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Liverpool’s hopes of finishing anywhere in the top 6 have been written off by almost everyone at this stage of the season, but following a 5-0 bludgeoning of Swansea City (albeit a weakened side), can Rodgers’ men finally get a good run going and push for a European place?
Personally, I think that The Reds could give Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham a run for their money over the remaining twelve games (eleven for Liverpool). They still have both Chelsea and Spurs to play at home, and five of their next six games are against teams in the bottom half of the table. For this to happen, however, they will need to finish off games they deserve to win. And that’s exactly what they did against Swansea.
Liverpool had 35 shots in total, 10 of which were on target, and of course 5 were converted. This alone is enough to fill a Liverpool fan’s heart with both glee and anticipation, but on top of that, they kept a clean sheet and kept Swansea under wraps, with the Swans only having three shots over the 90 minutes. If they play even half as well against their upcoming opponents, the pressure will be well and truly on the London clubs, and Everton, of course.
This victory came in their third match in 6 days, a very impressive feat considering it was mainly the same side that played in the other two matches. Rodgers seems to have started to solve a major problem with his system also: not just Suarez is scoring. 5 goals from 5 different players against Swansea and 5 goals from 4 different players against Norwich in the last month, and goals are finally coming from the passing game Rodgers has come under fire for so often.
Enrique’s goal on Sunday was fantastic (and my pick for goal of the month – although I’m awfully biased). The players passed through Swansea as if they were non-existent and the Spaniard’s finish was emphatic. It was the type of goal that Liverpool failed to score throughout the season, and the confidence and ability seems to be in the side now to get goals to back up the performance.
In addition, Liverpool seem to have conducted only good business in a transfer window for once. Daniel Sturridge seems like he has been an attacking threat in red for his entire career, not just a month. Philippe Coutinho looks a very promising young talent, and has been likened to both Luis Garcia and Ronaldinho. Varying levels of compliment, but compliment nonetheless. This duo seems to have added an immeasurable amount of class and potency in attack to a side who were lacking in both. They also add depth to the side, which now allows Rodgers to either choose a midfield to maintain possession, or to attack the opposition relentlessly, and be safe in the knowledge that the players picked are suited to that style of play.
Performances like these are what Liverpool fans envisaged when Rodgers took over. Attacking, pressing and dominant football that should see them walk over opposition like they did Swansea, and the confidence from this game could fuel them going into the final third of the season. They have arguably the easiest run up to May 19 of all clubs, and a real consistency could see them lighting a fire under Spurs backsides, to use the saying. Chelsea, Everton and Spurs still have to play each other and Liverpool, so these matches could all be classified almost as six pointers for Liverpool. If the players are up for it, fourth spot is there for the taking.
This is all completely hypothetical, unfortunately. The fact that Liverpool have won only 10 of their 27 games doesn’t bode well for my prediction coming to fruition. They would need to drop very few points and hope that the games between teams in and around the top 8 suit them, and giving their luck and uncanny ability to drop points regardless of how much possession, shots on target, penalties or divine intervention comes there way. While I, as a hopeless Romantic, would like to think Jamie Carragher’s ultimate season would end with 11 clean sheets, a Europa League winner’s medal and a 30-yard thunderbolt against Everton to ensure Liverpool play Champions League football next season, I highly doubt that it will be the case.
But in the words of Clive Tyldesly, “You never know. You never know with Liverpool.”