MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

Liverpool “ahead of schedule” but pundits divided over Premier League title challenge

Liverpool are only one point off the top with Premier League leaders Arsenal visiting Anfield on Saturday, but pundits seem to be writing the Reds off.

Excluding the draw against Man United, you could view Liverpool’s recent run of games positively – beating teams without playing well, with more still to come.

On the other hand, you could simply just view the performances through the prism that Liverpool aren’t quite good enough to go all the way this season.

After the goalless draw against Man United, Sky Sports’ TV pundits generally took the latter view, with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville both saying they ‘don’t think Liverpool will win the league’.

Daniel Sturridge, though, took a more optimistic view, saying on Sky that he thinks “Liverpool have an opportunity” and “a great chance.”

However, he did add that “they’ve certainly got to worry about January with (Mo) Salah going to AFCON, that’s going to be a big miss for them.”

He also said Liverpool have “got to build on and be a lot better than what they have been today (vs. Man United), because you can play all you want and show all the stats you like, but if you dont get the results in the end and the wins, that’s what matters most.”

The former striker’s allegiances lie with Liverpool now, but as a child he supported Arsenal and also played for Man City.

He assessed their chances, saying: “Arsenal have a great chance. Manchester City; we’re all talking about them and they’re in bad moments and this and that, but let’s be realistic.

“They’re only five points off the top, it’s nothing really when you think about it.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 17, 2023: Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Neville also believes Man City could still come good, adding: “Come February, they could be luring us in, Manchester City.

“The Champions League knockout phase comes along and all of a sudden it gets really serious, and Manchester City‘s players could step up and they could go on a great run. They could go and win that league.”

While Carragher said he doesn’t “think Liverpool can win the league,” he was still fairly upbeat about the Reds.

“How good is this Liverpool team? It’s almost ahead of schedule,” explained the former centre-back. “I think the feeling was can Liverpool make sure they get back into the Champions League this season?

“Maybe have a go at the Europa League and then next season’s the time to really get back.”

The nature of football means that should Liverpool beat West Ham, on Wednesday in the League Cup, and follow it up with victory over Arsenal, the tide of opinion could turn again very quickly.