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Despite Defeat at Chelsea, Liverpool Don't Need to Panic

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Despite Defeat at Chelsea, Liverpool Don't Need to Panic
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Liverpool suffered a 2-1 defeat after going ahead and being on the receiving end of poor decisions from the officials—no, this isn't a report on the defeat at Manchester City on Boxing day but the defeat at Chelsea.

The Reds suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in Brendan Rodgers' managerial reign, despite Martin Skrtel's early goal having given them the perfect start.

The defeats, combined with other teams around the top of the table picking up victories over the festive fixtures, means Liverpool drop from top on Christmas Day to fifth going into the New Year's Day matches.

However, despite the drop in league position, it's not time for panic at Anfield.

Yes, the depth of Rodgers' squad has been exposed, but Liverpool have now played all the big games away from home, apart from Manchester United.

 

Champions League Aim

League position is less relevant than points, due to the nature of the league this season and how close teams are at the top. More relevant is that after exactly half of the season, Liverpool are six points off the top of the table.

The aim at the start of this season, and should now be, too, is Champions League qualification—finishing inside the top four.

Liverpool are now one point off fourth place at the halfway stage, with all the tough away fixtures played and with key members of the squad to come back in, plus any January additions.

Julian Finney/Getty Images

 

Squad Depth

Rodgers' decision to give Brad Smith a debut may be seen as a slightly political decision—a hint that the squad needs adding to in January, bringing him on ahead of Luis Alberto or Iago Aspas.

Smith was joined on the bench by 16-year-old Jordan Rossiter, with injuries to Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan leaving the squad thin.

The injuries to Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho picked up in the second half, a consequence of back-to-back difficult fixtures, are a concern, but the squad is big enough to cover those.

The additions of new players in areas that Rodgers desires may also reduce the reliance on other players currently in the squad and, similarly, raise the game of those currently under-performing, such as Glen Johnson.

 

Fixtures

Liverpool's next five fixtures are now crucial—Hull, Stoke, Aston Villa, Everton and West Brom. Picking up points in those is more important than winning at Chelsea or Manchester City.

Winning the games against those sides not in the top six will be what makes or breaks a top-four challenge.

 

Transfer Window

With the correct additions in the right areas, Liverpool can come out of January with a better squad depth, still in a good position to achieve their overall goal and with "easier" fixtures in the second half of the season than they faced in the opening 19 fixtures.

 

Style of Play

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Rodgers has his side playing the correct style of play, certainly not doing themselves any injustice in the two defeats at the Etihad and Stamford Bridge. That bodes well for the second half of the season.

There are plenty of reasons for optimism and defeats at the two most expensively assembled sides in Premier League history should not set the alarm bells ringing.

Keep calm and carry on.

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