The first noises started when Real Madrid were humbled at Anfield. Then Liverpool managed to make up ground on United since what seems like the first time since the winter break with a thumping of the champions at Old Trafford. It got noisier still. Then, what seemed like an impossibility happened: Man U dropped three more points and Liverpool still managed take three points. The lead was reduced from an untouchable 7 points to one point.
After a ridiculous 13 goals in the past three games, the buzz surrounding Liverpool grew to an equally ridiculous pitch. First came the expected declarations from Gerrard, Riera, Carragher, and Skrtel that the Reds have what it takes to win the Premier League and end the title drought.
“The pressure is on United, we have conviction, form favors us, etc.”
We’ve heard it before, always at the end of a season when the front-runner stumbles and the doomed runners-up suddenly look lively. Chelsea last season actually were level with United on points but behind on goal difference at a later stage of the season, and players made similar statements but failed to edged out the Red Devils for the title.
The difference between this year and last year is that it ended with the title race, whereas in the past week or so Liverpool players have been earning huge acclaim.
The Steven Gerrard praise is acceptable. On form, he’s the best in England. He was recently declared better than Kaka, which has been true over the past few months, but if I had to choose between the two based on the performance of their careers, I’d choose the Brazilian.
Zidane disagrees and said Gerrard is the best in the world, ahead of Messi. I’d once again have to disagree, as I think the Argentine will absolutely cement his status as world’s best in the upcoming Champions League clash against Bayern, in the Copa del Rey final against Bilbao and when Barcelona secures La Liga. Thankfully, Gerrard recently agreed with me and has stated he doesn’t think he is the best footballer on the planet.
Some praise is totally out of control though, such as the idea that Pepe Reina might actually score someday because the Spaniard’s distribution from the box is excellent. Goalkeepers have scored before, but the idea that Pepe Reina will get within shooting range and beat a EPL or UCL class shot-stopper is a little insulting.
The point is that the people at and around the club need to stay calm.
Realities need to be faced, the most important being that Man U still have a game-in-hand, and Liverpool need them to have two more slip-ups in the remaining nine games. Given recent form this is possible, but given that five of the nine are at home, where United have dropped 5 points all season, and that the four away fixtures are against Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Hull, and Wigan, I can’t really see many problems for the Champions. Wigan can force a draw from the Red Devils, and Arsenal can surely beat them at Old Trafford, but even then Liverpool would have to be perfect for the rest of the season to win.
Liverpool can do it, and United can certainly fail. The key is not to get carried away. The Reds have a remaining eight games of similar caliber, and injuries aside, should be able to make the race tight till the final one or two games.
The international break is coming up, and I think it is a great time for both Sir Alex and Rafa to settle their squads before the final push. Whoever does it more effectively will probably end up champions.