Liverpool can still win the Premier League, but to be among the club’s top teams they need more cups
LIVERPOOL, England — Nine points behind Manchester City, having played a game less than Pep Guardiola’s side, and with a potentially crucial trip to the Etihad Stadium still to come in April, Liverpool could yet claim a remarkable Premier title triumph League this season. Diogo Jota’s brace in a 2-0 win over Leicester City at Anfield ensured Jurgen Klopp’s side remained a threat to City’s hopes of winning a fourth league title in five seasons.
The win kept Liverpool in that odd position of being mathematically close enough to City not to come out, but far enough behind that a title surge seemed highly unlikely. One thing is certain, Klopp’s side have no room for error. One swipe and they can surely say goodbye to the title.
“I do not think that [City] smell our breath already,” Klopp said after the win. “But we’re just trying to win football games.”
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only)
– You don’t have ESPN? Access immediately
While the focus will naturally be on this away chance for a second title in three seasons, it should not be forgotten that Liverpool are, in the post-match words of defender Andy Robertson, “still fighting for four competitions”.
Liverpool will face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on February 27 (11:25 a.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+), while their FA Cup hopes remain alive after being paired with Premier League contenders Norwich City at Anfield in the fifth round. And in the Champions League, while their round of 16 tie against Italian champions Inter Milan won’t be easy, Liverpool’s pedigree and recent performances in the competition suggest they will progress to the quarter-finals. and maybe until the final in Saint-Petersburg. May 28.
Closing the gap with City is the immediate challenge, and it’s one that will energize Klopp and his players. With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane back in the Liverpool squad after the Africa Cup of Nations, Klopp has a formidable group of players to choose from in the coming months and is the only team that could achieve the near miss. impossible.
No matter what happens in the Premier League, Liverpool must see the next three months as an opportunity to win the trophies this team arguably deserve.
Since 2018, Liverpool have been City’s most consistent challengers with a side that have earned comparisons to the club’s biggest teams, but despite their incredible performances over the past four years, Klopp’s side have only won two major honors in the Champions League (2019) and Premier League (2020). They’ve also won the FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup as spin-offs from Champions League success, but it’s the traditional honors that count for Liverpool, and this team isn’t one of them. didn’t win enough.
During the same period, City have won eight major trophies. Eight against two does not accurately reflect the quality of City and Liverpool over the past four years, but City have taken the domestic cups seriously while Liverpool have poured all their resources into Premier League and League success. champions.
This season, however, gives Liverpool the chance to redress the balance and accumulate the silverware that will allow this team to share the pantheon with the greatest teams at Anfield. The Premier League is arguably the most unlikely trophy they could win, but Salah showed no post-AFCON hangover in a 30-minute substitute appearance that could have seen him score a hat-trick and Jota once again underlined his ability to decide games with his two goals.
Jota put Liverpool ahead 1-0 in the 35th minute when he scored from close range after Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel fended off Virgil van Dijk’s powerful header. The former Wolves striker then secured the points in the 87th minute with a neat turn and a shot from 12 yards out.
Both Jota’s performance and that of new signing Luis Diaz have been impressive and encouraging as Klopp will know he can count on both timing or Salah and Mane needing to conserve their energy in the weeks to come. to come.
Over the next 106 days, Liverpool will play at least 19 games in all competitions, but if they manage to go all the way in the FA Cup and the Champions League, they will have to play eight more. Twenty-seven games in 106 days would mean one game every four days, let alone international games for the majority of Klopp’s players, so Liverpool will be tested if they are to meet a four-pronged challenge.
But this team is good enough to do it, and maybe they need to do it. When history judges this Liverpool team, it will seem like an anomaly if they end up winning far fewer trophies than they were capable of.