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Upcoming fixtures a true test of Liverpool's consistency

    by Dave Usher for ESPN

     

    Since Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho were recruited in January, Liverpool have displayed the kind of form that makes them strong contenders for a top-four spot this year -- assuming of course they can sustain it. The second half of last season proved that when they're on their game, Liverpool can dazzle with the best of them, while they've shown in the opening three games of this campaign that they may be developing that invaluable trait all successful sides have of being able to grind out wins.

What they haven't shown yet is whether they can do both on a consistent basis, and that's the next step if the 18-time champions are to become a force in the English game once more.

 

It's a bit of a cliche, but the only consistent thing about the Reds last year was their inconsistency. It seemed like every time Brendan Rodgers' men threatened to put a run together, they found a way to undo all the good work by dropping points when you least expected it. It became an all-too-familiar pattern: Liverpool would win a few games ahead of a favourable run of upcoming fixtures and then the fans would start totting up how many points they expected to pick up and where in the league table those points would take them. Then out of nowhere Liverpool would lose a game everybody expected them to win and it was back to square one.

 

It was that inconsistency as much as anything else that not only kept the Reds out of the top four but also ensured they finished below Everton for a second successive year. The opportunities were there to move up the table but they were not taken, as Liverpool threw away countless points from games they should have won at a canter. In the first half of the season there was an excuse for it as the side was simply not good enough and lacked quality in the final third. But after the cavalry arrived in January, quality wasn't the issue; it was inconsistency, especially at home. One week they'd be putting three past an impressive Tottenham Hotspur side, the next they'd draw a blank against a mediocre West Ham United.

 

There were shades of the Roy Evans era about the Reds last year: occasionally brilliant, but often lacking in resilience and widely regarded as "a bit of a soft touch," especially from set pieces. Evans' side were dubbed "the Spice Boys" of course, and while I would certainly not saddle the current squad with such a disparaging label (whatever faults they have, a lack of professionalism is certainly not one of them), it's worth pointing out that those defeats to Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Southampton, etc. came hot on the heels of some good performances and at a time when the players were being talked up by fans and media alike. That would perhaps point to complacency, an issue that also affected that Evans side.

 

Read the full article here.


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