In late September I started a thread called “October is key”. Why is December not key, or May? Well, simply because since our fans demand the Premiership, but commerce dictates Champions League progress, October is a unique month that has both key Premiership fixtures and a spate of CL games. A good October would have given us something quite unique in recent times: going into the hectic Nov-Jan period in a leading Premiership position AND Champions League progress assured.

Within 30 minutes of the kick-off of yesterday’s European internationals, a fantastic start to the first half of October may now see us fail to capitalize in the latter half. Injuries to Torres and Babel are serious causes for concern as so far in their respective Liverpool careers, they have been a devastating one-two attacking punch. One from the start, and the other from the bench.

However, much like when we coped extremely well against Manchester United without Gerrard and Torres, we may now have to go into the next few weeks, with key games against Atletico (sad if Fernando can’t play in his first club return to both his club and his country since his move) and Chelsea, with a similar dogged mindset and belief that other members of the squad can step up.

Against Wigan, I suspect Kuyt will continue his good early season form and get the striking role alongside Keane, who thankfully is also hitting some form, recently scoring the winning goal for ROI. This is really the moment for Keane to seize an early opportunity in his Liverpool career to be a hero.

Who then for the right of midfield? I suspect Pennant will be resurrected (however, Benayoun may trump him, to me its really who can protect Arbeloa better once Kuyt is not stationed on the right), with Xabi and Gerrard in the middle. Mascherano rarely starts games after his long international treks and I don’t see him getting past the bench in this one. However against Chelsea away, I suspect the 4-2-3-1 will be used again, with Keane having to adapt to playing as a lone striker, but Gerrard and Kuyt’s support should help. Of course, Rafa may play N’gog instead after a Keane hattrick in the Calderon.

For Wigan, their key men, Zaki, Palacios and Valencia may be injured or suffering from a bit of jet lag, so perhaps the early kick off on Saturday may have some benefit. Agger looks pretty certain to start as he will need some games under his belt if he’s to cope with the Champions League game on Wednesday with Sami unavailable for selection.

Our lineup against Atletico will likely be fairly attacking given their recent defensive fragility, and Atletico’s state of mind after their weekend derby with Real will also play some part. Invite Atletico to attack may be asking for trouble, with Aguero in some really wonderful form at the moment.

The Chelsea game, the penultimate fixture for the month, really will be a big test. With any luck, it will be a top of the table clash. Realistically, a draw will be an excellent result given their recent form and home record. However, there’s a bit of the devil about us this season, and if we were to nick a win and ruin their proud home record (85 matches and counting) then even the most jaded of Liverpool fans may begin to fantasize about glory in May. And I don’t mean in Rome.


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