Goalscorers make the difference. A solid defence is crucial. A great manager helps. Fans can have a huge impact. But is anything as important as confidence on a football pitch?
As the Premier League table stands, Manchester United and Liverpool are both seven places apart from where they finished last year.
Aside from the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, neither side is significantly different on paper than they were last year. United, in fact, look stronger on paper, with some of their younger regulars having gained a year of experience. But while they have struggled in almost every game this term, Liverpool have proven to be twice as good as last year.
The difference for both teams is confidence. Football is a team game and at Anfield every player relishes their 90 minutes to shine. Every player wants the ball and wants to be involved. In their fearlessness, they have proven to be unbelievably dangerous going forward.
As they break from defence you can see the sense of belief that they can race past any defence. The opposite is seen at the Theatre of Dreams. Almost every player is nervous and they treat the ball like a hot potato. United's most shocking statistic is the number of home defeats.
As they stutter from pass to pass, their opponents, who used to be so cautious, have been running rampant. The so-called smaller teams in the top-flight have always over-performed when visiting the teams at the top. Everyone wants the chance to beat the best and this year every player has sensed that Manchester United are there for the taking.
Despite not being title contenders, Manchester United are still a team everyone wants to beat in English football. Opponents believe like never before that it can be done.
We have also seen the effect of confidence on individual performances throughout the season. Some say that Mesut Ozil's sudden fall from grace proves that he was not ready for the rigours of English football.
It is more likely that confidence has affected him. Arsenal themselves crumbled as they have done for a number of years now in the critical months of February and March. Is there a sense of fear at that time of year in the Arsenal camp?
Daniel Sturridge has grown into a wonderful player and it is more likely that confidence rather than technical ability is the difference in the player we see for Liverpool this year and the Sturridge we saw at Chelsea. The same can be said for Aaron Ramey.
Fernando Torres has put to bed all arguments that he will return to his best as he continues to misfire despite having regained the pace and strength that once made him unstoppable.
Confidence is key and with four games remaining, either Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City will be champions. The team that goes into those nerve-wracking games with the most belief in their own ability will surely come out on top.
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