Can Liverpool REALLY win the quadruple? They will never have a better chance of four trophies but City and Chelsea want revenge… Sportsmail writers argue over whether Klopp’s stars CAN make history
- Liverpool advanced into the FA Cup final on Saturday, defeating rivals Manchester City 3-2 at Wembley
- However, City lead the way in the Premier League and are a point ahead of Liverpool with seven games to go
- Liverpool will also take on Villarreal in the Champions League semi-final – a tie they are expected to win
- Jurgen Klopp’s men could be 11 games away from the quadruple, but can they upset the odds and pull it off?
Can Liverpool really win the quadruple? Jurgen Klopp might be snuffing out talk of a clean sweep but there are murmurs in the squad that they think they can do it.
Sadio Mane says Liverpool have the squad to achieve what would be a truly incredible feat, and Mohamed Salah has joked that he’ll next speak to the press once all four trophies are in the bag.
Amongst the excitement, Sportsmail has broken down the cases both for and against Liverpool winning the lot this season.
Jurgen Klopp is coy about it but his Liverpool squad have a big chance to become the first team to win the quadruple
Season at a glance
YES THEY CAN – LIVERPOOL WON’T EVER HAVE A BETTER CHANCE
By Jack Bezants
‘It’s time to turn from doubters to believers’. That one sentence from Jurgen Klopp, back in October 2015 on the day he swept into Anfield as the new Liverpool manager, has set the tone for everything that has followed.
But who could have believed this would have even been possible in mid-April? 11 games from the quadruple, a level of greatness nobody has ever reached before.
Win the lot and these players will be immortalised across the world of sport. Books will be written about them, Netflix series made. They will dine on this for the rest of their lives, and rightly so.
Klopp isn’t doubting his team but he is, understandably, quelling the talk of the Q-word. A game at a time, he preaches. Like he also said on that day in 2015, ‘expectations can be a really big problem, it’s like a backpack with 20 kilos more’.
The Liverpool fans don’t expect the quadruple, but they believe. More and more, with every game. And not without reason.
Firstly Liverpool, at this moment in time, have a fully fit squad to choose from. Their strength in depth is imperious – Takumi Minamino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Divock Origi and Harvey Elliott didn’t make the Wembley bench on Saturday.
Liverpool reached the FA Cup final last weekend after defeating rivals Manchester City 3-2 in a thrilling game at Wembley
Sadio Mane has been in electrifying form as Liverpool chase silverware in all four competitions this season
In defence, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas in particular are magnificent understudies to the likes of Joel Matip and Andy Robertson. Klopp may well have chosen his best midfield against City on Saturday in Naby Keita, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara, who is playing his finest football yet in a Liverpool shirt at the perfect time. Rotating with captain Jordan Henderson will be key in the run-in.
And of course, in attack, Luis Diaz has fitted seamlessly around Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. Opponents can’t even guess what front three Liverpool start with now, let alone work out how to stop them.
That said, keeping star men fit is vital – Liverpool cannot afford injuries to upset the balance of the team now. That means Klopp will have to rotate as the minutes build up in the legs of certain players – he cited the difference in levels from Fabinho at Wembley compared the Etihad draw a week prior, with the Brazil midfielder rested in midweek against Benfica.
A word on Salah, who hasn’t scored in open play for Liverpool since the 6-0 win over Leeds on February 23. His 28 goals so far this season mean no team lines up against Liverpool without him being the focus of their defensive plans. The attention he occupies gives the likes of Mane and Diaz, for example, greater space to roam.
And ultimately, a player of Salah’s quality will not be kept down for too long. Often, a striker will go on a scoring spree once their drought is snapped and such form could come at the perfect time for Liverpool. It would even add another dimension to the way they have been playing of late.
Yes, the fixture list is gruelling. Next is Manchester United at Anfield tonight, with their fierce rivals scrapping for the Champions League after battling their way past struggling Norwich at the weekend.
And then Everton on Sunday afternoon – fighting to stay in the Premier League, led by Liverpool nemesis Frank Lampard. There would be nothing sweeter for the Toffees than to derail Liverpool’s quest for all four trophies by clinching three points that would all but secure their place in the league for next season.
Luis Diaz has been a magnificent addition for Liverpool and has slotted perfectly into the attack for Klopp’s side
Mohamed Salah has been struggling for goals – but how long will a player of his quality be struggling for form?
After that is Villarreal – yes, Unai Emery’s men deserve respect but for this Liverpool team, it should be as straightforward as you can ask for in a Champions League semi-final. The first leg is at Anfield and backed by a fiery home atmosphere, Liverpool should try and put the tie out of reach there and then.
If – and it’s a big if – there is any scope for Klopp to rest key men such as Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Mane and Salah, it might be that second leg in Spain.
Defeating Villarreal would set up one final blockbuster showdown on May 28 against either Real Madrid or City and that could be to clinch the quadruple.
The Premier League is, for now, the trickiest part of the task for Liverpool. An away trip to Newcastle sandwiched between the Villarreal games has irked Klopp, and Tottenham at Anfield on May 7 is probably the toughest league game to go. There is also a trip to Southampton that needs to be rescheduled now Liverpool are in the FA Cup final – another midweek hurdle.
But Liverpool have lost just once this calendar year and that was to Inter Milan, in a Champions League tie where their first leg victory sent them through.
A key man to watch on this next run of games is Mane. He has taken centre stage with Salah struggling for top form and his own displays have been electrifying.
If he propels Liverpool’s surge to glory, he would form a compelling case to be Africa’s first ever Ballon d’Or winner later this year, with Liverpool’s chance for four trophies adding to the Africa Cup of Nations one he claimed with Senegal.
The fitness of key players, such as centre-back Virgil van Dijk, will be essential for Liverpool in their remaining matches
Jordan Henderson lifts the Premier League trophy after Liverpool ended their long wait for the top-flight title in 2020
Those personal challenges are important if it provides more fuel to the fire for players as influential as Mane as they hit the final straight of a gruelling season.
Liverpool have shown they can survive under the cosh, as well. The 2-2 draw with City at the Etihad was Pep Guardiola’s side at their sumptuous best, and yet they still didn’t win. Psychologically, what will that do to the City ranks over the coming weeks? And what does that show to the rest of Europe – namely Villarreal and Real Madrid, the two sides that Klopp’s men can still face outside the Premier League?
Unless disaster strikes – a freak Covid outbreak or a string of injuries to key men – this Quadruple is Liverpool’s for the taking. No team has had a better chance.
SORRY LIVERPOOL, BUT A QUADRUPLE IS TOO MUCH EVEN FOR YOU
By Dan Davis
They can’t, can they? No Premier League team has ever won the hallowed quadruple, and there is a very good reason for that. Football is a game made up of fine margins, twists and turns that can devastate and enthrall in a split second. It is these delicate threads that have tripped up many a team over the years and Liverpool, on their dash to the finish line, could be the next to be sent sprawling.
Klopp and his players have been keen to play down talk of a four-trophy haul, even if Mane has insisted the Reds have the squad to challenge for them all. It is an undeniable fact that they do, but to make history they will need everything to fall their way. That includes good fortune, lucky deflections, injuries and slip-ups at exactly the right time.
It all feels a bit too far out of reach, regardless of how excellent this super-team have been this season. They have often been called ‘mentality monsters’, a fitting nickname for a team who do not know when to lie down and roll over. They have determination in spades, and the quality to back that up. What they may not have, though, is factors out of their control helping them along.
Liverpool still have an immense task on their hands to dislodge City at the summit of the Premier League table
Liverpool have already collected one trophy this season, beating Chelsea in the final of the Carabao Cup back in February
That is only relevant to the Premier League, of course, where Liverpool sliced down Manchester City’s seemingly insurmountable 14-point lead to trample all over their coattails. Their hard-fought point at the Etihad may have kept their hopes of winning the top-flight alive again, but it also meant that the destination of the trophy is not in their hands. That burden belongs to their rivals.
Perhaps it is better for a side to remain slightly in the shadows. And let’s not forget, any slip-up from City would allow Liverpool to pick up the baton and attempt to sprint to the end. But, as it stands, it is the former who have the easier fixtures and they remain in front. They also know how to hold on and Pep Guardiola, reeling from their FA Cup knockout, will want his players to go all the way.
Liverpool must face Manchester United, who, somehow, remain in the top four scrap. They also play Everton, with their rivals desperate for points, as well as Newcastle, Tottenham and a resurgent Wolves side. All it takes is a surprise draw, and it could very well be game over. That applies to City, too, but it is they who are the more likely to piece together a decisive run of form.
The reigning champions may find their credentials tested by Leeds and West Ham, but they will be confident of their chances against Brighton – despite their surprise wins over Tottenham and Arsenal – and Watford in the coming weeks. After that, they entertain Newcastle and Aston Villa, with their clash against the Hammers sandwiched in between. They will surely pick up enough points from those fixtures.
If that does prove to be the case, then it is game over. No quadruple. No history. In all honestly, Liverpool do deserve to lift four trophies, but they could end the campaign with just a sole Carabao Cup. No-one would turn their nose up at silverware, but that would be an underwhelming result at the end of a gruelling season which has rightly left their supporters dreaming of the impossible.
Henderson lifts the Champions League trophy after Liverpool defeated Premier League rivals Tottenham in the 2019 final
Indeed, the bigger picture does show that the Premier League is where Liverpool may stumble.
They have already won once in a Wembley final this term, having beaten Chelsea on penalties to win the first domestic cup available. Near the end of the season, they face the same opponents, this time in the FA Cup. On paper, they are the favourites, but the beauty of these games is that anything can happen. Across the course of one match, a push for a trophy will come to a bitter or beautiful end.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the Blues midfielder who netted his side’s first goal in their semi-final victory over Crystal Palace, has admitted he and his team-mates are desperate to get Liverpool back. ‘Simple as that,’ he added. Bullish words, then, which underline another potential banana skin.
As for the Champions League, well, Liverpool are rightly the favourites to win the competition again for some bookies. They have Villarreal next and, despite their giant-killing of Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, the LaLiga side are likely to come out second best over two legs. After that, Manchester City or Real Madrid await in the final, two heavyweight foes ready for a fight.
Liverpool are certainly deserving of lifting more than the Carabao Cup for their efforts so far this season
Klopp will know his side can take nothing for granted. The stakes are too high for any lapses in mindset or fitness and, at this point of the season, even a one percent margin across the board can prove the difference. Unfortunately, in this writer’s opinion, they will fall short somewhere.
These rock and roll footballers barely lost a game between 2018 and 2020, but never actually came close to clinching an unprecedented quadruple. They are arguably even better this time around but, again, may have to settle for falling just below breaking into the history books.
Regardless of what does happen, these players deserve all the credit in the world. To have the prospect of winning four trophies alive and kicking at this late stage is a commendable achievement – but, if they do miss out, there will be an unshakeable feeling of an opportunity missed.
Let battle commence.
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article