Nothing wrong with pragmatism as title looms large

Posted by Steven Kelly

LiverpoolPA PhotosRaheem Sterling and Brendan Rodgers embrace after the former's excellent opener at Norwich.

Liverpool’s narrow, nervous 3-2 win against Norwich City followed swiftly on the heels of Chelsea’s benevolent defeat against Sunderland. This has briefly stymied all comparisons, largely favourable, of the Reds’ way of going about their business with that of Jose Mourinho and the Blues.

One article from former Manchester United defender Paul Parker on EuroSport took things to an extreme when it was headlined "the only hope Chelsea have of beating Liverpool is by boring them to death. Continue Reading...

Thrilling Liverpool can see the finish line

Posted by David Usher

LiverpoolGettyImagesLuis Suarez celebrates Liverpool's second goal as they took a giant stride toward the title at Norwich.

“We go to Norwich. Exactly the same!” bellowed a fired-up Steven Gerrard after the Reds' heart-stopping 3-2 victory over Manchester City a week earlier. His teammates took his inspirational words a little too literally, as Kopite nerves were once again shredded following another dramatic victory by "exactly the same" scoreline at Carrow Road.

Liverpool deserved their victory, but just as they did last week, they made their supporters sweat. The final whistle was greeted with huge relief by players and supporters alike. Continue Reading...

Liverpool fear complacency at Norwich

Posted by Steven Kelly

 Luis Suarez of Liverpool Luis Suarez has a fantastic goal-scoring record against Norwich.

"We're just looking forward to the next game, which is Manchester City ... no, it's not, it's West Ham!"

After Liverpool beat Tottenham 4-0 two weeks ago Brendan Rodgers committed this small, possibly Freudian, slip to a BBC interviewer. One can only imagine the social media gloating and constant repetition of this clip had the Reds fallen to the Hammers. It might even have become his Kevin Keegan "love it" moment.

Not only did Liverpool beat West Ham (just), they have beaten Manchester City too. Continue Reading...

Rodgers must shuffle his pack as title closes in

Posted by David Usher

LiverpoolGettyImagesLiverpool manager Brendan Rodgers shakes hands with Liverpool fans as he leaves the Hillsborough 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield.

After doing the club, the city and the families proud with a moving speech at the Hillsborough 25th memorial service on Tuesday, Brendan Rodgers now returns to the task of trying to bring the Premier League title to Anfield and of preparing his side for Sunday’s trip to struggling Norwich City.

Last weekend’s epic victory over Manchester City put the Reds in the box seat in the race for the Premier League crown but it came at a cost as Jordan Henderson was lost to a three-match suspension, while there is a big injury concern over the hamstrung Daniel Sturridge. Continue Reading...

Liverpool's success built on nous as well as cash

Posted by Steven Kelly

Liverpool GettyImagesBob Paisley and Bill Shankly's success was down to tactical acumen in the market as well as money.

A comment from a Manchester City reporter sparked a feisty debate on Twitter before the Liverpool vs. City encounter on Sunday.

It was suggested that Liverpool had been "bankrolled" in their glory days in a similar way to what is going on at the Etihad now. It's preposterous of course, but typical of those who wish to defend the achievements of heavily financed teams such as City and Chelsea. It must get very wearying having to defend your club from accusations of artificial success and assisted competition all the time. Continue Reading...

Predicting the outcome of this extraordinary season is impossible

Posted by Steven Kelly

With a fraught, close 3-2 victory over Manchester City safely tucked away, every budding Nostradamus has got their crystal ball out and begun the prediction game. While it can be fun to whittle away an idle hour or two, it is more or less a waste of time because trying to guess what will happen in this extraordinary season has become impossible.

In our Liverpool-Manchester City preview for ESPN, David Mooney and I both foresaw a draw. It was certainly a close-run thing, but ultimately we were both wrong. Continue Reading...

Win over City a monumental one for Reds

Posted by David Usher

Alex Livesey/Getty ImagesMatch-winner Philippe Coutinho got a well-deserved handshake from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

Liverpool edged a step closer to their first league title in 24 years on Sunday following a hugely emotional win over Manchester City at Anfield. As referee Mark Clattenberg called time on a breathtaking contest, Reds skipper Steven Gerrard was reduced to tears before huddling his teammates together and delivering a spine-tingling battle cry: "Listen, this is gone. We go to Norwich. Exactly the same. We go together. Come on!"

Gerrard has had the title in his sights for months. Continue Reading...

Winning the title could be Liverpool's greatest achievement

Posted by David Usher

Liverpool GettyImagesSteven Gerrard and Liverpool are on course for their first title in 24 years.

My colleague Steve Kelly wrote a fine piece earlier this week in which he pointed out that should Liverpool win their remaining five games this would be, statistically at least, the club’s best-ever season. It got me thinking though, not only would it be the best in terms of points tally and goals scored; you could also make a very strong case for it being the club’s greatest-ever accomplishment, taking into account their starting point and the level of competition. Continue Reading...

Liverpool's bid for history

Posted by Steven Kelly

Liverpool GettyImagesHistory in the making ... Steven Gerrard and his Liverpool teammates are on the verge of something special

“Lies, damned lies and statistics” the old saying goes -- but there is a secret fourth category, football statistics, that is more misleading than all of them.

I do love a good number crunch, though, and am rarely surprised when someone else points something out, usually because I’ve been there, done it and got the XXL T-shirt. One little factoid did almost knock me off my feet however: if this Liverpool team achieves the impossible and wins their last five league games, it will become the best Anfield league team of all time -- as well as champions. Continue Reading...

Rodgers should stick with Sakho

Posted by David Usher

Mamadou Sakho GettyImagesBrendan Rodgers celebrates with Mamadou Sakho (left) after win at West Ham.

Daniel Agger’s latest injury could not have come at a worse possible time for him, and the Reds’ vice captain may now have a real job on his hands wrestling the shirt from his replacement, Mamadou Sakho, for the title run-in. The Frenchman stepped in alongside Martin Skrtel for the trip to West Ham last weekend and turned in a flawless performance as Liverpool recorded their ninth consecutive win to remain top of the Premier League.

Sakho and Skrtel combined to do an excellent job in shackling powerful ex-Liverpool frontman Andy Carroll, so much so that it could even be argued that Agger’s injury was a blessing in disguise for Brendan Rodgers, as Sakho is far better equipped to deal with a player such as Carroll than the elegant but somewhat lightweight Dane would be. Continue Reading...

Liverpool need this title like nobody else

Posted by Steven Kelly

LiverpoolGettyImagesBrendan Rodgers celebrates with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, center, and Raheem Sterling after Sunday's win at West Ham.

By beating West Ham United 2-1 on Sunday, Liverpool have unquestionably reached the point of no return -- where the mantle of plucky underdogs having a marvellous time and creating wonderful one-off memories won’t wash any more. The Reds need this title now.

The deadweight of a 24-year wait since the last triumph presses down hard on any Liverpool team and gets heavier as each fruitless year passes. Perhaps in February, or even March, the men from Anfield could have suffered a couple of draws or even defeats, shrugged their shoulders and rationalised with purpose that this was a season for improvement, for putting Liverpool back among the elite and that progress made was cause for celebration. Continue Reading...

Liverpool prove their determination by edging West Ham

Posted by David Usher

Steven Gerrard penalty celeb West Ham LiverpoolGettyImagesSteven Gerrard celebrates after tucking home a penalty at West Ham.

Liverpool’s hard-fought 2-1 win at West Ham was perhaps a lot more stressful for their supporters than it was for the players.

While Reds fans all over the globe were reduced to watching the closing minutes of the game through fingers suddenly missing nails, defensively Liverpool’s players actually looked in complete control of what they were doing and rarely allowed West Ham a clear sight of goal all day.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet did not have a single save to make as Liverpool defended stoutly and with confidence. Continue Reading...