Despite being just seven games into the new season, a defeat in this weekend’s Merseyside derby against Everton could have an adverse effect on Liverpool’s season.
Liverpool’s away form so far this season has been poor and they lost their last two away games, to Stoke and Tottenham respectively, without scoring a single goal.
Kenny Dalglish has spent over £100 million on players since taking charge of the club last December and he has been told by owner John W. Henry, that a top four finish is a priority.
So a defeat to Everton in the derby on Saturday, may place some doubt among the Liverpool fans whether or not the team can achieve a top four spot, especially if they are struggling to win away from home.
But more worrying for Dalglish, is that after the Everton game, Liverpool’s next fixture is their biggest of the season, with Manchester United visiting Anfield. Going into that match on the back of a defeat in the derby could add extra pressure on the Liverpool boss and a defeat against Manchester United next week may bring morale at Anfield down.
But on the other hand, wins over Everton and Manchester United would have confidence in the Anfield camp extremely high and it would make the rest of the league stand up and take notice of Liverpool, which is why this match at Everton is bigger than Liverpool think.
Liverpool are the favourites for this Merseyside derby, because in contrast to their neighbours, Everton didn’t spend a penny in the summer transfer market, instead they sold their infulential midfielder Mikel Arteta to Arsenal. But this is a derby and anything can happen and in front of their home fans, Everton will be determined to get all three points.
But for Kenny Dalglish, this is a massive game and he has a selection dilemma on his hands. With Steven Gerrard back to full fitness, he may be tempted to add the talismanic skipper to the starting line-up, for his experience and passion for this kind of game. But does he risk Gerrard for this game knowing that, if he picks up a knock, he might miss the massive game with United next week?
Jordan Henderson hasn’t been in the best of form, so could Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy or Maxi Rodriguez force their way into the team? Despite an improved performance last weekend against Wolves, Andy Carroll still didn’t score, so will he keep his place?
These are good problems for Kenny Dalglish to have, but he knows that no matter who he picks, this could potentially be a must-win game, even this early in the season.