After retaining top spot, Brendan Rodgers’ men are now perfectly placed for a final assault on the Premiership title with five games to play. All they can do is to win all of their remaining fixtures and see where that leaves them. Easier said than done of course, but that’s the long and the short of it. Let’s not forget that Manchester City remain the favourites and with their two games in hand, all eyes will be on them. Everybody has stopped talking about Chelsea also. It would be a deadly mistake to write Mourinho off, no matter how much he pretends.
If we look at the run-in one could perhaps conclude that City have the easier task because with the exception of Liverpool and Everton, the remaining five of their games are against teams in the lower half of the table. There are two points to note. Firstly, there is a psychological element here. The teams they are playing are either dead and buried in the case of Sunderland and have nothing to play for other than pride. Or, are fighting for survival. Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa are by no means safe and we’ve seen, certainly in the case of Crystal Palace and Villa that they can turn over the big boys on their day. The same is also true for West Ham, and Sam Allardyce is no mug when it comes to setting a team up to play a certain way i.e. stifle the opposition and snatch a point! Thus there are four enormous banana-skins waiting for them there.
Manuel Pellegrini said recently that he does not believe the title will be decided at Anfield on Sunday and he couldn’t be more right. Not for the obvious reason that the season doesn’t finish until May 11th. I believe there is something else in his message which is my second point. Manchester City’s two games in hand will not be played until the last week of the season. Between the 3rd and 11th May they’ll have three games in a little over a week and this in my opinion is where the title will be won and lost. This is a tall order for any team. Rodgers said yesterday that the pressure is on City and he’s spot on correct. Not simply because Liverpool are underdogs and City have spent god knows how many trillions of pounds on their team, but also because they have a very tight finish to the season and they will have to be consistent. Not just technically, but physically too and this is the key.
Personally, I’m glad Steven Gerrard came through the last few games without receiving another yellow card because this would have been a huge blow for the team. I can only commend Rodgers for his bravery in playing him. That’s why he’s the Gaffer and I’m not! One thing is for certain, Liverpool have nothing to fear on Sunday. They played well against City in December and but for a bit of luck they could have won the game. My only hope, bizarrely is that the hosts don’t score too early. This happened in both the City and Chelsea games over Christmas and look what happened there.
In summary, it’s odds-on that Pellegrini’s boys will win it and that’s pressure enough. As for Liverpool, anything above third place will be perfect. Having said that, I wouldn’t turn down first either.
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