Liverpool wrote another chapter in one of the most frantic, madcap title chases in recent years on Sunday, as they beat Norwich, 3-2, but not without some of the remarkable tension that has come to characterise their season thus far.
It seems like every Liverpool game of late has followed the same pattern: Liverpool attack with vigour early on and score at least once in the first quarter of the game. Then follows another hour or so of tense, exhausting football where nobody can quite tell whether they will score another three or concede another four.
For Liverpool fans on the brink of their first league title in 24 years, it must be a thrilling but draining and utterly nerve-shredding experience. In these circumstances it would be tense enough if Liverpool were waltzing to the title with few problems, but as it is, the tension must be unbearable.
For neutrals, it's a pretty exhilarating experience, as Liverpool careen from thrilling glory to the very edge of catastrophe, somehow managing to right themselves before tipping over.
It's a little like watching someone try to break a land-speed record, but they're driving on a strip of road that is only two metres wide, and on either side of them are pools full of flesh-eating piranhas.
Football has, in recent years, become a safety-first game. We are constantly told that a successful team must first and foremost have a strong defence, and they can build the rest on that solid base.
In many respects this is Jose Mourinho's fault, given that's what he did at Chelsea and Inter and certainly attempted to do with Real Madrid, slightly hampered by the number of attacking players he felt obliged to cram into his team, and having the unguided missile of Pepe at the heart of his defence.
Not this Liverpool side, who defy logic in a way that can only be admired. Brendan Rodgers' approach seems to be geared around their attack, as he told the BBC after their 6-3 win over Cardiff recently:
It's something we've spoken about since I've been in here, is to increase that level of creativity and imagination, because it allows you to go and create chances.
Some of our goals today were outstanding...in the second half we had real good control, and we showed the power of our offensive game.
Tactical plans have been rightly admired and praised throughout the season, as he changes his approach based on the best way of unlocking opposition defences. However, his alterations are exactly that—almost entirely focused on attack, with perhaps only occasional changes in midfield to regain control of possession and the slight alteration of Steven Gerrard's position, to the extent that he has almost been playing as a third centre-back in recent weeks.
Defending is a tense business for Liverpool. It's not that the personnel at the back are bad, but they seem to defend with the same feverish intensity that they attack, meaning even the least-potent forward lines they face look threatening, with Norwich—scorers of just 26 goals before Sunday, comfortably the worst scoring record in the division—case in point on Sunday.
This is why Liverpool are so entertaining. It's not just their brilliant attacking play that has them on 96 goals with still three games of the campaign left, but that they provide drama at both ends of the pitch.
There are obvious comparisons to be made with Kevin Keegan's Newcastle team, but this Liverpool side look likely to succeed where that team choked. It's for this reason that Liverpool could be the most entertaining champions of the Premier League era.
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