Mid-table Liverpool extended their winless streak against league leaders Manchester United to four games following the Reds’ disappointing 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. The highly-anticipated fixture saw the Premier League’s two leading goalscorers – Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie – go head-to-head, though it was the in-form Dutchman who won that battle following his 19th minute strike which handed the hosts a deserved lead.
Defender Nemanja Vidic made it two after the break, though the introduction of the dynamic Daniel Sturridge made Brendan Rodgers’ struggling side a livelier threat. The Merseysiders’ new signing scored just minutes after Vidic and Sturridge even had a good opportunity to claim an equaliser late on. It was an encouraging debut league performance in a Liverpool shirt for the former Chelsea man.
Despite their second half revival, however, the table does not paint a favourable picture. Liverpool sit in eighth place and a significant nine points behind the occupiers of the highly-coveted final Champions League spot – Tottenham. Perhaps more painfully, Rodgers’ side find their Merseyside rivals Everton six points ahead, while the likes of Swansea and Stoke are creeping just behind the Anfield outfit in the current standings.
If the target for this season is to finish in a better league position than last, then Liverpool are not far behind where they would like to be. The Reds finished eighth last term and are currently set to repeat that. Finishing seventh would require overtaking West Bromwich Albion in the table – the Baggies are just two points ahead in seventh place. However, if the target was to claim Champions League football come the end of the campaign, then a lot of work will have to be done – including making intelligent use of the current transfer window – if that dream is to become a reality in May.
But life will not get much easier for Liverpool over the coming few weeks. The Reds will face mid-table Norwich in their next league fixture, before taking tough trips to the Emirates and then Etihad Stadium. Games against two sides in and around Liverpool in the table – West Brom and Swansea – then follow. The next six weeks of fixtures could make or break the Merseysiders’ season.
Given Liverpool’s current position and their lofty ambitions, it would perhaps be expected that Rodgers will add to the signing of Sturridge this month. The arrival of the Englishman looks to have addressed some of the issues that the Reds were having in front of goal during the first half of the campaign – and with Italian youngster Fabio Borini now back to fitness; the Liverpool boss has a reasonable number of attacking options available to him. However, some fans have argued that the midfield will need to be improved. So far, Nuri Sahin’s loan deal has been cancelled, leaving Steven Gerrard, Jonjo Shelvey, Lucas, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson as the central midfield options.
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