Is Brendan Rodgers Right in Saying Liverpool Are 'Playing Catch-Up' to Arsenal?

Max Munton@thisisanfieldLiverpool CorrespondentNovember 4, 2013

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers issues instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on October 26, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Following Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday, Brendan Rodgers admitted on ESPN that Liverpool are already “playing catch-up” to the league leaders.

He told the room full of journalists:

These 10 games we've all played, people talk about it being early, but you don't get them back.

You don't get to play them again so you've got to claim the points.

The great thing is there's lots of time left to gain those points back, but at this moment in time they are high in confidence, playing well and they will be pleased with the win.

The eagle-eyed among you will notice Rodgers has changed his language somewhat compared to that of the start of the season.

Instead of his match-by-match attitude, we’re now seeing a more confident Rodgers, looking at the bigger picture.

No doubt he’s right.

Arsenal are indeed the Premier League pacesetters. A five-point lead over second-place Chelsea and third-place Liverpool at the beginning of November is nothing to be sniffed at.

They are playing football beyond all other teams in the league and getting their rewards for it.

But whether, given this scenario in August, Rodgers would have said Liverpool are “playing catch-up” to the league leaders is an interesting debate.

Are Liverpool in a position to even feel they are off the pace of top of the Premier League? Is top spot now a realistic pursuit?

In other words, do Arsenal count as Liverpool’s pacesetters, or are Liverpool looking for a top-four finish and in fact, in turn, the pacesetters for the teams below them?

In the buildup to Saturday’s game at Arsenal, Rodgers was quoted in The Guardian as saying the match didn’t swing the course of the season:

Saturday won’t be the be-all-and-end-all in terms of whether we can make the top four or not, but I think what we have shown so far is that we are going to be in the conversation.

Here, Rodgers clearly reminds journalists of Liverpool’s target for the season—a top four place. But his post-match comments look more towards following Arsenal’s lead and catching up with them, which would surely mean a race for the title.

Exciting and confident words from the manager, if a little premature.

Premature because Liverpool’s weak spots were clearly exploited by a very good Arsenal side on Saturday evening.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02: A dejected Steven Gerrard of Liverpool looks to the big screen after they conceded a second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on November 2, 2013 in London, Engla
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Steven Gerrard's and Lucas Leiva’s off-the-boil performances affected the team in more ways than one.

Their constant battle to reposition against the fast breaks of Arsene Wenger’s side left them caught out on a number of occasions.

This absence denied Liverpool the imperative catalyst between defence and attack.

Whilst there were chances for Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez to get on the scoresheet, they weren’t taken.

It felt like a bad day at the office for Liverpool, outplayed and outclassed.

Rodgers finished his post-match press conference on Saturday by thanking the club’s owners, who “have given me everything,” but also dropped a hint as to why he’s now looking up the table, rather than over his shoulder:

After 10 games there's always a good assessment of where you can go. I think we've had a terrific start.

So for us to be where we are, that's where we want to be, we've shown that we're going to have a fighting chance.

Has Rodgers used the 10th game of the season as a benchmark to reassess his side’s ambitions?

If Chelsea and Tottenham are still in the title race with the same amount of points, aren’t Liverpool?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  David Silva of Manchester City celebrates scoring the second goal with his team-mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Norwich City at Etihad Stadium on November 2, 2013 in Manchester
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

How about Manchester City, who linger a point behind Liverpool, yet are the bookies’ favourites for the title?

Or Manchester United, three points behind Liverpool, who are still fourth favourites ahead of the Merseysiders to retain the Premier League?

Has Rodgers changed his tune? And have Liverpool’s targets changed after 10 games? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


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