Let’s flashback to 19th May 2013. Liverpool have just beat an already relegated Queens Park Rangers at Anfield to finish 7th in the Premier League.
Let’s flashback to 19th May 2013. Liverpool have just beat an already relegated Queens Park Rangers at Anfield to finish 7th in the Premier League. An inconsistent start to the season left them up against it heading into January, as Brendan Rodgers continued to point out this would be a season of transition.
The signings of playmaker Philippe Coutinho and striker Daniel Sturridge lead to a much improved second half of the season, somewhat overshadowed by Luiz Suarez’s controversial ban.
That summer hosted a prolonged transfer saga revolving around Suarez, with Arsenal and Real Madrid interested in Liverpool’s top scorer. Liverpool were expected to lose an unhappy player, who seemed keen on leaving the club. Bookies placed them at 25/1 to win the Premier League, and many assumed the club would again struggle for Champions League football.
Now let’s look back at last weekend, Liverpool beat title rivals Manchester City 3-2 in an emotional match, close to Hillsborough’s 25th anniversary. The win means that if Liverpool are victorious in their four remaining games they gain their first Barclay’s Premier League title. Liverpool fans have continued to believe but what everyone else wonders is can Liverpool become champions?
Norwich, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and a huge game against Chelsea stand in their way. With Suarez seemingly able to play against Norwich by himself, scoring 11 in his last four games against them, you’d be brave to bet against Liverpool. In contrast, Crystal Palace are a tough side under Tony Pulis, Jason Puncheon is on top form and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Then Liverpool will face another tough test, the visit of Chelsea at Anfield. The free flowing attack of the reds will struggle against Chelsea’s wall of a defence. Though Chelsea lack a goal-scoring striker, they do have the likes of Eden Hazard who could unlock Liverpool’s frail defence.
Realistically this tie will come down to the team choice of Jose Mourinho. With the two legged Champions League semi-final against Athletico Madrid either side of this game it will force Mourinho into picking which competition he is more serious about. If his continued dismissal of Chelsea’s chance of winning the title is anything to go by, he will surely pick a stronger 11 for the Champions League.
That would set up a final day home game against Newcastle. The Toon Army seem in freefall, losing their last four games. Without loan striker Loic Remy they lack a quality in attack and haven’t been the same since the departure of midfield maestro Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint Germain. If Liverpool make it to this fixture top of the league, you can be sure they will stay there.
They have a manager, in Brendan Rodgers, who has several game plans and can break down the most resilient of sides. His tactics this year have had a huge impact and can be pinpointed as one of the main reasons of their success.
The Northern Irishman has transformed Steven Gerrard’s game by placing him in a deeper role, where the skipper has excelled. As well as this he has got the best out of Jordan Henderson, who didn’t look good enough for the Reds under Kenny Dalglish. He has given young Raheem Sterling a star role in the side too, which the England hopeful has thrived on as his displays continue to mesmerise the Kop.
Up top is where Liverpool really shine though. In Daniel Sturridge and Luiz Suarez (otherwise known as the SAS) they have the two top scorers in the league. As a partnership they fit together superbly, confusing defences by taking turns to be the provider or goal-scorer.
Thanks to their attacking threat they are forgiven for some occasionally lacklustre defending. Martin Skrtel may have scored seven goals this season but he is error prone and has got into a bad habit of practically wrestling attackers at corners. Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho are more solid, though both are prone to injury.
The loss of Jose Enrique to injury early in the season didn’t help matters, though young Jon Flanagan has performed superbly at left back. With a new stopper in Simon Mignolet they now have one of the best keepers in the league, though they have still conceded more goals than any other team in the top five.
Another main problem with Liverpool is their complacency in the second half. The Reds start games on fire and often have teams beaten before the half time whistle, but against top teams nothing is safe. This was shown against Manchester City after taking a quick 2 – 0 lead they threw it away and were only saved by a late Coutinho goal. It’s something they have to improve on in their remaining games.
Can Liverpool become champions?
With a more than capable squad, a superb manager and fans who have waited a lifetime for a Premier League title, this very well could be Liverpool’s year. Nothing is guaranteed, a point Liverpool’s players continue to mention, but it is in their hands now. No matter how much they are denying it, the players are starting to believe and Steven Gerrard’s display at full time last weekend proves that.
Videos of the skipper’s on pitch speech after the Manchester City game have been plastered all over the internet. With tears streaming down his face he told the players to finish the job. The captain wants the only missing medal from his collection and so do his team mates. I, for one, think he’ll get it.
What do you think? Can Liverpool win the coveted trophy this season? Have your say in the comments section below.