An international break is always a good time to evaluate where you stand, especially as you don't have much else to talk about. Have Liverpool moved forward in the month since the last time we adjourned?
In September, Liverpool hit the first break of the season after a lackluster (to put it mildly) performance against Hearts at home to squeak through Europa League qualifying and what was a pretty humbling experience against Arsenal. At that point, they had played three league games to get one point, while having played four Europa League games, winning three, but only really looking any good at home to Gomel.
Since then, Liverpool have played four league games, getting five points, which is at least an improvement from .33 points per game to 1.25 if not acceptable. In there was a crushing defeat to ManUre, though the performance left a lot of us feeling more hopeful than we had before.
Liverpool have also won their only League Cup game at West Brom and won one and lost one in the Europa League. So these are the facts.
What's beyond the results? The performances have been better. Whereas before the first break Liverpool were only good against Man City and passable for the first half against West Brom before the first break, leading into this one Liverpool played well for at least long stretches against United, Young Boys, West Brom, Udinese, and Norwich. There were obviously some warts in all of those matches, but the fact that Liverpool looked sleek at times with a variety of lineups is leaves us more encouraged than we were a month ago.
Obviously there are issues. The defense has only managed the one clean sheet against Stoke that was just recorded. The points total is what it is, and it's not good. The squad is still thin.
However, between the two international breaks, we've seen the debuts in the first team of Suso and Andre Wisdom, as well as Raheem Sterling establishing himself as a firm regular. Nuri Sahin has shown some flashes as well, and Assaidi has made appearances. There's more to pay attention to than there was.
Overall, I think Liverpool and their support is in a better place than a month ago, but not in any real tangible way. What worries you is what's coming up. There are no breaks after this. It's a full nose-dive into a deep pool of fixtures. When the break is over, Liverpool will have four games in 11 days to finish out October. That includes the Merseyside Derby.
November isn't much cleaner. There are seven games schedule that month, and another one could be fitted in if progress in the League Cup is made on Halloween against Swansea. That's a lot, and it's even more for a thin squad. Even with heavy rotation and the promotion of kids you thought might not get into the first team this season, it's going to be a lot to ask of everyone. And that's not even getting to the car-crash scheduling of around Christmas that's a mess for everyone.
Final verdict? Limited hope and encouragement, but an awful lot of apprehension coming up.