Stoppage Time: Time for Liverpool to make a run
Philadelphia, PA – You may not have noticed, but Liverpool has pieced together a six-game unbeaten streak in Premier League play.
But that's still not to say that the Reds are in a good run of form.
Liverpool's streak has gone under the radar because it hasn't netted a very big gain in terms of climbing the table. With just two wins on the season, the fabled English club occupies 13th place 11 league games into the Brendan Rodgers era.
Rodgers took control of the managerial post at Anfield during the summer and stumbled out of the blocks - the club lost three of its first five league games.
The poor opening stretch left Liverpool toiling in the relegation zone, but it has been able to claw its way out thanks to a plethora of draws.
Luis Suarez, whose eight goals lead the Premier League along with Manchester United's Robin van Persie, helped Liverpool salvage a point in another draw at the weekend. The Reds battled back for a 1-1 tie with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, its sixth draw in 11 league matches.
With that pivotal goal, one thing has become clear: Rodgers' acclimation period is over, and now is the time for Liverpool to march up the table to restore its status as a top-four club.
Liverpool can take solace from the fact that it has faced seven teams occupying spots in the top half of the table. The club has managed just four points from those games, but they are out of the way and the Reds now can turn their attention to a weaker schedule heading into the holiday period.
The average point total of Liverpool's next 10 league opponents is just over 11, and half of those matches will be against teams below Liverpool in the table.
The opportunity to make up some ground is there for the taking, and second- choice goalkeeper Brad Jones, who has deputized admirably for the injured Pepe Reina, believes that Liverpool is primed for the favorable run-in.
"We're continuing to pick up points and we're producing some good performances," Jones told the club's official website. "And that's fantastic. As long as we keep getting better and keep improving, then that's the way we want to head."
A solid run to close out the calendar year is essential to Liverpool in more ways than simply league position.
Climbing the table and getting itself into a competitive spot would go a long way toward enticing a premier striker to make the switch to Anfield, something the Merseyside club desperately needs.
With Suarez being Liverpool's only healthy out-and-out forward option at the moment, the club certainly must target a striker in the January transfer window, but the next 10 games will be paramount in determining the pedigree of the striker it can attract. A quality striker does not want to play for a club with no realistic ambition of achieving success. Just ask Arsenal supporters.
A poor run of form in the coming months may even jeopardize Suarez's future with the club. The Uruguayan has proven this season that he can lead the line and produce goals on a consistent basis, but if Liverpool cannot reward Suarez with silverware, it is only a matter of time before he hands in a transfer request and looks elsewhere. Again, talk to Gunners fans about how that goes.
The window that gives Liverpool the best chance to ascend up the Premier League table opens Saturday when the Reds host Wigan, but it will shut in the new year when they head to Old Trafford to face Manchester United - they follow up their meeting with the Red Devils with matches against Norwich City, Arsenal, Manchester City and West Bromwich.
That gives Rodgers and his team 10 games to make their move. Better results will foster optimism and hope, but more of the same will leave the Anfield calling for Rodgers' head.
And that call surely will be loud enough for all to take notice.