No matter how much optimism Kopites held in their hearts prior to the 2012/2013 campaign beginning, there was realistically only the slightest of chances that a top 4 spot would be achieved with such a thread-bare squad. Liverpool simply did not possess the quality a top 4 side required in such a prestigious league before January came a-knocking. Look at the current top 3 sides in the Premier League currently
1. Manchester United
2. Manchester City
These sides all have at least 5 world class players in their squads, and they also boast immense strength in depth. Some of the players sitting on the bench for these sides are among the best in their position that the Premier League has to offer. Dzeko, Hernandez and Oscar to name a few. Javier Hernandez already has 12 goals in all competitions this season. What’s even more astonishing is that Chicharito has only made 14 appearances.
The Anfield faithful pose the same question year-in year-out. Why aren’t Liverpool, England’s most decorated club, anywhere near the top 4? The answer is simple. Where others have strength and depth, the Reds barely have a starting XI laden with world-class players, they have arguably only 2 world-beaters. That was until the introduction of Chelsea’s unwanted man Daniel Sturridge, the red divide of Merseyside look to have found a diamond in the rough.
While Sturridge may not be the world-beater that Liverpool need, he is most certainly going to aid and abet Liverpool in their quest for the coveted top 4 spot. Sturridge holds quality in abundance which was always there to see, even in his early Manchester City days. Luckily for Liverpool, Di Matteo and Benitez failed to see the speed demon’s prowess in front of goal. Cockiness is a large part of the Englishman’s game, but he has backed up his pretentious attitude with a glistening start for his new club. 3 goals in his first 3 games. A feat which has not been carried out at Anfield since 1974. His partnership with Luis Suarez at the helm of Liverpool’s attack was a focal point in the Merseysider’s decimation of the Canaries 5-0 at Anfield. The two marksmen have finally given the Anfield faithful something to cheer about, and the future looks bright for the lethal-looking pairing. Understanding your team mates, particularly a strike-partner, is fundamental in the success of a team. Suarez and Sturridge looked they’d been playing together for years in their emphatic win over Norwich. One of them would make a run to open space for the other, intelligent passes and dribbles were being made all over the pitch by the two. A generally stellar shift was put in by the two partners in crime. But what impressed onlookers of that game the most was the subtlety in which Daniel Sturridge provided an indirect assist to his Uruguayan comrade, the Carrow Road tormentor. Just watch Sturridge feed his counterpart with a deft opening of the legs, letting the ball do the work. Excuse the disturbing foreign commentary.
Another reason for Scousers to look forward to the coming months is the return of the king. Steven Gerrard. Statistics suggest that the 32-year old has covered the most ground so far in the Premier League this season. He has also notched up 5 league goals to compliment his 8 assists, the from any player highest in the current campaign so far. Many had thought Stevie G had lost his legs. He is still susceptible to making mistakes, although that doesn’t dent his confidence, which is something to be admired. One could argue that the Champions League winner has almost returned to his peak, and if he can do so, why can’t his team-mates follow suit? A fitting leader for a passionate and charismatic side, where else would the Merseyside legend want to see out his career? Some would go as far as saying that in reproducing his form of old, he has almost mimicked last season’s Andrea Pirlo, the fulcrum in Juventus’ unbeaten Serie A winning side. It is almost impossible that Gerrard were to lead Liverpool to such feats like the Italian, but the boy who grew up in Liverpool looks as if he can add to his trophy cabinet at least once more in the not-too-distant future. Many expected Gerrard to fall flat on his face when Rodgers implemented his new Tiki-Taka system at the club, but Gerrard has flourished under the Northern Irishman, and has surpassed all Premier League fans’ expectations with flying colours. His strikes against Manchester United and Norwich this season have been reminiscent of the man who led Liverpool to their last European trophy 8 years ago.
All in all, Liverpool fans have a lot to look forward to, as the club continues its transition in attempting to build a side fit for a title challenge, something that has eluded them ever since the Premier League came into existence just over 2o years ago. With an academy
packed to the brim with quality young talent, Raheem Sterling in particular, the Reds have a bright future ahead. One that hopefully holds many more trophy-laden years similar to the era of Bill Shankly and Kenny Dalglish. There is something in the air at Anfield which is growing and growing more recently. A real sense of optimism among the fans. Something which is always needed to pursue the accomplishments Liverpool wish to achieve.