Liverpool were involved in their first stalemate of the season after a 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday. The two points dropped will be tough to take for last season’s runners-up especially considering that the equaliser came so late from Phil Jagielka. The result also pushed Liverpool beyond the top 10. Even though the season is just six matches old, Brendan Rodgers will not have envisaged his team having fallen significantly behind the main rivals. Football Markets did predict a positive season from Liverpool, but they are now 33/1 to win the title.
Brendan Rodgers’ team were a breath of fresh air last season, as they more often than not blew the opposition away in the first 30 minutes of matches. Luis Suarez maybe the major difference between this campaign and last season, but it is only on paper. Apart from having to contend with midweek Champions League matches, Liverpool are also having to deal with the enormous expectations surrounding them. Further, Rodgers has spent more than £100 million on new players and they have not been exactly firing on all cylinders.
Mario Balotelli, who was one of the big signings at £16 million, has scored one goal in five appearances and Rodgers would have expected much more from the former Manchester City man. Apart from the 24-year-old Italian international, the club also splashed heavily on names like Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, and Lazar Markovic. Among the summer signings, it is interesting to note that only Balotelli and defender Alberto Moreno have scored this season.
The introduction of Lovren was aimed at solving a problem in the central defender position. Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure were the primary partners for Martin Skrtel last season, but both of them have shown that they are prone to errors. It would be the least expected from a central defender playing for a team that has top four or even the league title aspirations. Lovren excelled with Southampton last season, but the £25 million signing has shown signs that he has not fully settled within the Merseyside club.
Of course, the absence of Luis Suarez is always going to be the talking point. The Uruguayan contributed 46 goals directly and indirectly last season and this was almost 50% of Liverpool’s tally in the league. Rodgers and Liverpool were aware for much of the summer that Suarez would try and engineer a move away from the club. The confirmation came during the World Cup 2014’s high profile incident involving the 27-year-old.
In some ways, Liverpool appear to have committed the same mistake as Tottenham. The London outfit sold another PFA Player of the Year recipient in the form of Gareth Bale and tried to reinvest the £85 million they secured from the sale on a number of players. They have since struggled in the league; this can directly be attributed to the poor form that usually comes when there are a large number of new players trying to settle at the same time. Liverpool can still recover from this poor start, but they need the new signings to start performing quickly.
Betfair, though, recently pushed Liverpool at 6/5 to finish in the top four with Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United ahead of them.
The much anticipated return of Daniel Sturridge to first-team action is expected to take place either against Wednesday’s Champions League opponents FC Basel or against West Brom on Saturday. Three points against West Brom will particularly be crucial since the internationals occupy the focus once again for a fortnight. Liverpool will want to go into the international break with a positive frame of mind.