The format of ETW has changed. Temporarily but the subtle shifts have been dictated by circumstance and necessity. Rounding up what is occurring elsewhere would be pertinent except for the fact that ETW doesn't care what is going on elsewhere right now. The round ups of other leagues faded away, the links decreased in number, the articles retained their oft excessive length, and even domestic round ups were overlooked in favour of taking a closer look at Liverpool's lack of misfortune.
Perhaps it is the shock of daring to be involved in a title challenge and failing to fall away with each passing week. Liverpool surely cannot win each game with such a lack of protection for the defensive line. A potent and overwhelming attack has ensured that these fears have been unfounded so far in 2014. Rejoice. With necessary and sensible caution of course but rejoice nonetheless.
Liverpool had a midweek game at Anfield if you accursed and bewildered souls did not know. Such a notion is ridiculous. Of course you knew and how you fretted in the last fifteen minutes. Looking back, Liverpool's second goal signalled the end of the tie but Liverpool going three up seems to be the only guarantee of victory. Two goals can be given up at any time, sometimes three. Sunderland and John O'Shea in particular, may have given Liverpool a fright but considering the referee's performance and the superiority on display, three points were undoubtedly merited.
The way the game ended was perfect preparation for the home tie against Tottenham. The atmosphere and build up to the game was far too celebratory for ETW's liking. It felt like a festival. One of unyielding bliss. Our heroes have returned! Bah! Humbug to you and yours. If the result ended at 2-2, it would have been worse than that beach ball. Deflated right in your face. It did not happen but there is a feeling that over the next seven games it just might. Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City, Fulham, and Swansea were warning signs but Rodgers managed to steer past them with tactical and attacking gusto. Could the logic and odds be denied so emphatically? We will see. Now Tottenham arrive at Anfield with the gloriously excitable, depressed, rash, gutsy, forlorn, weary, hopeful, and stylish Tim Sherwood in tow.
Liverpool have been branded the Premier League's "Great Entertainers" but will need to prove that on Sunday. Why? Tim Sherwood my dear eager and hopeful children. If Liverpool want to really entertain the masses then Brendan Rodgers' side should inflict a heavy defeat on Tottenham. Watch Tim Sherwood flail spectacularly on the touchline to delight of neutrals worldwide, see a man desperate to prove his worth point and gesticulate with fury, marvel at hipster items of managerial cloth fly in all directions, grab some unbelievably inexpensively prepared yet bewilderingly costly popcorn and teeth-rotting fizzy goodness in preparation of blockbuster entertainment after the match, and choose your Tottenham player of choice to join Liverpool in the summer. Goals, three points, and streaks are just facilitators for a Sunday afternoon's entertainment for all the family.
So there's that to look forward to and what a way it would be to round of the month. Before the game, Liverpool will have more of an idea what a home victory will mean at this stage of the season. Manchester City and Chelsea both play on Saturday away to Arsenal and Crystal Palace respectively. We're running out of games and the 70 point barrier could be broken as we enter into April. It is wise to look at only the next game but the season is close to its end. Much can happen but there's not too much time left. Inevitably, some may look to previous years to find a similar side to Liverpool. Many have chosen Newcastle but another side creeps into view.
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Manchester United 1999/2000. Scored 97 goals. Conceded 45. Plus 52 goal difference. 91 points (a record at the time). 28 wins. 7 draws. 3 losses but heavy ones away to Chelsea (5-0), Tottenham (3-1), and Newcastle (3-0) in that order. There was a dodgy defence (especially in goal) and while defeat at Newcastle was preceded by a 5-1 victory at Old Trafford, the other two defeats were avenged.In 2014, Liverpool have avenged 3 of their 5 losses in the league and next month have a chance to make it 5 out of 5 assuming that Liverpool's undefeated. Man United were the reigning Euorpean, FA Cup, and league champions. The Dark Lord's charges finished 18 points above fierce rivals Arsenal in second and 22 points above David O'Leary's Leeds "babies" in third with Michael Bridges, Jonathan Woodgate, Lee Bowyer, Alan Smith, and Harry Kewell. Arsene Wenger's side were the only serious challengers to Sir Alex Ferguson's reigning champions.
The parallels are there. The goals, the defensive leaks, and the commitment to attacking football. However, there are notable differences. Liverpool are not favourites for the title, did not have the depth nor the commitments United had, and the competition at the top is fiercer. Still, it's an interesting comparison even if Liverpool's maximum point haul is two points shy of United's total. Much needs to happen before Liverpool can be crowned champions but it would certainly involve scoring close to 100 goals in total, conceding no more than 5 or 6 goals for the remainder of the season, and finishing close to 90 points. Even then, both Chelsea and Manchester City would need to lose at Anfield along with Pellegrini's juggernaut dropping points somewhere along the way. Yet if this all happens then Liverpool would be a memorable Premier League champion. More so than either Chelsea or Manchester City due to sheer starting points, resources, and entertainment.
Liverpool currently stand on 68 points, 21 wins, 5 draws, 5 losses, 84 goals scored, and 39 conceded. The mission is to turn 21 into 28 and see where that takes the club. One game at a time? Too right. To infinity and beyond? We hope so.