Rafael Benitez must have been feeling that perhaps he was not destined to take Liverpool to their first trophy win since 2006 when Robert Huth poked in a last-gasp equaliser for Stoke on Saturday. Lucas had already had a possible penalty shout denied in the first half and was booked for his troubles, and Dirk Kuyt went on to hit the post in the 95th minute.
But in light of other recent results, Benitez has probably got a month to prove his worth to Liverpool Football Club. Fellow rivals for the celebrated fourth place Tottenham couldn’t make chances pay as they slumped to a goalless draw with strugglers Hull City, Aston Villa and West Ham cancelled each other out in another 0-0 stalemate, and Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City crashed to a 2-0 loss at the hands of Everton.
Wednesday pits Liverpool against Tottenham at Anfield in a match that promises to be the Litmus test of Liverpool’s current Top Four aspirations. A loss would probably emphasise the whispered (if very loudly) notion that Liverpool need a change of management.
On the 6th of February Liverpool host the Merseyside derby against an Everton side that is unbeaten since they lost 2-0 to Liverpool at Goodison Park on the 29th of November, a streak that has lasted 7 games. Local pride is up for stake in this fixture and a loss would not be taken lightly by the board, and fans.
In what promises to be a crucial week for Liverpool’s 2010-11 Champion’s League hopes, they travel to the Emirates in what will be an important match against a rampant Arsenal side.
For any campaign to be successful, a little of Lady Luck’s magic is necessary, and if Liverpool don’t lose any other key players between now and their season-defining week, they will have a real chance to win both matches, and go on to put a string of favourable results together. Gerrard, Benayoun and Johnson will all be back and will galvanise a Liverpool side that are in great need of a pep-up.
Between Wednesday’s match and the game against Everton, Liverpool have matches against strugglers Bolton and Wolves which, if won, will help them to take some momentum into what is promising to be an interesting week for Rafa Benitez.