This post comes from our friends over at Touchline Talk, written by James Hailstone.
After a scintillating start to the 2013-14 season, Liverpool find themselves 2nd in the Premier League and within touching distance of table toppers Arsenal as Christmas approaches.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have arguably been one of the surprises of the season so far as not many would have predicted Liverpool to be challenging for the Premier League title this year, especially after Luis Suarez’s summer tantrums.
However, the club managed to keep the highly talented Uruguayan who, along with Daniel Sturridge, has formed a lethal strike partnership that has managed to un-pick almost every side the Merseysiders have faced so far this season.
Now, though, Liverpool have to be counted as definite top four contenders, and maybe even title contenders along with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.
The Red’s success has come at the expense of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, who have both fallen unexpectedly into upper mid table positions.
After so much summer change, could this be the season that Liverpool finally wins the Premier League? There certainly is plenty of reasons to answer yes to this question.
Firstly, Anfield has been something of a fortress for Liverpool this season, with Rodgers’ side winning seven of the eight home games in front of the Kop, losing the other match 1-0 to Southampton, who have also been one of the shocks of the season so far.
Also, there is a genuine fear factor when visiting Anfield now that may had gone away under the Kenny Dagleish era when teams like West Bromwich Albion and Fulham were leaving the North West with all three points.
If Liverpool can keep this home form going for the rest of the season whilst maintaining to get results away like they have done, such as the 5-0 demolition at Spurs, then there is no reason why they can’t be up there come May.
One of the main reasons for the success this season is the SAS partnership of Suarez and Sturridge. The duo have been on fire this season and have complemented each other and the Liverpool system well.
The passing style that Rodgers has installed at Anfield ensures that Liverpool keep the ball as well as relying on the likes of Philippe Countinho and Steven Gerrard to create chances for the lethal strike partners, who will score if the opportunities do come their way.
The strikers have scored 28 goals between them in all competitions which represents 65% of the Reds’ goals so far this season, a massive return for a strike partnership that costs just over what Andy Carroll cost the club combined.
If Liverpool have been excellent when it comes to scoring goals, their defence has done a pretty good job as well, occasionally being employed in a 3-5-2 formation with Jordan Henderson/Kolo Toure and Jose Enrique performing as wing backs.
They have conceded just 18 goals in the league, which gives them a goal difference of +21, keeping five clean sheets in the process.
The back five, if you include the goalkeeper, has some fairly inexperienced faces in there when it comes to playing at the top level of the English game as Simon Mignolet and Mamadou Sakho do not have experience at the top. Despite this, they have done well.
One area, though, that could prove to be Liverpool’s hurdle, is experience. Neither their manager nor players have the experience of a successful title race.
Unlike Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea or even Manchester United if they manage a late surge, Liverpool do not know what it is like to win a Premier League title and the mental battle could prove too much of a strain if a couple of results do not go their way later on in the season.
That said, however, this could be the year the things start to change in the Premier League so it is anyone’s guess who could win the league this year. I certainly expect Liverpool to be there or thereabouts at the end of what promises to be an epic campaign if the first four months are anything to go on.
By James Hailstone