Liverpool Can Challenge For The Title

There has been a particularly odd thing that has happened over the past couple of days, with accounts on Twitter deciding that Wataru Endo is the ‘worst signing in Liverpool’s history’. It is easy to dismiss such takes as the opinions of young people who haven’t got a clue what they’re on about, with most of us remembering Christian Poulson all too well, but does it speak of a wider issue in football? In the days of Manchester United winning the Premier League seemingly every season, squad players were crucial to a team’s success. Had Twitter been around at the time, who knows how United supporters would’ve reacted to the likes of John O’Shea, Mikaël Silvestre or Wes Brown; average players who won plenty of titles with the Red Devils because they could do a job. None of them were world-beaters, but all of them were the sort of players that were dependable and that the manager knew he could get a tune out of when it mattered or when other players were injured.

The reality is that 115 Charges FC have changed the way we think about Premier League squads nowadays. The most points Manchester United ever notched up was 92, achieved during the 1993-1994 campaign. Pep Guardiola’s side have got more than 92 points three times out of their five title winning seasons to date. The goalposts have moved, yes, but so too have the expectations of some supporters. The reality is that all of Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch are ahead of Endo, to say nothing of Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic being more likely to start if they were fit. Harvey Elliott is probably also ahead of him, but is a more attacking player so would be unlikely to start in his place. It means that the Japanese international is something like our seventh-choice midfielder, yet there are some that are acting as though he should be prime Steven Gerrard. He isn’t that, nor does he need to be, so it’s time he was shown some respect.

There Isn’t Much Wiggle Room

We know from going toe-to-toe with Manchester City in years gone by that there is very little wiggle room if you’re hoping to win the title. There is still a long way to go before this season reaches its conclusion, with the manager likely to want to draw our attention to the fact that this team is well ahead of where we all thought it would be before a ball was kicked. This was supposed to be a season of transition, an entirely new midfield coming in to replace those whose legs had all but fallen off. Having already won one title and missed out on two more by a single point to the sportswashing team from Manchester, it doesn’t take much for Liverpool supporters to get excited at the idea of a title win that might actually be accompanied by a parade this time. We all want the Reds to get the credit that they deserve and that has been snatched away from them by what essentially amounts to financial doping.

I am not convinced that City look their imperious selves this season. In times gone by, four goals scored by them would mean that they had enjoyed yet another riotous victory, yet a Chelsea side that has lost at home to the likes of Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and Brentford was able to hold them to a 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge. The only other times Chelsea had scored four goals were against Burnley and a nine-man Tottenham side, so it’s fair to say that City are there to be got at. Of course, we’ve thought that before during the early months of a season, only to see them put a string of wins together that has all but taken the title away from other sides. I’m therefore not willing to get too carried away, but I do think that we at least have a chance if we’re able to keep within touching distance of them. We are currently in a situation whereby the worst possible scenario is that we’re four points behind them after playing them away, which isn’t bad when you consider how much we were screwed over against Spurs.

Our Away Form Could Be Our Downfall

There are two things that are mildly concerning to me at the current stage of proceedings. The first is our form against poorer opposition, with the Reds having struggled to beat a newly promoted side away from home since 2021. The second, which ties in with that, is our away form in general. We have dropped points in four matches so far, drawing with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season, losing to Tottenham in ridiculous circumstances, throwing away a 2-1 lead against Brighton & Hove Albion and drawing with Luton Town. There are some big away games still to come, with the likes of Old Trafford and the Emirates on our list as well as trips to Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and a weirdly resurgent Everton. If we are to seriously challenge for the title then we will need to improve our form away from home as quickly as possible. One of the best ways to start would be a victory at the Etihad against the team we’re most likely to be up against for the big prize.

If our performance against Tottenham in the circumstances that it came gave us all reasons to be positive, our draw with Luton did the opposite. Yes, we missed countless chances and opportunities to put the game to bed, but we didn’t take them and in the end were lucky to emerge with a draw. The most positive thing about the result against Brentford over the weekend was that it put to bed two poor performances in succession when you also include our loss to Toulouse in the Europa League. What we need to see next, though, to really give us a season that we can go and win the title this year is a big performance on the road. There is no better team to do that against than the one managed by Pep Guardiola, with Liverpool having failed to perform there for several years in succession. We know from previous years that the winner of the matches between us and City will often be the title winners, so I would much rather that that was us this time around.

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