An unusual aura of belief surrounded Anfield at the end of October. Going into November, Liverpool supporters strongly felt that their team had enough quality to finish in the top-four. Talk about Liverpool’s title credentials were picking up pace and Liverpool looked set to prove to the footballing world that they were back to their best…
Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool:
Liverpool’s first opponents were Arsenal, at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners had been outstanding thus far in the league but many people were questioning Arsenal’s capability of beating the “stronger” sides in the league. Having just come off the back of a loss against Chelsea in the League Cup, people were left pondering as to whether Arsenal were equipped to beat the mighty Reds.
I for one was worried about Arsenal and their midfield. Liverpool had looked lack-lustre in the middle, and the presence of Lucas and Gerrard continued to stress me out. The problem for me was the lack of energy in the midfield. Without Jordan Henderson in there, I believe Liverpool’s team wouldn’t have functioned the way it had so far. Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla, scared me and this was with good reason too.
Liverpool began the game well and were pressing high up the pitch; it all fell down on 19 minutes when Santi Cazorla found the net to put the Gunners 1-0 up. Ramsey doubled their advantage on 59 minutes and Liverpool never looked like getting back in it from there. This left Liverpool sitting third in the table which was still a very healthy position for The Reds.
Performance rating: Grade C-; poor result against a very good Arsenal side, wasn’t unexpected if I’m honest, still sitting third in the table.
Liverpool 4-0 Fulham:
Fulham paid a visit to Anfield next, and I’m sure they wished they hadn’t once it was finished. Pressure was mounting on Fulham boss Martin Jol, and Fulham fans had very little optimism leading up to this game. They knew Liverpool’s tails would be up after losing to the Gunners the previous week. I was very pleased with Daniel Agger, Philippe Coutinho and Glen Johnson returning to the starting line-up.
In truth, Fulham didn’t have a prayer in my view. When Fernando Amorebieta put the ball in his own net, I knew it was going to be a rout! It was 2-0 just three minutes later when Martin Skrtel scored a header off his 50p shaped head. From here I could see nothing going wrong for Liverpool. Then it was 3-0 when Luis Suarez scored his seventh of the season after a clever pass from Jordan Henderson.
Further punishment was to be felt by Fulham as Suarez doubled his tally for the night and scored what was to be the last goal of a very one-sided game. After such domination, I felt like a top-four spot really was achievable this year. Liverpool used to have a tendency to only perform in big games but not against lesser sides and this looked to be changing.
Performance rating: Grade A*; excellent win, excellent performance. Delighted to bounce back and dominate like we did.
Everton 3-3 Liverpool:
Going into an international break is made easier when your team performs the way they did against Fulham. Everton were up next and as every Red fan knows, going to Goodison and getting three points is usually easier said than done. Everton themselves were in a rich vein of form and since their shaky start to the season, have really kicked on and were only a few points behind Liverpool. Lukaku was on fire and Liverpool fans know too well what he is capable of in front of goal. Despite this, I felt we would beat Everton and needless to say I was gutted about not picking up three points.
It was a dream start for Liverpool and it was 1-0 after five minutes. Kevin Mirallas scored just three minutes later to draw the game level, and I was so frustrated to concede from a set-piece. When Suarez got us back in front on 19 minutes, I felt that we would kick on but Everton continued to pose a threat. Joe Allen missed an absolute sitter from only a few yards out and this turned the game in my opinion.
It was then that Everton kicked on; McCarthy and Barry in particular impressed me in midfield as did, young Ross Barkley. It wasn’t long after this that Romelu Lukaku scored to level the game. This was the second set piece of the game that Liverpool had failed to deal with, which resulted in a goal. Then in the 82nd minute, Lukaku found the net again with a powerful heading from a corner. Our lack of ability to defend against set-pieces worries, and annoys me. Teams challenging for a top-four spot, cannot keep conceding goals in that fashion. Sturridge came off the bench and got Liverpool a point by scoring in the 89th minute. Overall, a disappointing result in my opinion.
Performance rating: Grade C; okay point, tough opponents, sad to throw away two leads, happy to score late on to equalise.
Overall Rating: Grade B+; the month of November was relatively successful for the Reds. Everton and Arsenal proved to be stern tests and we were unfortunate not to pick up three points at Goodison Park. I believe Liverpool’s strong start to the season will continue and I know that with the quality we have, we should definitely continue pushing for a top four finish.