JUST like everything in life, writing an article is easier at certain times, more than it is at others. This week is a particularly good time to be writing an article concerning Liverpool Football Club, as the Reds are in the midst of a fantastic run of form and this is reflected in the Unibet sportsbook as the Reds’ odds start to come in.
Sunday evening’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur was, by far and away, the most pleasing result and, arguably, performance of the season so far. To win in the Premier League is always sweet. To beat a team that’s had the upper hand over you in recent years and one that hadn’t lost in twelve league games is sweeter still. But, to come from behind to grind out a victory, when all looked lost, against a major rival in front of your home fans; well, that’s got to be one of the sweetest things in football.
As a fan, it was certainly sweet for me, despite having shredded just about every nerve in my body.
There can now be no doubt about it, Liverpool are on the rise. The sticks with which the less pessimistic of us fans have been beaten for most of the season, are made from oak no more but rather balsa. The hastily reconstructed jibes about not having beaten a side in the top ten, seven, four, have given way as even the most vocal of doom-mongers amongst our ranks are now deafening us with their silence.
Four wins on the bounce now in all competitions (including three in the Premier League), the first time that’s been achieved since the King himself hauled us back up the table in the Spring of 2011. Fitting then that as we enter the time of the year when the world is born again after the desolate darkness and freezing temperatures of winter, that the Reds appear to be a side reborn and one very much playing with a spring in its step.
With nine games to go in the league this season, Liverpool are hitting form at the right time. Confidence in the squad is high and why shouldn’t it be? After all, many of the players are producing the best form of their Reds’ careers to date. Players like Stewart Downing; many people’s Man of the Match on Sunday, Jose Enrique, Luis Suarez, Glen Johnson, even Steven Gerrard is playing at a level far above that of the last three seasons.
As I wrote in an article several weeks ago, the new signings of Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have made Liverpool much more of a threat in the final third. Sturridge’s pace and direct approach puts teams on the back foot, whilst Coutinho’s vision and dead-eyed ability to make the killer pass make him an extraordinarily dangerous individual.
Of course, there remain problem areas within the side. Yet again, it was the back four’s inability to deal with high balls into the box which allowed Tottenham to both equalise and get their noses in front at Anfield.
With Carragher retiring at the end of the season and Skrtel seemingly on his way out, Brendan Rodgers will need to bring in two top quality centre-backs to shore up the defence. A defensive midfielder is also a necessity, preferably one who’ll add physicality to the squad – the lack of which has cost the Reds valuable points at times this season. Aside from that, a good quality back-up goalkeeper is essential – someone who’ll provide real competition for Reina and be a capable understudy when required – perhaps with a view to becoming a permanent replacement within a few seasons.
These are the main areas that need to be addressed in the transfer window, and I’m sure they will be. There will doubtless be other additions, likely in the attacking third and possibly at fullback, however there’s neither a need nor a desire for wholesale changes this summer with the side gelling as it is.
Things have been gradually coming good under Rodgers for some time now. Last Sunday, the incremental progress took a giant leap forward, stepping into the limelight so to speak, from the underground into the mainstream. Now comes the real test. Nine eminently winnable games between now and the end of May, a total of twenty-seven points. Twenty-three will almost certainly guarantee European football, in some shape or form, next season. The question is, now that everybody is watching: can the Reds keep producing the goods with the spotlight firmly fixed upon them.
You can catch up with Neil on Twitter @Neil1980 or and on his blog http://itsallinthegameblog.wordpress.com/