What was once something that manager, players and supporters didn’t even dare to dream is fast becoming reality. With three matches of the Premier League season remaining, Liverpool hold a five point lead at the top of the table and look to be heading toward their first championship in 24 years.
Liverpool have won an incredible 11 straight matches in the Premier League, meaning no one could dispute their legitimacy should they go on to lift the trophy. As Liverpool have gone from strength to strength, their rivals have faltered. Manchester City’s draw against Sunderland last week coupled with Chelsea’s defeat to Sunderland at the weekend means that Liverpool now need seven points to ensure they are champions.
Crucially, Liverpool now go into Sunday’s match with Chelsea at Anfield knowing that a draw will be enough to keep them on track before they visit Crystal Palace and then finish the season at home to Newcastle United. A defeat, though, would give Manchester City, who sit six points back but with a game in hand, the chance to match Liverpool’s points total if they win their four remaining matches. And City currently have a four-goal advantage in goal difference. Manuel Pellegrini’s side got their title challenge back on track with a 3-1 win over West Brom on Monday evening. Yet, having lost the influential David Silva to injury, they will not find it easy to garner maximum points from their difficult remaining matches.
On Sunday they face a tricky test with a visit to a Crystal Palace side who have won their last five matches. Were Liverpool to beat Chelsea in the early afternoon, it would put huge pressure on City heading into their fixture later in the day. A defeat for the champions of two seasons ago, coupled with a Liverpool win would give Brendan Rodgers’s side one hand on the trophy.
City’s next match is far from straightforward, either. Indeed, there would be a huge sense of irony if it were Everton who were to confirm their Merseyside rivals as champions when they host City on May 3.
Chelsea’s surprise loss to Sunderland could benefit Liverpool in more ways than simply seeing another rival drop points. It means that Chelsea’s prospects of lifting the championship are now slim and Jose Mourinho has already hinted that he may well give priority to the Champions League. The fixture with Liverpool comes in between the two legs of Chelsea’s semifinal with Atletico Madrid, with the first leg already claiming Petr Cech and John Terry as injury casualties.
“I can't decide by myself," Mourinho replied when asked how the injuries would influence his lineup against Liverpool, according to The Guardian. "I have to listen to the club. I'm just the manager and I have to listen to the club.
“I know what I would do. I would play the players who are not going to play on Wednesday. My priority is the Champions League. But I'm not the club. I have to speak to them.”
The comments could prove to be simply more hot air from Mourinho, but there is little doubt that events of recent days have considerably strengthened Liverpool’s title aspirations. A passionate Anfield crowd and a fired up Liverpool will be favorites to get a win over a Chelsea side with their minds elsewhere to leave the Reds needing a maximum of just four points from two games to get their hands on the Premier League trophy for the first time.