Sunday 22 January 2017

10 reasons why Liverpool can win the Premier League

Alistair Tweedale

Published 03/12/2015 | 14:24

Liverpool's defender Alberto Moreno celebrates with Liverpool team-mates
Liverpool's defender Alberto Moreno celebrates with Liverpool team-mates

Jurgen Klopp has overseen a fantastic start at Anfield and Liverpool might just have a shot at lifting their first ever Premier League title. Here are 10 reasons why Liverpool can win the league.

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Good feeling at the club

Liverpool’s players are smiling. Liverpool’s fans are smiling. And of course their manager is smiling.

There is a feel-good factor around the club, instilled by the appointment of a manager whose ear-to-ear grin has been on display just about ever since he arrived on Merseyside.

Can any other of the title challengers boast such ebullience at present? Manchester United can barely buy a goal, Arsenal barely have 11 fit players, City aren’t exactly flying, Spurs are doing well but probably are not yet genuine contenders, while Chelsea are still mired in the bottom half.

There is a genuine belief in the project at Anfield and everybody seems to be enjoying it.

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Results

Things certainly haven’t been perfect since Klopp’s instalment as manager; Liverpool drew their first three games under the German and also fell to defeat at home to Crystal Palace recently. Otherwise, results have been pretty darn good, though.

Liverpool have won at both Stamford Bridge and the Etihad, qualified for the Europa League knockout stages and on Wednesday night made it into the Capital One Cup semi-final with a ruthless, romping, come-from-behind 6-1 win at a full strength Southampton. That made it seven wins from their last eight, and yet they haven’t been great in all of those games.

But that is the mark of potential champions: win ugly when you are off colour. Liverpool did exactly that against Swansea at the weekend and against Bordeaux a few days previous. More of the same – mixed in with big performances – will serve them well.

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Faith in Klopp

Securing the services of Jurgen Klopp was an almost unbelievable coup for Liverpool but it was just what they needed; a manager with a clear philosophy which the players would buy into immediately.

Klopp is an immensely likeable character yet he also commands a level of respect that only the top managers can. What he says, the players do, and that has been quite apparent in his early days at Anfield. They believe in him and are willing to give his game plan a mighty good go.

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Fixture list

Amongst the teams Liverpool already have played away from home in the league this season are Arsenal, United, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea, City. That’s last season’s top five and their local rivals, which means their remaining games on the road all appear winnable on paper. Most Liverpool fans would look at that list or upcoming home matches and genuinely believe their team should win each and every one.

Yes, they still have to play everyone again but they face all of their title rivals at home and would back themselves to have a chance against each of them.

The return of Daniel Sturridge

The last remaining strand of Liverpool’s deadly front line of the 2013/14 title charge, Sturridge was probably considered the least important of the three at the time. Now, though, with Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling having departed, Sturridge’s absence through injury is felt an awful lot.

He has spent more than half of his Liverpool career on the treatment table and made another return this weekend before starting at St Mary’s on Wednesday. In a lethal four minute spell Sturridge had two chances with which he turned the game on its head.

Liverpool score and win more when Sturridge plays, and when he is fit and available they are a force to be reckoned with.

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Youth and depth

Liverpool have a young squad as it is but crucially, given that they are still fighting on three fronts and have the FA Cup to come, they have plenty of more young players in reserve who look at home in the first team.

In the win at Southampton Connor Randall played 90 minutes while Brad Smith came off the bench to good effect. 20-year-old Divock Origi scored a hat-trick and he is meant to be Liverpool’s fourth-choice striker!

There is healthy competition for places and plenty of back up, too.

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History

At this stage of the 2013/14 season, Liverpool were seven points behind Arsenal in top spot before a run of form that saw them surge up the table, leaving everyone bar City in their wake. Granted, they didn’t actually win the title (though they arguably should have) but they showed in that campaign that they can overturn a December deficit bigger than the current one.

A slow start it may have been this season, but they are gathering momentum.

There is no runaway leader

In eight of the last 12 seasons, the eventual champions have had at least 33 points at this stage. Manchester City currently have 29.

Leicester will surely fall away eventually, while there is no sign of United clicking any time soon even if they do have a mechanical winning formula that seems to be working for the time being. Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea are all dropping points, too, and that makes this season an absolutely huge opportunity for Liverpool.

They are not the outstanding candidates to win the league, but the fact that everyone else is slipping up gives them a real chance.

In Coutinho Liverpool have a match-winner

Champions need a player capable of changing a game on their own, and Liverpool have exactly that in Philippe Coutinho. He is a scorer of both great and crucial goals, having hit the winners at Stoke and Chelsea already this season. He needs to build on his five goals so far, and if he can manage upwards of 15 – a wholly realistic target – it would be a huge aid to Liverpool’s cause and potentially pivotal.

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Klopp’s pedigree

He has been in a similar position before with Dortmund, when he overthrew the mighty Bayern Munich as German champions, and knows how to succeed with a relative underdog. Of all the available managers that Liverpool could have recruited, Klopp might well give them the very best shot at glory.

Telegraph.co.uk

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