Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton: What Do Top 4 Hopefuls Need to Do?
These three sides have shown up and down form at times during the league campaign so far but the three points gained by the Toffees over the Spurs means that they are the team that currently occupies fourth place.
Manchester United and Manchester City occupy positions one and two and likely will do so for the remainder of the campaign, while Chelsea has the personnel and the coach to ensure a top three spot at worst.
Arsenal should be the favourites for the fourth spot despite their own uneven form—but Everton, Liverpool and Spurs should be considered the favourites to challenge them for that final Champions League position.
What do each of the three have to do to challenge for the top four?
Current position: 4th, 26 points.
David Moyes has been at the club for over a decade, giving him a big advantage over both Andre Villas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers.
Everton has been superb in playing directly to the strengths of their top players, including Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines, while summer additions Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas have provided width, pace and goals in attack.
After spending around £16 million in summer it remains to be seen whether the Blues have more activity to be involved in during January, though they could certainly do with an addition or two to the midfield area or a quality replacement for when Nikica Jelavic is unavailable.
Moyes has a way of playing; he utilizes a 4-4-1-1 system which his team is comfortable with, and a relationship with the media whereby his club are continually seen as the plucky underdogs, achieving more than they should.
Every win is another step for them towards a top four ambition, which they have achieved just once in the Premier League era.
Best chance: Everton's home form has been excellent this season where they remain unbeaten. However, David Moyes and his team have continually choked on the biggest stage and has yet to win a trophy with his side. Regardless of their excellent first half of the season, they will need an even better second half to achieve a top four finish.
Current position: 5th, 26 points
The Spurs finished fourth last season but it was not enough to keep former manager Harry Redknapp in a job. Andre Villas-Boas has not yet put his full stamp on the team but several key elements of the team's shape are apparent.
The central midfield pairing of Sandro and Moussa Dembele is up there with the best in the league both tactically and technically, while Jermain Defoe's goals have been valuable with the lack of game time and form for Emmanuel Adebayor.
Come January Spurs could certainly do worse than invest in a left-back, allowing Jan Vertonghen to return to his preferred central position, and another winger to rest or rotate Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon would not go amiss either.
With four wins away from home this season only Manchester United have a higher number than Spurs—but their ridiculous habit of conceding late goals is costing them dear so far. Cut out those and they will rise in the table quickly.
Best chance: Two further injury time strikes from Everton this weekend provided big evidence of where Spurs' problems lie. Concentration or stamina; whichever it is, Spurs need to work on it to progress.
Current position: 10th, 22 points
Considering they have only just entered the top half it might seem strange to consider Liverpool a contender for a top four spot, but the Reds have lost just once in their past 11 Premier League games—a fixture against Spurs no less.
Brendan Rodgers' team's problems are evident in almost every fixture; they lack options in the final third. Injuries have cost the team with Fabio Borini missing several months and the manager has been reliant on youngsters to fill up the squad to an extent.
Which team will finish in the top four along with City, United and Chelsea?
The more games that pass though, the more the style and level of performance is evident in the Reds' play. They have recorded three wins on the bounce recently and lie just four points off the Champions' League places now.
January will see Liverpool invest in at least one attacker, possibly more, and if Luis Suarez continues his fine goalscoring form and all-around play, the Reds should certainly be in with a shout over the second half of the season.
Best chance: Liverpool has to find the players in January to give them a balance between remaining hard to beat, and actually finishing games off as victories more often. Seven draws this season is indicative of their issues in the final third.
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