It’s a propitious time for Liverpool. With the first month of the Premier League in the books, with five match days played but LFC having only played in four, the Reds sit atop the table.
Are we standing on the brink of a New Beginning? Have we taken the first step in what could be an exciting and potentially glorious journey back to the top? Or is all this talk ultra-premature and going to put a severe jinx on the season? *smirk*
While many a seasoned fan of English football (or any sport, for that matter) will tell you that the season is much too young to call after a handful of matches, the Liverpool Doomsday Clock cares not for such level-headed thinking. Liverpool’s status with 9.5% of the season behind them is incredibly encouraging and deserved of praise.
In light of the auspicious conditions that have arisen over Anfield and after
careful consideration, Being Sven is proud to move the minute hand of the Liverpool Doomsday Clock from ten (10) to nine (9) minutes to midnight.
But why? I’m glad you asked. There exist a litany of reasons as to why the clock has been reset.
While the club shares its point total (10) with three other clubs (Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea), it claims the top position due to its superior goal difference (+9). Yet, only Liverpool and Arsenal have managed to accomplish this in four games, as opposed to Chelsea and Everton’s five games.
Chelsea also plays another role in the advancement of the clock. Had fate (otherwise known as ‘Rob Styles’) not wrongly intervened, Liverpool would have been awarded the full share of the points they deserved in their recent match at Anfield. Liverpool would have 12 points (with a goal difference of +10) and Chelsea would be level with Man City on nine points.
Chelsea’s current form also influences the LDC. Frank Lampard’s leg injury, coupled with John Terry’s lingering toe problem (and eventual breakdown), highlighted by a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa over the weekend, has only served to weaken Liverpool’s title rivals. Ballack’s continuing injury, Shevchenko’s inexplicable absence and those laughable away kits aren’t helping the Blues’ cause either. Watching Didier Drogba limp off injured after the Villa defeat, though not thought to be serious nor influential on the Clock, was certainly enjoyable.
In the past few season, down 1-0 to Villa with twenty minutes to go, you’d come to expect that Chelsea would find a way to equalize, if not win. This season, they have the look of mere mortals.
Even their leader has admitted things have changed:
There are a lot of good teams in the league now. There is a big improvement in the teams below the top four, so it can be more normal for big teams to lose matches and points this season. Other teams have spent money, changed their teams and improved – Villa is just one example, you can find lots of others. It’s more difficult now to fight against these teams.
Speaking of rivals, the current form of Manchester United suggests that they’re not out of the title race. But, they did themselves no favors by digging themselves a small points hole right at the start. Rooney’s injury, paired with SAF’s odd choice not to pursue another striker in the window, will certainly keep this squad from firing on all cylinders. Plus, Liverpool fans have to feel good anytime Chris Eagles is sees as much (i.e. any) playing time for United as he recently has.
(And, in light of recent rumors of a Ronaldo-hosted hooker orgy, the possibility of the bulk of United’s midfield coming down with a nasty case of VD, and hence throwing them off their game, is also greatly increased.)
Yet, the form that truly matters is that of those in Liverpool red. Former weaknesses of seasons past looked to have been recently rectified (and hopefully for good). In fact, those weaknesses have been turned into positives.
The first was the team’s ability to win away from Fortress Anfield. With wins at Villa and Sunderland, Liverpool’s away form is 100% and already an incredible improvement on last season’s dismal record.
The second was avoiding the potential ‘banana skins’ and not dropping points to lesser opponents. Words like ‘ruthless’ have been bandied about. So far, so good. In fact, Liverpool have won all their games this season, but for reasons already alluded to, have one draw on the record.
Here’s what Rafa has to say about Liverpool’s newfound ruthlessness:
I am pleased now because the team are scoring, we are not losing or conceding goals and that is all very positive for us.
We are different from last season. We are able to finish teams off, we can score the first and then the second, and the game is over. It is different to some of the games last season.
The third, and probably most talked about, was the lack of consistent goal-scoring. Well, in the past week (despite the quality of the opponents), Liverpool have scored ten goals in two games. The way the team attacks has shifted dramatically and the results reflect the manner in which Liverpool take the game to their adversaries.
Rafa on his strikers, who’ve rightfully led the recent assaults:
All of them know what we want, their movement is good and I am sure it will improve even more over the coming weeks. Now we have four players with quality and different skills. I can now manage in a different way because you know all of them can score goals.
Keep in mind, too, that the past three games have been won without the participation of Captain Fantastic. The squad’s depth and talent is obvious. Do we even need to discuss the Rotation Policy?
Once again, Senor Benitez has something to say:
Players who come here know I rotate my teams, they can read it all over Europe, about how I operate. But if you want to fight for four trophies you know people cannot play every game. They will not be happy to not be involved, but we will want them to be ready for the next game, the next one and the next one.
We all know there is plenty of hard work ahead for the team. Surely, nobody expects that it will continue to be as rosy a season as it’s been the first month. There will be setbacks. There will be losses. There will be injuries.
But while Rafa keeps his feet on the ground, the LDC dares to dream.
It is for these reasons listed above, and because of the hope in our heart, that the Clock inches forward.
Nine minutes to Midnight…