Or translated into English, the more things change the more they stay the same.
In La Liga, Real Madrid handed out a striking master class in hammering seven goals past Osasuna
whilst Barcelona played to an entertaining draw against Athletic Bilbao in a game where Pep Guardiola was up against his coaching mentor Marcelo Biesla. Having made an impressive start, Levante have lost their last two games and it’s business as usual at the top of the log with Real leading Barca by 3 points. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi continue their personal Pichichi battle.
Over in the Bundesliga Bayern Munich continued their impressive start to the season with a 2-1 win
away to FC Augsburg. Mario Gomez continued his impressive goal scoring adding another goal to lead the scoring charts with 13 goals.
The Premier League also has a fairly familiar look with the top seven teams including the usual suspects
– two Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Arsenal – and a surprise addition in Newcastle. The Magpies continued their impressive unbeaten start to the season with a solid 2-1 win over Everton.
Manchester City continue to look impressive – and so they should be, considering the wealth of talent of the club. Manchester United, having started the season brightly, seem to be doing enough to get the results they need (as usual) and will be there or thereabouts at season end even without a regular central midfield pairing. Chelsea are stuttering along with Torres showing good movement but not getting as many goals as pundits and fans seem to think he should. Spurs are looking solid at the moment and their north London neighbours, Arsenal, have recovered from a shaky start and continue their revival – until, plus ça change, the new, improved Captain Fantastic gets injured again.
This brings us to Liverpool, currently in 6th position and level on nineteen points with Arsenal.
A new season has started and it certainly seems to be a case of déjà vu all over again as Yogi Berra would have said. Liverpool began the season with a sense of optimism (some cautious, some not) and hope that things would certainly be significantly better than a year before under Roy Hodgson. A number of new signings increased the levels of excitement and fans looked forward to continued improvements under Kenny Dalglish.
One of the key issues for Liverpool football club is the extremely high (and somewhat unrealistic)
expectations of certain sections of the supporter base. Every team has to set certain targets for the season – for some it is the title, for others European football the following season and for still others it is simply to stay in the Premier League. For a long time (21 years and counting) there has been an expectation that Liverpool should be challenging for the title and if not the title, the expectation has been for European football. Many supporters of rival clubs are quick to point out that Liverpool fans live in the past because their current reality is so far removed from that glorious past.
One of the positive notes is that the team is creating a lot of chances, but the conversion ratio is extremely poor for a team with lofty ambitions. Contrary to popular belief, the lack of goals cannot simply be laid at the door of a certain Andy Carroll, as the midfielders and defenders should also be chipping in with their share of goals. Football is a team game after all.
However, Liverpool has yet to eradicate one of the biggest weaknesses from their game – winning games
against lower-ranked opposition. This season they have drawn games against Sunderland, Norwich and Swansea and lost to Stoke. Until the team can consistently overcome this level of opponent, they cannot be realistically be considered as a top four team.
Perhaps it is time for fans to concede that the harsh reality is that there is still a significant amount
of work to be done before the club can start dreaming of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League.