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Liverpool looks to add a Premier League trophy to Champions League success.
On Sunday the 10th of November, Liverpool took on Man City at Anfield and thoroughly thumped them. 3-1 the headlines read, and any of those who witnessed the match would struggle to argue the result was unfair; not that a rather energetic Pep Guardiola didn’t try. Billed as one of the most important games of the season by most pundits and journalists, you can understand the rather passionate displays of both managers, especially that of animated Pep, as Man City are playing catch up. Liverpool now sits top of the league, undefeated, and 12 points clear of second-placed Leicester City. In the post-match analysis of the Man City game on Sky Sports, Jose Mourinho proclaimed, “it’s done”; unless injuries or something shocking happened, Liverpool would win the title. So, is he right?
Following in the long tradition of speculation in sports journalism, allow me to add more fuel to the speculative fire. For me, the suggestion that the league is already over stems from a narrow-minded view of title contention and who can challenge the leaders. Some people say that if we dismiss Man City, the title race is over. I would argue that it’s not.
With a 12-point lead, Liverpool only needs to drop four games to bring the title race closer again. Of the results so far, against the top 10, Liverpool has drawn with Man Utd (a team in bad form) and only narrowly beat Sheffield United, Chelsea and Leicester City. Outside of the top 10, Liverpool has only just beaten Tottenham, Aston Villa and Southampton. Liverpool’s defence has looked weaker this season. Klopp has always relied on pressing football, but it is noticeable this season that Liverpool are getting caught out more. Liverpool has won many games late this season – having to clutch victory or draws with late goals. Although this is the best start to a season in terms of points, some wins have been unconvincing.
Do I think Liverpool is most likely to win the league? Yes, of course I do, I’m not a fool. But I also think it is foolish at this time to proclaim that it is ‘done’ already. I see Man City, Chelsea and Leicester all challenging Liverpool. Man City (despite injury) have a strong squad. If their games are managed right, then the team can still challenge – with a home game still to play against Liverpool. Leicester under Brendan Rodgers is a young and exciting team lead by the experienced Vardy; who I suspect given current form may be due to another party. Chelsea, under Lampard, looks disciplined and aggressive. They are another young team with break-through talents: Mount, Abraham and Pulisic. Kante is also performing consistently, and Kepa in goal is showing great form.
I think there are still plenty of challenges for Liverpool in this league and it would be naïve to say that “it’s done”. I believe this is just the beginning of a tough grind for Liverpool. As history has shown, it is often the second half of the season that defines champions.