Liverpool look to regain form versus Manchester City
One step forward, then two steps back – this is the definition of Liverpool's season.
The season began in abysmal fashion for the second-place team of last season, so it would not be fair to say they have not improved.
Still, the team is a far cry from the form they showed last season.
They have shown glimpses of genius, but they have managed to follow it up with shockers.
It is unfair to judge the team of 2014/2015 based off their groggy start, or based solely on their exceptional recent run – minus their recent, and uninspired loss to Besiktas - because the true Liverpool side is somewhere in the middle of that.
The pair of games against Besiktas again proved the weakness in Liverpool's side. Where Liverpool of last season were decisive and opportunistic, this rendition of Liverpool is gun-shy and limping – a wounded animal attempting to regain the respect of the other predators.
Liverpool will be looking to address their lack of threat in the off-season, as the Mario Balotelli experiment has proved to be inconclusive at best and a stumbling disaster at worst.
Raheem Sterling continues to improve, and a healthy Daniel Sturridge will make Liverpool much more lethal, but they still lack the duo that was Sturridge and Luis Suarez last season.
Thankfully, Liverpool's defensive woes seem to be over. Dejan Lovren has begun to look like the player Liverpool shelled out so much money for, despite his unfortunate penalty miss.
Some of the pieces have begun to come together, even without the attack consistently firing.
Liverpool can be a Champions League team this season, but they might be a Europa team at best.
The match up with Manchester City will prove to be vital.
If Liverpool can beat City, they can beat any team in the league. If City embarrass Liverpool, 'Pool might find their season in jeopardy.
Anything less than a top-five finish is a major disappointment, even if the team had to claw tooth and nail to get there.
Liverpool's fixture list is difficult in the near future, with City, Manchester United and Arsenal in their next five matches.
The club does get some relief following that as their final nine games of the season only feature Chelsea and Newcastle United – if one considers Newcastle a challenge still – of any serious competition.
That being said, there are always surprises in the Premiership, and Liverpool better hope they can produce one against City if they hope to keep their season on track.