As the final whistle blew at Anfield following Liverpool’s 5-1 demolition of Arsenal – a game that was over before the first half was even at its own halfway point – the English football world was suddenly abuzz with talk of Brendan Rodger’s men as genuine title contenders. Philippe Coutinho’s magical passing was just one highlight of an absolutely outstanding performance.
Arsenal, meanwhile, despite having sat top of the Premier League table before kick-off, received only confirmation of the general consensus – at least among the talking heads and pundits – that Arsene Wenger’s team, despite its resurgence this season, didn’t have the genuine quality to compete with the mega-bucks of Chelsea and Manchester City.
A glance at some of the top betting sites (Ladbrokes and William Hill to name only a few), though, shows the odds still haven’t slipped out of Arsenal’s favour and into Liverpool’s. Facts are facts, and for all of Rodgers’ joy today his team remains five points behind Arsenal with only 13 games remaining. Emotion can dominate the thinking on football at times, as anyone who tunes into 606 is surely more than aware, but for all the stylish play Liverpool have put on (not to mention 63 goals in 25 games), five defeats and a defense that has at times looked suspect means the smart punter might not want to play the odds on this one.
The fact is, to anyone who has really been paying close attention, the power of Chelsea and Manchester City’s forward play at least matches Liverpool’s while those two clubs have something in abundance – thanks to their billionaire owners – that neither Liverpool nor Arsenal have: strength in depth. When you have Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo to roam the forward lines, your opponent is never going to enjoy a breather, even when one is out temporarily (as Aguero is currently).
All that said, the progress Liverpool have made under Rodgers is remarkable. With the club’s own ownership situation now more stable than in the previous decade, and a foundation of stylish quality football once again at the heart of the team’s philosophy, there’s little doubt Liverpool will be genuine title contenders sooner. Especially if they can hold on to a certain little Uruguayan.