Can Liverpool claim to be the 'neutrals favourites' to win the Premier League?
The Reds are in contention to win the title along with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City
Liverpool full-back Glenn Johnson has claimed that neutrals are rooting for his side as the Premier League title race nears its conclusion.
The Reds are among four teams still in contention to take Manchester United's title. They're joined by Chelsea, who currently lead the table, Arsenal, who faltered badly at the weekend and Manchester City, who have games in hand.
But is Johnson right? Can Liverpool claim to have the backing of the neutrals over their rivals?
Johnson puts it down to a few factors, which we take a closer look at here as well as other reasons why Liverpool have a claim to be favourites among the neutrals...
According to Johnson, "Just to spice things up the neutrals would want to see us win it. Nobody wants the same teams to be winning it over and over again. I guess the neutrals will be packing a punch for us."
The England international might have a point. Manchester City won the title just two years ago, Chelsea under Carlo Ancelotti won the Premier League in 2009/10 and also won back to back titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06. Arsenal last won a title 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, Liverpool haven't won the title since the 1989/90 season and have never won it in the Premier League era. Change is good, as they say.
Manchester City were the last winners among the current contenders
"People watch football to enjoy themselves, see goals and see exciting football, and I think we do provide that," said Johnson. "I think people will be rooting for us because it will be something different."
There's little denying that Liverpool are this season's entertainers. They've scored more than any of the other contenders with 82 goals (City 76, Chelsea 62, Arsenal 53). They've also conceded more than the rest with 38 finding their way past Simon Mignolet (Arsenal 34, City 27, Chelsea 23).
Anfield can also boast to be the home to the Premier League's two top goal scorers with Luis Suarez leading the way on 28 and Daniel Sturridge on 19. Manchester City occupy the third and fourth positions with Yaya Toure on 16 and Sergio Aguero on 15. No team in the Premier League era has ended the season with the two top goal scorers.
Brendan Rodgers has led a revival in Liverpool fortunes
Before the season started it was widely expected that Manchester City and Chelsea would be among the contenders. The arrivals of Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho respectively looks like good moves for both clubs and have proved to be so. Arsenal are among the most consistent teams, qualifying for the Champions League through the league since Arsene Wenger arrived at the club nearly 20 years ago.
Liverpool's excellent season has been as stunning as Manchester United's capitulation. As United were crowned champions last May, Liverpool found themselves in seventh on 61 points. They've already passed that total and have eight games to play. Were Liverpool to win the title, it'd be the biggest shock in Premier League history.
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Jose Mourinho arrived back at Stamford Bridge last summer
While Liverpool might be classed as underdogs this season it only signifies how far their star had fallen. Those of a certain age will remember the Reds as the dominant force in English football, the team containing the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and John Barnes who won eight titles in 15 seasons between 1975/76 and 1989/90.
Some neutrals (if not all) will enjoy seeing Liverpool return to their former glories.
John Barnes (left) and Peter Beardsley celebrate Liverpool's last title – back in 1990
When the season started out, Liverpool arguably did not have the most likeable of teams. Suarez was still serving a 10-match ban for biting an opponent and the other half of the SAS has hardly ever endeared himself.
However, the performances of Suarez this season have won over the majority with few able to do much but marvel at his talents. Meanwhile, Sturridge has emerged as one of the most talented and exciting out-and-out strikers England have had at their disposal for some time.
In a World Cup year, the fact Liverpool is home to a number of England internationals who will carry the nations hopes this summer can only help. Three Lions captain Steven Gerrard is joined by Johnson, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling.
Luis Suarez, left, and Daniel Sturridge, right
Many 'neutrals' have enjoyed watching the demise of Manchester United this season. After lording it over English football for so many years, the troubles since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson have been marked.
That United have slipped out of contention in the Premier League and have lost hope of qualifying for the Champions League through a top four position has only been compounded by their greatest rivals seamlessly slotting into their place among the upper echelons of the table.
Gerrard take a penalty against Manchester United
Whether Liverpool can go on and take United's crown remains to be seen. "At the moment we are playing well and getting the goals," said Johnson. "It's a case of staying calm and keeping it going."
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