Could Liverpool Actually Finish Fourth? The Mathematical Conclusion
It is difficult to comprehend that Liverpool are closing in on Europa League qualification in the late stages of this season.
After Roy Hodgson failed to command a revolution, the situation looked dire. Whether Liverpool could actually be threatened by relegation was at one point the most appropriate question facing a team unsure of their future.
Then Kenny Dalglish came in, the likes of Meireles stepped up and scored some belters, and Fernando Torres exited in what now looks like a stroke of genius.
Apart from the poor performance against West Ham, Liverpool's league performances are vastly improved. They now sit comfortably in the top six. They may not have their hands on fifth place and Europa League qualification at the moment, but their grasp is now getting stronger and more likely.
Tottenham have begun to lose form, and many Kop fans are willing their Anfield outfit on to snatch that elusive position.
But with recent form as a compass point, could Liverpool still fight for an even more unbelievable fourth-placed finish?
I put this suggestion forward as a glimpse at the last eight games played by Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City yields some interesting results. Continuation of these could lead to a completely unexpected end table.
Manchester City have scored only 11 points from their last eight outings, compared to the 19 claimed by Liverpool.
Taking on board Tottenham's game in hand, they have achieved 13 points from their last nine fixtures. If this trend were to continue, then the final table would see both Liverpool and Manchester City ending the season on 64 points. Tottenham, on the other hand, would fall just shy on 62.
Even more intriguing will be the remaining fixtures, most notably the impending clash between City and Liverpool. Steven Gerrard and co. will be looking for a perfect revenge on the Manchester side that demolished them 3-0 earlier in the season.
Yet now Liverpool have the legend in the making, Luis Suarez, showing Torres how it should have been done. Alongside him is the likes of Andy Carroll, looking for his opening goal after a promising start to his Liverpool career.
It is overall the team as a whole which now portrays a credible unit, instead of the mayhem and individualism that plagued the start of this league campaign.
Liverpool will still be confident from their 3-1 defeat of City's Manchester rivals. Their display of dominance against Manchester United will most certainly aim Liverpool in direction of the Champions League positions next season.
Their form against less able opposition is what has actually let them down.
Manchester City now must prove themselves worthy of their wage packet, after a run of good form from Chelsea leaves them in danger of losing what once looked a confident top-four finish.
Chelsea oddly look to achieve this feat in spite of Fernando Torres' record-breaking transfer, and not because of him. You only hope that the Spaniard sees little action in Europe's elite competition if his lacklustre form continues.
None of Liverpool's remaining games are certain victories. After this season, even a repeat fixture against Havant & Waterlooville would not be an expected rout.
Essentially, it is all about the next three games, as their trip to West Brom is accompanied with clashes against City and Arsenal.
And Arsenal are second in form only to Liverpool in their last eight games. The Londoners can smell an upset of breaking Man United's dream of an undisputed 19th Premier League title. Triumph against Liverpool is a must for them if they are to overhaul Manchester United's current five-point advantage.
At the same time, Manchester City have a tight run to the final eight games, with matches against the likes of Bolton and Sunderland accompanying decisive fixtures against Tottenham and Liverpool.
Who Will Finish Fourth?
For some, the chances of a top-four finish for Liverpool are gone, but for others it could make perfect sense. Liverpool are the team in form right now. With Man City and Tottenham both slipping up, there is optimism in the air.
Of course, this can all come crashing down if Liverpool fail to gain any wins from their next three matches. And losing against Tottenham or Manchester City will not be an option. Such an event would only be a soul-destroying end to a comeback that could have matched those history-breaking heroics against AC Milan.
Additionally, Dalglish's future is the subject of a constant rumour mill, with many expecting and wishing him to be offered a permanent contract. The next eight fixtures could just be the platform that enables this to come into fruition if all goes well.
Whether Liverpool now finish fourth, fifth or sixth remains to be seen. At least one certain thing that can be said about their recent run is that a confidence in the team and the players has been rebuilt in the aftermath of total desperation. And this is something that every Liverpool fan, including myself, is thankful for.
Will Dalglish Get An Extended Contract?
Last 8 matches: 11 points
Projected Points finish: 64
Last 9 matches: 13 points
Projected Points finish: 62
Last 8 matches: 19 points
Projected Points finish: 64
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