When Liverpool fell to a freak 3-0 loss against West Ham United late last month, all the positivity surrounding the club following a solid start to the season evaporated. Liverpool hadn’t succumbed to a West Ham side at Anfield since the 1960s, a statistic which escalated the reactions to another level following the defeat.
Losses are commonplace in a sport as open-ended as football, and the current Liverpool side are no world beaters by any stretch. The Reds’ new summer signing, Danny Ings, perfectly summarised the loss as one related to early season rustiness and unpredictability.
Ings was speaking to Liverpool’s official website, and said: “At the start of a new season, teams come in fresh and hungry after pre-season and there are sometimes an upset in results. We were part of that unfortunately against West Ham.”
The ex-Burnley man couldn’t have summed it up any better. But with a testing tie at Old Trafford against Manchester United looming on the horizon, there is bound to be a sense of scepticism around the Anfield corridors, given Liverpool haven’t done much right in the past 12 months or so.
But Ings is strong of the opinion his side will be up for their task against Louis van Gaal’s side come next weekend, and has even vowed to put on a “real performance” against a team Liverpool consider to be their fierce rivals.
“Everybody here will show pride and I’m sure we will go out there and put on real performance for the fans and the club,” added the 23-year-old.
Last season, the Reds lost both home and away to United; a 3-0 loss in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford in the first half of the season dealt a blow so hard they played catch up to their rivals for the coveted fourth place all season. The return fixture at Anfield saw them lose again; a Steven Gerrard red card compounded their problems as the Red Devils consolidated their hold on the fourth spot.
This time around though, both clubs face off under similar level of pressure and scrutiny. Both clubs are on the back of confidence-shattering defeats, more so in Liverpool’s case but Van Gaal wouldn’t have been happier either given he was tactically outwitted by Swansea’s Garry Monk at the Liberty Stadium in United’s last league fixture.
Liverpool face a mountain of a task, and as Ings pointed, “We need to match them up physically, mentally and tactically which I’m sure we will do and I know we’ve got enough quality to win the game,” all eleven Reds players must turn up at their optimum best, or else another loss beckons.
There is every chance Ings – scorer of Burnley’s equaliser at Old Trafford last season in a 3-1 loss – will feature next weekend. With the influential Philippe Coutinho suspended following his sending off against the Hammers, Ings has a fortuitous chance to make his first start in Liverpool colours, and against arch enemies United, it will be an occasion to remember for the Winchester-born forward.
And like he said, “It’s a place when you can’t lose concentration for a single moment, because they’ve obviously got as much quality as us,” Liverpool could ill afford another non-performance against one of their supposed rivals for the Champions League places. If Ings’ team-mates are as determined as Ings himself, there is every chance the Reds will come away with a season-defining result early doors into the 2015/16 season.