A year ago at the Premier League half-way point, Liverpool were battling for top spot in the league. This year, they're battling to keep in sight of the top four after one of their worst starts in the Premier League era. With that in mind, they head into a match against Swansea City knowing anything less than three points will be seen as a disappointing—if perhaps not surprising—result.
Draws against traditional top sides like Arsenal are one thing, but tomorrow, facing off against an opponent they would have started the season expecting to be comfortably ahead of at this stage, the expectations will be for maximum points. At his pre-match press conference today, Brendan Rodgers said as much, and he also insisted that a top four finish remains his side's target for the season.
"The objective is still very much the same," said the Liverpool manager. "We want to end the season in the top four. We know it's a long road to that, but you go step by step and the points can whittle away quickly. We're seven points back of that right now, so we just take each game as it comes. We know we'll be much better in the second half than the first if we can keep this momentum going."
Whether they can do that, and whether they can improve in the second half, seems a far from certain thing. Rodgers, though, is looking back to his first two seasons at the club and is confident that Liverpool can once again build to a strong finish. This time around, though, they've had a worse first half to the season and have further to go on both the performances and points fronts.
"In my two years, that's what's happened," he said. "We've gotten better and better as the season goes on, and we have to do the same this year. Our objective going in was to do well in the cups and see if we could get a trophy and to continue the evolution of the group going. There are a lot of talented young players in the squad and they're gaining experience."
Hopefully, having struggled through the first half of the season, they're now past the gaining experience stage and can kick on with a much better second half.