Tuesdays Are For Europe: Title race. You want to talk about a title race?
On Liverpool struggles and WSL excitement
Soccer might finally have its “Playoffs? Don’t talk about - playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game!” moment.
Time will tell whether Jürgen Klopp will ever be as meme’d as Jim Mora was back in the day, but his words following Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to Burnley last week had much of the same feel of that famous quote.
“Look, how silly would that be if I sit here now, losing against Burnley, didn’t score for the last three or four games – I don’t know exactly – and now I talk about the title race? How silly would that be?’,” the Reds manager said. “It’s just we have to win football games – it was always like this.”
He went on, but the nut graph is right there in that first sentence. It would be silly to talk about Liverpool in the context of a title race right now. That’s not something anyone saw coming at the start of this weird season, but that doesn’t make it any less true at the moment.
Keep in mind that Klopp said that on Thursday, before Alisson’s adventures versus Manchester City on Sunday — a 4-1 loss that saw Liverpool drop 10 points off the top, while having played one more game than the leaders.
Title? Don’t talk about – titles? You kidding me?
Liverpool’s drop in form over the past 6-weeks has seen a lot of people go deep in trying to figure out what’s wrong with a team that had a remarkable three year run and looked unbeatable just 12-months ago.
Thing is you don’t need to think too deeply here. As Occam's Razor states: “the simplest solution is almost always the best.” And, with Liverpool, the simplest solution is that they have been destroyed by injuries and fixture congestion.
They’re tired and they’re hurt. If you must have something a little more substantial, then you can add a dash of truth about how they outperformed their statistical indicators from last year and have regressed back to the mean this year (with City doing the same in a more positive way) to the argument.
But, really it just comes down to “tired and hurt.”
So, if you are looking for a deep dive into how to get Liverpool back to the crazy heights it experienced during the 2019-20 season, sorry to disappoint. Unless, get healthy and lucky again cuts it for you. The roster could probably due for a slight tweak (as City did after it’s back-to-back titles), but basically there’s nothing for Klopp and company to do now except put their head down and get try to get back to winning football games.
One of the great laments that neutrals expressed with City’s win combined with United dropping points and Leicester also refusing to keep their end of the bargain (and those are the three teams still worth talking about as it relates to the title now) is that we “no longer have a title race.”
Couple things: 1) The beauty of our sport is that there is more to play for than just the title in any season. You have cups, European spots, relegation battles and watching Southampton try to play with or against 9-men to entertain yourself the rest of the way. So, relax and try to enjoy it.
But, more to the point, there absolutely is a title race in England right now. All you need to to is open your mind and start paying attention to the women’s game.
There, you’ll see three teams – Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City – all within three points of each other, while the traditional power Arsenal slipping back to fourth, possibly missing out on the Champions League.
On the weekend, Chelsea saw its record-breaking undefeated streak of 33 games come to an end when Brighton shocked them 2-1.
The result is especially notable as Brighton was third from bottom. One of the biggest reasons I hear for not following the women’s club game is that blowouts are too common, so to see a team at the bottom taking a result to the top team in the league is worth noting.
Sportsnet has the rights here in Canada and this is a title race featuring the biggest names in the sport along with some Canadian content in Janine Beckie (City) and Jesse Fleming (Chelsea) to keep yourself engaged.
So, what’s your excuse?
Please subscribe to my mailing list. Doing so will help support my work and allow me to spend more time reporting on the issues that matter to you. Subscribing to the list is completely free now and there will always be a free option.
Additionally, listen to SoccerToday live Monday to Friday at 11am ET / 8am PT / 4pm GMT @SoccerTodaySPN (Twitter), or download it on demand wherever you get your podcasts.