For Liverpool the international break could not have come soon enough. A chance to regroup is essential for Brendan Rodgers as his side face three tough games when his players return from representing their countries.
With controversy surrounding Liverpool at the moment, from the management level right down to the squad, here’s my predictions for the Reds next three games.
- 15th September – Sunderland (A)
A tough test awaits at the Stadium of Light. Martin O’Neill has developed a robust side in the North East that will be incredibly difficult for the Reds to penetrate, something Arsenal discovered in the opening weekend. Liverpool will also be weary of Black Cats new boys Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson – Fletcher netted twice in his debut against Swansea whilst Johnson will add another threat on the wings for Martin O’Neill.
The loss of Lucas will also be felt as Liverpool attempt to shut down Steven Sessegnon. Liverpool will no doubt struggle when they travel to Sunderland and will need Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez to be on fine form if they are to get anything from the game. I’m going to sit on the fence and go for a draw, however a Sunderland victory would hardly be surprising Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland
- 20th September – Young Boys (Europa League) (A)
If a trip up north wasn’t enough, Brendan Rodgers then has to take his side to Switzerland for the first match in the Europa League group stages. Young Boys will be the opposition for the start of Liverpool’s campaign in the Europa League proper and will provide a tough test for the Merseyside club.
Young Boys have not had a strong start to their domestic campaign, yet despite their squad not including any big names this will still be tricky for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Liverpool struggled in both legs of their final qualifying games, including the return leg at Anfield where Rodgers fielded a strong side. With a trip to Manchester United the following weekend, the Reds boss might have one eye on the Premier League encounter.
Nevertheless I think Liverpool will edge this opening European encounter, yet with tougher matches against Udinese and Anzhi Machakala in the future qualification for the latter stages will be no easy feat. Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Young Boys.
- 23rd September – Manchester United (A)
After returning from their midweek trip to Switzerland Liverpool welcome Anfield to Old Trafford. Sir Alex’s side have hardly dominated in their opening first three fixtures yet they will certainly be at the top of the table come next summer.
Robin van Persie’s acquisition is now looking like a shrewd bit of business for the Red Devils as the Dutchman has scored in both games he has started for United, whilst Shinji Kagawa, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick have been impressive in the midfield. Questions have been asked of United’s defensive efforts – both Fulham and Southampton scored twice against Sir Alex’s men – yet I can see the class of United’s forward line winning this one for the Red Devils. Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool.
With the current stats and these predictions, Liverpool would have just 2 points from their opening five games, a truly dismal start. Things might not get much better in September as Liverpool travel to West Brom again, this time for a Capital One Cup match.
Rodgers might not view the competition with much importance yet Liverpool fans will certainly want to stay in the competition, giving their side as much chance of silverware as possible this season. At the end of the month the Reds will hope to pick up points at Carrow Road when they travel to Norwich, yet an away game in Norfolk is not an easy fixture.
It doesn’t need to be said that times are hard at Liverpool right now. By the end of the month they may be even harder.