One game doth not a champion make. In Liverpool’s case, their victory against Manchester United at Anfield was a moral victory, a win that was in the long time making, but I don’t believe it signifies that the Reds are now title material. Wake me up when they beat Man United at Old Trafford. Then it’ll be a different story.
I may sound pretty harsh on Liverpool, but I’ve been there before so many times where the club flatters to deceive. Sure, Liverpool sits in joint first place behind Chelsea only on goal difference, but Rafa Benitez’s side has had plenty of lady luck on its side. Other than Liverpool’s win against Manchester United and their thoroughly well deserved victories against Manchester City and Everton, the club were lucky to beat Sunderland and Middlesbrough. And they were unimpressive in their draws against Stoke City and Aston Villa.
If the red half of Merseyside can continue to churn out victories like it did against Manchester City, then there’s a lot of hope for Liverpool. But the reality is that amazing comebacks like that are rare. Liverpool has been renowned for being inconsistent especially in the Premier League.
The next few games will prove whether Liverpool will be a Premier League title contender this season or not. They face a tricky home game against in form Wigan Athletic this Saturday. Then Liverpool travels to Stamford Bridge for an away game against Chelsea on October 26 in a game that they’re bound to lose. The Reds then end October with a home game versus Portsmouth on the 29th. Liverpool should win that game comfortably, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they slip up in that one.
There are still question marks about Liverpool’s forwards up front. While Fernando Torres is beginning to find his form, Robbie Keane has paled in comparison. David N’Gog shows glimpses of talent, and Dirk Kuyt is his usual self — working hard but not putting away the chances he should. Ryan Babel is playing much better than last season but isn’t getting the playing time he needs or deserves.
In midfield, Liverpool continues to be strong in the center but it’s too early to say that the wingers are proven. Benitez’s choice in the center of the park between Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso gives him so many proven options. Yossi Benayoun, as an attacking midfielder, is not the player he was at West Ham United.
On the wings, Liverpool’s Albert Riera has shone on the left. On the right wing, Dirk Kuyt is not the answer no matter how hard he tries. Jermaine Pennant isn’t the answer either. When Ryan Babel is added to the side, Benitez usually plays him on the left despite him being a right-footed player.
Martin Skrtel’s injury is a blessing in disguise for Liverpool, which will allow the return of the resilient Daniel Agger to Liverpool’s defence. As long as Agger regains his form and Sami Hyypia stays out of the side, Liverpool still has hope in the centre half positions.
Bottom line, Liverpool has more talent this season than any other one under Benitez. But Liverpool will suffer from a lack of consistency week-in, week-out. The club will continue to play well in the Champions League but won’t be able to maintain the same level of perfection in the Premier League. Pretty soon you’ll see Liverpool return to its own ways in the league where the club frustrates it fans by not winning the games it should. My prediction is that the Reds will be in their usual fourth or fifth place in the league by the end of October. Just wait and see.