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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why Liverpool Can Still Win The League

The football odds on Liverpool snatching the Premier League title from under the noses of Man United may lengthen by the week, but it is still possible.

For starters, Rafa Benitez’s men have only had the Premier League to focus on since their Champions League defeat to Chelsea in March. Whereas United have been battling on three fronts until the FA Cup defeat to Everton a few weeks ago reduced it to two.

Free from the distractions of knock-out competitions Liverpool are flying, scoring goals left, right and centre. Benitez has his side in bullish mood ahead of the final run-in and you can sense the determination in the squad to win all their remaining games and apply as much pressure on United as possible – and I thoroughly expect them to do so.

It is, of course, a pressure United and Alex Ferguson are used to and have dealt with successfully over the past 20 years. But the quest to win an unprecedented quintuple will have taken on its toll on even United’s large squad so it is not unrealistic to think that something has to give in their remaining fixtures. Plus when the United players see their title rivals despatching their opponents so comfortably it puts added psychological pressure on them to perform in their next game.
Looking at who United have to play there are two games in particular that could cause them problems. First up is a local tussle against Manchester City. Tough at the best of times this latest instalment of the Manchester derby will be even harder for United given City’s recent good run of form - they also did the double over United last season don’t forget. A point a piece is not an unrealistic outcome. Following that is the much awaited game-in-hand away at Wigan, who despite a successful season under Steve Bruce shouldn’t have enough to deprive Fergie’s men of the points.

However it’s the penultimate weekend of the season which is the one that could be a watershed moment in the title race. Firstly on the Saturday Man United take on a wounded Arsenal side still reeling from that emphatic Champions League defeat. Arsene Wenger’s men will be desperate to extract some revenge and putting the brakes on United’s title bid could be the perfect way to do it. Any United slip-up will surely be pounced upon by Liverpool who travel to bottom club West Brom the next day and will be overwhelming favourites to collect the points.

That would take things to the last day, where Liverpool are at home to Spurs and United travel to relegation haunted Hull, who may need something to stay up. It evokes memories of West Ham in 1995 when the Hammers earned a 1-1 draw with United which allowed Blackburn to take the title, at Anfield funnily enough. If Hull can do the same then a win for Liverpool over Spurs could be enough.

I know it seems unlikely and is dependent on Liverpool winning their remaining fixtures, but stranger things have happened in football.

I think this one could go to the wire.

By Guest Blogger Tom Mallows

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