Can Liverpool Finish In The Top Four?
For a side who have just entered the top half of the Premier League for the first time this season – it may sound odd linking Liverpool with the much coveted top four spot. The likes of Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal will no doubt believe they are currently favourite for the fourth and final Champions League place – but don't count Liverpool out, just yet.
Liverpool may be severe underdogs in their quest to return to the European summit – however with such an under-rated and impressive squad, they do have the potential to climb up the table.
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The majority of Premier League fans will label Liverpool as a 'one man team', due to Luis Suarez's 10 league goals this season. However – with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Pepe Reina the squad has an experienced, mature aura around it. With the likes of Suso, Sterling, Kelly and Shelvey all looking like up and rising talents, Liverpool fans should feel comfortable with the current squad – and manager Brendan Rodgers.
The main dilemma for Liverpool this season is their inability to finish off games. Seven draws this season is indicative of their issues in the final third – they can only rely on Luis Suarez for so long. No doubt will Liverpool invest in at least one attacker to release the goal-scoring burden off Luis Suarez – and if Suarez is able to continute his fine goal-scoring form and excellent all round play, with a confident, experienced partner – Liverpool need not worry.
The more games that pass, the better Liverpool are looking as a team. They have recorded three wins in a row with their recent comeback against West Ham, and have only one defeat in their last 11 games.
The imminent return of Lucas Leiva could not have come sooner for Rodgers and Liverpool. The Brazilian has been a catalyst for Liverpool's recent success and good form – with 3 wins from 3 games in which Lucas has played, it is clear to see why Rodgers rates him so high.
They key to Lucas' success in Liverpool's midfield is the balance he brings to the side. The key role of a defensive midfielder is to not only break up the play, becoming a nuisance to opposing side, but to offer himself for a pass. Rdogers' philosophy that he deployed so well as Swansea was molding his side around a quick passing, interlinking play between the midfield.
Offering himself for a pass is a key part of Lucas' game. If that means dropping deep from midfield to receive from Reina, so be it. Liverpool can slowly kick on with their possession game – whilst Lucas can begin to release the more creative players in Liverpool's attack.
With the likes of Luis Saurez, Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard, Suso, Shelvey – Liverpool have players that can hurt a side – but with Lucas, they have a player who can protect them.
If a goal scorer is signed in January by Rodgers – expect Liverpool to mount a serious challenge on the top four. The Merseyside club look better as each game passes – Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal, be aware.
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