Is Liverpool a serious title contender?
Liverpool has been the hottest and most exciting team in the Premier League thus far. Through 11 games, they sit atop the table with 26 points and only have a single loss. Even more impressive is the fact that they have been scoring at will, averaging close to three goals per game.
Can they sustain their success and remain legitimate title contenders?
Pool thumped Watford 6-1 this Sunday, with 17 shots on target.
Liverpool has not had an easy schedule thus far. They have already played Arsenal, Spurs, and Chelsea on the road, notching seven points in those three results. They do not have many challenging games left in 2016 except for a Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park against Everton. With a confident team and a loyal fan base, Liverpool looks ready to return to their winning ways like back in the 80’s when they were dominating England. Additionally, Liverpool is not playing in the Champions League this season, which gives their thin lineup the added rest that they need.
Pool are in an incredible run of form, but it may not be sustainable; I say this acknowledging that no one believed in Leicester last season. Where Liverpool lacks is in their defense and depth.
Their attack of Mane, Firmino, and Coutinho has been lethal to put it lightly. The three of them have accounted for 16 goals and 10 assists. I have no complaints with their attack, especially with Sturridge getting healthy and Origi being an option. This team is as talented as any on the front.
Now to their midfield. Their three central midfielders that they use for a majority of their matches are Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, and Adam Lallana. All three have been fantastic so far getting involved in the attack. Can adds strength and some defensive balance that is much needed in this team. Wijnaldum is a decent option coming off the bench, too. But what happens if one of the ships sinks?
Jordan Henderson has been arguably the best central midfielder in the league this season. The 26 year old is in the best form of his career. His form is correlated to the success of the team, linking up play moving forward. His defense has also been solid, comparable to top holding midfielders in the league such as N’Golo Kante. Henderson bolsters similar numbers in respect to interceptions, tackles won and clearances, and his possession skills surpass that of Kante.
What if his run of form drops? What if he gets hurt? Liverpool will surely suffer.
Henderson’s production matches the top defensive midfields in the EPL (Squawka)
In regards to injuries, their midfield and defense are very thin. Liverpool played two midfielders in defensive roles at left back and center back against Watford, and Milner is the left back of choice for the squad. Pool has to make up for Alberto Moreno by putting Milner on the left, when he offers much more in the midfield.
Milner is an experienced player that could add depth to a thin midfield. This makes you think that Liverpool is severely lacking on the left side defense. In the one goal that Watford scores, they come down Milner’s side and he gets turned leading to a goal. There are weaknesses in this team. Their defense has one clean sheet all season in a tie against Manchester United. These are not sustainable numbers for a team competing for a title. What Leicester had was defense, Liverpool does not.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher with some insight on Alberto Moreno.
So where does Liverpool stand? This may be the closest Premier League race in years, with six legitimate contenders vying for a title (Arsenal, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, and United). Liverpool fits in the top six barring any serious injury setbacks. I am not ready to call them serious title contenders. Not to mention, Liverpool is a weird team.
They play to their level of competition as displayed by their fantastic performances by top clubs, but also their lone loss to Burnley. They have some work to straighten out with their defense, but they have proven thus far that they can hang with the top clubs in England and they are certainly a fun team to watch. Jurgen Klopp’s team is the most entertaining in the league going forward. This Liverpool side adds an interesting wrinkle in this season’s title race and will hopefully be in the discussion deeper into the season.
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