Liverpool have chance for under-the-radar title challenge despite setbacks

The Premier League title race has been blown wide open heading into the second international break of the season.

Arsenal beat Manchester City on Sunday evening, ensuring the defending champions suffered back to back league defeats for the first time since December 2018.

That win for the Gunners leaves them second in the table, behind leaders Tottenham Hotspur on goals scored.

Despite a couple of weekends that have left some Liverpool fans feeling a little dejected, the Reds sit in fourth place – just three points off Spurs.

Sunday’s draw at Brighton & Hove Albion left a bitter taste in the mouth of some Reds, after seeing their side throw away two points late on in the match.

READ MORE: Brighton 2-2 Liverpool – Player Ratings

It was a game Liverpool had in their grasp and one they should have put to bed, finishing the weekend a point off the lead in the table.

However, in the Liverpool way, they conceded a soft equaliser and then very nearly went on to lose the match on the South Coast. 

It is easy to look at the table and see a missed opportunity for Liverpool to have gained further ground, but it is also very easy to look at it and see the improvement that has already taken place from the season before.

Many may not see Liverpool as part of the race for the title and that may prove to be correct as the months go on, but as things stand, you cannot count them out.

READ MORE: 5 talking points from Liverpool's 2-2 draw with Brighton

This team knows how to win and they have already shown the grit and determination needed to win a league title. One thing that is for sure is that these Reds have battled against huge adversity already in their eight league games this term.

Liverpool have also faced an extremely difficult opening eight fixtures in their league campaign, as well as having to battle with the Europa League.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have already faced Chelsea, Newcastle, Spurs and Brighton away from home and still remain three points behind. 

The win against Newcastle came against all of the odds as a Darwin Nuñez double gave the 10-men of Liverpool the most unlikely of three points. It was a return of the 'mentality monsters'.

Darwin Nuñez

However, it feels as though an opportunity was missed to really stamp down their authority in the title race when taking on Spurs and Brighton.

The match in North London started well, Liverpool more than held their own and then we all know what happened next. The Reds can rightfully feel aggrieved about the events that took place that day.

That loss at Spurs put increased pressure on the game at Brighton and it was vital Liverpool did not lose. Some were even calling it a must-win game for the Reds after what happened in London.

Somewhat expectedly, Liverpool started the game poorly and Brighton took the lead in the first half. But, a double from Mohamed Salah gave the Reds an unlikely lead heading into the break.

With the introduction of Ryan Gravenberch for the second half, Liverpool took control of the early proceedings in the second period and the Dutchman should have put his side into a two-goal lead.

After hitting the bar with the goal gaping, Liverpool lost their grasp on the tie and Brighton started to pile on the pressure with a goal looking inevitable given the Reds’ shaky defence this season.

Poor defending from a set-piece gave Lewis Dunk the chance to earn his side a point.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 8, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker is beaten as Brighton & Hove Albion score an equalising goal to level the score 2-2 during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the American Express Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp called it a 'fair' result, despite the late frustrations, and you can point to last season and look at the 3-0 hammering that Klopp’s side were given in January and say it is a clear improvement on that shambles.

However, Liverpool could and perhaps should have won on Sunday.

That said, the Reds avoided defeated and are only three points off the top. They also sit just a single point behind City.

With four very winnable Premier League games coming up after the break (Everton, Nottingham Forest, Luton, Brentford), Klopp’s side must now go on a run of victories before taking on the champions at the Etihad Stadium on 25 November.

It is vital Liverpool go into that game still within touching distance of the top if they are to consider themselves title challengers. 

READ MORE: Jamie Carragher names two positions Liverpool still need to strengthen for title challenge

The Reds can continue to slip happily under the radar in the title race, but they must take 12 points from their next four matches.

With Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota and maybe even Thiago making a return after the international break, I would fancy Klopp’s side to build some important momentum heading into that busy Christmas period.

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