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Saturday April 26, 2014 MYT 6:39:00 PM
Saturday April 26, 2014 MYT 12:36:25 AM
by jagdev singh sidhu
Keep calm. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is three wins away from steering his team to the Premiership title for the first time in 24 years. - EPA
IT’S mission accomplished – but the war has not been won – yet.
The target of qualifying for the Champions League has been met as Liverpool cannot finish lower than third.
But the Reds are eyeing a bigger goal – the English Premier League.
Win the three remaining games and Liverpool will be crowned champions of the English league for the first time since 1990.
But, realistically, it boils down to the game against Chelsea on Sunday.
Beat Chelsea and Liverpool will literally have one hand on the trophy.
What we have seen leading to Sunday’s game is a wave of transformation within the Reds squad and by the manager.
Apart from the team’s magical 11-game winning run thus far, this season has also highlighted the extraordinary growth of the team and the players.
It started with manager Brendan Rodgers coming to grips with the players at his disposal. He tinkered and tweaked his tactics to a point where there is now a blueprint on how the team should play. All the great teams play to a certain philosophy and it is no different with Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard has remodelled himself into a deep sitting libero, utilising his experience, tenacity and passing skills from deep within the half to set up play.
The fact that Jordan Henderson’s motor and all-out action is being missed right now shows just how integral he is to the way Liverpool play. That, coupled with his good technical skills, makes him the second most improved player on the team.
The honour of being the most improved player in the Reds team, undoubtedly, goes to Raheem Sterling. Still only 19 (he will turn 20 in December), Sterling has been the revelation of the Anfield revolution. Direct, pacey and playing with the maturity that now accentuates his natural ability, Sterling is proving to be invaluable to the team as Luis Suarez has been.
Suarez has put the controversies behind him and is now playing at the upper echelons of what a world-class talent should do. Having scored 30 league goals already, the Uruguayan is in his prime and his partnership with Daniel Sturridge has been the catalyst of how the team play.
Players like Martin Skrtel and Jon Flanagan have salvaged their careers this season and are now stalwarts in the backline.
Skrtel has lifted his game so much that he is an automatic name on the team sheet. Local boy Flanagan, still susceptible to the odd mistake, adds toughness many will expect from a local lad.
It’s the growth of the players and the team that now breeds optimism by the owners.
Reports indicate that Rodgers will be given a lucrative new contract and a big transfer kitty to strengthen his squad to meet the rigours of continental football. Returning players such as Fabio Borini, Suso and Tiago Iliori will add to the depth the team need at Anfield for next season.
The ebullient mood at the club was buoyed by the announcement of redevelopment plans for Anfield, where the stadium’s capacity will be increased to allow Liverpool to generate the revenue needed to keep up with the improvements on the pitch.
Liverpool are indeed on their way to reclaim the perch.
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