Liverpool: Clear As Day 2013-14 Issue 8
The eighth instalment of Vital Liverpool's latest serialising of editor Gavin John Day's acclaimed Clear As Day football column...
During the course of the past season Vital Liverpool editor Gavin John Day has continued to pen his monthly Clear As Day column for LFC fanzine Anfield Roar.
With the campaign now over we are delighted to be able to share these articles with you and will be publishing the series at regular intervals over the coming weeks.
In this instalment, the eighth Clear As Day of the 2013-14 season, Gavin finally starts to get carried away by title talk but is nervous about the defence undermining such ambitions.
Clear As Day 2013-14 #8
Originally published: March 2014
As a Liverpool fan, and someone who writes extensively about the club, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid the big question; can we win the title?
Up until the past two games I have always replied with a categorical 'no' but even I must confess that I am slowly becoming a believer.
I'm not saying it will happen, but we do have one hell of a chance!
As the old cliché goes, goals win games and as long as we continue to score at our current rate it is impossible to rule out a first triumph for 24 years.
Clearly Chelsea and Manchester City remain highly-fancied as a result of their extensive and expensively assembled squads, not to mention the fact that they both have recent experience of being crowned champions.
However, our back-to-back 3-0 away victories over Southampton and Manchester United have ratified the possibility of a long overdue reunion between the league trophy and Anfield.
I've always been someone who feels that a reliable defence is crucial to winning titles and for large spells of 2013-14 this area of our game looked likely to undermine our challenge.
Not so at St Mary's and Old Trafford.
Recording two consecutive clean sheets at such challenging venues - places where we have terrible recent records - is incredibly encouraging.
In the previous seven games, by contrast, we had managed just one shutout and conceded on 12 occasions. At 35 goals against, we have let in more than anyone else in the top seven except Tottenham Hotspur.
It came as little surprise to me that only once in the last thirteen years have the Premier League champions conceded in excess of 40 goals during a season; United last year (43).
Getting the balance between attack and defence right has always been a tricky juggling act. Plenty of teams that should have won a league title, such as Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United of the mid-1990s, failed as a consequence, at least in part, of not being able to do so.
So far nothing has hindered Liverpool's scoring potency and ridiculously Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge's combined total of 43 goals is more than 13 whole top flight teams.
Our current overall tally of 76 goals is more than any other Premier League side in the competition's history at this stage of a campaign.
It is also a figure which surpasses our full-season totals in every previous year, since the top flight restructured in 1992, except one; 2008-09.
That particular season, when Rafa Benitez's men netted on 77 occasions, represents the only other time the league title has looked even remotely like coming home in recent times.
Ultimately, despite only losing two games, Benitez's side had to content themselves with finishing as runners-up, primarily as a result of drawing too many games (11 including seven at home).
Liverpool finished the season on 86 points, a figure which would have seen us crowned champions in 2010-11, and such an amount is almost certainly going to be enough to win it again this time around.
With 62 on the board and nine games to go, we can reach a maximum of 89. Should we win all our games then only City can mathematically amass more.
Such a winning run is unlikely of course but just the fact it is being discussed shows how far we have come in such a short space of time.
The trip to Cardiff City this weekend will be our third consecutive fixture on the road and another competent, all-round display will be required to keep the momentum going.
Like most supporters, a return to the Champions League was my primary ambition at the start of the season and, even when top at Christmas, I didn't expect anything more than perhaps third.
It could be that we endure an end of season slump but if such solidity at the back can continue then I really can see Brendan Rodgers delivering the one prize we all want.
It would be a phenomenal achievement if the previously unproven Northern Irishman manages to do so and, in the process, join a fabled list of Kenny Dalglish, Joe Fagan, Bob Paisley, Bill Shankly, George Kay, Matt McQueen, David Ashworth and Tom Watson.
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Previous articles in this series2013-14Clear As Day Issue 1Clear As Day Issue 2Clear As Day Issue 3Clear As Day Issue 4Clear As Day Issue 5Clear As Day Issue 6Clear As Day Issue 72012-13Clear As Day Issue 1Clear As Day Issue 2Clear As Day Issue 3Clear As Day Issue 4Clear As Day Issue 5Clear As Day Issue 6Clear As Day Issue 7Clear As Day Issue 8Clear As Day Issue 9Follow Gavin on Twitter @superbag
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