Liverpool chunking it up and finally stand comparison with Red Devils
More signings, more points and better fixtures give Rodgers crew the edge for now
Daniel Sturridge celebrates with his team-mates and manager Brendan Rodgers after scoring what proved to be the winner in their last Premier League match, against old rivals Manchester United at Anfield. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Brendan Rodgers’ use of language attracts curiosity and, quite often, criticism, so there will be those ready to sniff when it is recalled how Rodgers addressed the end of Swansea City’s 2010-11 season.
A Wembley play-off was emerging on Swansea’s horizon and Rodgers reflected on a season that had taken the club to third in the Championship, the highs and the lows, and said: “We chunk it”.
A manager turning a noun into a verb does not draw praise the way he would for successfully transforming a winger into a full back.
Yet in America – and Liverpool’s owners reside in Massachusetts – it seems chunking is an everyday verb, regular, if you like. So there will be delight in Boston that they can say Rodgers and Liverpool have started the season chunking well.
Due to World Cup qualifiers, the Premier League season has three bite-sized chunks before winter sets in. The first has gone. It consisted of three league games, and Liverpool won each of them 1-0. Nine points and no goals conceded is a chunky way for any team to start.
Next up, beginning back at Rodgers’ former club Swansea on Monday night, are four more league games – Swansea (a), Southampton (h), Sunderland (a) and Crystal Palace (h).
A lot on Merseyside and beyond will have the same reaction when assessing potential points from that fixture list. Luis Suarez’s league return will be at Sunderland.
Swansea should, in theory, prove to be the hardest game of that quartet, and if Liverpool are as confident as one would expect after three victories, then a fourth on Monday night must be seen as a realistic aim, not a work of the imagination.
Even a draw on Monday would maintain a form of momentum to take into the next three games. Once this chunk is over, in early October, there is then a third leading to the World Cup play-offs in mid-November. In this, Liverpool have Newcastle United (a), West Brom (h), Arsenal (a) and Fulham (h).
Once again, this list will encourage Anfield Reds. If some are conservative in their estimates – and the fact this is Liverpool’s best start for 19 years should in itself act as a brake on runaway expectations – then Liverpool might get 18 points from the next 24.
That would give them 27 points after 11 matches. And that is Champions League qualification form.
The ifs are many, of course, but there is also some substance behind an optimistic reading.
Rodgers will doubtless stick to a one-game-at-a-time mantra but the man from Carnlough can at least derive early satisfaction from this season, simply because it is not last season.