by Chris Rowland.
After a little hibernation, Symposium is back, and with the burning question du jour – what does the esteemed repository of football knowledge aka the TTT Symposium panel think is going to happen in our remaining six games?
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the rising tide of euphoria surrounding the Reds, plenty climbed into this one:
Jon Rushton: West Ham (A): Its these games that make me the most nervous. We’re so superior to West Ham, and there will be no expectation even from Hammers fans that they will get anything out of the game. But we’re on such a good run, but – as Chelsea proved against Palace – there’s no such thing as a sure thing. I’ll have to go for a win of course, but I don’t expect us to win all six games and I am nervous about dropping points in one of the ‘easier’ away games.
Man City (H): I think we’ll win comfortably. City have a deep and talented squad, but they can only put eleven players on the pitch – and their best eleven won’t score as many as ours. Anfield will be absolutely buzzing, and it just seems fated that we will win this game.
Norwich (A): Norwich will be dreading this. Quite right too. I think we’ll win.
Chelsea (H): This is tougher than the City game, because Mourinho will already have a plan in place to come away from the game with something. And he’ll approach looking for a draw. Tough game this.
Palace (A): Win to the reds!
Newcastle (H): If we go into this game with a realistic possibility of winning the league, then this game will be the one that will test the players nerves. I don’t care how composed they are, this will be a nerve-tingling, shit-a-brick moment for every reds player, and for the fans too. If City win the title, its expected. If Liverpool win it – its historic. Game-changing. Games against Newcastle can be bonkers too.
But – that said – if we go into the final day of the season with a realistic shot of winning it – a) Brendan Rodgers is the best Liverpool manager of the Premier League era; b) we’ll win the league. I’ve no doubt.
Honest expectations of how many points we’ll get from the remaining 18? I think we’ll score 16, dropping points only against Chelsea – and I think we’ll win the league too. We’re that good, and I defy anyone reading this to deny that there isn’t a feeling in their bones that we’re going to finish the job this season. It just feels…. Right.
I’m officially allowing myself to get my hopes up, regardless of the possible disappointment that could follow. And it feels good, a complete reversal of the last few years. This team has reminded me of why I follow sports, and why I support Liverpool.
Andrew Beasley (Beez): As it stands, Liverpool are better than every team they have to play, because on current form they’re better than every team in the Premier League. In terms of winning runs, the Reds are also better than every team in Europe’s big five leagues, and in terms of six game form, they’re better than every single team in Europe at the moment. Brendan’s boys are on the march, and no mistake.
I’m very confident that Liverpool can win every single game, if viewed in isolation, but football is rarely that simple; no team in the Premier League era has ever won their last fourteen games, after all. In my mind, for the purposes of assessing how Liverpool might perform, the six fixtures break down into three pairs.
Norwich and Newcastle are six points written blind. Suárez lives on Canary meat, and Newcastle have given up for the season already so the last day should be a breeze. No worries there.
Crystal Pulis and West Ham will provide the kind of alehouse rubbish they always do, and it’s certainly true to say that we have often struggled with physical teams in recent times. However, neither team is likely to be relegated, so don’t have quite so much to play for, and there may even be a party atmosphere at Selhurst Park when we roll into town for their final home game. I therefore think our greater will and determination (plus of course, pure footballing quality) will see us home in these two.
At the time of writing this, I’m going to assume that all three title challengers will win their games this weekend. City would therefore come to Anfield four points behind but with two games in hand; will they be happy with a draw that would wrestle the title from being in Liverpool’s hands to within their own? I don’t think they’ll set out their stall for a point, as quite simply they’re too good a team to think like that, but if it’s tight, the longer the game goes on the more they’ll think a draw is a good result. Hopefully this leads to a little indecision on their part, and Liverpool will win.
Which leaves one match, against the king-of-the-parked-bus-when-necessity-dictates: Jose Mourinho.
Aside from their trip to Anfield, Chelsea play nobody who is currently higher than tenth in the Premier League table. The Blues have recently shown they’re capable of losing at Villa and Palace, but at the same time their remaining fixtures are ones that you would expect them to win. I thoroughly expect them to travel to Merseyside with the primary aim of dogging out a draw, with the hope of pinching a 1-0.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, I think that poor, underfunded and Champions League-laden Chelsea will return to West London with a point. Even so, I make that five wins, one draw, eighty-seven points, and, if the Sports Club Stats website is to be believed, a 94% chance of winning the league. I’ll take that.
Chris Rowland: With all the focus now on winning the damned thing, we shouldn’t overlook the significance of the 7 point gap over 4th placed Arsenal, which would not only secure CL football next season but would see us avoid that potentially tricky play-off in midsummer during a World Cup season.
But I digress. Those six games. I don’t expect us to win them all. We can draw one, maybe even two, and still win the league (provided neither Chelsea nor City is a draw). Palace could be tricky if they’re still in relegation trouble, but perhaps less so if they’re safe by then? West Ham and Norwich will not be safe when we visit them, and a draw at either of those is quite possible and less than disastrous. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mourinho’s lot ground out a draw either. So here goes: West Ham (A) – draw. City (H) -win. Norwich (A) – win. Chelsea (H) – draw. Palace (A) – win. Newcastle (H) – win. Four wins, two draws, 14 more points, total 85. Enough? Probably not, City will end on 86 points if they draw one as well as losing at Anfield. So that would leave us two points short, as they have a better goal difference (just). But it’s very fine margins now. Convert that West Ham draw into a victory and that’s it, job’s a good ‘un!
Alex Tate (Tattva): I’m anxious. It’s a natural state for me. But with relation to Liverpool this season, I’m anxious because it’s so unexpected, I don’t know how to cope. Will a fall now affect how we view the season? Or after 32 games why would we fail with six to go?
Even if we don’t win the title, I don’t want our form to take a dip. Another team can win through being better, not because we choked. We have a varied run in against a spread of teams; some fighting for titles, some the right to visit Anfield next season and some teams playing because, well, you need to play 38 before you go on holiday.
It’s West Ham this week, and they have eased themselves with a win against Sunderland, a good result for us. There may be less for them to play for now. I expect our skill and guile to out-manoeuvre their hustle and bustle. Not by much but I feel three points will be added to our tally.
It won’t be easy as the Hammers have a tough run in and aren’t totally safe, but if they chase they will be exposed, which plays in to our hands.
A brilliant game for all concerned, when the Citizens visit. Great playing sides, both chasing the title and two sets of fans with little, if any, bad blood. The neutrals will see it as a battle of the two most likely.
Hard to predict. We are playing very well, but could our run falter? If the silky Man City turn up and play against the adventurous LFC, expect samba soccer, expressive football and a large dose of goals. Any high scoring result is possible. Perhaps 3-3.
Norwich offer so little resistance in all quarters, it’s three points in the bag. They have easier fixtures before they face us and will hope to get something there. Then they face the Gooners and Chelsea after. The Canaries are scared witless and will be lucky to survive.
Chelsea will be tough. They will want to beat us, it’s more than three points to them. As they have easier fixtures, the gamble will be to take a draw for them. Can they soak up our pressure? This will be a decisive weekend. Edging towards a draw, just, over a home win.
Palace have a varied run in, and if they are to stay up it is likely to be achieved before we pop down to south London. Pulis has improved them, so they’re a better bet to stay up than many others in the struggle at the bottom. But still, three points.
If it comes down to this game? I’m backing us for a win. I always enjoy us playing the Toon, having lived there I have an interest, even if it isn’t a desire to see them do well. But they are playing for nothing, the Toon are mid-table, and most will already be thinking of a beach somewhere watching the World Cup.
This leaves us with 14 points from 18, and a total of 85. Which will leave us second, just behind Man City. I’m unsure how the number of games will affect them, but I think they’ll take it by one or two points.
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