Dec 21, 2013, 9:35 PM EDT
A team in first place in December must be taken seriously as a Premier League title threat – yes, even if it turns out to be a top-spot holder only for the 48 hours ahead of Sunday’s and Monday’s matches, as may be the case with Liverpool.
Never mind what men in high places may say about the current Anfield brigade being a year away and such. Tonight, Liverpool rules the table.
And what do so many Premier League champions have in common? Quite often, they have a striker who supplies the scoring year of a lifetime, the guy in such fabulous form that he seems to score a goal just by falling out of bed in the morning.
So many times do we see the Premier League winner driven to glory by an unstoppable goal-scoring force.
That guy this year looks a whole lot like Luis Suarez. The Liverpool striker just hit Nos. 18 and 19 this year. It would be a sensational total even if he hadn’t missed those first six games this year due to naughtiness.
It doesn’t always work out this way – but it has often enough for examination.
Everyone looked at Manchester United last year, squinted a bit and tried to determine where the secret sauce was? The talent seemed fine, but was it really the blue ribbon talent of a team sprinting away with the trophy? In a lot of ways, the difference seemed to be Robin van Persie, who was banging in the goals at an unstoppable clip as United built that lead.
Didn’t we all say something like, “Put Robin van Persie at (fill in the blank), and don’t they win the title?”
Chelsea tiptoed past Manchester United back in 2010; Didier Drogba was the league’s high-scorer that year, supplying a career-making 29 goals. The powerful Ivorian certainly carried the Blues over big stretches.
Remember Cristiano Ronaldo’s unbelievable season around Old Trafford a few years back, when he broke that 20-goal barrier for the first time – and then just kept right on going? By the end of the 2007-08 Premier League campaign, Ronaldo had a whopping 31 league goals. And we could make a case that his tallies were the difference as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had just enough to eclipse a Chelsea club that started with Jose Mourinho in charge, but finished with Avram Grant – but one that was overly dependent on midfielder Frank Lampard to come up with so many of the big goals along the way.
Thierry Henry’s best year with the Gunners? Just have a look at The Invincibles of 2003-04. Yes, that team was blessed with Dennis Bergkamp’s fabulous playmaking, and with Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg at their winging best. But it was Henry’s 30 goals that put the cherry on the Invincible Sundae, as Arsenal left all pursuers behind.
With half a season still go and Suarez already on 19 goals, is there any doubt that only a big injury (or another crazy teething incident) could stop the man from reaching 30 at worst?
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