ANFIELD, LIVERPOOL--Liverpool beat Sunderland, 2-1, on Wednesday at Anfield. "We're gonna win the league" sang the hundreds of Liverpool supporters who gathered to greet the team bus on Anfield Road before kick-off. If Brendan Rodgers' side are to end their 24-year wait for a 19th league title, they're certainly not going to do it the easy way.
Goals are what Rodgers' side specialises in, but unfortunately, they equally specialise in doing things the hard way, conceding sloppy goals in the process.
At 2-0, Liverpool were cruising, Philippe Coutinho was running the show in the opening to the second half and Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge were increasingly being afforded more space and thus, more chances. It looked like cruise control was on.
But more defensive disappointments were around the corner. Substitute Ki Sung-Yueng was allowed space at the back post to easily head home fellow sub Adam Johnson's corner unmarked after Jon Flanagan let him go.
Similarly, John O'Shea then had the chance to equalise with another free header six minutes from time. The former Manchester United defender failed to make a solid contact, and with it, the visitors' final chance had gone.
Before that, Sturridge had expertly grabbed his 20th league goal of the campaign, albeit via a slight deflection off Wes Brown. It means that Liverpool have two players scoring 20 league goals for the first time since 1963/64 season.
It also means Sturridge has kept his promise to score 20 goals if given the chance.
Back when he was at Chelsea, the England forward was asked if he would be a 20-goal forward. "I'd hope so. It's always difficult to say I'd score 20 goals a season," he replied, as per The Guardian. "But if any player's given a regular run then you'd hope that if they're playing at a top club and given opportunities to score goals they'd be able to do that."
Prior to this match, many had pondered whether Rodgers might rest Steven Gerrard, with the captain one booking away from receiving a two-match ban. But the influential 33-year-old was needed here.
Gerrard superbly dispatched the free-kick that gave Liverpool the lead on 39 minutes after the home side had struggled to break down a stubborn Sunderland defence.
Perhaps goalkeeper Vito Mannone was expecting Suarez to take the free-kick and thus was caught somewhat by surprise when it was Gerrard who curled it over the wall and into the Anfield Road End goal. That was Gerrard's 12th of the campaign, his best since 2009/10.
At 2-0, you may have begun to wonder when Gerrard would be subbed and rested, but as Sunderland worked their way back into the game, he was needed even more, urging players on in the final stages.
With every game, Liverpool break records and create more statistics. That's now seven league wins in a row. Seven more and the league title could well be on it's way back to Anfield:
#LFC have now won seven league games in a row. 2005/06 is the only PL season where they've had a longer run (of 10).— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) March 26, 2014
The Reds are now the 10th-most prolific Premier League side ever, scoring their 82nd and 83rd goals of the season—despite only playing 31 games so far.
"Make Us Dream" reads the Liverpool banner pre-match. Their fans can continue to do so with another three points, even if it wasn't quite as comfortable as it looked at one stage.