Liverpool's 18-year-old Raheem Sterling is now an established player in the squad after an indifferent start to the season. - AFP
SIX more victories. That’s what it’s going to take to guarantee Liverpool hold on to the lead at the top of the table and be crowned champions at the end of the season.
But to secure the dream of fans around the world, Liverpool will need to navigate through a treacherous April which features four crunch and deciding games against not only those in the mix for the title but also against teams fighting for survival.
In all likelihood, home games against Manchester City and Chelsea will decide the pecking order at the top but away trips to West Ham and Norwich are must wins for Liverpool to even stand a chance to secure their title aspirations.
It will be a test like no other under the Brendan Rodgers era, and going by the scintillating eight-game winning run, I think the team have what it takes.
The reason for that is the way the team play. I feel all great teams play to a structured way. Bob Paisley’s Liverpool purred with the pass and move and, Manchester United under Alex Ferguson did much of that plus a wicked counter attacking style with the wingers he employed.
Rodgers, after spending much of last season trying to mould Liverpool into his vision, seems to have hit pay dirt after much tinkering. It all starts with the irrepressible Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, both of whom have been absolutely intrinsic to the team’s success.
As good as they have been, it has been the engine of the team which allows the strike partnership to flourish. The pressing high up the pitch, which begins with Suarez and Sturridge, continues into midfield.
Jordan Henderson, much maligned in the past due to his youth and price tag, has blossomed into an indispensable part of the team. There isn’t a player in England who covers that much of ground in a match and gives the team substance in attacking options when playing to the technical nuances of the game. The fact he has started every single league game this season shows just how important he has been to Liverpool’s success.
Backing him up are Joe Allen, Lucas Leiva, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho and they all do their fair share of work on both ends of the pitch. The constant harassment and pressing unsettles opponents and allows the front two to capitalise on quick counters and mistakes of their rivals. The bonus is that the players, especially the more attacking inclined, have been contributing by scoring.
With Steven Gerrard at the fulcrum of it all, the all-action style of Liverpool under Rodgers has been poetry in motion, like the now popular song being sung by the Kop in recent weeks.
Rodgers’ imprint on Liverpool now seems complete. It’s the way of playing, a style and constitution of the team that will set their foundation going forward like how it has been for Paisley and Ferguson.
The results of which have been startling. With the destiny of the title in Liverpool’s hands, all eyes will be at Upton Park tomorrow as the Reds take on West Ham.
West Ham are no slouch at home and with big Andy Carroll maybe out to prove something against Rodgers, their route-one style can prove tricky for Liverpool.
Nonetheless, I do expect, with records falling this season, Liverpool to meet that challenge and continue on their fairytale winning streak.