Phil Thompson on Liverpool's Premier League title challenge - can anything stop the Reds from ending title drought?

Phil Thompson: Former Liverpool defender talks about reds' title chances
Phil Thompson: Former Liverpool defender talks about reds' title chances

Former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson says it's too early to crown the Reds as Premier League champions, and sets out his plan for them to end their long title drought.

Should Liverpool win the title from here?

Everybody will say that Liverpool should win the title. I still say there is nothing guaranteed. It was a seven-point lead last year but everybody seems to have forgotten that! You have this great Manchester City side chasing them but you also have to point to the young Chelsea side and the emergence of Brendan Rodgers' Leicester team.

Liverpool have won 11 and drawn one of their opening 12 Premier League matches, which is amazing, but you would have expected them to be even more points ahead. With the quality of those three teams you cannot rest on your laurels.

Liverpool stun Man City to move 8 points clear | Liverpool 3-1 Man City | Premier League Highlights

A defeat and a couple of draws and that soon gets clawed back. The only good thing is that Liverpool have played all of the big six and Leicester but, before the turnaround of games, City have to play Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester, and come out unscathed. When we get to Christmas, we will know a little bit more.

What do Liverpool have to do to win the title?

Liverpool need to be focused. As a lot of the games have gone down to the wire this year, they cannot keep getting away with it, in the shape of late goals, some VAR decisions going in their favour, as well as injuries going for them. We have to keep injury-free, keep more focused in games, and start quicker, as we did against City.

The first half against Tottenham, although they went behind inside a minute, Liverpool blew Tottenham away. Those are little pointers for them. Liverpool have the ability to win games even when they are not playing well. It is how many times that can happen, which is why you cannot take anything for granted, especially being eight points clear. There are too many good teams at the top for Liverpool to be complacent.

What is going to stop Liverpool from winning the title?

It is that little bit of luck, at times, the little bit of VAR going in your favour, that could equally go against you. Red cards will be massive too - you only need a red card and then your backs are against the wall, especially against the big boys. But the biggest one of all is injures. It has decimated City’s defence, and if they had everybody fit, they could have been a lot closer to Liverpool.

Are Chelsea and Leicester serious threats?

Without a doubt. I can remember when Leicester were on a similar run when they were going for the Premier League, and this is a better team than their title-winning team. If you look around the team, there is a fantastic balance around it which works. Their problem, like Liverpool, is if they do get some injuries they would struggle. Everybody is pulling in the same direction and working together. When they won the title people thought they would drop and fail, but there is something about this football club which keeps on producing.

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The latest Premier League Weekly podcast

Chelsea have been a surprise package for me. They still had a very good squad of players, but they were all hiding last year. They are not the same players as I have witnessed this year. You have to say congratulations to Frank Lampard for this - he's got Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic playing much better and he is playing the young lads who have come up trumps.

All around, although they had a nucleus of players who couldn’t perform under Maurizio Sarri, they are now performing for Lampard, with an injection of youth and exuberance. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi and even Reece James have been outstanding.

They have proved that they can compete in the Premier League at a high level. It is a plus all around at Chelsea. City go up against Chelsea next so something will have to give.

Will Liverpool suffer from the pressure of expectation from the fans desperate to end their long title drought?

I think this team has not only lived with the pressure but the expectancy of what 30 years without winning a title brings. I think nearly every Liverpool fan does not believe they will win the Premier League. They all know there is such a long way to go, so there is still an awful lot to be done. It is everybody else who is saying it is Liverpool’s league. On the flip side they are hoping that they will choke, fail and collapse, as it will be good to mock Liverpool.

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