There’s little doubt that Liverpool will be champions – if they remember how to keep clean sheets.
The Reds beat Crystal Palace on Saturday thanks to yet another late goal. Sadio Mane had put them in front, only for Wilfried Zaha to equalise on 82 minutes.
But then Roberto Firmino was in the right place at the right time to fire home a winner just three minutes later.
Liverpool have made a wonderful habit of late goals and this was another example. They keep winning regardless of performances, and regardless of their defending.
Because, really, their defending has been poor this season.
After 13 Premier League games last season, Liverpool had kept eight clean sheets. After 13 Premier League games this season, Liverpool have kept two clean sheets.
That’s quite a dramatic change. They keep conceding, no matter who the opposition is, and no matter what the situation in the game is.
Comfortably beating Manchester City 3-0? They get a consolation. Trying to see out a 1-0 win at Palace? They get a late equaliser.
Liverpool leak goals and yet they sit at the top of the league, eight points clear of anyone else.
Their ability to find the back of the net when it matters is unparalleled and is clearly carrying the team. Usually, that would see a team struggle but it’s genuinely carrying them to the title.
Now, that may change at some point. If the goals dry up, Liverpool will struggle. But if they can remember their defensive expertise of last season, it would effectively counter that and guarantee the title.
It’s the one area of the game that’s lacking but an area we know they can excel. Fix it and Jordan Henderson will be lifting that trophy in May – maybe even earlier.