On the precipice
Liverpool’s Champions League game versus Olympic Lyonnais marks a key defining moment in the Reds season, and wait for it, we are only in October.
Last season, Liverpool pushed United all the way in the race for the championship, only losing two games in the process. Optimism marked the start of this season for the Merseysiders, a chance to claim their first domestic league title in 19 years seemed a real possibility.
However, nine games in and Liverpool fans optimism has been smashed, replaced by a deep fear of what is happening to their beloved club. Beachball gate signalled the Anfield clubs’ fourth defeat this season leaving them seven points behind bitter rivals Manchester United, who travel to Liverpool at the weekend.
But before that, a tricky home tie to French superstars Lyon awaits. Liverpool will be without Fernando Torres as they search for the victory that will set their season back on track.
Defeat at Fiorentina augured the threat of a storm; defeat at Sunderland saw it brewing. Defeat to Lyon might see Liverpool reaping the whirlwind.
Indeed, they can be blamed for sowing the seeds of their current problems. The sale of Xabi Alonso has proven to be a terrible error on the part of Rafael Benitez. Alonso’s calming presence in the bluster of The Premierleague has been replaced by inexperience in the form of Lucas Leiva, Jay Spearing and a whole host of untried combinations.
True, a replacement for Alonso was signed in the form of ex-Roma man Alberto Aquilain, but the Italian’s absence has pronounced Alonso’s departure instead of solving it. And it has really shown. Liverpool have looked culpable all season and barring the brilliance of Torres and Gerrard they could have lost at West Ham and Bolton.
The return of talismanic Steven Gerrard stands Liverpool in good-sted for tonight’s game. However, with United coming to town on Sunday Liverpool will need to be on best form to topple their East Lancs rivals. And they might struggle without Torres.
If they lose to United, it might not be too early to rule out the Reds for another title shot. Indeed, Liverpool are a club plagued by off-field problems, but for once it is problems on the pitch that is giving Benitez the biggest headache as he looks to solve a 19 year itch.