Liverpool Focus – Reading draws invites questions over Rodgers’ Reds

Liverpool drew blanks for the second Premier League game in a row as goalkeeper Alex McCarthy inspired basement side Reading to earn a creditable draw at the Madejski Stadium. It is the first time that the Reds have failed to score in back-to-back top flight games under Brendan Rodgers as their season threatens to fizzle out.

The Anfield outfit approached the game with the knowledge that Nigel Adkins’ Reading team had been all but relegated – albeit not mathematically – and one reason for this was that the Royals had the worst defensive record in the league. In contrast, Liverpool had scored two or more goals in a game on 15 previous occasions this term; therefore it appeared as though the visitors would record a strong win once again under Rodgers. However, thanks to McCarthy’s heroics between the sticks and Liverpool’s startling inconsistency, Reading were able to pick up their first point in eight games.

As a result, Liverpool remain in seventh place, but the gap between the Reds and their Merseyside rivals Everton has grown. David Moyes’ Blues sit a comfortable five points ahead of Rodgers’ side and also have a game in hand. Crucially, the Toffees are now just three points away from that highly-coveted fourth and final Champions League spot and although the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur would be favourites to clinch that place, Everton remain in the hunt. That fact will leave a bitter taste in the mouth for many Reds.

Big money has been spent at Anfield in recent years and Rodgers himself has purchased around £50m worth of players since his summer arrival – yet questions still hang over whether Liverpool have improved under his watch. The Reds currently have four more points than they did at the same stage of last season and just one more win from the remaining five games will see them improve on the points tally from last term, but there have been no trips to Wembley and no silverware this time.

Rodgers claims that “everyone can see we have improved and got better” yet the very fact that there is still a debate over whether this is really the case suggests that the improvement has not been significant enough to boast about. An impressive run of wins in these final few games – including fixtures against Chelsea and Everton – would go some way into changing minds, but with even the chance of finishing in a Europa League place now very slender indeed, Liverpool have little to play for but pride.

It remains to be seen whether this remarkably inconsistent Reds side can finish the season well and with many more points than last term. Only then will Rodgers be able to speak convincingly of improvement.

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