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Can Liverpool finish in the top four?
After the 3-0 defeat of Wigan at Anfield on Saturday, Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher claimed a top four finish for the club is a possibility.
“We are not too far behind the top four. It is still up for grabs”, Carra told Radio 5Live.
It was a good weekend for Brendan Rodgers’ side, whose form is improving and are now unbeaten in seven games, with rivals Everton and Tottenham suffering defeats.
It’s fair to assume that the top three spots will be occupied by the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea come the end of the season; leaving Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton, Newcastle and possibly Liverpool to battle it out for the lucrative fourth Champions League position.
What’s interesting is that Newcastle are now below Liverpool, already they are struggling to match last season’s impressive form. And despite Liverpool’s poor start to the season – not helped by their incredibly tough fixture schedule – they are just five points off the top ranked team of the five we’ve listed here (Everton).
Rodgers side are only four points behind Arsenal, and two behind last season’s occupiers of fourth – Spurs.
More encouraging is the current list of upcoming fixtures for Liverpool.
Next 9 Premier League games:
Swansea (a), Tottenham (a), Southampton (h), West Ham (a), Aston Villa (h), Fulham (h), Stoke (a), QPR (a), Sunderland (h).
Two tricky away games to begin with their, but a win over Spurs would take us above them already. There are then some very ‘winnable’ fixtures to follow over the tough winter schedule.
Of course, recent history shows that Liverpool’s failure to beat teams that they ‘should’ be beating has been their stumbling block, but if some consistency and momentum can be gathered the League table could look a whole lot different come the turn of the new year.
Should the club then make the right additions in the transfer market come January, there is no reason why a fourth place finish could not be achievable.
Another key factor in this will be the return to fitness of Lucas. The Brazilian is a hugely important player in the system and having him back fit and hopefully in-form should help defensively and also allow Joe Allen to operate in his preferred role slightly further forward in the midfield three.
While fourth place does look like a genuine possibility then, commenting on it should be kept aside until some of the above have happened; eg, a run of results, Lucas’ return, improving the squad.
It could all quite as easily go wrong (an injury to Suarez, failure to invest, Lucas not recovering) and we’re left with disappointment again.
It’s nice to have a little optimism at last, but for now, let’s just take it a game at a time.