Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Liverpool keeping pressure on Chelsea, but Man City looms

suarez sturridge goalsLiverpool took care of business on Saturday, beating Cardiff City 6-3 in a match that ended up being very entertaining.

The win keeps the pressure on Chelsea, who still sit at the top of the Premier League table after they beat Arsenal 6-0. (Good job, good effort by the Gunners in Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge).

This weekend’s results leave Liverpool in second place, just four points back of Chelsea and with a game in hand. Liverpool will make that game up on Wednesday night and, if they can pull of their seventh consecutive win, Liverpool will head into the season’s final seven games just one point back of Chelsea.

Despite all that, Liverpool’s title hopes are still a bit dodgy, especially when you do the math and factor in Manchester City.

If Liverpool somehow manages to run the table over the season’s final seven weeks, they would finish at 89 points. That season-ending run would include wins against Chelsea (who come to Anfield on April 27) and Manchester City (who visit on April 13). Even if Chelsea were to match Liverpool win for win, a loss at Anfield would be enough to deny Chelsea the title as they would max out at 87 points.

But this is where Manchester City enters the picture. With two games in hand on Liverpool (and three on Chelsea), Manchester City can drop the match at Anfield and still win the title if they win out. Under that scenario, City would finish with 90 points – one more than Liverpool.

The fact that the Reds are going to need some help to claim their first league title since 1990 is not lost on manager Brendan Rodgers.

“The immediate future is all I can focus on,” Rodgers told The Guardian. “The fans can believe and dream – and that’s important when you’re a supporter. And when you come and see your team play away from home and score six goals, then you’ve got every right to do that.”

Speaking of goal scoring, Liverpool now has 82 goals on the season – the most in the league – and the duo of Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge continue to be unstoppable.

Suárez had three goals on Saturday while Sturridge added one, giving them a combined 47 league goals this season. They pair have scored more goals than 15 of the other 19 Premier League teams (Suárez has outscored four himself) and are now just eight goals behind the record for a duo, set by Newcastle United’s Peter Beardsley and Andrew Cole.

If they are to stay in the title race Liverpool will need everything that Suárez and Sturridge can deliver, especially as the team’s defense continues to be problematic. Liverpool gave up three goals to a Cardiff City team that came into the day with just 20 goals in 30 league games.

“We gave the ball away cheaply once or twice,” Rodgers conceded after the game, “and we’re not the sort of side that just rely on outscoring. We’re balanced. At half time, I reinforced that and we showed great resilience and offensive power.”

Rodgers is right; you can’t go into every game expecting to just put up six goals. But if you are going to find yourself in a shootout week after week, it can’t hurt to have Suárez and Sturridge on your side.

Eight games to go. It’s shaping up to be one heck of a finish to the season.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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