3 Biggest Positives of Liverpool's Fantastic 2013/14 Season
Liverpool's league performance during the 2013/14 season has been beyond the wildest dreams of even the most optimistic Reds supporter.
With just nine games of their season remaining Brendan Rodgers' side are well and truly in the hunt for the Premier League title, trailing leaders Chelsea by four points having a played a game less.
There have been many positives during a season that has seen the Reds become the country's most attack-minded team in a campaign that has produced a number of outstanding results.
The Anfield side have put some patchy early season away form behind them and 2014 has yielded seven wins from nine Barclays Premier League games.
There has been many positives throughout 2013/14 and selecting three has been difficult.
There has been the coming of age of Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling cementing his place in the side and Jon Flanagan drawing comparisons with a two-time World Cup winner.
This article will highlight three specific positives that will have Kopites all over the world beaming and also those that have been crucial in cementing Liverpool's position as genuine title contenders. It will not however focus on one particular performance or result.
Read on to see the three positives that Reds fans can take from their side's wonderful season so far.
No. 3: The Emergance of Jon Flanagan
It is quite something to think that Jon Flanagan made his Liverpool debut almost three years ago during a comfortable 3-0 victory over Manchester City at Anfield.
The then 18-year-old was practically unheard of when Kenny Dalglish named him in the starting line-up to face Roberto Mancini's start studded side.
Playing at right-back the defender impressed going forward and was rock-steady when called upon at the back.
Liverpool-born Flanagan began the following season (2011/12) in the side but fell out of favour as the Reds struggled in the league under Dalglish and featured only five times throughout the remainder of the league campaign (via ESPN).
He failed to make a single league appearance during Brendan Rodgers' debut season at Anfield and appeared just once in cup competition (via ESPN).
Despite this the tough-tackling defender has been arguably the biggest surprise of Liverpool's impressive season so far, starting 14 games in the Premier League and looking more than comfortable at either right-back or the more unfamiliar role of left-back.
In all honesty, Flanagan looked shaky during his first start of the season—a 2-0 defeat away at Arsenal—but his second start was without doubt one of the best individual performances of the Reds' campaign.
Playing out of position during a ferocious Merseyside derby in which both teams were harbouring ambitions of a top-four finish may be daunting for some, but for Flanagan it was like a kick around in the park.
He was simply faultless, solid at the back and a real threat going forward in a performance that Steven Gerrard described to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo as "one of the best derby performances I have seen for many years."
The 21-year-old has without doubt built on that performance as the season has gone on—even notching a first Liverpool goal away at Tottenham—and now looks to be a vital member of Rodgers' impressive side.
James Dickenson of the Express reports that Reds fans have even taken to nicknaming Flanagan the "Red Cafu," with the Brazilian legend taking to Twitter to reveal his admiration for the young Scouser.
There is nothing that Liverpool fans love more than to see "one of their own" come through the academy and become a regular in the starting lineup.
During the '90's it was a regular occurrence. There was Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher and Gerrard, with the latter arguably being the last "big star" to come through the ranks.
Flanagan has big footsteps to follow but in a season where the Reds have shown that they are able to compete at the top of the table, the young defender has looked like a natural.
There is no doubt that the "Red Cafu" will be an important figure as the Reds look to end their 24-year wait for a league title.
No. 2: The "SAS"
Just where do you start?
Liverpool have become the most exciting team in the country and pivotal to that has been the form the Reds' very own "SAS," Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.
Suarez is odds on to finish as the Premier League's top scorer having notched 25 goals while Sturridge has found the net on 18 occasions.
Liverpool have had some memorable partnerships through the years. Duos such as Toshack and Keegan, Rush and Dalglish and Fowler and Collymore have lit up Anfield with breathtaking brilliance and the "SAS" deserve to be mentioned in the same bracket.
It isn't perfect, what relationship is? There have been occasions when the pair have clashed and failed to keep their emotions in check, most notably during the Reds 4-0 win over rivals Everton.
Jacob Steinberg of the Guardian tells how Sturridge himself is of the belief that the friction displayed between the pair will only benefit the Reds as they continue their assault on the rest of the Premier League.
The formidable duo have struck up an almost telepathic understanding and shown form that must have Jose Mourinho wishing Chelsea had kept hold of Sturridge and Arsene Wenger deeply regretting Arsenal's failed pursuit of the feisty Suarez.
If Liverpool do go on to be crowned champions for the first time in over two decades then there's no doubting it will have been a collective effort from Rodgers' men, but without these two the Reds simply would not have gotten anywhere near.
A major plus for Reds fans is that the Suarez transfer saga appears to be a thing of the past while Sturridge finally appears to have found a "home."
Keeping these two fit and happy will be essential to just how successful Liverpool can be during in the years to come and what better way to keep them happy than to send them to the World Cup in Brazil with a league-winners medal around their necks.
No. 1: Brendan Rodgers
The man at the helm deserves more credit than anyone for masterminding Liverpool's journey from Champions League hopefuls to serious title contenders.
Rodgers' declared upon his arrival on Merseyside that it would take time to implement his own style of football on a team that had the art of winning in its DNA (via liverpoolfc.com) and almost two years of that style of football has seen his side become capable of competing with the best.
The former Swansea boss has transformed the whole image of the team and transformed them from a side that relied heavily on the goals of striker Luis Suarez to a side that can score goals from all over the pitch.
Fans have witnessed a brand of football that has been more or less non-existent at Anfield since the late '80's, the glory days of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge.
Predecessors Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez were contempt to see their respective Liverpool sides take the lead and defend for their lives for however long there was remaining.
Rodgers' mentality is completely different. When his Liverpool side take the lead his immediate thought is to add a second and a third and to put the game well and truly out of their opponents' reach.
The Reds have found the net 76 times in the league this season and are well on course to smash their previous best of 77 during the 2008/09 season.
Liam Prenderville of the Mirror reports how Rodgers' men in late February became the most prolific first-half team in Premier League history when they notched their 46th first-half goal of the season in the 4-3 victory over Swansea. The Reds have since taken that tally to 48 (via SoccerStats).
Rodgers has proven himself to be a top manager and with Steve Bates of the Mirror claiming Spanish giants Barcelona are monitoring the Northern Irishman's contract situation, the Reds hierarchy must act fast to ensure he stays put.
Rodgers in years to come could be as important to Liverpool as Gerrard has in years previous. The popular manager has been a breath of fresh air since the day he arrived and despite not promising miracles, is perhaps on the verge of achieving one.
What do you fans think have been the biggest positives of Liverpool's season so far? Leave your comments below.