Liverpool keep on dropping points – Brendan Rodgers under increasing pressure
More fight needed! Are the big sides lacking that firepower and passion to break free from the pack? Rebecca Parry looks at the pressure that is mounting on Brendan Rodgers, and Liverpool.
Each week, we watch the Premier League and expect it to be the weekend where the so-called ‘bigger sides’ start getting points on board. In recent seasons, it’s taken a couple of months for the league table to take shape the way we expect to see it – and truly reflect where potential contenders are placing themselves.
However, this season, that period of uncertainty has continued to grow. An anomalous result doesn’t necessarily mean being first on Match of the Day, especially when you look at what has gone wrong during this campaign for Arsenal, Spurs, and most severely, Liverpool.
We can talk about injuries and team selections, or just being desperately unlucky, but pundits including Sky’s Jamie Carragher have correctly suggested that there is a lack of leadership – and perhaps more importantly – passion and fight.
Carragher’s outburst came after Liverpool fell to their fourth consecutive defeat at Crystal Palace on Sunday, and fingers are now starting to be pointed. The ex-Liverpool vice-captain feels Brendan Rodgers’ side are mentally and physically weak – by letting sides bully them – and the fear factor seems to be fading quickly.
We can talk a lot about the fitness issues that come with a congested fixture list, with some of the top teams travelling throughout Europe but, should we simply follow the example of teams like Crystal Palace and go back to basics?
Watching the game at Selhurst Park on Sunday, and recent fixtures where the Reds have dropped points, it hasn’t been the quality of the opponents that’s punished them, but the fact they’ve been bullied out of games. As Carragher rightly said, building on an early lead shouldn’t be a problem for a side like Liverpool, but it looks like they’re struggling to find that inner fight to keep hold of it. The passion of sides like Palace – who desperately need points – should be what Liverpool need to take inspiration from.
Some of Brendan Rodgers’ team selections have been criticised recently, and therefore shouldn’t be overlooked when reviewing the recent disappointments. Kolo Toure put in an impressive performance for Liverpool at the Bernabeu but hasn’t featured since. Emre Can was also another bright prospect in Madrid. In my opinion, those surprise selections played better that night than the side we all predicted would have on current form.
The difference is, we’re trying so hard to get a familiar side together, the prospect of competition hasn’t had the effect it should have. Players likes Kolo Toure and Lucas Leiva don’t get the chance to perform on the big stage anymore, but a bit of passion was exactly what was needed against Madrid, and is what’s needed now, too. Our current side – with the summer additions – still looks a little stale.
The same goes for Arsenal and Spurs – both of whom have shown patchy runs of form but are still floating around mid-table positions. It’s been said for a number of weeks now, but it won’t take much for a team to get themselves into the top four – you just wonder who is going to step up and find their form first.
In Liverpool’s case, they now sit in twelfth position – four points off the relegation zone, but more surprisingly, only five points off fourth spot. In years gone by, any hopes of breaking into the top four would have been written off by now – and rightly so. It may be a rough spell but they’re getting away with it so far, due to the quality (or lack thereof) in the league. However, in this league, you can only get away with it for so long before you really start to fall behind.
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