Liverpool sense their moment may have come

Trip to Arsenal is chance for Liverpool to begin to dream of a return to glory in English football.

Last Modified: 02 Nov 2013 14:53
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Sturridge, with eight, and Suarez have scored 14 Premier League goals between them this season [GALLO/GETTY]

It's a very long time since Liverpool football club, which still ranks itself one of the great teams of European football history, could count a match against Arsenal as a potential title-decider.

The two sides went into Saturday as very much the surprise packages of the 2013-14 English Premier League season, with Arsenal top on 22 points and Liverpool two behind.

But while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has to look back a mere 10 seasons for the last time he and his team lifted the title, for Liverpool fans it has been much longer and more painful.

Disbelieving as the Anfield Kop was when Michael Thomas stole the championship for Arsenal from Liverpool in one of English football's most famous moments in 1988-89, the disbelief would have been even greater if they had known that their famous team would win only one more title in the next 24 years.

That last triumph came in 1989-90. And while FA Cups, League Cups and the astonishing Champions League win in 2005 have followed, the Premier League years have been barren ones for Liverpool.

Not banking on it: But could Brendan Rodgers be the first Liverpool manager since Kenny Dalglish to lift the title? [AP]

They'll see Saturday's late kickoff at the Emirates Stadium as a chance to assert that, under Brendan Rodgers, they can mix it with the best of English football again.

Rodgers took over at the beginning of last season after the waning of the optimism that the return of Kenny Dalglish – the last manager to lift the league title at Anfield – had briefly brought to the club.

He and Liverpool managed just a seventh-place finish last season and Rodgers is not talking of championships just yet, but some of his players feel that an impact is being made.

"Confidence is very high at the minute," midfielder Jordan Henderson, 23, said this week following a 4-1 win over West Bromwich Albion in the last match.

"They're all tough games in the Premier League and Arsenal have been flying of late. But so have we, so I think it will be a good game to watch and hopefully we can get a good result.

"It would send out a message to the rest of the teams that we're here and we mean business."

Striking pair

That business has been taken care of in a large part by the latest strike duo to be labelled 'the SAS' in England – that of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

For Arsenal, a lack of activity in the transfer market as regards strikers seems to have come up trumps for once.

Frenchman Olivier Giroud has scored five goals in nine league games, some of which have been dispatched with such style as to bring back memories of former Gunners Denis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry.

But while the France international may have discovered a mean streak in front of goal that he lacked last year, he also fits in with Arsenal's passing ethos.

Giroud set up Jack Wilshere for the finish in a spectacular team goal against Norwich City two weeks ago, and is just as pleased with that effort as with his own strikes.

"It is a great thing because the goal was shown all over the world – I am proud of it," said the 27-year-old, who was signed from Montpellier in 2012.

"Strikers are judged on their goals but we must also provide assists and that is what I try to do – help my team-mates."

Giroud may have been playing with Uruguayan Suarez on Saturday evening instead of against him, had Liverpool accepted Arsenal’s $64 million offer for the player in the summer.

"They are different styles of players," Wenger said on Friday – although he also said he had forgotten the transfer saga.

"Giroud is a real centre forward who uses space and uses his power and he's really central. Suarez is more a player who goes on the flanks, comes deep into midfield and is more a dribbler."

After losing in the Champions League to Borussia Dortmund and in the League Cup to Chelsea in the last two weeks, Arsenal could do with a win to keep up their early-season belief.

Three points for Liverpool may just start to make some believe that they can add to their long-neglected haul of 18 league titles.


Al Jazeera
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