Steven Gerrard’s slip to let Demba Ba in to score on Sunday has given Manchester City the edge over Liverpool in the race for the Premier League title, and while there is still a long way to go, the Reds’ captain will be hopeful he will not look back on the error as the moment their title challenge fell apart.
Manchester City know that if they win their remaining three matches – against Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham – and maintain their goal difference advantage over Liverpool, they will regain the league title they lost to Manchester United last season.
Liverpool had looked to be favourites for a first league success in 24 years and providing they secured a draw or better against Jose Mourinho’s side, would be in pole-position to go on and claim the 2013-14 title.
However, a misfiring performance combined with a Chelsea side looking to defend for their lives and hit Liverpool on the counter-attack saw Gerrard’s side succumb to a 2-0 defeat at Anfield, despite enjoying 73 per cent of the possession on Sunday. With Willian’s goal to double Chelsea’s lead coming in the closing stages and Liverpool threw everything and more at the Blues’ goal, the Reds know they must win both their remaining matches and either hope for City to slip up, or overturn the eight-goal deficit in the goal difference between the two sides. Should they finish level on goal difference, Rodgers’ side would hold the advantage having currently scored three more goals than their closest rivals City.
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Liverpool undoubtedly were the more positive side yesterday evening as well as across the whole of the season, but Mourinho claimed another tactical victory in which Rodgers claimed he “parked two buses” in front of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
The title is still well within Gerrard’s grasp, with the England captain claiming every trophy he has competed for at club level bar a Premier League winners’ medal, but it is not the first time an error has cost his side dear.
His mistimed back-pass in 2006 allowed Arsenal striker Thierry Henry to steal in ahead of goalkeeper Pepe Reina and tuck the ball away to give the Gunners a 2-1 victory and cost Liverpool ground in their pursuit of Chelsea and Manchester United, although by that point in the season Mourinho’s side already held a 15-point advantage on their way to a second-consecutive title.
Gerrard has also been guilty of an ill-fated back-pass against Chelsea before in 2010, when his pass to Reina was cut-out by striker Didier Drogba to help Chelsea pull away from United in the race for the title.
But his more famous slip-up didn’t come on the pitch, but in front of the TV camera in a post-match interview following the FA Cup victory over Luton in 2008. Fresh from a 5-0 thrashing in the third round replay, a jubilant Gerrard joined Xabi Alonso in the tunnel for the post-match interview, only to slip while he spoke, with his famous words of “woah, I hope that’s not on the telly” fondly remembered as one of his more humorous moments.
Both Gerrard and Liverpool supporters will hope that come May 11, they will be laughing just as much as the tunnel incident when they remember yesterday’s slip-up should they claw back the advantage in the title race.