Liverpool can end 24 year wait for league glory
Liverpool, after Manchester United's twenty, have secured the most league titles in English footballing history. The Reds currently lie four points adrift of Jose Mourinho's table-topping Chelsea side, and after treating their passionate Anfield support with thrilling, exuberant football, coupled with their displays of character and their lack of European involvement, a title triumph seems a realistic prospect for Brendan Rodgers's excessively over-achieving side.
Rewind to the start of the campaign, when a larger percentage of football journalists and viewers alike disregarded Rodgers's men to a fifth place finish, with money-splashing Tottenham tipped to pip the Reds to the coveted fourth Champions League allocation. In repudiation, fastforward six months and Liverpool lie fourth in the league standings, three points ahead of Spurs and leading arch rivals Manchester United by eleven points. It has been a season so far in which the Anfield outfit have produced some scintillating football, demolishing Everton and Arsenal at home whilst putting in a impressive performances away from their historic shrine, drawing with Chelsea and Manchester City were it not for comical officiating. Wednesday evening's hard-fought victory over Fulham served as a hallmark of potential champions, demonstrating character to draw level on two occasions before applying the sucker punch through Steven Gerrard's composed spot-kick. The 3-5 victory away at the Britannia Stadium was another prototype of Liverpool's renewed sense of character.
Without doubt, the fact that they are not involved in the UEFA Champions League is an advantage for this promising Liverpool side. With midweek fixtures against the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Galatasaray on the horizon for Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea, fatigue could creep into their camps. And Brendan Rodgers stands, waiting to pounce on any slip-ups from their rivals.
The Northern Irishman has indisputably transformed this Liverpool side for the better, vindicating his appointment from Swansea City in May of 2012. He has instilled confidence which had ebbed out under the respective stewardships of Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. Added to the basis that the 41 year-old has individually improved players through his adept man-management, permitted the development of young players with Raheem Sterling and Jon Flanagan prototypes of the point, and has additionally finalised more than one prudent acquisition during his auspicious tenure at Anfield, with the likes of Simon Mignolet and Daniel Sturridge noteworthy.
It is those shrewd signings, coupled with the exuberance and experience present, which has seen Liverpool fans dare to dream once again.
The scores of Reds support across the globe will point to the 08/09 season as their last significant title challenge and one they should have come out triumphant with error-prone draws blighting them of their first league title win since 1990. Rafael Benitez had a world class side at his disposal, with adept players such as Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard who were all, at that time, in their pomp and one of the best in the world in their differing positions.
While the current Liverpool side may not be as star-studded or as technically gifted as their predecessors, it is a squad with quality aplenty, boasting the world's most potent attacker, along with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. A Uruguayan genius with the name of Luis Suarez. The majestic 25 year-old, who many have run out of superlatives to describe his propensity to amaze and entertain, has fully vindicated Brendan Rodgers' unflinching resistance to his sale in the summer, as Arsenal and Real Madrid lurked for his signature. Scoring 23 goals in the league, it is Suarez's robust goal-scoring exploits, coupled with his striker partner Daniel Sturridge's tendency to find the net (hence the mnemonic SAS), which has propelled the Reds to the coveted Champions League position and considering a title celebration come May. Qualification for Europe's elite competition is the minimum objective for the Merseyside, otherwise Suarez would be on his way out in the summer, a daunting prospect for the club.
While the compelling attacking armoury of Suarez and Sturridge have provided the goals on which the ardent Anfield faithful have revelled in, none of the contrary would have been possible without the excellence of the players behind them. The usual midfield selections of Phillipe Coutinho, Gerrard and Henderson have played a telling role in Liverpool's unanticipated success this season with their intelligent range of passing and unerring vision for a defence-splitting pass. The pace and skill of young Raheem Sterling, who as a reward is being touted as a wildcard inclusion in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad to Brazil, has proved a useful asset for Brendan Rodgers' men as they attempt to answer their fans' imploring wish to bring the famed European nights back to Anfield, and are on course to do so with their scintillating displays of late.
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