Saturday's thumping demolition of Arsenal did plenty to raise hopes of a genuine top-four challenge for Liverpool, but last night it seemed as though the result at the Hawthorns--one not too different from what Liverpool experienced a week and a half ago--did just as much. West Brom salvaged a point late with a Victor Anichebe goal drawing the hosts level with Chelsea at 1-1, meaning that Liverpool could be four points away from the top of the table with a win tonight at Craven Cottage.
Four points. With twelve matches left to play. Chelsea, Manchester City, and Spurs all left to play, but all come to Anfield. Liverpool have been spectacular in front of their home supporters, and in two of their last three they've been unplayable. Seventh last season, there's now a chance that if a result or two goes their way over the next few weeks, they could be within a point or two of the league leaders, whomever that might be. Woah.
The aforementioned visits from three of the current top five will certainly have an impact on Liverpool's standing, but fixtures away from Anfield will have their say as well, which is why Brendan Rodgers highlighted the need for improved form on the road as the season enters its stretch:
"We can play away just like we have done at home. If you look at the nature of our game at the weekend that's the qualities you want to see in every match - super organisation, the compactness of the team when we didn't have the ball, the pressure on the ball and that intensity to get it back. Plus, we showed our defensive qualities and limited them to very few opportunities. When we had the ball we had dangerous possession of the ball and made it count.
"At times I just think we haven't quite got the results away that our performances have merited. But our form is fantastic. We're going to Fulham full of confidence and we just need to keep that going. They are two contrasting games but the idea is to replicate the points total," he added. "We've beaten the team at the top but that's gone now. Every game is critical for us whether it's against the top team or the bottom team."
After today's trip to West London, Liverpool will head to Southampton, Manchester United, and Cardiff in the month of March, and trips to West Ham, Norwich, and Crystal Palace round out the season. In each case, there will be nerves about the potential to get a result; four of the six need points to stave off relegation, while Southampton has been largely solid at St. Mary's Stadium and United will, despite their struggles, certainly be up for it.
It all feels a little unfamiliar, this business of expecting victories and looking at the top of the table from up close rather than miles away. But here Liverpool stand, and if they can manage to start picking up the points outside of Anfield while keeping up their excellent home record, who knows what's possible..