League table as on 21st December:
When the 2013-14 season started like all fans the main fixtures to lookout was against United and Everton, later looking for the month having the tough schedule and it was December in case of Liverpool. The start was bad however with that away loss to Hull City but 4 wins on trot which took Liverpool to top of table as seen above have seen the fans world over being excited and being positive for the remaining 2 crucial fixtures of December.
So far we have picked 12 points from possible 15 points, the next 2 matches will have a big say in whether Liverpool will challenge for title come year end. With these 2 tough away fixtures coming so close Liverpool will have to be on top of their game to get positive results. With both this teams being the favorite title contenders at start of season and sitting comfortably just off the summit of table with City being 1 point off and Chelsea having a chance later on Monday against Arsenal to come level on points with Liverpool. The top half of table is so congested that any slipup will lead to other teams taking advantage of situation.
Manchester City (26th Dec 2103)
The favorites to win the title this year, team blessed with the strongest squad in league, have scored the most goals this term, undefeated at home and are free scorers at home demolishing most visiting teams. Getting anything from this visit will be a good result but if Liverpool really wants to challenge for title a win at Etihad will be huge morale boost and a big signal of intent to other clubs in hunt for top honors. But frankly speaking a draw at Etihad will be a good result no matter how you look at it a win although not impossible with Suarez on song will be bonus 2 points on Boxing day and a loss although disappointing will not be much of surprise but which can be easily avoided if we get our tactics right from start.
Chelsea (29th Dec 2013)
The other Title favorites have been not so good under Jose yet find themselves in 4th and can come on level with Liverpool if they can overcome Arsenal on Monday 23rd. Jose has an excellent home record at home not losing in League but came close against West Brom but were saved the blushes due to a controversial penalty. Chelsea also have a strong squad but have their own problems with strikers not finding back of net and not so sure defense and goalkeeper which can be exposed. Still Liverpool will have to play just like they did against Spurs to get a positive result at Stamford Bridge. A win is what Liverpool will target but expect Jose to setup his team defensively and park bus to keep the Liverpool forwards especially Suarez at bay, a draw will be most likely outcome but a loss at Bridge will hurt Liverpool in title chase.
Overall Liverpool can manage 6 outcomes from these 2 matches:
- Two wins will get 6 points and make a statement of intent for other title chasers.
- A win and a draw will be a good outcome with 4 points.
- A win and a loss will still be a good outcome with 3 points but will put Liverpool off the title race if other results don’t go in Liverpool’s favor.
- Anything less than 3 points will be disappointment and will mean Liverpool will need to take maximum points from most remaining games to finish in top 4.
The outcomes of these 2 fixtures will definitely decide if Liverpool can be at top of table on New Year’s Eve and will be major title contenders come next May. The absence of Gerrard and Sturridge was going to hurt Liverpool but it didn’t as other players have upped their games considerably and the stand-in captain Suarez has been a real inspiration. There are few areas Rodgers need to sort out especially defending set pieces also Glen Johnson although solid has at times looked not up to the mark in attacking areas and also vulnerable at defending. Rodgers will have to take care of these issues and also get his tactics right for these crucial away games. With no more injury concerns the team which started last 2 matches will likely to start with only Moses who will be unavailable against his parent club being the omission. With Suarez on song it looks Liverpool have a better chance of getting positive result from this both testing away fixtures come New Year.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart… And you’ll never walk alone, You’ll never, ever walk alone…