March 3, 2014

Why not Liverpool?

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers seems to think that his own team isn’t a title contender, but a quick glance at the standings will quickly tell you otherwise.

After defeating the one-team midtable, Southampton, on Saturday, the Reds now sit in second place in the EPL, thanks to their stellar goal differential. They are just four points off leaders Chelsea – although Manchester City is six points off the lead with two games in hand.

So, tell me, how is Liverpool not a title contender?

When you can score seemingly at will like the Reds can, you’re never out of the game. Even scarier, with Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson back in defence, the back line is looking more stable than ever. That should lead to less anxiety for the fans and the team as it prepares for the final stretch of the season.

Also going Liverpool’s way in this final run: A lack of European and FA Cup fixtures means less headaches about squad rotation and tired bodies.

For now at least, City, Chelsea and Arsenal are all competing in Champions League while, of the three, only Chelsea is out of the Cup.

There are a couple of key fixtures coming shortly, with a game at Old Trafford next and City and the Blues both having to make a trip to Anfield – where Liverpool is a sterling 12-1-1.

It also must be repeated just how great Liverpool’s SAS strikeforce is. Luis Suarez leads the league in both goals and assists while Daniel Sturridge is second in goals. You can’t forget Steven Gerrard either, who is second in the league in assists. Between Suarez and Sturridge, the duo has 42 goals, which only four teams have reached this season. And you can’t forget about the rest of the side, which has 31 goals – which would be tied for 10th in goals scored in the league.

With offensive firepower like that, you simply can’t rule out Liverpool’s title chances – as much as its own manager wants to.


Things are really going pear-shaped for Arsene Wenger and Co.

It was another weekend and more points lost for the title-hopefuls, this time dropping all three points at Stoke City.

This wasn’t even a real fluky loss either; before eventually capitalizing a penalty off a handball in the box, the Potters had the better chances in the game.

And supposed Gunners saviour Mesut Ozil started the game on the bench, a stark reminder of how out of form the German playmaker has been recently.

Perhaps the one play that symbolized the Gunners game the most was watching their only other summer signing, Yaya Sanogo, sky an open shot over the net late in the game in an attempt to salvage a draw.

It seems like this is the same old Arsenal, falling apart at the most inopportune of times. While this season has definitely been a step in the right direction for Arsenal, there are still players needed and holes to be filled in this team.

For now, its Champions League spot for next year looks wrapped up – and that’s a so-called “trophy” for Wenger – but how much longer can the team’s fans and ownership be happy with a manager that can only bring a top-4 finish when there is actual title potential?


Even in big wins, something goes wrong for Newcastle. This time, manager Alan Pardew had a rush of blood to the head and, well, headbutted Hull City’s David Meyler during Saturday’s game. While the Magpies tried to jump out ahead of the FA in terms of fining the manager, I doubt that the gaffer will avoid further punishment and a touchline ban is in the offing. But hey, at Newcastle won, right? … Chelsea is so boringly efficient, it is leaving little to write about when it handily beats a team like Fulham. They only thing you might not have seen coming was the visiting Blues actually shipping a goal … So who thought Stoke was going to change its style under new management? The Potters have a resound lead in the amount of cards they have seen, with 64 total – 61 yellows, three reds – so far this season. That is 12 more cards than next-closest sides West Brom and Aston Villa. In case you were wondering, Cardiff City has been disciplined the least, with only 34 yellows and no red cards … Looks like Tottenham is getting closer to booking another Europa League berth. It’s a one-team race for fifth it seems, unless one of the top four drops off of the Champions League pace.


I sure hope that you don’t have too many Man City players in your side. With the postponement two weeks ago, this week’s League Cup final and next week’s FA Cup title, that means the likes of Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Alvaro Negredo have been collecting zeroes.

There is an upside to this though: City players will have three double gameweeks coming up in the final eight. That’s a lot of points they can make up, so stock up.


Let’s stop talking about Manchester City’s chance of pulling off an incredible “Quadruple.”

The Citizens collected their first piece of silverware this season, exploding in the second half against Sunderland to capture the Capital One Cup.

But being on the ropes, needing to beat Barcelona in Spain by two goals, is one heck of a thing to ask. That should just about rule out this quadruple talk.

Also going against City is that it’s fixture list will be mighty clogged coming up, thanks to Cup ties and the postponement due to high winds.

And while it can make up the points in the title race with its games in hand, those fixtures are by no means guaranteed wins.

So let’s temper expectations on this remarkable feat until City starts making up those games.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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