Is the Title Dream Over for Liverpool?

It is always a difficult decision to make as to whether to publish something on the 15th of April. For Liverpool Football Club, that will always be the darkest of days. For survivors and family members, it is likely to be an occasion on which they want to be in a darkened room with the curtains drawn. It has now been 35 years since Liverpool played Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, with the failings of South Yorkshire police resulting in 97 football fans losing their lives. There were countless others deeply affected by what happened and many others have taken their own life since, becoming the forgotten victims of one of the biggest disasters in English sporting history. Though it feels like the world should’ve stopped, it went on. Every day those that lost someone in the disaster or survived and are wracked with guilt because of that have to carry on. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult that must be for them, how hard it must be to know that they not only lost people close to them but that those responsible have faced zero consequence for their actions.

When the Truth about Hillsborough finally became accepted around the country and the world, long after Liverpool supporters had known it and the survivors and families had been shouting it from the rooftops, there was a sense of ‘it can never happen again’. Only it has happened again, with the likes of the Grenfell Tower disaster being the perfect example. The rich and powerful will always protect one another, which is why the rest of us have to work together any time we can. It is why tragedy chanting is so very depressing to hear, week-in, week-out. The only people who love to hear it are the Tories and their rich and powerful backers, knowing that as long as we’re fighting against each other then we aren’t pointing the finger at them. Just imagine spending 35 years knowing exactly who was responsible for killing your children, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your friends and knowing that they’ve got away with it. The strength of those that have spent decades campaigning for justice will always leave me in awe. Justice for the 97.

Arsenal’s Loss Means it’s Still All to Play For

Most of us were of the belief that Arsenal would defeat Aston Villa with ease at the weekend. Having swatted aside Brighton & Hove Albion as if they were a League One side, the Gunners appeared to be in title-winning form. When they went behind against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, it was the first time that they had been behind in a game in 2024. Villa, meanwhile, have understandably got one eye on the Europa Conference League and were expected to lose a little bit of focus over the weekend. Even when they managed to keep the score at 0-0 for the majority of the match, it still felt as though Arsenal would find a winner because that’s what they’ve been doing all season. Yet it was the Villains that managed to dig deep enough to take the lead, whilst the country’s most in-form striker in Ollie Watkins doubled their lead and put a dent in the home side’s title ambitions. Having seen Liverpool lose earlier in the day, the Gunners’ were cocky prior to kick-off. Not so at full-time.

The result was a sign that there may yet be a few twists and turns in the title race before all is said and done. Manchester City look ominous and the fact that they’ve done this so regularly in recent seasons means that everyone will be convinced that they will now run away with it. The likelihood is that they will. The 115 charges against them for cheating mean that the club should be winning the title every year. They aren’t on a level playing field, so of course they are enjoying success on a regular basis. Yet it is also worth noting that Arsenal weren’t going to slip up. The London club were displaying title winning form, notching up the goals at the same time as they were being tight at the back. Until Aston Villa came to town. For City, they have the experience of winning both the title and the Champions League, so it is a lot more difficult to tell the story about how they will slip up whilst trying to cope with playing Real Madrid in the quarter-final second-leg. The fact that Arsenal lost when no one expected them to is at least something of a lifeline. Maybe City will give us one too.

Liverpool’s Injuries Have Taken Their Toll

In many ways, it was a miracle that we were even part of the title conversation so late in the day. For long periods of time this season we’ve been without Alisson Becker, Joel Matip, Thiago Alcantara, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota, Dominik Szoboszlai and Stefan Bajcetic owing to injury, to say nothing of losing Mo Salah to the Africa Cup of Nations and Wataru Endō to the Asia Cup. That is an injury list that most teams would struggle to cope with, yet Liverpool were able to bring in youth players and paper over some severe cracks. You can only survive on vibes and positive feelings for so long, however. The injured players have begun to return to the squad at the same time that the ones that were standing in for them are simply exhausted. The result is a miss-mash of players without form or match fitness playing alongside or replacing those whose legs have all but gone. It is possible that the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota and Alisson Becker will have an impact before the season is over, but it is likely to come too late.

The performances against Atalanta and Crystal Palace have been in the post for some time. The FA Cup performance against Manchester United was one that demonstrated a squad that was capable of dominating a match, but forwards who were going through a crisis of confidence. That continued against Sheffield United, then happened again against the Red Devils in the league before the wheels finally came off properly in the Europa League. The only real good news is that Arsenal’s defeat at the hands of Aston Villa mean that they haven’t disappeared off into the distance like we thought they might. Meanwhile, 115 Charges FC are only two points in front of us. If you want to think positively, you could imagine a world in which Liverpool are able to wake up, string some performances together and City’s dual demands of the Champions League and Premier League see them dropping a few more points before the race is run. Realistically, we haven’t put a six-game run together at all so far this season, so the title is as good as gone. Now it’s just about enjoying Jürgen Klopp before we can’t any more.

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