August seems a long time ago. Liverpool had issues back then, but promising results, most notably the 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal, left fans in a confident mood for the season ahead.
Since that victory over Arsenal however, the Reds have failed to win another game.
An unfortunate, but nevertheless disappointing 5-0 drubbing from Manchester City was followed by frustrating draws against Sevilla and Burnley in the Champions League and Premier League respectively.
The winless sequence then stretched to four after a much-changed Liverpool side fell to Leicester City in the Carabao Cup, conceding twice in a dreadful second half after dominating the first.
Liverpool’s season may only be in its early stages, and every team experiences fluctuations in form, but when the Reds are not winning each game becomes more and more important.
Winning the Premier League title may have been too ambitious a target this season, given Jürgen Klopp’s frustrations at being unable to sign a centre-back, specifically Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk.
However, consolidation can be another form of progress for Liverpool this season. The Reds have not achieved consecutive top-four finishes since the days of Rafael Benítez almost a decade ago.
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What should be Liverpool's target?
To qualify for the Champions League again, given the strength of the Manchester clubs, defending Premier League champions Chelsea, North London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, and even Merseyside rivals Everton (despite their poor start to the season), would be another achievement for Klopp and Liverpool.
Given the strength in depth of English football, Arsène Wenger may have had a point about comparing a top four finish to a major trophy. Naturally, Wenger’s comment has its critics, but at this current stage in Liverpool’s development and potential resurgence, qualifying regularly for the Champions League is more important than winning the EFL Cup or FA Cup.
Liverpool can grow in the Champions League, and re-join the elite. Consequently, that will give the Reds a better chance to win not only the Premier League and Champions League, but also a domestic cup competition – realistically competing on multiple fronts, as Liverpool did under Benítez.
All of these ambitions, hopes and dreams for Liverpool do not come down to a single game, but equally Liverpool’s second trip to the King Power Stadium in under a week is immensely important.
The Reds have another two away trips following this repeat encounter with Leicester on Saturday evening – a long, draining journey to Russia to take on Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday, before the Reds reunite with Benítez again to take on his Newcastle United side at St James’ Park.
Following those tricky fixtures, Liverpool then entertain Manchester United at Anfield after the international break before playing Tottenham at Wembley in the Premier League.
Back-to-back defeats against Leicester is simply not an option, and three points should be the target.
Reds have to learn from first trip to Leicester
Liverpool could have been out of sight in that first half on Tuesday night against Craig Shakespeare’s side. With the likes of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah coming back into the team for Saturday, and Philippe Coutinho beginning to pick up form again, as he showed in that first half against Leicester, Liverpool have no excuses not to score goals on Saturday night.
The wastefulness in front of goal has to stop, otherwise there will be more results akin to Sevilla and Burnley, and the defence will not be solely to blame.
There is admittedly unfair pressure on Liverpool’s forwards to compensate for the errors at the back, but that is the reality under this attacking, aggressive Klopp team, and Liverpool are more than capable of outscoring the opposition, as they did for most of August.
If they cannot outscore Leicester this weekend, then an early season bad patch could turn into a complete campaign malaise, as Liverpool’s brittle confidence will be tested further in Moscow and Newcastle, before those huge games against United and Spurs.
Liverpool may have a good record against England’s elite, but that will count for little if the Reds are on seven match winless streak, with pressure high and confidence low.
Liverpool need to reset, compose themselves, and get back to what they do best – terrorising teams into submission, so if Liverpool’s own defence decides to start terrorising its own fans, the damage will not be fatal.
The Reds need that winning feeling back, starting with a quick turnaround against Jamie Vardy and co.