Vincent Hogan: Bringing Alonso back to Anfield holds key to Liverpool finishing in top four
TWO weeks, four games, three of them away to 'top four' rivals -- Liverpool are about to find out if their resurgence under Brendan Rodgers carries authentic weight or is just an empty falsehood.
Theirs looks the toughest of all Christmas programmes and, for a team without an away win in the Premiership since September, the looming trips to White Hart Lane, the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge will deliver a virtual MRI of their Champions League challenge.
Qualification for Europe's premier competition could be worth as much as £40m to the Anfield club, so the temptation to gamble in the January transfer window could be compelling now.
Liverpool's weakness is palpably in midfield, where their inability to dictate the tempo of an away game (Hull anyone?) leaves them looking endlessly vulnerable on the road.
The solution is obvious, albeit expensive. It also flies in the face of their current preference for farming young talent with a view to steady, organic growth.
Xabi Alonso, it appears, has not -- as previously reported -- signed an extension at Real Madrid.
This column's pessimistic view remains that Liverpool are headed for sixth position this season, their current status merely reflecting an accommodating fixture list. But bring Alonso back to Anfield in the January window and that negativity dissolves.
Frankly, Liverpool with Alonso pulling the strings and a contented Luis Suarez still stockpiling goals, would skate into the top four.