Liverpool still harbour hopes of finishing in the top four, but simply winning their final four games will not be enough to clinch a place in next season’s Champions League.
Speaking after the Reds’ 2-0 victory over Southampton on Saturday night, Jurgen Klopp outlined his belief that if they manage to pick up 12 points from their remaining four fixtures, a top-four place would be theirs.
That came after defeats for Leicester and Tottenham earlier in the weekend, and though Chelsea had pulled ahead into third with a 2-1 win at Man City, West Ham then failed to pick up any points against Everton on Sunday.
It is another big development in a rollercoaster season for Liverpool, despite every passing round of fixtures edging City closer to their title, and it sets up the run-in as an unmissable one.
Liverpool’s top-four hopes
There is still a strong chance of the Reds finishing in the Europa League spots, with fifth and sixth reserved for Europe’s second-tier tournament, but three wins from the next four will guarantee they miss out on the new UEFA Conference League.
Hopeful sights are now set on a continued run in the Champions League instead, with Liverpool in with a chance of making it a fifth campaign in a row dining at the top table.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are in control, and after overcoming City at the Etihad – leapfrogging Leicester in the process – they are now favourites to finish third.
It would take just two wins from their final three games to pull away from Liverpool entirely, though it should be noted that this would require picking up a win from Leicester.
Chelsea can still lose or draw to the Foxes and guarantee a finish above the Reds, provided they beat both Arsenal and Villa – but with an FA Cup final and Champions League final to also prepare for, is a slip-up possible?
Leicester have by far the toughest run-in of the top-four chasers, and their form and fixtures are the main source of hope for Liverpool.
Sunday saw them hand Liverpool another advantage as they were defeated 1-0 at home to Everton, which means their highest possible points total is 67 – two fewer than the Reds, if they win all of their games.
Having played a game more than Liverpool, it is now out of their hands.
The best-case scenario
- Liverpool need to win all 4 games to give themselves best chance
- Chelsea vs. Leicester on May 18 guarantees dropped points
- West Ham now against the odds, a point above LFC having played a game more
- Reds could still finish fourth without winning all 4 – if others drop more points
It is a given that Liverpool will need to win all four of their games to remain in the hunt for a Champions League place, but they will also need at least one of their rivals to slip up.
With Chelsea expected to pick up at least six points from a possible nine, Liverpool would benefit from the Blues beating Leicester, while West Ham face the prospect of further points dropped against Brighton, West Brom and Southampton.
At this point, all Klopp and his players will be focusing on – and rightly so – is picking up 12 more points between now and the season’s end.
However, this would bring them to five league victories in a row, which is a feat not produced since pre-pandemic, when they won 18 on the spin between October and February.