Brendan Rodgers Right to Talk Up Liverpool's Premier League Chances

Max MuntonLiverpool CorrespondentDecember 30, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on December 26, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Despite two consecutive defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea over the festive period, Brendan Rodgers remained positive of Liverpool’s chances of being in the Premier League title race this season.

He told BBC Sport after Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea: "There's no reason why we can't be challenging. The most important thing for us is that we're in the conversation."

His words may seem more hopeful than logical, coming after Liverpool dropped from league leaders to fifth place in the space of four days and now six points off top spot.

But Liverpool may now be through the worst of the storm. On his side’s Christmas fixture schedule, Rodgers told BBC Sport: "We couldn't have had two tougher games against two greater squads."

At the halfway stage of the season, Liverpool have now played seven of the top eight teams away from home—with only Manchester United left to visit in the second half of the season.

That is a huge advantage—furthered by United’s under-par home form this season.

Now Rodgers will look to have a bit more luck with injuries and find reinforcements for the team in the January transfer window.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Aly Cissokho of Liverpool is tackled by Jesus Navas and Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on December 26, 2013 in Mancheste
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Bringing back Aly Cissokho at left-back for Thursday’s defeat at Man City, then immediately dropping him for the trip to Chelsea showed Rodgers’ anxiety in that department with the absences of both Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan.

Liverpool seemed uninspired in creativity going forward against Jose Mourinho’s physically and technically strong defence.

With three games in little over a week, and a fourth to come at Hull City on New Year’s Day, tired legs have become a factor in Rodgers’ team. 

Sunday’s performance in West London was distinctly more lacklustre than the valiant effort in East Manchester three days earlier.

The Northern Irishman bemoaned the lack of depth of his squad, compared to the might of City and Chelsea’s, telling BBC Sport: "At the start of our season this squad was very thin anyway and we needed that bit of luck with nobody getting injured. Up to three weeks ago, that worked well for us."

That’s not to say there aren’t positives to take from the narrow defeats to arguably the league’s strongest teams, two sides that are also going strong in the Champions League amongst Europe’s elite.

If Rodgers and his side can look at their position in the league at the turn of the year with a positive, open mind, and focus on what should be three winnable Premier League games in January against Hull, Stoke City and Aston Villa, confidence levels will rise ahead of Everton’s visit to Anfield at the end of the month. 

It will be at that point that Liverpool’s title credentials really come into play—having made their move in the January transfer window and the Champions League resuming for their rivals in February.

Rodgers concluded to BBC Sport: "If we get that wee bit of luck and stay clear of injury, and we'll improve in the second half of the season, then we're going to be in with a shout of challenging."