Club Focus – Liverpool – Despite good form, Europa League remains a long shot

Having collected an impressive four points from two difficult games against FA Cup finalists Manchester City and title-chasing Arsenal last week, some Liverpool fans are still hopeful that the Reds can end their season on a high by storming to a top-five finish and thus qualifying to play Europa League football once again next season. But with Tottenham Hotspur, who have two games in hand on Liverpool along with a four point head start, looking to pip Manchester City to fourth, do Kenny Dalglish’s side stand any real chance of participating in Europe once again next year?

Well a quick glance at the table as it stands suggests Liverpool’s chances are almost impossible. Spurs would have to drop a huge ten points from their seven remaining fixtures, while a resurgent Liverpool would have to win every single one of their games until the end of the season – and even in those circumstances it would all come down to goal difference. However, Harry Redknapp’s side, who are wounded from their Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid, have won just one of their last five Premier League games, so perhaps there is some hope for Liverpool.

Tottenham undoubtedly have an extremely difficult run in. They face the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool before the season is out, as well as West Brom, relegation-threatened Blackpool and Birmingham City. The games against City and Liverpool could hold great significance, while Arsenal and Chelsea always pose a threat, therefore Spurs may just struggle to pick up the right results as the season comes to a close.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have a slightly kinder fixture list. Dalglish’s side are still to face Birmingham, Newcastle, Fulham, Tottenham and Aston Villa. Although these are not easy games – none are in the Premier League these days – the Reds manager will be reasonably confident of his side’s chances over the next month or so. And if it comes to a winner-takes-all game between Spurs and Liverpool on the penultimate weekend of the season, things could get rather interesting.

Liverpool have a four goal advantage over their rivals in terms of goal difference, though this is bound to keep changing as the season continues. Yet the simple fact remains – if Spurs can win four of their final seven fixtures, they will be guaranteed a place in the top five. Therefore, while it remains unlikely that Liverpool will be able to catch the north London outfit, Reds fans are sure to keep a close eye on proceedings at White Hart Lane over the coming weeks.

All in all, Liverpool still have a glimmer of hope when it comes to sizing up their chances of catching Spurs in fifth, however if Redknapp’s men win their next couple of games in the hope of finishing in the top four, the Reds’ dream will be all but over. In that case, Liverpool could be forced to cling on to sixth spot, as local-rivals Everton look to creep up behind them in the final weeks of this intriguing season.

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