These past few years have been dark days indeed for Liverpool football club. A string of finishes not only outside of the top four, but sometimes behind fierce local rivals Everton has turned Anfield the wrong shade of red altogether. But this season, it really does seem that the club could be turning a corner.
The Reds find themselves in their strongest league position at this point in a season for years, sitting pretty in second place, two points adrift of an Arsenal side who’re also enjoying a resurgence of a significant nature.
So who’s to thank for Liverpool’s change of fortunes? Many would look no further than the dazzling striking partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, tipped by a raft of commentators including one Robbie Savage as the finest pairing of forwards in the Premiership, bar none. Suarez is currently held in particularly high esteem, having ripped through West Brom a few weeks back in a manner which led club owner John Henry to proclaim him a ‘magician’.
The man that did arguably the most to secure Suarez’s future at Anfield, manager Brendan Rodgers can also surely take a sizable degree of the plaudits for Liverpool’s current upswing. Whilst keeping hold of Suarez was in itself a crucial achievement, the transformation of a side that struggled under local legend Kenny Dalglish into genuine top four challenges points to a more fundamental improvement in the operation of the club: Liverpool it seems, have had the culture of winning instilled within their ranks.
But the question remains, can Liverpool go the distance and secure Champions League qualification with a top four finish? There’s certainly cause to be cautiously optimistic. Losing to Arsenal was a sobering moment which surely cast a shadow of doubt over the Reds’ already slim prospects of winning the title, but Liverpool remain more impressive than many of their top-of-the-table competitors at this point. There is a strong hope in the red half of Merseyside that supporters will be able to do more than bet on champions league opponents of United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal with fingers crossed to keep themselves in high spirits on those heady European nights next season.
Still, there is a mountain to climb. City and Chelsea are expected to gather in power throughout the second half of the season, when the strength in depth of their squads should begin to show. Manchester United and Tottenham, even Southampton and Everton remain contenders. Liverpool have their best shot at Champions League qualification in years this season, but they’ve got a fight on their hands.
Image credit to Dean Joans