Finally it´s official, Liverpool will miss out on Champions League positions after the dismal 1-4 defeat against Arsenal in the Premier League. Manager Brendan Rodgers admits a top four finish is out of reach now but stand-in captain Jordan Henderson claims there is still hope. The boss is right on this one, we are going to end up among the also-rans this season scrambling for Europa League places. We are eight points behind Manchester United with seven games remaining. We´ll never catch them.
After the pitiful home loss against Man Utd our backs was against the wall facing Arsenal. A win was necessary but we never had a chance. The Reds started slowly, as we done too many times this season, and our defensive play was, to put it mildly, rubbish. Okay, we upped our game a bit in the second half but to no avail, the damage was already done and the home win sealed long before the final whistle. When it mattered most we came up with the worst display of the season. Not a good sign.
Our only goal left is to win the FA Cup and secure a Europa League place. I´m not so sure we can achieve any of it. Even if we eliminate both Blackburn and Aston Villa in the FA Cup we probably have to overcome Arsenal in the final. Taking the last meeting between the teams into account it seems like an unsurmountable task.
If we land in 5th or 6th place inte final Premier League table then a Europa League place is ours. Some think that the competition is a disturbance and takes focus off the league. But Liverpool must get as much European experince as possible to develope as a team, especially as we have got a pretty young squad. If we are to be a force again then we need to be able to manage both domestic and European challenges at the same time. Just as any big club do.
But now that we´ve blown our CL chance the EL qualification will be a tough one. The players will feel disappointed about missing out on CL and it could take some time to recuperate. In the meantime the chasing pack containing Tottenham and Southampton could overtake us. They have already given up on CL places and is back on track aiming for another European possibility.
Furthermore there is rumours about Brendan Rodgers giving the team a rollicking for not ”playing for him” and rumours also says that the players got annoyed by his critic. Well, if he gave them a roasting, it was appropiate. The players should in fact give it to themselves for performing so badly in the two matches we needed to win.
Okay, mathematically we still have a chance to reach top four but it would take a miracle, we had ours in Istanbul in 2005, and since they rarely come by I don´t expect a another is waiting around the corner.
When Liverpool lost 0-3 against Manchester United in December I gave every player the rating 1 in a scale between 1 and 10, 1 being the lowest grade. I think when a big club as Liverpool goes down by three goals to a club of similar status then the effort doesn´t qualify for anything more. It´s the same this time, every Liverpool players who participated versus Arsenal gets the grade 1.
In a couple of days the whole season can go south when we face Blackburn in the FA Cup sixth round replay. Nothing but a win is thinkable when:
We Go Again.