One year ago, Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 at Anfield for the Reds first win against a team above them in the table that season. They finished the season in seventh, twelve points off the coveted fourth spot and twenty-eight points off the champions Manchester United.
Now, after Saturday’s emphatic 6-3 away victory against Cardiff City, Liverpool sit second in the table, just four points behind Chelsea while Brendan Rodgers’ side have one game in hand.
The Anfield side have made a dramatic improvement this season. And with their progression continuing to skyrocket, could Liverpool really win the Premier League title this season?
It seems a strange question to ask, but with Liverpool boasting the two most feared strikers in the Premier League in Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and having not lost a match since going down 2-1 at Chelsea in December, they are in title winning form. Liverpool have dropped points on ten occasions this season, having suffered five draws and five defeats. While they may not be up to scratch with last year’s United side, do they have enough to take the league this season?
If they do win the league, Suarez and Sturridge will have much to say about it. This year they have scored a total of 47 goals in the league, outscoring sixteen teams in the Premier League, including the likes of Tottenham, Everton, and Manchester United. The team has combined for 82 goals so far this season, six more than Manchester City and 20 goals ahead of Chelsea. With this amount of goals, it is obvious that the team should be pushing for the title.
So what can stop Liverpool from winning the title they’ve desperately wanted back since 1992? They have to have belief within the team; Steven Gerrard came out after the victory at Southampton saying, “We’ve certainly got a chance of competing. You’ve got to believe and have confidence.” We also heard the manager speak to their title chances after their 3-2 win at Fulham saying, “We’ve shown enough times we’re a very good side. We’re chasing and there are other teams still ahead of us, so we’ll need some of them to drop points, but we know we still have City and Chelsea to play at home.”
So with the manager and captain claiming Liverpool can win the title, what can stop them? The answer is themselves.
With their attacking mind-set, there will be many more goals given up defensively. Liverpool has conceded 38 goals this season, good for seventh in the table, among the likes of Newcastle and Hull. Looking at last season’s United side, who gave up only 31 goals and scored 68, it shows that a solid defence will allow you to pick up points wherever you go. However, this season’s Liverpool have seemingly re-written the book, playing with the philosophy of ‘you score one, we will score two’ and judging by the results thus far, it seems to be working.
Additionally, after Gerrard made his comments about belief within the side, he added, “The only thing that goes against us a little bit is our lack of experience. But if we keep performing like we have then we’ve got a chance.”
Experience is massive when it comes to winning trophies, and it is often a great asset to have players who have been in that situation and know how to handle the pressure when it comes. In the current side, Liverpool are lacking compared to some of their rivals.
Amongst Liverpool’s first eleven who played against Southampton, the players had won a combined 32 trophies in their career. And only eight of these trophies were for winning their respective league. This is compared to Chelsea, who have 53 trophies to boast between them, 12 of which were winning titles in their respective division, including Premier League winners. The average amount of trophies each player has won comes to 5, two more than the Liverpool average.
Experience also comes down to age. Coming into the season, the average age of the Chelsea team was 27 years, compared to Liverpool’s average of 25.4 years. While this bodes well for Liverpool’s potential in the future, the gap in age would seemingly give Chelsea a bit of an advantage in the present in terms of experience and keeping a level head.
In the end, Chelsea’s experience could shine through and prove pivotal towards the end of the campaign, but with the belief within Liverpool at an all-time high since 2008/09 and a potent strike force to go along with that belief, Liverpool will only have themselves to blame if they aren’t lifting the title in May.