When Liverpool FC went down 2-0 at home to West Brom last Monday the majority of fans believe that the ambitious challenge for a top four place was over, and probably rightly so.
Liverpool’s season seemed to come to an end all in the same week by following up the West Brom defeat with a 2-0 loss away to Zenit St. Petersburg in the Europa League – which ultimately, cost the club further progression in the competition.
The Reds bounced back emphatically with a 5-0 win over Swansea at the weekend, albeit against a Swans side full of second-string players. The performance was excellent, however, and the 35 shots the team mustered up broke a Premier League record.
Now, I hear you ask, where is the proof that optimism is necessary in a potential late challenge for the top four? Well, for those of you that have studied not only Liverpool’s remaining fixtures but also the fixtures of those in the hunt for the final Champions League places shows us that there is more to play for than what meets the eye.
Tottenham Hotspur, who currently hold the much coveted fourth place, find themselves in a commanding position – four points ahead of North London rivals Arsenal who are in fifth. However, despite their recent form, Spurs still have some tough games ahead between now and May.
Villas-Boas’ team still have to negotiate fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton (home) as well as Liverpool and Chelsea (away). Not forgetting that trips to Swansea and Stoke, two solid Premier League teams, also await the North Londoners.
With those fixtures in mind, there is potential for a fair few points to be dropped by Spurs and we will just have to wait and see how AVB and his squad handle a tough finish.
Arsenal have a slightly easier run-in than Spurs but still have to face a North London derby away to their neighbours as well as tough home fixtures against Everton and Manchester United.
Moving on to our lovely neighbours Everton, who usually finish the season strongly but with a potential trip to Wembley in mind, could find themselves slipping up in the league with some tricky fixtures ahead.
The Blues still have to entertain Manchester City at Goodison Park as well as unsavoury trips to Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and, of course, Anfield to face Liverpool in the end of season Merseyside derby.
For me, Everton are going to struggle to pick up points in their remaining twelve games, especially with whispers that David Moyes could leave the club when his contract runs out in the summer.
Now for the most important fixture list – Liverpool FC’s. The Reds are still to play some top sides including Chelsea, Spurs and Everton, however, all three of those fixtures take place at Anfield and, with Brendan Rodgers’ boys picking up four wins out of their last five at home and scoring 17 goals in the process, Liverpool’s home form is coming good at the right time and the squad will not be daunted by opposition that they will believe they can beat.
As well as those three sides, Liverpool also face West Ham and QPR at Anfield in two games that should see us win, however, both matches should be approached with complete concentration and determination to succeed as our tendency to lose games that should be won is far too frequent.
As for our travels, Liverpool only face trips to teams in the bottom half of the table. Games against Wigan, Aston Villa, Southampton, Reading, Newcastle and Fulham await the Reds and, although usually the opposite, Rodgers and his team have performed well against those in the lower half of the league as opposed to the top half.
As you can see, Liverpool have some very winnable games ahead and the teams around them are in danger of losing points. For me, if the Reds are serious about challenging for the top four, they need to pick up at least 29 points from the 33 that are available to us. That equates to nine wins and two draws. I strongly believe that one more defeat in any of our remaining fixtures ends any hope of a late challenge and restricts us to a top six finish at best.
Whether or not you find this article interesting or just completely farcical is entirely up to you, nevertheless, the full support of the players and staff is essential if Liverpool are to make a late push for a top four place and finish the season with a flourish.