It´s 99,9 percent certain that Liverpool misses out on Champions League, CL, position this season. But like many crazy and never-say-die fans I am clutching at straws and hoping for a miracle. But deep down I know it´s over - or is it - really? A microscopic chance is still there and it´s in the shape of a pretty tough upcoming schedule for both Manchester clubs, two of our top four rivals.
At the moment Liverpool is in sixth place in the Premier League table. We need to climb up to fourth to secure CL qualification. It will be difficult since it´s only seven league matches left and the Reds are seven points adrift of fourth occupied by Manchester City. In third Man Utd is placed eight points ahead of us. Arsenal won yesterday and have twelve points more than Liverpool so we can forget about catching them. Southampton is also higher up than Liverpool with two points more but one more game played. The Saints have surprised a lot of people this season but in the end they shouldn´t be a threat for the teams chasing top four places.
If Liverpool is going to have even the slightest chance to reach top four then we must win at least six of the remaining seven games. A tough proposition in itself and furthermore Man City or Man Utd must slip up big time in the run-in.
The good thing is that both have some tricky fixtures left. And let´s say Liverpool manage to grab 18 points then Man City need eleven points to land above us and Man Utd require ten points to do the same. Both have better goal difference than Liverpool so if we amass the same total amount of points as any of the Manchester teams then they´ll finish above us.
Lets check out their final fixtures. Man City is a bit out of form and has lost three of the last six games. Of the seven remaining matches they have four at home and West Ham, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers are sides they usually overcome at Etihad. But both Villa and QPR could be fighting for survival and a City team out of the title race could be caught out. Hammers is not a pushover this season and could also cause trouble. The fourth home encounter is against Southampton in the last match of the season. Could go either way.
The away ties are the biggest stumbling blocks. Man Utd today is a tough one as is Tottenham and Swansea. Man City is probably going to grab the necessary eleven points (if Liverpool gets 18) but it could be by the skin of their teeth. Hardly any of the upcoming matches are straightforward affairs and City is not the winning machine they were last season.
Man Utd has an even more troublesome fixture list, especially the three upcoming matches are challenging hurdles to get over. First off is the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in a few hours, then two tough away matches awaits. First against title-chasing Chelsea and then Everton where United has managed just one win in the last six. It could mean three defeats and then it´s game on.
Especially as the rest of the schedule is quite trying aswell. The home match against West Bromwich should be won but then in-form team Crystal Palace play hosts and after that Arsenal visits, perhaps chasing the title, and in the final game Hull can be fighting for their PL lives at KC Stadium. Even if it´s 21 points left to take, to even manage ten can be quite problematic for Man Utd. They are in good form so that will help them but almost all their opponent has something to play for, or are in good form, so that means seven demanding matches.
But even if Man City or Man Utd, or both, slip up, Liverpool has a lot of work to do themselves to leapfrog them. Our programme, though, is a lot easier than our top for rivals, at least on paper. At home we face Newcastle, QPR and Crystal Palace, teams we invariably beat at home. The away games are winnable aswell even if they are difficult. West Bromwich, Hull and Stoke are all inferior to a Liverpool team in full throttle. But that is just what we need to be to beat them. And that is the tricky part, to rise to top form and stay there for the rest of the season. We have done it before and I am confident we can do it again.
The fourth away match, third fixture from the end, is away to Chelsea and hopefully we can have the same luck in London as they had in Liverpool last season. The powers are indebted to us so make John Terry slip and let in Daniel Sturridge for the winner. If we now win four on the trot and even down Chelsea then it´s a distinct possibility that top four is in our reach with two games to go.
As long it´s theoretically possible hope for top four lives on. So, fans and players, here:
We Go Again.