So there we have it folks, the international break is over and club football resumes once again. Liverpool are still in a position that represents progress and befits a club with such an illustrious history. Each time an international break comes round, ETW expects Liverpool to drop down the league just a tad but Liverpool have a habit of toying around with expectations. ETW and all that jazz I suppose.
What's with this Merseyside derby anyway? Liverpool are tasked with not only taking on a local rival but a side that's only three points further behind in the league. Make no mistake, Everton is a legitimate rival to whatever Liverpool wishes to achieve. For now. The top eight sides in the league are separated by only six points. Not many expected Liverpool to be above Manchester United and Chelsea while Everton lead Tottenham and Manchester City. The respective gaps are narrow but both Merseyside clubs have started well and the January window draws ever closer as December appears in our viewfinders. Taking points against any close rival is always helpful around this time of year when the winds blow colder and the knees knock ever so harder
Roberto Martínez stands in Brendan Rodgers' path to greater local support. Beating Manchester United and Everton in the league earns serious kudos points for any Liverpool manager. Rodgers is generally well-supported but there are those who remain unconvinced. He isn't King Kenny but replaced him. The cheek. He isn't the man who should have been rehired...Rafa. He smiles, he talks, he does funny things with his fingers, he likes percentages, and good men. Some will never like someone who radiates positivity even when it can be taxing to ingest. A few more wins against close rivals combined with holding a lofty league placing may change any dissenting opinions rather quickly. Results always have a funny habit of speaking clearly and with requisite volume for all ears to take heed.
Everton's current manager could have made his way to Merseyside earlier but a dossier along with a man with a plan presumably thwarted his intentions of overseeing a Red Revival. Martínez and Rodgers both made their reputations at "lesser" clubs, playing a brand of football that attracted the attentions of Merseyside. The clubs could be a good fit for each manager as expectations will be tempered somewhat as both rise to greater prominence. Rodgers is further along the path but the two managers represent a progressive faction in football. They coach players to maximise their impact on the field and perceive passing a football as a minimum requirement.
The two meet on Saturday in what appears to be a new age for Merseyside and if Liverpool manage to snare an away win then Rodgers might head into December with another major victory. It may not be ETW then but there's always time for that later...