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Friday 19 January 2018

Alan Hansen: Liverpool can outgun everyone to finally end 24-year title drought

Liverpool have a real chance of winning the Premiership title with players like Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge
Liverpool have a real chance of winning the Premiership title with players like Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge

Alan Hansen

LIVERPOOL can definitely win the Premier League this season, and now is the time when we will all discover whether they can handle the growing pressure and expectation.

After so many false dawns and changes in managers, it has been such a long time that Liverpool have been in this position, but they have got a hell of a chance of lifting their first title since 1990.

They have crept up under the radar to get themselves into a fantastic position and, now that people are openly talking about them winning it, we will see what they are really made of.

For a club of Liverpool's stature and history, it has been too long. There have been so many times where they have looked on the verge of achieving something and it has seemed that the minute they have given their supporters something to be optimistic about they've let them down.

There have been so many disappointing defeats against lesser teams over the years, but this season they are passing most of the tests. The spotlight is now undoubtedly on Brendan Rodgers' men and they'll have to deal with it.

Inevitably there will be comparisons with the Manchester United team in 1992. United had not won the league for a quarter of a century and got themselves into a strong position, but when the pressure started to build they could not handle it.

After winning at Southampton and moving into second place, this is a new experience for Liverpool's players and it really is crunch time.

The title win 24 years ago was my final season at Anfield and I remember when we did the lap of honour there was almost polite applause because the club's supporters were so used to Liverpool winning the league.

I did a radio interview after the game and was asked what my ambition was for the next season and I replied it was simply to play 13 games so I would be eligible for a winner's medal. I was not being cocky, but it was simply because we had won it so many times.

Let me tell you, if Liverpool win the title this season you will not be able to get a ticket at Anfield for love nor money. The impact will be phenomenal, especially for the supporters who have stuck with them through thick and thin.

The bookies have made them third favourites, behind Chelsea and Manchester City, but the third favourites have gone on to win it before. Liverpool are definitely in the mix.

When you consider that Chelsea and City have both got to go to Anfield, it really is in Liverpool's hands.

Rodgers would have bitten your hand off if you had offered him this at the start of the season. Even finishing in the top four would have been a dream, but he has transformed Liverpool into the team to watch.

Everybody talks about City but Liverpool have got so much firepower that they are simply blowing teams away. They still might not be the best defensively – as they proved against Swansea last week – but they have got so much freedom and fluidity going forward.

Rodgers' attitude has been, 'if you score four, we will score five'. Usually I would never go along with that because sooner or later you will come unstuck, but it has worked so far. It might not work in the clashes against City and Chelsea when the games will be tighter, but he will keep playing that way.

Eight of the last nine teams to win the league scored the most goals and Liverpool are even ahead of City on that at the moment.

Luis Suarez is such an incredible talent that it has got to the stage now where if he doesn't do anything sensational you think he is ordinary.

Then you've got Daniel Sturridge who, at £12m, is looking like the greatest bargain of all time. Raheem Sterling has also trained on and has so much pace.

But the man holding it all together is undoubtedly Steven Gerrard, who has reinvented himself as a holding midfielder. When he was playing off the front man and in the final third everything came through him.

Now he can provide the passes from midfield and it is all credit to Rodgers for building the team around him in that position.

Their next game is against United at Old Trafford and that represents another massive opportunity to show the country they mean business.

Those home games against Tottenham, City and Chelsea are also going to prove pivotal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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