Sport

Can anyone catch Liverpool now?

Liverpool look like they are going to claim their first league title in 29 years this season. The Jurgen Klopp project has finally reached full momentum in the league. Though to be fair to them, they started to gain the momentum this time last year. Liverpool haven’t lost a league game since a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on the 3rd January last year. They gained more than 100 points along the way and now sit 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

The league title is the one that Liverpool fans desperately want. The Premier League didn’t actually exist when Liverpool last won the league title. Their last league title win was in 1989/90 in the old First Division. If they do win the Premier League come May it will be a gap spanning many a supporters’ lifetime. Liverpool have won every trophy available multiple times, bar the league. They’ve won Champions Leagues and Europa Leagues, they’ve won F.A. Cups and League Cups but they haven’t claimed a league title in the Premier League era. They have finished second on four occasions, including last season and the infamous Gerrard slip which Chelsea fans (including myself) still revel in. We even have a song about it, though I won’t repeat it here.

Ever since Jurgen Klopp took charge at Liverpool they have been slowly but surely improving every season until they were the only side who could even keep up with Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City. And they did keep up all the way to the final weekend but in the end they had had one too many draws, whereas City had either won games or lost them. This season is a different story. City have already lost five games this season out of the 21 they’ve played. Liverpool on the other hand have drawn one of the 21 league games they’ve played this season. That is ridiculous.

But can anyone catch them? Well, you have to say that unless Liverpool suffer a catastrophic loss of form over the next 17 games then no. They could have an injury crisis similar to what Newcastle United are going through at the moment. If you have to go in with less experienced players, or those who are not match fit, can disrupt your rhythm. Liverpool have managed any injuries they have had well and the players brought in have done a good job at not only keeping the side competitive but staking their own claim for more first team involvement. Klopp is well known for rotating his side in cup competitions, but this year it reaped its rewards. While the youngsters were handily beaten by Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter final in December, they were still impressive for a side of mostly under-20s going up against a pretty full strength Villa side. They were even more impressive in the F.A Cup Third Round tie against Everton earlier this month. While they struggled in the first half and Adrian had to make a number of saves, they came out fighting in the second. Curtis Jones’ stunning effort gave them a fully deserved win.

Manchester City would be the natural team to look at as a side that could keep the pressure up on Liverpool. They are the back-to-back champions and have dominated the domestic game during Guardiola’s tenure as manager. They’ve broken all sorts of records along the way, including becoming the first team to end a season with 100 points But they’ve already slipped up too heavily in my opinion to close the gap to Liverpool before the season’s end. They are still a fine team and will likely go far in the remaining cup competitions and maybe, they’ll finally crack Europe, but I think we will be seeing a new name on that Premier League trophy come May.

Leicester City will not be seriously thinking they can challenge Liverpool for the title. What they managed to in 2015/16 was remarkable, a sporting achievement against the odds that will always be remembered. But this is now a very different set of teams in the Premier League to when they won the title 4 years ago. Liverpool were nowhere near the side they are now. Even Manchester City were not at their current level. Brendan Rodgers has done a fine job since taking over at Leicester in February last year, taking a side that was struggling for form under a manager who failed to galvanise the squad or fans and turning them into a tough, quick, counter-attacking side who can pose a threat to most teams in the league. They’ve done very well to reach third in the league this season and I think they have the quality and resolve to see it through to the end of the season and claim themselves a Champions League spot.

As much as it annoys many football fans across the country, it does look like this will finally be Liverpool’s year to win the Premier League. If winning the Champions League last season did not confirm them as one of the great sides of the moment, winning the Premier League will certainly do it. And they could go on to write their names as brightly across Liverpool’s history as the great sides of the 1970s and 80s.

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