Liverpool FC Stun Manchester City: Europa League a Target Once More?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 11:  Andy Carroll of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on April 11, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIApril 11, 2011

Not long ago, I spoke of the mathematical possibility of Liverpool claiming fourth. The scene was set for them to achieve the greatest comeback since that Champions League final. Form dictated that I was not deluded with the electrifying form under Kenny Dalglish highlighting what Liverpool could do.

But then Liverpool went and lost to West Brom.

Their performance was lacklustre and worse than, that it gave Roy Hodgson a somewhat undeserved reprieve for his mismanagement of the club.

The game between Liverpool and Manchester City therefore became a fixture of different purposes. It was not the be-all and end-all we had been expecting.

City were looking to establish their top-four finish and Liverpool were left to keep a grasp on their dying hopes of European football next season.

What 90 minutes can do for the game though!

Both teams came out attacking but it was Liverpool who demolished City's defense in a reversal of the 3-0 thrashing witnessed on the second game day of the current season.

Whilst anxious before the game, I did expect Liverpool to triumph. For those who doubt my claim, there were two reasons I came to this conclusion.

Firstly, since that dreadful game at the City of Manchester Stadium, Liverpool had progressed in confidence, ability and in the aftermath of two highly credible signings.

City, on the other hand, had gone from title challengers, to comfortable Champions League qualification, to a desperate scramble for a top-four finish. Their season was sliding backwards; cue the funniest moment in this game when shamed Mario Balotelli, a substitute himself, was replaced late on.

Form dictated therefore that City would lose.

Secondly, from a Liverpool perspective, the Anfield side kept losing to weak teams like West Ham and West Brom, but were paradoxically laying the law down to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United.

Such bizarre form again dictated that Liverpool would win.

Carrol finally got on the scoresheet and the team played with the flair and tenacity they need to be taken seriously. Even better was the occurrence that this was achieved without fan favourite Steven Gerrard, in a display that gives multitudes of confidence to the ideal that the team can succeed without their star player.

If only Liverpool had decided to play this game against West Brom and West Ham—or the cursed "W" teams as I now like to call them—then the final few games would have had some extra flavour to them.

If Liverpool were to win every game remaining, City would only need 10 points from six games to take fourth. Realistically, you can shave this down to nine with City's goal difference being comfortably superior.

Tottenham are now the targets for the Kop, with the London side having to face four of the top six teams in the remaining weeks.

It is worth remembering that victory for Liverpool against Spurs on May 15th would only leave them one win away from overhauling Harry Redknapp's men.

The race then is clearly back on. It may not be a sprint for fourth, but the Liverpool faithful are again rejuvenated. Europa League qualification is almost in their hands.

Who knows what could happen next season. You can't help but feel that it wont just be a case of Liverpool reacquiring the record of league triumphs they set to lose to Manchester United. It will not be that easy.

Yet at the same time, the starting point under Dalglish will be a much enhanced mouth-watering prospect.

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