Friday 13 December 2019

Five reasons why all is not lost for Liverpool

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard appears dejected during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard appears dejected during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield

DECLAN WHOOLEY

Liverpool’s defeat at home to Chelsea had the feel of a title deciding match, but while the odds are very much against the Reds, all is not lost.

Even the most optimistic Liverpool supporter will have been left deflated by the reversal at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s side, who implemented the perfect strategy to leave Merseyside with the three points.

Chelsea are still the outsiders in a three-way battle to win the league, with Man City now in pole position to reclaim the title they surrendered to United last season.

Brendan Rodger’s side now have it all to do to claim a first title since 1990, but there could yet be another twist to this intruiging title race.

Here are five reasons for Liverpool supporters to retain hope.

City must travel to Merseyside

Manchester City need little reminding of their last trip to Merseyside, with the pulsating 3-2 defeat to Liverpool looking like the final act in their title challenge.

The Toffees have been something of a bogey team over the years for City and while their own Champions League aspirations have been dented by surprise defeats to Crystal Palace and to a lesser extent Southampton, they remain a formidable side at home.

Sergio Aguero celebrates Manchester City’s first goal scored by Alvaro Negredo at the Ethihad Stadium yesterday

Sunderland and Palace are the only sides to have won at Goodison and even a draw could be enough for their near neighbours to retake control.

Down but not out

Defeat was a huge blow to Liverpool, but all is not lost. Goal difference is in Man City’s favour should both clubs win their remaining fixtures, and they have three games as opposed to Liverpool’s two.

The advantage remains with Manuel Pellegrini’s side, but they still must actually win their remaining games. Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham may be all suffering dips in form of late, but the Toffees and Villa in particular have a lot to play for and will not be short of motivation.

Fragile City mentality?

City’s mentality has been called into question on a number of occasions. Last season their inconsistency saw United coast to the title and in the Champions League they have struggled when the pressure has been applied.

Travelling to Goodison on Saturday could well be more of a test for the psychological state of City as they are now favourites to snatch the championship from the Reds.

Laden with riches and talented footballers, the jury remains out on whether the squad has the mental strength and resolve to accompany their undoubted skill.

Goals scored

As it stands, Liverpool trail City by eight in goal difference which may well have the final say in the outcome. Such a turnaround is highly unlikely, but should City struggle in the goals front and the Reds continue their blistering goal streak and the teams end up level on goal difference at the end of 38 games, then the trophy will head to Anfield thanks to their superior goals scored tally.

Luis Suarez, left, celebrates with Daniel Sturridge

It is a long shot in the extreme considering City have an extra game to boost their tally, but the Chelsea defeat aside, they look capable of scoring goals by the bucket-load.

Luck

As ever where the margins are so fine, Rodgers and co may need a slice of luck to finish top of the pile. City’s game at Goodison is their final away game before two home games to close in on the title.

Chelsea are the only side to win at the Etihad, while Sunderland are the only other side to have left the blue half of Manchester with anything, but that result may give Villa and West Ham a crumb of hope, though the odds will be long on a repeat occurrence.

Injuries, lack of form and pressure will all be factors over the coming weeks, with Liverpool hoping it goes in their favour.

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