Liverpool won a big three points Sunday. Sure, they may have come with a little luck—also known as appalling defensive lapses—but the 3-2 win over Tottenham was the Reds' first over a big team this season, so we'll take it however it comes.
Bad news from Super Sunday at Anfield: The Reds allowed two very cheap goals to Jan Vertonghen and at times were completely outclassed in the midfield.
Good news: Gareth Bale didn't score (two assists, but still), and the Reds held on in the end, something they've struggled with of late.
Better news: The Reds' next four games are all very winnable and could really shoot Liverpool up the table.
The Reds only managed to sneak by Southampton and Reading at Anfield 1-0 earlier in the year, suffered a humiliating and unexplainable 3-1 loss at home to Villa and won a scrappy affair at Upton Park 3-2 in December.
Liverpool are on a four-match winning streak (when's the last time you said that?), so even with three away fixtures, the Reds should come away with slightly better results. Reading is almost a guarantee for relegation while Villa and Southampton are only a few points safe. West Ham, though, is comfortable in 12th.
The Reds have scored 15 goals in their last four games, and it's been more than just Luis Suarez, which is a very good sign for the next four.
At 45 points, two places and seven points separate Liverpool and Chelsea in fourth, the final Champions League spot. Arsenal are fifth on 47 points, while Everton are level with the Reds on 45 points but have a game in hand.
Away games are never easy in the Premier League, but Southampton and Reading don't have the firepower to match Liverpool, and they don't have the defense to stop an in-form Suarez alongside new boys Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and whoever has been playing for Stewart Downing in recent months.
West Ham at home should be another physical battle, but with Liverpool scoring freely of late, the result could be similar to Tottenham on Sunday.
The tricky match will be at Villa Park.
Like Liverpool, you just never know which Aston Villa will show up. Three points above the relegation zone, the Villans aren't safe yet, so they will be well up for the match, especially after a nice little international break.
If the Reds attack from the start and don't let the home side get comfortable, Villa's defense should be no match. But as Tottenham learned, just a couple mistakes can change everything.
Looking at these fixtures, 12 points out of 12 is not at all unrealistic—just so long as the Reds play to their strengths and have the same fight in them as they did on Sunday.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers called Sunday's victory a "marker of [the team's] growth," but the next four matches are the true test.
The Reds have had plenty of great performances against the top sides, whether they resulted in three points or not, and they've followed them up by laying an egg against the "lesser" sides.
They can't do that this time. Three points against Tottenham will mean nothing if all Liverpool can muster over the next month is two draws and two wins. Let's not even think about a loss sneaking in there.
After the trip to Reading on April 13, Liverpool face Chelsea at home, Newcastle away and Everton at home. No matter where those three teams are in the table at that point, those will be three tough contests, so it's vital Liverpool make up some serious ground before.
With King Kenny Dalglish, Roy Hodgson and Rafa Benitez at the end, Liverpool constantly took one step forward and two (or three) steps back. But under Rodgers, the occasional ugly losses this season have not stayed with the side for too long. Case in point, the current win streak has come after two uninspiring 2-0 losses to West Brom and Zenit.
It's still hard to see Liverpool finishing fourth, but they are in firm control of their destiny with nine games left. And for the first time in a long time, the Reds look ready to jump at the opportunity.
Assuming the international break doesn't ruin everything.
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