Liverpool currently sit in fourth place in the Premier League and, with many mercurial talents shining, Reds fans have predicted that they could well win the title.
I however, believe they lack the quality for any genuine challenge.
Liverpool can boast one of the best attacking combinations in England; the prolific strike pair Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have an incredible 49 goals between them this season, while Philippe Coutinho has emerged as one of the most promising youngsters in the world, Raheem Sterling has recovered from a poor campaign last season to bring quality down the flanks and Jon Flanagan has become a superb attacking wing back.
Yet notice that all the players I have just named are rarely spotted in their own penalty areas. Liverpool's defence is not as strong as it needs to be for them to remain in contention until the last day.
Liverpool bought in Simon Mignolet from Sunderland, and although he wouldn't be called a bad signing, he has definitely not maintained his heroics of last season.
Then there's the full-backs, who are generally deployed as wing-backs who defend little. As centre backs go, the three main options are Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho (with Daniel Agger out of favour).
Skrtel is prone to own goals and defensive errors, as is the ageing Kolo Toure. And although Mamadou Sakho appears to be a good defender, one centre back cannot marshall an entire defence. To give an example of Liverpool defensive problems, look at the number of goals conceded to small teams (all from the Premier League):
Swansea, Stoke, Hull and Everton: three goals conceded.
Aston Villa, Arsenal, Newcastle and Swansea: two goals conceded.
This is an embarrassing seven clean sheets in 27 matches (a less than 26% chance of keeping a clean sheet).
The teams that Liverpool will have to beat to win the title are Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City. If you compare Liverpool's clean sheet record to the other top teams (Chelsea over 44%, Arsenal over 44% and Manchester City 37%) it becomes obvious that Liverpool really need to improve their defence if they are to have any hope of winning silverware soon.
Several of their wins or draws have been sealed right at the end of the match (most recently Steven Gerrard's late penalty against Fulham), and unless they can rely on their defence to give them some breathing space, these 3's and 1's may soon be turning into 1's and 0's.
Liverpool are proof that a couple of good strikers cannot make you a good side on their own, and it will take more tinkering on the part of Brendan Rodgers to take them to the next level.
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