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EPL: Do Liverpool Need to Beat Tottenham to Finish 5th?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 01:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool scores the third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool  and Newcastle United at Anfield on May 1, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIMay 8, 2011

Blackpool may go down this season after a valiant effort to subvert the stereotype of a newly promoted team falling straight back down. 

Liverpool fans will meet this event with a slight grin, after Blackpool became the only team currently to do the league double over them this season. 

Oddly now, it seems as if the Tangerines have done Liverpool a favour. By holding top-six side Tottenham, Blackpool have now given Liverpool easier access to the final Europa League spot.

A potential three-point deficit and challenge was avoided as both Liverpool and Spurs draw level on the number of games played. 

The bad news for Spurs is that their final three-game run-in is harsher than their Merseyside rivals. 

As such, you can ultimately ask yourself, do Liverpool actually need to defeat Spurs when the two sides meet in the penultimate game of the season?

Certainly the Anfield side cannot lose the tie. A Spurs win would increase the tally to four points more needed from Liverpool to overhaul Harry Redknapp's men. Game over for Liverpool in that scenario.

So would a draw surely suffice?

As long as Liverpool continue their impressive recent form and emerge from a tricky away tie to Fulham victorious, then the scene is set for a Manchester City and Tottenham tussle that will echo last seasons final game of the season.

On that occasion, Spurs got the better of City and in doing so claimed the final Champions League spot at the expense of the Manchester side. 

This season City may have bucked that trend and are looking comfortable in a top-four position. It is certain that revenge is playing in the back of their minds. By defeating Spurs they could effectively knock the London side out of Europe altogether.

The reason this rings true is a win for Liverpool over Fulham coupled with a loss for Spurs against City would leave the Anfield side two points ahead with two games remaining.With goal difference a definite advantage for Liverpool, this would effectively increase their lead to three points, meaning Spurs would need one more clear win than Liverpool to succeed in claiming fifth.

Again, this is provided Liverpool fulfil their requirements of completing the double over Aston Villa on the final day of the season. Form suggests they will. 

For sure, football is a game at the end of the day that can be unpredictable. There is nothing to say Liverpool could not just implode and destroy a remarkable resurgence by losing all three of their remaining games.

But the momentum is with them and Spurs face the difficult task of rescuing their own Europa League aspirations. Only a victory for them against Liverpool will be enough to quash their worries. If not then they will most certainly need a ha-trick of points against Manchester City to achieve their goal. 

In their reverse tie against Liverpool, Spurs did emerge victorious with a 2-1 home win against a side in rapid decline under the misguided management of Roy Hodgson. That game was heading for a draw until an injury time match winner from Aaron Lennon struck a further blow to Liverpool's disastrous opening. 

But with Gareth Bale and his team dramatically out of form, Spurs now do not epitomise the formidable opponents they had become last season. 

Opposingly, Liverpool have the powers of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll to attack Tottenham's defence. Who is to say they will not net at least two or three goals against their fifth placed challengers. They have of course scored eight in their last two league games. 

Even if they draw against Fulham they could still get away with a draw against Spurs if the London side fail to gain any sort of result against Manchester City. 

The main two fixtures that will determine the outcome of the final Europa League spot will be Tottenham's games against Manchester City and Liverpool. At least one win will be required, and as such, it is now more in their hands as to who will finish the season with the final Europa League spot. 

For Liverpool however, three wins out of three would make it impossible for them to lose fifth. 

Let the battle commence.  

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