It’s hard to look at the table and see a “9” in the “played” column and call the next match on the schedule a must-win.
But that may just be the case for Liverpool on Sunday when Manchester United visits Anfield.
The Reds are already seven points adrift of table-topping United, so going 10 down with 10 games in the books is not the stuff of which title-winning dreams are made.
Factor in a 2-1 loss to Lyon on Wednesday in Champions League play and things aren’t looking rosy on that front, either.
So, at the risk of using an incredibly bad pun, the Red Devils can “bounce” Liverpool out of the title race on Sunday. And with two of the remaining three group stage fixtures on the road, advancing in Europe won’t be easy.
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that Liverpool’s team shop has sold out of beach balls this week.
Or maybe it isn’t.
The injury woes are piling up for Liverpool, as Glen Johnson, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are all doubts for the crucial clash.
Think you’ve got the winner pegged? Try your hand at the EPL Talk Predictor.
Of course, there are other games this week.
And here are some previews:
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Aston Villa
Wolves will look to improve their home record as Aston Villa comes calling Saturday.
Table watch: Wolves are in 16th place on eight points while the Villans are in sixth place on 16 points.
Staying the course: Aston Villa is flying high after last week’s win over Chelsea, but manager Martin O’Neill is looking for his side to stay focused on Wolves.
“We will be up for the game. We can still lose the match, but we will be right for the game,” he told Sky Sports.
“The players have gained a lot of confidence from the Manchester City and Chelsea matches.
“We’re ready for it. I’ve already said to the players how difficult the game is going to be. They will be as ready for the game as we possibly can. That might not be good enough on the day – but they will be ready for it.”
Birmingham vs. Sunderland
The Black Cats may have to do without the beach ball at St. Andrew’s this weekend when they visit Birmingham.
Table watch: Birmingham is in 17th spot on seven points while Sunderland is in seventh place on 16 points.
Drumming up support: Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is hoping for a loud crowd this weekend.
“I am delighted with the enthusiasm that has been generated this last week or so and the fans are buzzing,” he told the UKPA. “People are looking forward with anticipation. It is a new era. I personally would love to see the packed houses at St Andrews, and see the Birmingham fans getting back to their support of a few years ago.”
It’s no fluke: Sunderland gaffer Steve Bruce told the team’s Web site this week, “We’ve produced two wonderful performances against recent weeks against Manchester United and Liverpool, but speak to me again in six months and I’ll tell you what kind of progress has been made. I’m purring inside and things are going along nicely but I will never get carried away. Football has a habit of coming back to kick you.”