This season in the Premier League is set to go down in history as the most exciting ever.
Not only do we have a good ol’ fashioned relegation scrap that looks like involving 11 teams, but the top seven are all still in with a shout of winning the title, being separated by just 11 points! Who are you calling a mid table club?
With there undoubtedly set to be many more twists and turns between now and May, this football writer has decided to assess the chances of all seven teams who realistically could still lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season. One thing’s for sure: it’s gonna be a hell of a ride…
This article looks at what Liverpool need to do if they want to be carved on to the trophy as Premier League Champions 2014…
In May 2009, Manchester United equalled Liverpool’s long standing record of 18 top division titles: two years later, they took the record for themselves. Liverpool’s proud claim of being Britain’s best football club was seriously in question as – a handful of FA Cup and League Cup titles along with that famous night in Istanbul aside – their quest to return to the summit of English football continued in failure. Liverpool is a city that expects success, yet recent seasons has even seen them drop out of the Champions League, finishing 7th, 6th, 8th and 7th in their last four campaigns – a low that the fans are not used to.
However, a tide has turned where stability at executive level has seen the magnificent Brendan Rodgers – off of the back of a successful time in South Wales – afforded the time to turn around this troubled club and build an attractive, attacking team that are genuine contenders for the title for the first time in many years. How fitting it would be that the Premier League trophy returns to Merseyside the season after their great nemesis Sir Alex Ferguson retires: this year is certainly more than a possibility.
Great credit must be given to the manager who has superbly implemented his philosophy for fast-paced, attacking football that currently sees Liverpool as the second highest scorers in the league. Of course, much of this is courtesy of the inspired Luis Suarez, who’s form currently sits him with the greatest in the world right now. Rodgers’ insistence that his star striker would not be leaving the club following interest from Real Madrid and Arsenal – the latter of which making an infamous £40,000,000 plus £1 bid – in the middle of his 10 match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic is paying dividends. A new attitude appears to have developed on the Uruguayan who, at the time of writing, has notched 22 goals in just 16 Premier League games, making him one of the most feared strikers on the planet. He provides that extra sparkle to the team – capable of the spectacular – that propels the team to genuine contenders as every title winning team needs.
Yet any defenders focussing too much on how to stop the Uruguayan may end up regrettably forgetting his strike partner in the shape of Daniel Sturridge, who had a terrific 2013 before injury ruled out his final months. Sturridge’simprovement sees him as another great option up front, yet what is most impressive is how fantastic a partnership these two have acquired. It appears as though they have forged an understanding that ranks them as arguably the most fearsome striking duo in the league; particularly in a day and age where the lone striker and the false nine are becoming increasingly common. Defenders trying to stop the new SAS are in for one hell of a ride.
With the strike force being Liverpool’s main threat, it is not to say that the rest of their team is weak. Elsewhere, the impressive Coutinho, evergreen Steven Gerrard and exciting youngster Raheem Sterling provide the ammunition from deep alongside the sturdy Lucas Leiva and an improved Jordan Henderson. Liverpool’s defence has also been very secure, with many solid options with the likes of Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Kolo Touré and Mamadou Sakho boldly protecting Simon Mignolet, who has settled very well between the sticks.
How to win the title:
Certainly, the biggest factor that will affect the outcome of Liverpool’s season will be Suarez. The Kop will be praying that the little magician stays injury (and controversy) free. Whilst he did miss several games at the beginning of the season, along with the likes of Sturridge and Gerrard spending time on the sidelines, it is fairy inconceivable to envisage the Premier League trophy being lifted at Anfield were the Uruguayan to miss a chunk of the season, such is his importance to the club. Whether such blistering form will remain is questionably, yet nonetheless his presence in the side is a must if Liverpool are to challenge come the business end of the season.
Transfer wise Liverpool are in a good position heading into this window of notoriously over-priced signings, and thus you can guarantee that there will be no repeat of the frantic events that occurred in January 2011. Of course, whilst a world class signing would never go a miss, they appear to have enough quality and depth that no serious changes are necessary. A creative winger to provide more options out wide could be an option, whilst a combative cover for Lucas and Joe Allen would also be welcomed, but these are far from needed.
Liverpool will need to accrue some consistency throughout the rest of the season, however. Given that this is their first genuine title assault for several years, it is questionable whether they will be able to keep up the pace with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and both Manchester clubs when it reaches the business end of the season. Rodgers will need to ensure that the belief that they can continue this campaign the way it has started is instilled in the dressing room and, more importantly, on the pitch, in order to ensure that they don’t drop vital points that see them overtaken by their rivals.
Keeping this team playing together consistently and, most importantly, keeping Suarez firing, is the true test for the remainder of this season. If, and only if, they can keep this up, Liverpool cannot be ruled out.
Prediction: 4th – there may be an over reliance on Suarez, and their depth may not be strong enough to keep up the pace with City, Arsenal and Chelsea. But they will keep it close and finally regain a Champions League spot.
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