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Sizing up Liverpool's title chances (ESPN article)

by Dave Usher for ESPN

 

With almost a third of the season gone, it's definitely a case of so far so good for Liverpool. While the fixture list has been relatively kind to Brendan Rodgers' side early on and there are much sterner tests to come in the weeks and months ahead, the results of Liverpool's rivals show that even the so-called 'easy' fixtures still need to be safely negotiated and you can't just automatically mark those games down as a surefire three points. 
 
For example, Manchester United lost at home to West Brom while only an absolutely farcical penalty decision spared Chelsea the same fate last weekend. A week earlier Jose Mourinho's side were beaten at Newcastle, a result few saw coming. Manchester City have already lost on the road at Cardiff City, Aston Villa and Sunderland (as well as suffering a more 'acceptable' loss at Stamford Bridge), Tottenham have surprisingly been beaten at White Hart Lane by both West Ham and Newcastle, and last weekend Everton failed to beat manager-less Crystal Palace, the weakest team in the division. 
 
They are all games that you'd have expected those 'bigger' teams to be winning, yet they didn't. Had Liverpool suffered results such as those, many fans would have seen that as all the evidence they needed to write off any top four hopes. With good reason too; as in previous years if you suffered too many of those kind of results, you couldn't recover from them as the competition at the top was so fierce. This year? It looks like things are different, the top sides are unexpectedly dropping points all over the place. 
 
All of that would appear to cancel out the whole 'easy start' argument and it's therefore far too simplistic to put the lofty league position of Liverpool -- and Arsenal for that matter -- solely down to their comparatively 'soft' fixture list. Many of the 'easy' games are proving to be anything but. 
 
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