There were a few eyebrows raised when the 2012-13 Premier League fixture list was finally released in June. Liverpool’s early handful of fixtures were always going to be tough. Some neutrals, already fearing for new manager Brendan Rodgers, urged caution. Supporters of the Anfield outfit knew that the first five games would provide the ultimate test for the former Swansea boss and that they had little option but to be patient.
Rodgers himself knew that his ‘honeymoon’ period would not last long. Except that it has. The majority of Reds’ fans may be concerned by the Merseysiders’ failure to convert good performances into valuable points, but they are still behind the manager. However, Liverpool’s season starts now.
Three of the Reds’ opening five fixtures have come against the top three Premier League sides from last season – Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. That those three games were at Anfield should have handed Liverpool a slight advantage and indeed Rodgers’ side put in excellent performances against the two Manchester teams, however they only secured one point from those crunch clashes to show for their efforts.
Most fans would have had the opening game at West Brom down as a win, but despite a good first-half display, Liverpool were well beaten by the Baggies following Daniel Agger’s red card. That Steve Clarke’s side currently occupy a Champions League spot suggests that West Brom have been underestimated by many so far. A trip to the Stadium of Light, after two draining games against City and Arsenal, also tested the visitors. Rodgers will be hoping that his side can secure maximum points from their next three games against Norwich, Stoke and Reading.
Following the appointment of Roy Hodgson in 2010, Liverpool took five points from their first five games, four of which were strangely against Arsenal, City, West Brom and United. While the Reds actually beat West Brom that season, the overall situation is similar to the one today. Hodgson’s downfall came in the next three games, where Liverpool could only draw to Sunderland and lose to Blackpool at home before tasting a bitter defeat at the home of their local rivals Everton.
As a result, Liverpool had picked up just six points from their opening eight games. That was when supporters really lost patience with Hodgson and even the three-match winning streak which followed failed to turn opinions around. Should the Anfield outfit struggle to pick up points in their next three games, then Rodgers too could face calls for his head. There is little option but for Liverpool to win their next top-flight fixture.
Based on the Reds’ performances so far, that should not be too tough a task. Norwich may currently have one more point than Rodgers’ side but the Canaries have not faced the same calibre of teams as Liverpool. Furthermore, the Merseysiders have actually played relatively well this season, with little to show for it. But that will soon have to change. Liverpool’s season starts now.
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