Rodgers' Liverpool face crunch derby against Everton
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Brendan Rodgers is under scrutiny because his big spending Liverpool side have not started the Premier League season with the required results. A victory in the Merseyside derby against Everton would keep the snipers at bay.
Merseyside derbies are the most unpredictable of beasts. And probably not the game on which a manager’s future should hinge.
But such is Rodgers' predicament.
He takes his side across Stanley Park on Sunday looking for a performance that will silence the carping about his abilities.
Rodgers' position has come under the spotlight during a run of just one win in five Premier League games and two unconvincing draws in the Europa League.
A first defeat for Liverpool in the Merseyside derby since October 2010 would only increase the pressure on Rodgers during the upcoming international break.
Rodgers said in the prelude to the game that he believes his team is improving. A win will send them above their city rivals in the Premier League table.
"This is my fourth season of going to Goodison Park and we've played well there and been unfortunate not to come away with victories," he said. "We've never lost there in my time. Hopefully that continues. I'm looking forward to seeing the continuation of the team developing.
"When we first started the season we had a couple of wins but we weren't creating so many chances. Now it's starting to evolve where we're starting to create opportunities and clear-cut chances.
"So we know whether we're playing home or away, we're back into the flow of creating chances. Now what we have to do is take those chances."
Pre-season signing Christian Benteke faces a fitness check on a hamstring injury which has kept the Belgium international out of Liverpool’s last three games.
The return from long-term injury of Daniel Sturridge has given the Liverpool attack more venom. He was rested for Thursday's 1-1 draw with FC Sion in the Europa League.
Sturridge will partner Danny Ings, who was named in the senior England squad for the first time on Thursday.
"You saw Daniel's quality in the game last week. He is obviously at a really high level in terms of his ability to score a goal," added Rodgers, who was grateful for Sturridge's two goals in a 3-2 win over Aston Villa last weekend.
"He is important for us. We have missed him over a long period of time. What top players do is also give the team confidence.
"Him coming back into the reckoning for the weekend is a massive boost for us and when he plays you know he's got that star quality."
Everton appear to be the more content of the two rivals who will contest the 225th Merseyside derby.
While Liverpool have struggled for consistency, Roberto Martinez's side have come through a testing start to the Premier League season relatively unscathed.
Deserved victories over Southampton and Chelsea, allied to respectable draws at Tottenham and Swansea, have formed a solid base on which to make a push for European qualification.
And although last Monday's match at West Bromwich Albion showed Everton's defensive frailties have not been eliminated, they managed to claw their way from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
"We showed incredible belief," Martinez said. "As you can imagine, the confidence goes through the roof when you get the feeling of winning a game after coming back from a two-goal deficit."
In the five games under Martinez, Everton have failed to take all three points against Liverpool. But it’s an abysmal record that predates the Spaniard.
Everton have not won any of their last 10 meetings with Liverpool. Five of the last six meetings between the sides, including the last three at Goodison Park, have ended in draws.
A stalemate on Sunday afternoon will suit the higher placed Martinez. It could however begin the endgame for Rodgers.
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