If Liverpool are to keep even the faintest hopes of a top four push alive, taking away at least one victory from a pair of matches against Arsenal and Manchester City on Wednesday and Sunday is likely to be the minimum requirement.
Liverpool have yet to win a match against Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton, or Arsenal—the six sides ahead of them in the table. The club has also done no better than draw against West Brom, Swansea, and Stoke, the three sides immediately behind them in the table.
All told, it means a win against Arsenal or City this week would be the first against a side in the top half of the table for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. For all the talk of improved recent form, it's a damning statistic, and without it changing soon a push further up the table seems unlikely.
Rodgers, though, will at least have the freedom to pick his best eleven for the two upcoming matches, with news coming today that Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, and Jose Enrique are all fit and ready for action.
"We've got players coming back from injury, which will be good," said Rodgers as he addressed the media ahead the club's Arsenal trip. "Glen Johnson is back, Jose Enrique will be back, and Pepe Reina will be back, so we'll travel there with a strong squad and the mentality to get a good result.
"We know it's a tough game for us, but it's a game we're certainly going to look to go and try and win—and a game we're capable of winning. We played Arsenal earlier on in the season and because of circumstance we weren't at the best and deservedly lost the game.
"But I believe we've made improvements, both mentally and tactically in our game, so it will be as equally as tough for them."
With Arsenal only three points ahead of Liverpool, a win on Wednesday would do a great deal for Liverpool's hopes for a successful season—and the return of three key starters will leave Rodgers and the club's fans far more confident of getting just such a result.