Liverpool FC: Place Your Bets
DIC in talks! Hicks says he will not sell! The Pope in shock move for LFC!
Yawn, yawn, yawn.
For a few moments I'll ignore "Liverpool Football Club—The Soap Opera" and instead make the controversial choice to discuss Liverpool's other activity.
Although it hasn't been a great season by our own expectations, the fact is we are still (at the time of this writing anyway) in a healthy position in the Champions League and involved in a crucial race for the European Cup place for next season.
This will not be easy, as Everton has a team seemingly built for scrapping out results in dire games.
Players like Lee Carsley, Phil Neville, and Tony Hibbert can scrap with the best of them. Then you have Tim Cahill, Andy Johnson, the impressive Michael Arteta, and the formidable Yakubu—all players with flair and the ability to win matches.
This being said, I still expect Liverpool to qualify. The upcoming derby will be crucial, as will the away games at the Emirates and Old Trafford, but come season's end I think Liverpool will be there—comfortably.
I have identified five key reasons why this is possible:
1. The front-line partnership
It's only taken Rafa Benitez until March to realize that Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch, and Andriy Voronin are not the answers to the "Who should partner Fernando Torres?" question.
The answer all along was that Torres can do it alone!
Well, not quite.
By playing Gerrard in the free role behind Torres, Benitez is utilizing his two most potent weapons, in tandem, in the most crucial area of the pitch. The partnership has produced masses of goals and has drawn comparisons to the likes of Keegan/Toshack or Ian Rush/King Kenny Dalglish.
2. Ryan Babel
The young Dutchman seems to have settled into the English game with terrifying results. He has made himself almost undroppable now, and is adding a vital weapon to what was a faltering Liverpool arsenal.
3. The holding midfield
The formation currently favored by Rafa Benitez requires two holding midfielders to play behind the three more attacking midfielders chosen to support Torres.
In Javier Mascherano, Xavi Alonso and the gifted Lucas Leiva, Benitez has three ideally suited players. Usually it's Mascherano and one of the other two.
The dirty, unpopular, but greatly appreciated work Mascherano does gives all the time and space in the world to whomever plays at his side.
Players of Alonso's and Leiva's abilities will thrive in this space and time and have the potential to pass the opposition to death.
4. Jamie Carragher
Put simply, Carragher has been immense. The one-man defense will give every fiber of energy in his body for the Liverpool cause. I'd never bet against any team with Carragher in the ranks.
In a run in like this, every game is a potential cup final. Liverpool has the players with the experience of these types of games. Everton do not.
In Benitez, Liverpool has a manager who can pick out weaknesses in any opposition. Tactically he makes David Moyes, the Everton boss, look like a Sunday league coach. This experience and knowledge will be crucial in the coming race.
To summarize, I predict this article to be abused by most non-Liverpool fans.
But more importantly, I predict Liverpool to finish above their Blue-nosed neighbors by a minimum of six points.
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