Europa League vs Premier League: Which offers Liverpool best chance of Champions League qualification?

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With the winners of this year’s Europa league getting a place in next year’s Champions League there is increased incentive for teams to take it seriously. But should Liverpool prioritise it over the Premier League?

05.12.2012, Stadio Friuli, Udine, ITA, UEFA EL, Udinese Calcio vs FC Liverpool, Gruppe A, Training, FC Liverpool, im Bild Schriftzug "UEFA Europa League", steht die zweithoechste Spielklasse der UEFa vor dem aus? // Banner "UEFA Europa League", is the second highest division of UEFA out before? during Training of Liverpool FC before the UEFA Europa League group A match between Udinese Calcio and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Friuli, Udinese, Italy on 2012/12/05. EXPA Pictures © 2012, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ Juergen Feichter

The league has always been described as Liverpool’s priority; the bread and butter. A place in the top four brings with it a place in the Champions league which means increased revenues, more attractive games and, of course, increases the chances of bringing in higher calibre players – and therefore more success thereafter.

Liverpool currently sit in seventh in the Premier League, four points off fourth with 13 games left to play, most definitely not out of the race. However, the Reds will have to finish above three of Southampton, Man United, Arsenal and Tottenham – four teams who are also in good form and don’t look like dropping out of the race any time soon.

Liverpool also look likely to have more games to play from now until the end of the season. Man United and Southampton have no European commitments, while Arsenal will likely have less in the Champions League than Europa League. Tottenham, like Liverpool have the Europa League to contend with but are out of the FA Cup).

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 31, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Tottenham Hotspur's manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

So should Liverpool look to focus on the Europa League?

The main question to ask is whether Champions League qualification is more likely via the Europa League, or Premier League. Betting companies see the chances of qualification being around twice as likely through the Premier League than Europa League for Liverpool. Many of Liverpool’s players have very limited experience of playing in Europe for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers has only managed two seasons worth of European football (including this one).

But with the team coming into form, and the recent return of Daniel Sturridge from injury, perhaps Liverpool can go on to win their fourth UEFA Cup/Europa League and become the outright most successful club in the competition’s history.

Another point to consider is that the further the team goes in Europe the better the team’s UEFA coefficient will be. LFC are currently languishing in 42nd position, behind the likes of Sporting Braga and AZ Alkmaar, a good run will benefit the team in the long term without doubt.

With the large number of games coming up for Liverpool, Rodgers will have to decide what competition is most important to the club. Our next four games – Besiktas, Southampton, Besiktas and Man City – are all in the space of 10 days. A likely indicator of Rodgers’ feelings will be the playing time of Sturridge and other players who need to be protected for the business end of the season.

Personally I feel that we should prioritise the cups, I don’t believe, due to the reasons I described earlier, we will finish in the top four this year.

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A cup would help the club to breed a winning mentality and how nice would it be for Gerrard’s final game to be a trophy winning one. But that’s just my opinion, let us know yours in the comments below.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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