Forget being underdogs: LFC control the title race

The media has been slow to report it, the manager and players have been quick to play it down, and even the fans have superstitiously avoided speaking about it.

But it can’t be denied any longer – Liverpool are well and truly in this title race.

The Reds, who have flirted with the top of the table since the Barclay’s Premier League season kicked off, are looking down from the summit with only five games to go.

Victory over West Ham has taken Rodgers’ Reds to nine consecutive league wins, a feat that has been unmatched (Manchester City went on a run of eight) by any other team in the league this season.

And it hasn’t been luck; Liverpool are deservedly sitting on top of the pile.

The Merseysiders, much unlike some of their competitors, rarely have to grind out a close-fought, low-scoring game. Rather the opposite, really. The team has torn opposition defences to shreds countless times this season.

Rodgers’ team has become the Premier League’s most potent attacking unit (sometimes at the expense of their defence, it has to be said) and are, bar none, the most exciting team to watch in the league.

Their offensive firepower is just simply devastating. Every superlative in the book has been thrown at Suarez and Sturridge, and the two could become the league’s deadlist ever duo.

In Suarez, who is on the verge of a record-breaking season himself, Liverpool have the ultimate catalyst. A player so talented and unpredictable, so relentless and hungry, that his team mates have to raise their game just to be on the same pitch as him.

Liverpool’s reluctance to let their Uruguayan icon go in the summer was, in hindsight, a masterstroke – Suarez is being spoken about as one of the Reds’ greatest ever players, a legacy that could be furthered if he helps Liverpool claim the ultimate prize at year’s end.

And in Sturridge, Liverpool have (arguably) the deadliest finisher in the league. His pace, ability and composure has been a constant. Suarez scores in bunches, but Sturridge is the one player who consistently is finding his name on the teamsheet.

When Sturridge plays, Sturridge scores.

If the team do win the league, Liverpool’s deadly frontmen will rightly take a lot of credit for propelling the team to the title.

But plenty of other players have contributed to scoring and creating goals for Europe’s top scoring outfit – Sterling, Coutinho and Henderson have been integral to the team, popping up with goals and providing the framework for Suarez and Sturridge to succeed in.

Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva have contributed (although mostly at separate times due to injury) at helping the team control the midfield and assert their dominance on the opposition.

Even Liverpool’s much-berated defenders have had a successful year. Despite some memorable and laughable defensive errors (we’re looking at you, Kolo Toure) the Reds’ back line has been fairly solid.

Skrtel has been one of the league’s top centrebacks this year, and Agger and Sakho have both provided solidity when fully fit.

The fullbacks, and in particular the emergence of “Red Cafu” Jon Flanagan, have also been good for the most part, and Simon Mignolet has grown into his role as LFC’s No. 1 keeper, making some excellent reaction saves in a good first year at the club.

 

And then there’s Steven Gerrard.

This is a man who has seen this title slip further and further from his grasp, the only honour to elude him in his superhuman Liverpool career.

But at some point this season, Gerrard began to truly believe that he may have one last shot to fill the hole in his medal cabinet. The skipper has rolled back the years – he is integral to Liverpool, he IS Liverpool.

His leadership qualities have been evident in abundance this year. In such a young Liverpool team, it is obvious how big a role Gerrard is playing in keeping the motivation, composure and professionalism pumping through his side.

Set pieces have always been a Gerrard trademark, but he has raised that part of his game to an all time high, contributing 11 goals and nine assists despite playing as his team’s deepest midfielder.

Speaking of which, he has proved all doubters wrong by seamlessly evolving into a deep-lying midfielder. Gerrard is no longer the same player, but he’s still having as great of an impact on the team by playing raking long balls and dictating LFC’s tempo.

Liverpool’s talisman is playing with frightening hunger and conviction. Make no mistake, there is no player in the entire league who wants this trophy as bad as Gerrard does.

And now, despite being downplayed as potential title contenders all season long, Liverpool control their own destiny in this title race.

This could be the manager and group of players that obtains instant legendary status – that ends Liverpool’s 22-year drought for the Barclay’s Premier League trophy.

It seems almost inevitable, almost destiny; but if Steven Gerrard hoists that very trophy above his head come season’s end, it will go down as one of the greatest moments in Liverpool’s illustrious history.

Look into Gerrard’s eyes and feel his emotion, his hunger, his desire. Try not to believe, I dare you.

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