Liverpool host Blackpool in the Premier League on Sunday looking for a major improvement following a string of lackluster displays and results.
Roy Hodgson was tipped to have a tough start to life at Anfield when he took over in the summer, but it’s turned out much worse than even the most pessimistic of supporters would have imagined.
The Reds began the season by progressing through to the Europa League group stage and rather unfortunately only drawing at home to Arsenal. However, they have only beaten West Bromwich Albion domestically since - and even that was a narrow win. In fairness to the Anfield club, though, they have suffered both of their league defeats to title chasing Manchester United and Manchester City.
Despite only losing to the Manchester clubs in the league, Hodgson is already getting criticism from sections of supporters and the media. He failed to steer his side to all three points away to Birmingham City and at home to Sunderland - where they drew 2-2 thanks to Dirk Kuyt’s controversial goal last weekend - but there can be no excuses for one of the most embarrassing results in their history as they lost on penalties to League Two strugglers Northampton Town in the League Cup.
Liverpool drew 0-0 away to FC Utrecht in the Europa League on Thursday night as their slump continued, but they will surely be able to bounce back with a win over Blackpool. At least you would think they would be able to, and if they don’t it will pile more pressure on Hodgson, Gerrard, Torres & Co.
Some were tipping Blackpool to go straight back down to the Championship following their play-off win last season, but they’ve already proved it won’t be as simple as that.
Despite predictions that the Tangerines could finish the season by beating Derby County’s league record worst points tally of 11, they already have seven points on the board. After an emphatic win over Wigan Athletic on the opening day, they have also seen off Newcastle United at St James’ Park and drawn 2-2 at home to Fulham.
However, they have had their turnovers as expected as well. The 10-man Seasiders lost 6-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates in their second game of the season before being hammered 4-0 by Chelsea, and with them already losing 4-0 at half-time in that game, Ian Holloway changed his team’s tactics, opting to switch back to his usual attacking style rather than the 4-5-1 he had gone with from the start at Stamford Bridge.
Holloway’s men were unlucky to concede a dubious late goal at home to Blackburn Rovers last time out which condemned them to a 2-1 defeat, and ended with their boss being hit with an FA charge for swearing at referee Mike Dean. But despite Brett Emerton’s winner coming after a quick break from one end of the pitch to the other from Blackburn, Holloway has vowed to stick to his attacking principles even if it means they are hit on the counter-attack just like at Bloomfield Road last weekend.
Roy Hodgson has received more injury news this week as Martin Kelly picked up a knee problem in the draw with Utrecht on Thursday.
Kelly’s likely absence means that due to injuries to Paul Konchesky (hamstring), Fabio Aurelio (Achilles) and Daniel Agger (groin), Liverpool are without a recognized left-back.
Fernando Torres is set to start against for the Reds despite poor displays of late, while Steven Gerrard will play after being rested in midweek.
Possible starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Carragher; Gerrard, Poulsen; Kuyt, Meireles, Cole; Torres.
Matt Phillips, who scored on his debut with almost his first touch in the Premier League last week, is pushing for a start.
Rob Edwards featured in a reserve game this week and is also vying for a starting place, which means Neal Eardley may drop to the bench.
Possible starting XI: Gilks; Eardley, Evatt, Cathcart, Crainey; Grandin, Adam, Vaughan; Phillips, Harewood, Campbell.