And now you’re gonna believe them
Liverpool ripped apart Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday to move back to second place in the Premier League with only nine games to go. Could Brendan Rodgers’ side put an end to a 24-year wait for the Premier League at Anfield this season? We think that the Merseysiders can do it and here’s why:
Νο pressure, they’re already successful
Liverpool started this season with finishing in top-four and returning to the Champions League as their prime target. After winning at Old Trafford and Tottenham losing against Arsenal, this now seems like a formality. Champions League nights will most probably return to Anfield from next season, meaning that Brendan Rodgers’ team is already successful. Everything more than that will be a bonus, so the Merseysiders are under no added pressure and can express themselves even more freely in the remaining games.
No other distractions
Arsenal have an FA Cup semi-final –and possible final- to negotiate, and if Chelsea beat Galatasaray at home, they will be at the business end of the Champions League. That means that two of Liverpool’s title rivals will have some distractions during the last weeks of the campaign, risking injuries and fatigue, something that Rodgers’ team will not have to face. On the other hand, Manchester City have no other distractions as well and can concentrate 100% on the title race, but you can’t have everything, can you?
They are scoring for fun
Nevermind their suspect defence, Liverpool put fear in their opponents with their relentless attacking and their goalscoring exploits. They have already scored 76 goals in 29 matches, with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling terrorizing opposing defences and Steven Gerrard putting away the majority of the penalties earned by his teammates. Liverpool look certain to score in every game nowadays and that is an element that any title-chasing team must have in the last weeks of a campaign.
It’s Steven Gerrard’s destiny
Up until now, Steven Gerrard was considered as maybe the greatest player to never have won the Premier League, but suddenly this could be about to change. Enjoying an injury-free season in a deeper role this term, the Liverpool captain seems destined to lead his team to the last piece of club silverware missing from his collection. Steven Gerrard is already a club legend, but he could achieve mythical status during the next weeks and his teammates play like they have made it the mission of their lives to let him live his dream at last.
Rodgers’ tactical genius
Brendan Rodgers is fast getting the recognition he deserves for his tactical masterstrokes, and how he has transformed a mediocre side to title contenders in the space of just 18 months. He has tinkered with formations looking always to exploit the oppositions’ weak spots and every weekend he sends out a team hungry like a pack of wolves. His management of Luis Suarez and the reinvention of Steven Gerrard as a deep-lying playmaker are things that even Liverpool’s most illustrious managers of the past would have been proud of.
They are winning the big games
Rodgers was accused last season for his team’s lack of wins against the big other Premier League big clubs, but nobody remembers this now. After dismantling Tottenham (5-0 away), Everton (4-0 at home), Arsenal (5-1 at home) and now Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford, Liverpool look capable of beating everyone, everywhere this season. And if it wasn’ t for some strange refereeing decisions during the festive period, they could have taken something out of the trips to Manchester City and Chelsea as well.
Crucial games at home
Liverpool’s first league title win after 1990 seems in their hands right now, looking at their last nine fixtures. Away from home they face four sides battling to avoid relegation (Cardiff, Norwich, West Ham and Crystal Palace), and up until now they have been ruthless against teams of that caliber. But their fate could really be decided at home, where they play Tottenham and their title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City. Win these, and the season’s last match against Newcastle at home could be their most significant game of the last 25 years, Istanbul included.