Although I’ve always been a staunch Gooner, unlike members of the ‘selective memory’ posse (formerly ‘the fickle mob’) I can admit when they are at fault or God forbid another team plays with more flair and attacking intent.
I am a fan of open football and of those select managers who have the minerals to forego defending for attacking. The glamour of goals is the reason the last defender to win the Football Player of the Year was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, and ultimately why the vast majority of us started playing football.
No offence Joe Hart, but not many eight year olds dream of being you when they grow
So, with that in mind I have no trouble in applauding Brendan Rogers and his overhaul of the recent Liverpool playing style and attempting a return to the swashbuckling 80s goal machine of Aldridge, Rush, Dalglish, Houghton and Barnes.
They have scored a huge 84 goals so far this season, eight more than the Abu Dhabi backed oil slicked attacking flair of Manchester City, although they do have two games in hand on the Reds.
As far as I can see there are four main reasons why Liverpool have a strong chance of taking the title.
Rodgers has instilled a measure of unpredictability in their formations. They have utilised three, four and even five at the back all to different and devastating effect.
The midfield diamond has been very successful with players interchanging positions, making man marking nigh on impossible. The crux of this system demands strict discipline and positional awareness from every player.
This flexibility is highlighted by none other than Jordan Henderson, perhaps the Reds’ most improved player. He has been deployed in a plethora of positions including number ten, right & left side midfielder, centre midfield and even finishing the game against Spurs at right back.
Tactics are generally about creating uncertainty in the opposing manager’s mind, that’s exactly what this flexibility has done.
As mentioned Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have been giving defenders cold sweaty nightmares, and with 48 league goals between them so far this season you can understand why. Their pace, precision and consistent movement is enough to make even the most experienced player quake in their Predators.
However, I feel another ‘S’ should be added to the famous acronym of ‘SAS’ after the rise of Raheem Sterling. He plays with the unbridled confidence of youth and his end product has really improved recently highlighted by big impacts in the Arsenal and Southampton matches.
No midweek trips to IFK Goteborg to contend with means they can focus all their attentions on lifting that coveted Premier League title.
The strain added by a long midweek trip begins to show on the lesser squads around this time of the season.
Add this to being knocked out of the Capital One Cup in the first round and being beaten in the FA Cup by a vengeful Gunners team, and they will have plenty left in the engine.
They have, very arguably, the easiest run in out of the top four clubs and four out of their seven games are at home. Two of those home games are against Chelsea and Manchester City, however, the Anfield crowd can do wonders and it may just be in their hands to make it happen.
The only issue I can see with the current team is the goals conceded column. Their defence has been breached 39 times so far this season, on par with Crystal Palace who sit in 17th place and only four less than the whole of last season.
At the moment the Reds are following the daddy of total football Johan Cruyff’s advice that “It’s all very simple: if you score one more than your opponent, you win”.
I want to finish this article in the same vein as I started by congratulating Liverpool F.C. and in particular Brendan Rogers on their ambitious approach to total football. After their controlled demolition of the Red Devils at Old Trafford and a ground out home win against Sunderland, the manager will be hard pressed to keep the same aloof attitude to actually winning the title he has had so far.
The only downside to this upturn in Liverpool's football quality is that I have to see Daniel Sturridge’s ‘newborn bird attempting its virgin flight’ celebration dance more than I ever wanted.
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