Liverpool failed to claim three points away at St. Andrews in a 1-1 draw against Birmingham, a clear blow to the Reds’ pursuit of Champions League football. Although Tottenham lost to Sunderland 3-1, Manchester City moved up to 4th place in the Premier League standing with a comprehensive 6-1 away win at Burnley. Man City are sitting in 4th with 59 points from 32 games, Tottenham are in 5th with 58 points from 32 games, and Liverpool are in 6th with 55 points from 33 games. The table tells us that the race for the final Champions League spot is a two-horse race, but the table hardly tells the whole story. Here are two reasons why Liverpool still have a chance to bring Champions League football back to Anfield next year:
1. Manchester City and Tottenham have the toughest remaining schedules out of any team in the Premier League.
Manchester City are in very good form, however, The Citizens’ last six matches of the campaign are against Birmingham, Manchester United, Arsenal (away at the Emirates), Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham (away at Upton Park). Though four points clear of Liverpool with a game in hand, how many points can City really expect to gain from these fixtures? Mancini would accept a draw against the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, and it is tough to expect to gain three points against quality sides like Aston Villa, Birmingham, and Tottenham. Not to mention that in the last fixture away at Upton Park the Hammers could well be fighting for their lives to stay up in the Premier League. I cannot realistically see Manchester City finishing with more than 70 points.
Tottenham, on the other hand, have it no easier. Hosting Arsenal, then Chelsea, and then traveling to Old Trafford to face United, Harry Redknapp has it all still to do. After those three matches Spurs face Bolton, travel to the City of Manchester Stadium, and then close with Burnley. Again, I cannot see Tottenham taking more than 10 points from these closing matches.
2. Liverpool have perhaps the easiest remaining schedule
Liverpool’s five remaining fixtures: Fulham (Home), West Ham (Home), Burnley (away), Chelsea (home), Hull City (away).
With the exception of the Chelsea match at Anfield, there is no excuse for Rafa Benitez’s men to not take three points from every one of their remaining matches. Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are finally hitting their form, the Reds are playing world-class football in front of their home supporters, and even with a poor away record there is no excuse for not winning against Burnley and Hull. It’s certainly possible that Liverpool could win all five of their remaining fixtures and finish with 70 points, which I think is the magic number for Champions League football this campaign.
What are your thoughts? Will Liverpool miraculously finish 4th or will Manchester City or Tottenham bring Champions League football home to their supporters next season?