Sadio Mane’s stoppage time goal powered Liverpool to a Merseyside Derby win against Everton Monday, and that result kept the Reds within six points of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.
In the face of Chelsea’s brilliance this season — and 11 straight wins can hardly be described any other way — it’s fair to ask the question: Who’s going to challenge them?
Here’s a look at the table:
The title race is far from over. There are 21 matches left to be played, and as imperious as Chelsea as looked this season, it’s unlikely that its winning streak will carry through to the end of the campaign.
Personally, I think it would be silly to write off any team in the top six at this point. There are too many matches, too many chances for injury and one large transfer window between now and the end of the season.
But the one team most likely to chase down the Blues might just be Liverpool.
The Reds got a boost Monday from the late addition of Daniel Sturridge, and it’s remarkable to consider how they’ve fared without such a key figure for them.
Liverpool’s 41 goals leads the league, and six players have at least five goals for the Reds this season.
And pulling out late wins like it did on Monday can often be the difference between lifting the trophy and watching some other team do it on TV.
“There are a lot of games in front of us and it will change many times, but games like this you need to win if you want to stay in the race for the title,” Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren told reporters. “We are in second so we can say yes (we are title contenders). It is about the team’s defensive qualities. We have been working very hard together and just now we are in good form and we need to keep going like that.”
There are questions, of course.
How will Liverpool cope with Sadio Mane’s absence with the African Cup of Nations? Will it buy a keeper during the January window, or will Simon Mignolet or Loris Karius continue to stand between the pipes during a title run?
Can Sturridge stay healthy and make a difference the rest of the way? Will the glut of matches around the holidays wear them down?
If Jurgen Klopp and the club can figure enough of those things out, they might be able to snap a title drought that dates back to 1990.