Ex-Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson has said he fears there are one or two teams stronger than them in this season’s title race, notably in defence – despite yesterday’s 3-0 win over Manchester United making it five wins on the bounce for the Reds.
Liverpool are in second place in the Premier League table – four points behind Chelsea with a game in hand. The destiny of the title remains in the hands of Manchester City who are six points behind Chelsea but have played three games less. Arsenal are on the same points as Liverpool, but the Reds have a superior goal difference.
Lawrenson wrote in his Daily Mirror column: “While I look forward to Brendan Rodgers’ men having their say in the final few weeks, I do fear they will come up just short.
“When push comes to shove you rely on your defence to get you through.
“My fear is that there are one or two stronger but I hope my old club prove me wrong.”
A lot has been made of Liverpool’s lack of European participation this season. Rival teams have been saying that approaching every game fresh – having had one game a week instead of two or three frequently – has aided the Reds' remarkable climb from also-rans to title challengers.
The fixtures that jump off the page for Liverpool are the big home clashes against Manchester City and Chelsea next month. Some say if the Reds can record wins over both of those then they will be difficult to stop.
However, there is a period approaching when it simply isn’t going to be one match per week.
Given Sunderland’s participation in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, the Reds home clash with Sunderland is sandwiched in midweek in between a trip to Cardiff City and a home match against Tottenham Hotspur.
So Liverpool won’t have the same amount of time to prepare. If their rival’s theory is correct, Liverpool could slip up during that period, even though they will be favourites going into every clash.
There have been periods this season where Liverpool have had three games per week. In December they bounced back from a defeat to Hull City with a 5-1 win three days later against Norwich City, then a 4-1 win at home to West Ham United.
There was the 5-1 win over Arsenal which was backed up with a 3-2 win against Fulham. Though the performance may have been unconvincing, it was the result that mattered – though they lost the FA Cup tie against Arsenal the following Sunday despite a performance which perhaps deserved more.
It is going to be fascinating in the coming weeks to see if Liverpool can get through a busier period unscathed, and in good shape for the two crunch matches at Anfield next month.