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The contests between Arsenal and Liverpool in the 1988/1989 season and Manchester City and Manchester United in 2011/2012 were undeniably two of the tightest seasons in English football history. The late drama provided by Aguero and Thomas in those respective seasons have their place in footballing folklore firmly cemented and with the season almost over, it looks like this campaign could well join them. Some would even argue this season is actually more exciting, since there are three teams chasing for the title at the final stages of the year – something very rare for a football league in Europe.
The current leaders and surprise package Liverpool are the undoubted success story of the season. Brendan Rodgers’ men were in no way expected to be competing for the title at this late stage and were even considered outsiders to regain a place in the top four, so their position at the league summit is startling to say the least. How then have Liverpool gone from mid-table obscurity to title favourites?
One key factor is goals: the partnership between Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge is unquestionably the primary reason behind the Red’s success this year. The two strikers have so far scored 50 goals in the league this season, far surpassing any other partnership and even outscoring the bottom 12 teams in the league. Luis Suarez, who has scored 30 goals from 30 appearances this season, is not only the leader of the scoring table but also the assist table, displaying the remarkable season the Uruguayan has had.
The midfield’s contribution should not be ignored however, Jordan Henderson has proven his ability and won many admirers through his all-action displays. This season, Henderson has taken a major role in the centre of midfield, working alongside, another skilful attacking midfielder in the form of Phillipe Coutinho.
The rise of Raheem Sterling is also a significant factor to Liverpool’s fortunes. The young England international has scored nine goals in the league so far this season including two goals against Arsenal and Norwich and also an important goal against Manchester City at home, improving an aspect of his game that some thought was a weakness. His fabulous recent performance against Norwich may not only have widened the gap between Liverpool and Chelsea, but also have booked himself a place in the England squad to Brazil this summer.
Nobody at the club is more desperate for league glory as talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard. A change of role within the team has played a huge part in the Red’s rise to the summit of the league, in fact Gerrard now appears to be relishing the deeper, more defensive role and has show his class by adjusting quickly. His leadership has undoubtedly come to the fore too, as was displayed by his remarkable galvanised reaction to the Manchester City win.
At the time of writing Liverpool are currently leading by five points and have remarkably won their last 11 games. Despite the fact that their defence has conceded 44 goals this season-a higher figure than Crystal Palace (41) and Hull City (43), their attacking players are in excellent form and the team have shown their ambition and confidence in recent months.
This may just be the season the Premier League trophy comes to Anfield, the first time in 24 years that Liverpool have won a league title. Finally giving Steven Gerrard the big opportunity he has craved for so long, to follow the footsteps of other Liverpool legends and become a title-winner himself.