Is it time to take Liverpool seriously in the race for the Premier League title?
Liverpool’s hugely impressive 5-0 rout of Tottenham has been widely and rightly lauded by football betting pundits as the Reds’ best display under Brendan Rodgers and has led some to suggest they can be considered genuine Premier League title candidates this season after all.
Most inside Anfield – and indeed the majority of the club’s more realistic fans – will say title talk remains premature at this stage but there is no getting away from the fact that Rodgers’ side appear to be improving month-on-month and coming of age at the perfect time.
The performance at White Hart Lane was perfect across the board. The defence restricted Spurs to precisely zero shots on target while the midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Lucas, and Joe Allen were excellent at combating the home side’s strength while setting up the likes of Philippe Coutinho, a revitalised Raheem Sterling, and the irrepressible Luis Suarez in the final third.
Their pressing, work-rate, passing and ruthless finishing meant it was a dream day at the office. Allen and Henderson – two players who have had their fair share of criticism in the live football commentary over the past 18 months – were outstanding in particular and seemed to thrive despite the added pressure placed on them with skipper and usual talisman, Steven Gerrard, absent.
Aside from a couple of disappointing performances here and there, Liverpool have been consistently impressive this season. They have swatted so-called lesser sides away with regular ease at Anfield so far and, on Sunday, proved they are capable of going to a top-four rival, taking the game to them, and coming away with just reward.
The ultimate tests of their undoubted progress will come over Christmas, however, with trips to Manchester City and Chelsea in quick succession. But the way Rodgers’ men are playing at the moment, neither Manuel Pellegrini’s side or Jose Mourinho’s Blues will be particularly looking forward to those games.
Whether they can maintain their current devastating form – the Reds have now scored 22 goals in their last six games – remains to be seen, of course, and it would still be a big ask for them to muscle in on a title race expected to be fought out between City and Chelsea come the early months of 2014.
But what Liverpool have done by building on their fine start is to have given themselves a real chance. A top-four finish now looks a very achievable aim and, with a ridiculously-prolific Suarez on board, they will continue to frighten any defence.
We will learn more about where Rodgers’ Reds are at after the tough trips to the Etihad and Stamford Bridge but, if they could somehow avoid defeats in those two games, it would then surely be the time for everyone to start taking Liverpool very seriously as contenders for the top prize.