end their own title drought.
Any aspirations that that was as bad as it would get were quickly shattered in the opening few weeks of the new term, and before Sunday’s clash with Chelsea, Liverpool look enviously up twelve places and thirteen points above the side they finished ahead of the season before last. As much as Chelsea have flourished under Carlo Ancelotti’s stewardship, Liverpool’s demise has been brutal, and somewhat self inflicted.
The shame of occupying the relegation spots have rescinded in the last fortnight and there have been glimpses of a resurgence in the hard fought back-to-back league wins over Blackburn and Bolton, and the Europa League comeback against Napoli. However, those victories have been achieved with more perspiration than inspiration, with a sterner examination coming up against the Londoners.
Although recent victories have eased the noose around Roy Hodgson’s neck, there is a sense the Kop is still less than enamoured with the former Fulham boss and they style of football he has put on offer so far. His hand has been weakened by the form and fitness of Fernando Torres, but in fairness to El Ni