Liverpool and Responding Quickly to Adversity

Alex Livesey

Liverpool are flying high in the league ahead of a Merseyside derby trip into the heart of local rivals Everton but has this season revealed a new mental strength?

Fulham really did become Norwich and for that, Brendan Rodgers must be thankful as that is exactly the sort of home game needed after a disappointing loss away to Arsenal. Liverpool have lost three games so far in a season where no big side has avoided defeat, silly dropped points, or disappointing performances. The key could be the side's response to unsatisfactory performances and frustrating loss of points.

Liverpool's aim this season is probably to finish in the top four but competition will be fierce. There are at least five or six other sides that could claim a place by the end of the season. What Liverpool need is not only to string a succession of victories to ensure that keeping close or ahead of rivals will remain so heading into the New Year but also will require bouncing back from any negative results. Drawing against ten man Newcastle wasn't the best result considering the timing of Liverpool getting a penalty and going into the second-half a man up but a draw is what Brendan Rodgers' side got. Losing away to Arsenal might not have been completely unforeseen as Liverpool travelled to London but how Liverpool looked second best exposed noted problems in the side.

In the aftermath of both games, Liverpool needed to react and move forward quickly as each weekend seems to provide an opportunity to make progress as one rival or another drops points. Scoring eight goals against Fulham and West Bromwich Albion is the right reply to dropped points but it is the sort of one Liverpool are able to make. It is at Anfield and against opponents that Liverpool can triumph with an established playing side if Rodgers' charges operate in third or fourth gear.

The old league adage is that sides can only beat what is in front of them and Liverpool appear to be handling that enormously well at Anfield. What we need to see from Liverpool is travelling to sides after dropping two or three points but pocketing a victory on return to Merseyside. Liverpool did that at the end of September against Sunderland after losing two in a row in all competitions. Sunderland were struggling but it was the sort of game Liverpool may have drawn this season. However, Liverpool emerged victorious against a struggling side.

Half of Liverpool's remaining fixtures in 2013 will be against tough rivals in their own patch and while Liverpool may avoid defeat in all four, there may be a scenario where Brendan Rodgers and his players will need to react quickly as the gaps between games narrow. Liverpool may have had favourable fixtures where returning to form has been relatively easy but this "way of working" will need to continue if Liverpool's solid start is to be maintained this season. Liverpool did what was required to move forward and it is hoped that Liverpool will repeat the trick when a more fearsome foe stands in the way of returning to winning ways.

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