The Merseyside derby, contested between Everton and Liverpool this Sunday, will be a season-defining clash for the Anfield outfit.
If Liverpool win it could transform their season. If Liverpool lose, manager Brendan Rodgers may well be heading to the job centre on Monday morning. Although we are only seven games into this season, you simply can’t underestimate the importance of this match.
Spirits were high at Anfield last weekend after they managed a narrow 3-2 win over Aston Villa, moving them up to ninth in the Premier league table just five points off leaders Manchester United.
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Another win on Sunday would see them climb the table even further and even those calling for Rodgers’ head would be quiet for at least week, maybe two.
There is nothing like a win over your local rivals to galvanise the fans. Rodgers will be seeing this match as a chance to win them back.
With fixtures against Tottenham, Southampton and Chelsea following the Everton match, it makes it even more imperative that the Reds win at Goodison Park. Three points would give the players the motivation to go into those matches with no fear and renewed hope of picking up points against tough opposition.
Rodgers is well aware how important Sunday’s clash is, leaving Daniel Sturridge out of Thursday’s Europa League tie against FC Sion on Thursday. Sturridge scored two excellent goals last weekend and is vital to Liverpool’s chances this weekend.
Mamadou Sakho, Nathaniel Clyne and Albero Moreno all played 45 minutes or less whilst Martin Skrtel, Lucas Leiva and James Milner were left out altogether. A clear sign that Rodgers had his eyes on Sunday's encounter.
A loss though will be really damaging for Liverpool’s season. It is likely that it would be Rodgers’ last game in charge, especially if it a resounding defeat. Many fans may argue that such a result would do the club a favour, but changing a manager mid-season isn’t always a guarantee of improvement.
A defeat would see the club slide down the table, and with those tough fixtures coming up, their next three points may not arrive until November. By then they will likely be lingering in mid-table, quite a few points away from challenging for a Champions League spot.
It’s also a ground where they haven’t won in the previous three seasons and they face an Everton team above them in the table and full of confidence after their miraculous comeback against West Brom on Monday coming from two goals down to win 3-2.
Yes, it’s easy to jump to conclusion after one match but, despite being so early in the season, Sunday’s encounter has the potential to dictate which direction Liverpool’s season goes in.
They’re at a crossroads, if they turn the wrong way on Sunday, they could find it very difficult to get back on the right track.