Liverpool still on course to win Premier League

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Football News

Win today and you could have forgiven Liverpool fans for starting the Premier League party.

Three points against second-placed Chelsea would have meant they needed just four points from their remaining two games to be sure of a first ever Premier League title.

However, Jose Mourinho had other ideas and his makeshift Chelsea team left Merseyside with three points, leaving them just two points behind the leaders.

Liverpool fans needn't worry though, the Premier League is still well within their grasp, and they have every chance of finishing the season at the top of the table, and there's several reasons why.

Firstly, their manager Brendan Rodgers has been a revelation since his arrival in the summer of 2012, despite ending his first campaign in seventh place.

The Northern Irish boss has shown himself to be tactically astute, installing a clear philosophy and style in his players.

Under Rodgers Liverpool are quick out the blocks, pressuring teams high up the pitch from the very first minute - a tactic which has seen them net 17 times in the opening 15 minutes of games this season.

The former Swansea boss likes his team to not only keep possession, but use it wisely, and often that means getting the ball to attacking stars like Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge as quickly as possible.

Having been in and around the title race all season, Liverpool fans have often spoken about how this is there year, yet Rodgers has remained calm and stuck to the age-old cliche of taking one game at a time.

His measured approach will be a major factor in deciding the fate of the Premier League trophy.

No matter how much of an impact Rodgers has had on his team, once the players cross the white line they are responsible for the teams results.

Importantly for the Anfield club, their big players have excelled under that responsibility and seldom let the club down.

The experienced Steven Gerrard has lead by example and rightly finds himself on the list of PFA Player of the Year nominees alongside Sturridge and Suarez.

It may have been Gerrard's slip that allowed Chelsea in for their opening goal in today's crucial game, but the Liverpool captain has been instrumental in ensuring his team are still in with a great chance of winning the league.

If the title was decided on who wanted it most then Gerrard would be wearing a winners medal on the final day of the season - his outpouring of emotion after the 3-2 victory over Manchester City highlighting how much the club, the Premier League and the occasion meant to him.

Of course, that occasion was the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster - among the 96 victims that day was an eight-year-old Gerrard's cousin; Jon-Paul Gilhooley.

A tragedy that still affects all on Merseyside, be they Red or Blue, Liverpool have used the spirit of those 96, and the fight of the families still searching for justice, to put together their strongest title challenge since the Premier League began in 1992.

There could be no better way to honour the 96 than for one of their own to lift Liverpool's first ever Premier League title, and there's not a man in football who wants that more than England captain Gerrard.

The 33-year-old's example has been followed by younger members of the Anfield squad, with Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho having excellent seasons, local boy Jon Flanagan proving to be an important member of the first team squad and Jordan Henderson finally showing the kind of form that prompted Liverpool to pay £16million for his services.

Such has been Sterling's impact that he has been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award and seems an almost certain pick for England's World Cup squad this summer.

While their defence has come under scrutiny at times, the leadership of Martin Skrtel and the shot-stopping ability of Simon Mignolet has been vital at times, and when they have faltered, the irresistible partnership of Suarez and Sturridge has normally done the business.

The partnership known as the 'SAS' have hammered home an incredible 50 league goals between them, more than 11 Premier League teams have scored in total.

Liverpool's main challengers now? Manchester City.

Manuel Pellegrini's team, like Liverpool, will finish on 86 points if they win their remaining fixtures.

While home matches against Aston Villa and West Ham are certainly winnable fixtures of City, a trip to Goodison Park could prove to be a tougher test.

Liverpool will be content with fixtures against a Crystal Palace side already assured of their safety and a Newcastle team who seemingly cannot buy a win at the moment.

How wonderfully ironic would it be if the blue half of Liverpool can get a result against the 2012 champions and all but guarantee their city rivals a first league title in 24 years?

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Daniel Sturridge
Luis Suarez
Steven Gerrard

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