5 truths: Brendan Rodgers, Christian Eriksen and Southampton’s big opportunity
1) Brendan Rodgers is in real trouble
Imagine how different life would be at Anfield if Steven Gerrard had stayed on his feet against Chelsea last season. As it is, Liverpool have fallen apart – a collapse that shows no sign of abating. If anything it’s getting worse. They find themselves in the lower portion of the Premier League, four points above the relegation zone, having accumulated fewer than half the points of leaders Chelsea.
Rodgers’ summer transfer spree was a catastrophe. Can we label any of the new recruits as a success? Much is made about Daniel Sturridge’s absence, but it’s not like their defence is going to tighten up upon his return. It’s still a bit early for the #RodgersOut campaign – six months ago blueprints were probably being drawn up for a statue of the 41-year-old – and there’s no knowing whether a new man could take that squad are make it better overnight. However, Rodgers has to improve his abysmal transfer record as a manager and start getting results quickly.
2) Christian Eriksen needs to push on
Danish fans were quick to draw parallels between Christian Eriksen and Michael Laudrup after the former joined the latter in making his international debut at 18. After a promising few years at Ajax, Eriksen made the switch to England as Tottenham splashed a small portion of their Gareth Bale fund on the Dane. It’s not really happened for him since.
There have been glimpses of quality – don’t look further than his match-winning display against Hull – but they’ve been too sporadic and he’s too often a delicate passenger. If Spurs are to have any chance of reaching the top four (or winning the Europa League), Eriksen needs to find some consistency to become one of the league’s most feared creative players.
3) Gaston Ramirez should never have been sent off
Gaston Ramirez’s sort-of-kick was petulant. But worthy of a red card? Behave. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of scrapping in the modern game. Was anyone really at risk by keeping the Uruguayan on the pitch? Of course not. The decision completely changed the game as Tottenham claimed an undeserved three-point haul.
4) Southampton have a real chance of finishing fourth
Southampton: 25 points.
Liverpool: 14 pts.
Victory over Aston Villa on Monday evening would open up an ELEVEN point gap on their most likely rivals for a top four berth. While Chelsea, Saints and to some extent Manchester City have gone about dispatching of opponents with ease, the rest of the table is a complete muddle with the remaining 17 teams fancying their chances against each other.
Even if Southampton bottle their imminent tricky run – which sees them face City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea inside a month – chances are they’ll still have a nice cushion on those below them given the league’s unpredictable nature this campaign. Ronald Koeman can continue downplaying it all he wants. Deep down he knows they have a real chance.
5) Tottenham need to discover their best team
Spurs were once again saved by a flash of the red card as they fought back to edge Hull in dramatic fashion. It’s hard to make a case for Mauricio Pochettino to be given more time when Spurs are looking even more absent of a gameplan than during the ill-fated Tim Sherwood era.
And yet they could actually force their way into the top four equation if they could just establish their best team and play them regularly. Of most concern is Erik Lamela and Pochettino must quickly decide what his role is. The Argentine remains without a Premier League goal and looks little closer to opening his account than when on the injury table last season. It's a big problem.
Ben Snowball - @BenSnowball