Whilst it difficult to maintain a challenge due to the fact that I think Liverpool’s squad is lacking in depth compared to the three other challengers for the Champions League spot, I still feel it can give it a good go. Many were certain that Chelsea would be a dead cert to cement the third spot but following their defensive upheaval in recent weeks, many pundits feel the title is out of their grasp and there position is under threat.
Villas-Boas stubborn ways have ensured that Chelsea will not be altering their new-found offensive ways, which leaves them vulnerable at the back. After witnessing Arsenal put five past them this past weekend, I certainly see them being in mix with Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and quite possibly Newcastle. It’s a far cry from Boas’ former colleague Jose Mourinho’s style of play who led Chelsea to victory with a defensive minded formation and being renowned for one-nil victories. Ultimately substance over style prevailed but such is not the case at this moment in time.
The team that has caught everyone off guard is Newcastle. Following the murmurings of discontent within the hierarchy of the club and the lack of funding for new signings, many expected the club to be involved in a relegation scrap. Not to mention the public relations disaster concerning Joey Barton, who was released to QPR before the transfer window shut. The sales of Kevin Nolan and Jose Enrique, a player many considered to be the side’s top performer last season also had the fans baying for Mike Ashley’s blood.
But to Alan Pardew’s credit he has invested wisely with the little money he has received, poaching the cream of the crop from the French league in players like Cabaye at a snip for just four million quid. Merged with Obertan, Demba Ba and the re-emergence of Ryan Taylor have seen the side go to Stoke City and thrash them three-one, a place where Liverpool couldn’t score and where United whimpered to a draw. They have clearly underlined their great ambition to do well this season, despite my personal belief that they lack the experience to compete for the top four slots. I see them falling just short.
Arsenal has also seen resurgence in form as of late despite the disastrous start to the season they had. Many people were calling for Wenger’s sacking after the 8-2 mauling suffered at the hands of United, yet his experience has come to the fore. Steadying a ship that lost two invaluable crewmen in Nasri and Fabregas he has managed eight wins in his last nine matches, including a thriller at Stamford Bridge which amalgamated into a 5-3 victory. They will without a doubt be vying for a Champions League spot cometh the end of the year,
The biggest threat to Liverpool at this current juncture has to be Tottenham Hotspurs. Even with the stuttering start they had to the season, one mustn’t forget they were playing Manchester City and United, hardly the easiest places to go to in the league. Rafael Van Der Vaart has come to prominence notching seven goals in nine league games, pushing them up the table above Liverpool. They also have a game in hand on their rivals, not to mention a squad of great depth where Steven Pienaar can’t make the bench and David Bentley has been loaned out to West Ham United.
Liverpool’s destiny is in their own hands but I see them missing out because of a lack of depth, particularly due to the lack of width. With the aide of a few signings in January and possibly a striker I can see us challenging. Wins against the likes of Stoke and teams of Norwich’s ilk at home are ultimately the tests we need to pass and have failed to do. I hope Liverpool do make it but only time will tell.
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