The Final Stretch for Liverpool: Spurs, Supporters and Success
We’re here. We’ve arrived. The final international break of the season has passed us by, and we’re on the cusp of greatness. With one game in hand, we’re top of the league by two points. We have our two toughest games of the season at home, starting with Tottenham on Sunday followed by Chelsea in a few weeks time and our closest rivals, whilst being brilliant, have proved to be human this year more so than they did last year. But the road ahead is still to be tough. At least for now.
I think Liverpool will win the title (famous last words) as I think Manchester City’s taste for European glory will become too outstanding, too great. Their fixture list in April – the fabled, much-talked-about fixture list in April – is a gruelling, tough, tiring set of fixtures that will show us more in one month about the greatness of this Manchester City side than arguably the last 2 years. Come through this unscathed, and few can argue against this side’s legendary credentials. But before that, we have chance to land a timely blow. All that stands in the way is Spurs.
Spurs are a curious team. Having fought so strong, so hard to stick close to the top, they’ve fallen away in recent weeks and find themselves in a battle for top four more than a fight for the title. Which is what makes this game on Sunday at Anfield an interesting game with medium-term ramifications for both sides.
Not only can Liverpool do themselves a favour on Sunday, but a swift blow to Tottenham can make their Premier League game in April against Manchester City a must-win for their top four hopes. Like the Manchester derby of the same month, both Manchester United and Spurs have a grand need to take points off City to propel their season from close-but-no-cigar territory to a quiet, progressive success. Which is a battle Liverpool can watch, enjoy and gain confidence from. But only if the business is done on Sunday.
Success for Liverpool this season is very much a definition defined by your own personal expectations. A title challenge was surely expected of the club in August, but to get to April still two points clear would result in a swift, sharp change in goals. With Champions League football basically secured for next season already, progression in the same competition going well and a favourable, yet still tricky fixture list to come, it is hard to see through the noise exactly what now constitutes success for this growing, mature Liverpool team.
Spurs, in a way, are a model for any club. Spend well, grow steadily and progress as a team. But no matter how you look at it, this Liverpool side needs to have their eyes on something better. The idea of our next game – and arguably biggest of the season – being against them is a curious one altogether. A few times in recent years, Tottenham have been in the position to capitalise and take the next step. And a few times they’re not made it. Think 2015/16, when they lost control and ended up finishing 3rd. I don’t believe they’re bottlers, but I do believe this Liverpool side could do well to learn from their mistakes, and that starts with showing them how it’s done this weekend at Anfield.
If we beat Tottenham on Sunday, I really think it will change our season. Not just from results and league perspective – remember, we do have the chance to go 5 points ahead of City before they play again after this weekend – but also from a supporter perspective. Although many of our fans believe we might win the league, the right result comes 6pm on Sunday may bring the carnival atmosphere and confident swagger back to the KOP.
There’s not been a bigger game at Anfield for the better part of a decade, if not longer. If our brilliant lads can deliver 3 points this weekend, it might be party time in Liverpool again come mid-May.