If Liverpool don’t win the Premier League this year, they never will

Losing to Chelsea cost Liverpool the best chance they will ever have of winning the Premier League. It is now or never for Brendan Rodgers & Co.

Next year, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal look set to further enhance their squads while Manchester United have reportedly promised Louis van Gaal a £200million budget to reshape their squad. If Liverpool let this season slip- and arguably, they already have - then they may never recapture their pole position in English football.

The psychological rush that came with their unexpected charge to the top will have dissipated next year, along with the element of surprise that allowed them to rip teams apart this season. No longer will sides set up to try to beat them. Taking Jose Mourinho's lead, many will instead sit back, form up into a solid shape, and deny Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge the space they need to score and create goals. 

Missing out on the title this year after expending so much emotional  energy and intensity over the past few weeks will also take its toll. The come-down from the almost certainty of winning it shown in the boasts and actions of many fans will be huge as the best chance they ever had falls through their fingers.

The intensity will no longer be there after coming so close. That sort of disappointment hurts and leaves mental wounds that aren't easily healed; and Liverpool's already small squad will also have to face fighting another front in the Champions League, which will require new players.

Bringing in a swathe of new faces could disrupt the close-knit nature of Rodgers' squad, and wreck the unity that has served his team so well this season. Alternatively, if he doesn't bring in enough players - or wastes money on the wrong targets - Liverpool will be hopelessly outnumbered and unable to maintain any challenge in the cups or league.

The spectre of Chelsea, re-armed with a top-class striker such as Diego Costa; City with a similarly high-calibre defender to aid Vincent Kompany; Arsenal with back-ups to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott; and United with a manager who can enhance rather than hinder their post-Ferguson transition, could all eclipse Liverpool in their second-season as title contenders.

While John Henry may believe that Rodgers and his club are ahead of schedule, the truth is that their window of opportunity has actually shrunk. This season was the big chance; the once-in-a-generation opportunity that fell into Liverpool's lap, that was missed and instead fell to the floor.

If City don't drop points, the league is theirs, but then this year's open, competitive title race was always about the failings of other teams rather than the brilliance of Liverpool. Should the big clubs reassert themselves properly next year, things could easily return to the locked down top four of City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Had the Reds beaten Chelsea, they could have forced the start of a brave new era, but that looks unlikely to happen now. The chance was blown and now they face an uphill struggle to stay in the mix let alone build on their winnings.

It's a huge shame as Rodgers has clearly built something impressive at Anfield, bringing together some excellent individuals under a style of play that is both exciting and effective. However, such brave challenges to the status quo require luck as well as resources to bring about a permanent reshuffle, and by allowing the money men at City to prove that cash trumps smart management once more they may have doomed their project to disappointment.

The odds were always stacked against Liverpool, but now momentum looks like it will also turn against them too, bringing their upward mobility to a standstill and stalling their boundless energy. Unless Henry is now able to beat the cash injections of Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour, or beat the revenue streams of the Emirates and Old Trafford, his club won't get another chance to win the Premier League any time soon.

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