Liverpool’s lunchtime match against Newcastle United on Saturday could represent something of a watershed moment for Brendan Rodgers and his quest to get the Reds into the Champions League.
The graph below shows how his points-per-game average has improved over his time in the Anfield hotseat, almost continually.
This may appear to be a negligible difference, but a victory would mean that in order to hit the seventy-one point marker at the end of the campaign (which would better the 70.4 average required to finish fourth in the past five seasons) the Reds would require a further fifty-one points from their remaining thirty matches, or 1.73 per game.
In other words, for the first time in his career on Merseyside, Brendan Rodgers will have reached a point where his Reds form is good enough to compete for his primary aim of a top four finish. To use a simple analogy, the Liverpool plane will be high enough in the sky to potentially reach the destination of the Champions League, and Rodgers will simply need to maintain altitude.
Of course, things are never this straightforward in reality; the Reds may need more than seventy-one points for starters (although equally only two teams ever have). Liverpool have also only faced one team who finished above ninth last term in this campaign so far, and their next twelve league games include trips to Arsenal, Everton, Spurs, Manchester City and Chelsea. Rodgers certainly can’t assume that his team can maintain their 2013/14 form so far.
But at the same time, his complete Liverpool career form includes last season’s very poor start, and roughly half a season with only one fit senior striker, whereas now he has Sturridge in the form of his life, and one of the world’s top forwards in Luis Suárez to utilise.
It’s therefore not that unreasonable to think that this level of form can be maintained, even allowing for the difficulty of the forthcoming fixtures; the aforementioned five away games only yielded a total of four points last season, so it’s not as if there’s much previous form on the line anyway.
In truth, Liverpool’s form in 2013 (1.95 points per game) or over the past thirty-eight league games (1.87) suggests that in reality that Rodgers’ Reds are even better than the picture I’ve painted here. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, eh? Just beat Newcastle first, and discuss the options afterwards.
Recent and related posts you might like:
Second Half Slump? Controlling The Result – Although Liverpool have had some poor second halves in 2013/14, they’ve had better control than you might think…
Reds Bounce Back – Brendan Rodgers has an impressive record when following a league defeat.
LFC Pass Combination Heatmaps 2013/14 – A look at which players have been most involved pass-wise, and who they’ve linked up with in every league match this season.