One defeat from disaster

One defeat from disaster
Chelsea's Demba Ba reacts after a missed opportunity during their English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool at Anfield.

Liverpool can handle the disappointment. They've had 24 years of practice. But the hope is killing them.

Like Manchester City and Chelsea, the Reds are still a dream away from the title, but a weekend away from despair.

The English Premier League has reached the final week of the season with its top-three places still to be finalised, but surely something has got to give this weekend.

There is sense of finality now. All three clubs are throwing the dice and passing "go" for the last time.

There are no get-out-of-jail cards left. The game is ending. For markedly different reasons, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea are perhaps one defeat from disaster.

Here's why:

LIVERPOOL

Few remember the actual game from the 2006 World Cup final.

But no one will ever forget Zinedine Zidane's headbutt. Sporting contests are often defined by moments, rather than milestones.

Steven Gerrard's slip can either be a misplaced pass to giggle over at after-dinner speeches or a monkey on his back for the rest of his life.

The heartbreaking narrative of both club and captain will mercilessly intertwine. An otherwise outstanding campaign will be forever asterisked by one unfortunate error.

Luis Suarez's Player-of-the-Year exploits and the Reds' attacking verve will be shoved to the background. A lapse of concentration will take centrestage.

This will be forever remembered as the season that might have been.

Brendan Rodgers has worked wonders since August and is the major contender for Manager of the Year accolades. The other contender threatens to knock him out of his stride at the penultimate hurdle.

Tony Pulis' Crystal Palace suddenly represent so much more than obdurate opponents and the second fleet of bus drivers to park up outside the penalty box in as many weeks.

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