It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings – This phrase we all know means one must not assume the outcome of a situation that is not yet finished. Never a truer expression in relation to this seasons Barclays Premier League. On Monday Liverpool travel to Selhurst Park to take on Tony Pulis’s Crystal Palace in what will by absolutely no means, be a walk in the park for Brendan Rodgers’ charges. A dance with wolves would be more appropriate.
The South London venue must rank as one of the most difficult places to visit at the best of times, let alone when your team needs to win to maintain a title challenge. In Pulis, the Eagles have rekindled the impression of a team that is nororiously hard to beat having clawed their way out of, what seemed like, an inevitable battle against relegation. Or have they? Are they really that formidable an opponent? Liverpool must of course treat them with respect, but should this match pose that much of a problem for the Reds?
A look at the current form guide would suggest not. Liverpool remain the in-form side. Much as they have done for most, if not all, of 2014. Crystal Palace are second which should not be that much of a surprise. However, take a closer look and the visiting fans should see reason to be optimistic and not cancel the open-topped bus just yet. The home form of Monday’s hosts has not exactly been the bedrock of their recent success. Pulis’ side have only taken nine points from a possible 18 at home so Selhurst is clearly not the fortress it should be. Conversely, Rodgers’ men have not lost an away match this year. Conclusion: Yes, the Eagles are flying high right now, but the suggestion is a confident marksman can shoot them down pretty damned quickly.
It’s fair to say that Liverpool were outsmarted at the weekend against Chelsea and I believe Rodgers has learned from this. For all his “two buses” claims, a win is a win and that’s what people are going to remember. For his side to get anything against Palace they need to do the same. Pulis has sorted their defence out but their attack still remains quite weak in my opinion. A counter-attacking strategy would bear more fruit than trying to shoot or pass your way through “three buses” which I’m sure is what the visitors will be up against. This does of course require impeccable defending from Liverpool’s back four and I’m not sure if they’re up to the task. Hopefully, they’ll prove me wrong. If they don’t win the title this season it definitely won’t be for a lack of goals that’s for sure.
This afternoon there is talk of Everton against Manchester City at Goodison Park and whether the Toffee’s will do us “a favour” by putting a dent in City’s title hopes. Let’s not forget, Roberto Martinez’s side also have a lot to play for. They’re looking for Champions League football next season and they currently stand just four points away from Arsenal who host West Brom tomorrow. I don’t believe for one minute a “favour” needs to be requested or even suggested. As much as the rivalry exists, which self respecting club would give away the chance to play in Europe’s elite club competition – with all the financial benefits that brings as well as ‘kudos’, simply so their neighbours would miss out on the title? Everton will do their best. This is guaranteed. In their favour is the fact that they’ve managed to secure more points in their last six home games than City have in their last six away (15 compared to 11).
I still feel this season’s winner will be decided at the last minute of the last match of the last weekend. This weekend the fat lady arrives and is waiting in the wings. There’s no sign of a song yet!
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