Will Liverpool Finish In The Top Four This Premier League Season?
Liverpool is one of the most storied clubs in the English football. They’ve won 18 league titles, 8 League Cups, 7 FA Cups, 5 Champions League titles, 3 Europa League titles and 3 Super Cups. They’ve had a host of brilliant players don their traditional red kit but as of late they’ve been flat. They haven’t won a league title since the 1989 season and they’ve made a host of awful transfers that have plagued the team and left fans burying their heads.
Last season was experimental for sure but the sublime form of Luis Suarez was one of the few talking points of an otherwise disappointing season. With the January purchases of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, the Reds found a new playmaker and a strike partner for Suarez. These two showed great understanding of manager Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy of play and put in some very strong performances towards the end of the campaign, which gave the Kop something to look forward to for the 2013/14 season. This year, the Reds have given their faithful something to be happy about for the first time since the 2008 season when they finished in second.
Currently Liverpool sit in second with 30 points from 15 games and are above Chelsea on goal difference while trailing the Gunners by 5 points. They’ve scored the second most number of goals in the league, and are tackling better than any team in the top 4. Again it’s been Luis Suarez at the helm of their attack. And with a brilliant start to the season, there is a lot to look forward to. Currently they’re playing some of the best possession football in the league, but many problems are still plaguing Rodgers’ side.
Recent injuries to Sturridge, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson will force Rodgers to tinker quite a bit with his formations and we could be seeing more of the young Raheem Sterling and Luis Alberto due to these injuries. Defensive woes also trouble the Reds, as Rodgers has struggled to find a consistent back line and has experimented with 3, 4 and 5 at the back. Though they’ve been able to score plenty of goals, there have been a host of individual errors and complacency in the second halves of games that have allowed their opposition to mount second half attacks on numerous occasions.
Fortunately their home form has been superb and Anfield is once again a feared location, but with difficult fixtures coming up before the January transfer window, the Reds will have to maintain their composure in order to keep their top 4 position. In their next 4 matches, Liverpool are traveling to face Spurs, Manchester City and Chelsea. All of these matches will test the resolve of a thin Liverpool squad that is currently being carried on the back of their prolific Uruguayan marksman. It certainly looks like Liverpool has it in them to claim a top 4 spot this term especially with the dreadful form of last year’s champions Manchester United. Gerrard has been fantastic, but with him sidelined for a month, Coutinho, Allen and Leiva will have to control the midfield.
This really is the strongest side Liverpool has boasted since their 2008 season and although they may not win the league, they are certainly in contention to do so, as are the Blues, the Citizens, the Gunners and even the Toffees. If Sturridge comes back from his injury and picks up where he left off then I think there is a great chance that Liverpool will finish in the top 2, but regardless of that I feel very strongly that the Reds will book their ticket to next years Champions League competition because of the brand of football that they’ve been playing.
Last season they struggled to hold onto a lead and it was only Suarez supplying them with the goals. This year they’ve been better at protecting their lead and with the blistering form of Sturridge and Suarez, I don’t see any shortage of goals for the Reds this year. This season the team effort has been spectacular and 12 players have assisted goals thus far while 8 players have scored. They pose an immense threat from set pieces with the options of Coutinho, Gerrard and Suarez. And with Moses and Sterling offering great pace and trickery on the wings, there is much to be excited about. In previous seasons the body language and attitude of Liverpool players suggested a lack of drive, but as of late they’ve looked motivated and are striving to improve upon each and every performance. With this newfound grit and tenacity, I feel that Liverpool will make a very strong case to return to prominence.
With the January transfer window coming up, the speculation of Suarez departing has once again reared its ugly head, which will surely irk Liverpool and their fans. Their lack of depth up front is concerning, and though Suarez claims he is happy at Anfield and has no intentions of leaving, there is always the possibility of that happening, as it happened to Fernando Torres midway through the 2010 season despite Hodgson’s claims that the Spaniard wouldn’t be sold. Liverpool are in a good position to challenge for the top 4, but they will face great adversity against the high powered offense of Manchester City, the return of the Special One at Stamford Bridge, the well oiled Gunners, an invigorated Everton and a surprising Southampton.
Liverpool have the talent to finish top 4, but they must make sure that they keep hold of Suarez and get he and Sturridge some assistance, as they simply cannot do it alone. With Manchester United struggling under Moyes and Tottenham failing to impress, it stands to reason that the Reds can recapture some of their former glory and this term they make a great case for a top 4 finish.
What do you think the top 4 will look like at the end of the year? Will Liverpool be in contention, or will they slip? Share your opinions in the comments section below.
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