In regards to Liverpool this season, most of the pieces written deal with ways that the team should be fixed (I myself am guilty of this).
No one seems to give the Reds a chance to stay in the top four for very much longer, and most see them as merely a top four challenger who will ultimately miss out.
But, after the 4-0 drubbing of Fulham this week, Liverpool sit just two points behind Arsenal, who sit atop of the table. After such a dominant display, it may be time to take their top four credentials a little more seriously. The view of Liverpool's league position as an anomaly is in the process of being faded out by the team's play.
Liverpool's only two losses this season have come against two of the other top four teams in the league, Southampton and Arsenal. The Southampton defeat may have seemed like a huge disappointment at the time, but based on how the season has transpired, Liverpool can be proud to have played so well against arguably the most in-form team in the Premier League.
The Anfield outfit have found ways to grind out wins even when they were not putting complete games together, and now that they are able to stay focused for a full 90 minutes the goals are flowing in.
The draw at Newcastle may also feel like dropped points, which they probably were, but Newcastle have since beaten Tottenham and Chelsea, two teams who were initially predicted to finish leaps and bounds ahead of Liverpool in the table. It could be argued that in this respect the Reds have shown a strength that their fellow top four contenders have not.
After the Fulham match, the defeat at Arsenal appears to may have just been an off day. Steven Gerrard was a commanding presence in the midfield against the Cottagers, illustrating that his performance against Arsenal was a minor slip up in his season so far.
Jordan Henderson also responded to the previous week's criticism by putting in a tireless display, and slotting a beautiful pass to Luis Suarez for the team's third goal. Suarez was again phenomenal, picking up right where he left off before the match at the Emirates in terms of goal scoring, and he, Sturridge and Coutinho exhibited a remarkable innate understanding.
The return to a back four was a catalyst for Liverpool's improved play. The team was better
positionally, and the ball movement was more incisive.
Brendan Rodgers may be disappointed that the team are not playing the possession-dominant style that characterised his time at Swansea, but if the results are there then it is a mere speed bump on the road to European places.
The tactical environment of the game has changed since Rodgers took over at Anfield, with tiki-taka evolving into a more direct style, so really Liverpool's approach is keeping up with the times.
There are several tough tests coming up for Liverpool, most immediately the Merseyside derby. Barring any injuries to key players during the international break, the team will be in poll position to steamroll any opposition they face. The time has come to accept Liverpool as a genuine contender for Europe and dispel the sense that they are only second by the grace of some sort of fortune.
There has been noting accidental about their play. If they can avoid any more off days, they could easily find themselves becoming one of the most feared sides in England.
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