Are Liverpool realistic title challengers?

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said his side are challengers for the title this season, but stopped short of saying his side would lift the title come May.

The question is, is it a realistic aim for Liverpool this season? Having finished seventh and 28 points behind eventual champions Manchester United last season, to go from also rans in the Premier League to a side that can seriously contend for the title would demonstrate remarkable progress for Brendan Rodgers’ men.

Rodgers said after Liverpool’s 5-3 win over Stoke City yesterday: ‘We never stated we are going to win the league, to jump from where we have been at, we just need to be in the conversation.’

Some will point out the lack of European football has aided Liverpool with their league position thus far, which currently sees them sit five points behind Manchester City in the Champions League places.

But if Liverpool are to become genuine title contenders then there are a one or two things they need to address.

Their biggest winning streak so far this season has been four games in the build up to the Christmas period. Compare that to the other sides above them – City have taken 25 points out of a possible 27 in their last nine games, Chelsea have also had a four game winning streak as their best run, which they’re currently on – but their defence is a lot more solid. Arsenal’s best streak is a run of five wins on the bounce and they could better that with their current run. Both of the London clubs look capable of going on a long winning streak.

Only City may have really taken a run of games by the scruff of the neck and gone a run that sends out a message to the rest of the league, but it is the kind of run that Liverpool will need to harbour any realistic ambitions of delivering their first title in 24 years.

Liverpool’s defensive record, as it stands, is the worst out of the top seven sides in the division as they seem to win games by just outscoring the opposition.

With the tops sides being tighter in their defensive duties, that is something Liverpool have to address – and show the fairly mean streak they started off the season with when they managed to keep three consecutive clean sheets.

Though both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have impeccable goalscoring records this season – a good defence can deal with them well for one game – look at how Arsenal dealt with them in November.

It may be a case of one chance, and a goal and a big win, but the Reds back line needs to limit the opposition’s opportunities.

One other issue, the midfield. It has shown it is capable of winning a hard fought battle in a game but it needs to do it on a more consistent basis.

Only once these aspects are addressed they can really say they have a chance of becoming Champions.

image: © ekilby

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