Liverpool emerge as dark horse in title free-for-all

The Barclay’s Premier League is a mad thing.

A league praised for its competitiveness and unpredictability, England’s top division has seen many a close title race.

But bloody hell, this year is the maddest.

Defending champions Manchester United sit 11 points off fourth, while fifth place is only seven points shy of first.

Top spot has changed hands many times already this season, but with the final run-in approaching, it just might be set for a few more.

All season long, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal have been locked in a three-way battle to be crowned kings of the Premier League.

But the throne has hardly been comfortable.

With twelve matches left before Manchester United hands the trophy to a new victor, Arsenal, City and Chelsea are, undoubtedly, the favourites to continue their title-topping free-for-all.

But lurking in the shadows is a Liverpool side that would be dangerous to ignore.

In a season as topsy-turvy as this one, it might just be poetic justice if Liverpool, the most unpredictable of the bunch, come out on top.

After a season-defining, last-minute comeback win at Fulham, and sitting only four points off the summit of the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers’ Reds are not only still in the race, but are perfectly poised to bridge the gap.

Liverpool have played breathtaking football this season. A side that Rodgers originally turned into a methodical, possession-based machine has since transformed; Liverpool have become swashbuckling, relentless and extremely offensive.

Whereas once Liverpool would pass between defenders and midfielders, probing for an opening, Liverpool now quickly transition into the final third of the pitch, allowing their devastating offensive line to wreak havoc on opposition defences.

And Liverpool are by no means flat-track bullies. Ask Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton – all of which still cringe at the sight of Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and co.

The attacking triumvirate of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling has the ability to torment any backline the Premier League has to offer with their combination of pace, trickery and clinical finishing.

Coupled with Liverpool’s returning defenders (Agger, Sakho, Johnson and Enrique) there is a real sense that the timing is now for Rodgers and Liverpool to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title.

Not being involved in European competition gives the Merseysiders a chance to channel every ounce of their being into battling their way to the top of the table.

The Reds only have one game per week until the rest of the season; even with their relatively small squad, this lighter fixture list could prove the difference come the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, City and Arsenal will be expending resources on important Champion’s League matches.

The three title contenders could find themselves becoming mentally and physically exhausted the deeper they go into the knock-out rounds, as they handle the challenges of juggling Premier League fixtures with crucial mid-week Champion’s League ties.

And, as I’ve written about before, Liverpool’s deadly duo could be the decisive element in what has been a season where from start to finish, the title has looked up for grabs.

Not to mention Chelsea and Manchester City have yet to visit Anfield – and although not easy games, Liverpool will take heart in their dismantling of Arsenal and Everton at their Merseyside fortress.

Rodgers and his Liverpool side came into this season desperate to reclaim their spot in the top four, but as the season closes out, the Reds could end up with so much more.

There could yet be one more surprise left in this incredible title race, and as this season has showcased time and time again, expect the unexpected.

Maybe Steven Gerrard will finally lift the Premier League trophy that he deserves.

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