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Exciting and Enthralling Liverpool Deserve to Win the Title

Last Sunday's thrilling 3-2 win against Manchester City saw the Anfield club win a lot of new fans due to their brave and brilliant style of play, and the prospect of title glory is quickly becoming a very real possibility for Liverpool fans.

It was a glitzy and glamourous encounter worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. Perhaps the biggest test of what has been an incredible campaign for both Liverpool, and the Premier League trophy race.

Last Sunday's thrilling 3-2 win against Manchester City saw the Anfield club win a lot of new fans due to their brave and brilliant style of play, and the prospect of title glory is quickly becoming a very real possibility for Liverpool fans.

With the credits set to roll on this campaign, the Reds find themselves sitting pretty atop the table, and the simple fact is that, if they can win all of the games they have left to play, they will once again be champions of England after a miserable 25 year drought.

Following that City scalp, the Reds must next negotiate a Norwich side experiencing a dropzone dalliance of their own, before an all-important visit of Chelsea to the north west, in what now looks to be the title decider.

Of course, the Stamford Bridge side also have a two-legged Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid to contend with - and you can't help thinking that Liverpool's failure to make European's elite competition has played a huge part in their success this year.

As the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. And the Reds have certainly made the most of the woes of their counterparts this season, too.

First, the fall from grace of Manchester United, once so great but now a shadow of their former selves.

Then, the Jekyll and Hyde performances and continual trophy failure of Arsenal, which, despite becoming alarmingly more common, Gunners fans just seem to nod and accept without question.

And finally, a stuttering start meant that, despite spending big in the summer, Spurs have largely failed to build on an impressive campaign last time out.

The bizarre and outspoken antics of their boss Tim Sherwood, who is not making any friends at the moment, have seen momentum slow at White Hart Lane - and, needless to say, he looks set to depart the club in the summer.

But against that backdrop of uncertainty and underperformance, Liverpool have consistently delivered dynamic and lightning quick counter attacking performances - and that has made them the most exciting, exhilarating and watchable side in the country.

In truth, to clinch the title this season would be nothing more than they deserve.

And it is against their top four rivals that the Reds have particularly come into their own this season.

A pair of wins against Manchester United, two defeats of Spurs, this weekend's City victory, and a win and a draw against local enemies Everton have seen Liverpool come through their most invaluable fixtures unscathed - and it is no wonder that they are there or thereabouts as we enter the business end of the campaign.

That is certainly not a bad return from a club which so often hit the headlines for all of the wrong reasons last time out. Indeed, rewind 12 months, and everything seemed to be falling apart at Anfield.

A seventh placed finish last year meant that Liverpool failed to qualify for any continental competition this season - and, what's worse, a 10 game ban for star striker Luis Suarez spilled over into this campaign, threatening to derail it before it had even begun.

But, as the vultures circled, their manager, Brendan Rodgers was defiant, and much of the credit for their recent resurgence, and indeed holding on to Suarez - a world class striker, love him or loathe him - must go to him.

The Northern Irishman is an astute and intelligent boss, but even more importantly, a real student of the game, and his infectious enthusiasm and passion for everything from tactics and formation, to psychological and motivational tools, is clearly beginning to bear fruit on Merseyside.

And about time too. After dominating European football for much of the late 1970s and 1980s, that quarter of a century league title drought has been a bitter pill to swallow for Reds fans.

Of course, Kop legend Kenny Dalglish who was instrumental in bringing such success to Liverpool as a player, and later, as the first player/manager in English football.

Kenny is a dear friend of mine, and his influence in bringing the silverware to Merseyside during that purple patch - six league titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups, three European Cups and a UEFA Super Cup, to be precise - cannot be overstated.

But when he departed the managerial hot seat after a second tenure as Reds boss in 2012, the Anfield board looked to South Wales for the solution to their problems.

At Swansea, Rodgers was fast developing a solid reputation for playing the game in the 'right way' - and, ultimately, his possession and patient footballing principles paid dividends as he led the Liberty Stadium side to the Premier League promised land for the first time in their history.

The offer from the Reds certainly represented a gamble for him. A young manager with his stock rising quickly, the somewhat tall order of bringing the glory days back to Merseyside was a task which many had attempted, and failed, to complete.

Many doubted his judgement as he made the switch from the Liberty to Liverpool, writing his tragic final scenes before he had even entered stage left - and his first season at the helm stayed worryingly true to the script.

But, despite a poor start, uncertainty at board level, and disciplinary problems within his squad, Rodgers stayed calm and calculated, his manner reflecting the patient footballing philosophies that had served him so well previously - it was a 'transition season', he said.

And, in a turnaround which will no doubt provide much comfort to David Moyes across the M62 at Old Trafford, his prediction that his side would come back bigger and better following a relative failure last season is proving correct.

Brendan has always been an extremely humble and enthusiastic manager, with a passion for learning - and those are qualities which we are seeing less and less of in modern day football.

During the European Championships in 2012, Brendan travelled alongside Vicente del Bosque and the Spanish camp in order to school himself in the way of La Roja.

Of course, displaying their trademark 'tiki taka' poise and patience, a beautiful mix of graft and geometry, Spain went on to win the trophy in some style that year - and their style of play certainly won over Rodgers, too.

Pep Guardiola, regarded by many within the game as the ultimate tactical pioneer of modern day football, made a decision early into his tenure at Barcelona that he would build a fluid and flexible team around the majestic talents of Lionel Messi - and revolutionised the game in the process.

It is no coincidence that, since his move to Bayern Munich, the Bavarians have swept all before them both domestically and on the continent.

Indeed, Rodgers himself was a keen subscriber of the patient possession football that Guardiola championed during his time in Spain - but he has shown even more signs of tactical astuteness since his arrival on Merseyside.

Quickly identifying Liverpool's key attributes, speed and dynamism, Rodgers all but abandoned his slowly-slowly-catch-a-monkey philosophy, in order to employ an exciting and direct counter attacking style to leave Premier League defenders for dead.

A leap of faith for the new boss, yes - but to emphasise just how effective that change in style has been for the Reds this season, Liverpool have scored the most goals from counter attacks, and the most from through passes, of any side in the top tier.

It is a swashbuckling style which is less like that employed by Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and more like Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, and it could well signal a renaissance of the classic 4-4-2 formation.

Of course, much of Liverpool's lethal attacking prowess lies in their front two of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, who have been playing out of their skins all campaign.

The unlikely pair - a soloist's duet - compliment each other perfectly, and their twosome is one of the most deadly the top tier has seen in recent years, alongside the likes of Cole and Yorke, and Shearer and Sutton.

Suarez has long had his critics within English football, and not without reason, but his form this campaign has been nothing short of spectacular, and, incredibly, he even appears to be winning non-Liverpool fans over.

Meanwhile, his partner, Daniel Sturridge, is finally fulfilling the potential that he has show in fits and spurts at both Manchester City and Chelsea - and he is set to be a key piece of Roy Hodgson's World Cup jigsaw this summer.

But, as is inevitable with such short term success, Rodgers skills have not gone unnoticed on the continent - and rumours are hotting up that Barcelona might look to ring the changes following an underwhelming first campaign for new boss Tata Martino.

The Catalans are currently lagging behind Atletico Madrid in the race for the La Liga title, and, knocked out of the Champions League by the Rojiblancos this week too, there are signs of a potential power shift in the Primera.

For what it's worth, Rodgers has so far been quiet on rumours of a switch to warmer climes - but as a manager with a clear passion for heritage and tradition, and a fluent grasp of Spanish, a switch to one of the European elite would surely prove attractive.

Needless to say, should Liverpool finally end their top tier trophy absence in the next few weeks, that speculation is only likely to grow further - and at Barcelona, a club which has long been at the forefront of world football, his forward-thinking philosophies would be a perfect fit.

But, as we head into the final straight of Premier League fixtures, it's fair to say that any switch will be far at the back of Rodgers' mind, as he and his charges stand on the brink of making history.

Liverpool emerged victorious from their battle with Manchester City, and now the stage is set - but will the Reds steal the final scene, or fluff their lines?

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