Liverpool’s dismal 3-2 home defeat to bottom club Swansea was a hammer blow to their title hopes and they now look to have a very slim chance of catching leaders Chelsea. The Reds are winless in three league games and their chances of finishing in the top four are now in real jeopardy. Going forward they continue to excel, but the defence simply isn’t good enough.
If you look at the bookmakers’ odds – generally 5Dimes have the best odds for the Premier League – you will see that Liverpool have slipped down to fourth favourites to win the title, below Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. Pundits have started writing them off. Harry Redknapp said he now thinks they will finish sixth. Steven Gerrard and Steve McMannaman rebutted, but then they would. Fans were buoyant after the team recorded Liverpool’s best ever first half of a Premier League season, a remarkable achievement when you consider how close them came to winning the league first under Rafa Benitez and then under Brendan Rodgers. But three games without a win will have left them looking nervously at the table, and rightly so. Man City are erratic and poor defensively, but the other teams are looking strong. Arsenal are winning games, while Tottenham and Man Utd look a lot more solid than Liverpool at present.
Liverpool have definitely been the most exciting team to watch in Premier League this season, scoring more goals than any other team, but the dodgy defence has let them down time and time again. Man City aside, they have conceded more goals than any other team in the top six. Man City have sometimes been playing two at the back, so you would expect them to concede plenty, but Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Man Utd are looking a lot more solid than Liverpool at the back. Even seventh placed Everton and eighth placed West Brom have conceded fewer goals than them this season. To ship three goals at home to a side that were bottom of the league is pretty woeful. The previous weekend Swansea lost 4-0 to Arsenal and barely troubled Petr Cech. Yet they cut through Liverpool’s backline time and time again. It is worrying and it might be a blip – fans will certainly hope it is – but it shows how limited Jurgen Klopp’s options are at the back. He must know there is still a fair bit of work to be done on the squad, and he has done a superb job with the resources at his disposal, but it is strange that he has not invested more heavily in the defence.
If you are trying to make some money out of this Liverpool season, you are presented with two intriguing options. Liverpool are 1/2 to finish in the top four, so bookmakers clearly think they will do it, along with the three London clubs and at the expense of the Manchester clubs. But they are also 7/4 to not make the top four. The question is: can one of the Manchester clubs finish ahead of them? Man Utd have been on a roll, but also suffered a blow by dropping points away at Stoke. Their recent form is a lot better than Liverpool’s, however, and they are arguably a greater threat than Man City, who are extremely erratic and even worse at the back than Liverpool. Of course, Arsenal or Tottenham might crumble, but they have good momentum at present. If you think Liverpool can turn around their form and recapture the magic of the first half of the season, go for the 1/2. But if you want more value, that 7/4 is starting to look tempting due to their defensive weaknesses.