The race for the top 4 will go to the end with some big clubs likely to drop out
An impressive win at Old Trafford, a defeat for Chelsea and, at least on paper, a cheap enema. It looks good for Liverpool at the moment when it comes to a top four result.
In the remaining Liverpool games they face three teams with nothing to play for. They have to be relegated to West Brom on Sunday before heading to Burnley on May 19 and hosting Crystal Palace in their final game on May 23.
Is Jürgen Klopp’s team with Chelsea and Leicester – two teams currently ahead of the Reds – both not yet played against each other, now on pole position to secure a place in the Champions League?
“We have to win all of our games”
Although Liverpool are four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, Liverpool now know if they will qualify for the Champions League next season if they win all games – and improve Leicester’s goal difference advantage of one.
This is because it is now impossible for top 4 rivals Leicester and Chelsea to score more than 69 points, Liverpool’s maximum potential as their two top 4 rivals play against each other on Tuesday.
It sounds easy to win against three teams whose sanity is more likely in the summer break after a long and intense season, but Klopp knows that this is easier said than done.
“We have really tough games ahead of us,” he said.
“West Brom will be completely free from any pressure that can do strange things. Burnley with his supporters is a tough one and we’ll see what we have to do against Crystal Palace.”
“We have to win all games, so the draws against Newcastle and Leeds felt like losing. Qualifying for the Champions League is a big thing. Two or three years ago that was our life.”
“More twists and turns to come”
Former England winger Chris Waddle was at Old Trafford for BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday and believes the Manchester United win will make Liverpool favorites to finish in the top four.
“This will give them so much confidence in the three games and they will think they can win them,” he said.
“I’ll be very surprised if they don’t. With the quality they have on the field and the bank, they have enough to win these three games.”
Former Liverpool midfielder Don Hutchison said the game between Chelsea, who are fourth, and third-placed Leicester on May 18th will be key.
“I think Liverpool will watch the next two games from Chelsea and Leicester,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Leicester’s next two are Chelsea and Spurs and they are difficult games. I think there are more twists and turns to come.”
How is Liverpool’s form compared to the other teams on the hunt?
Current form: WWDLW
Injured players: Harvey Barnes (knee), Jonny Evans (ankle), James Justin (knee), Wes Morgan (back)
Remaining games – home game in international matches (with current position of the opponent): Chelsea (4th), TOTTENHAM (7th)
With Leicester’s 2-1 win at Manchester United on Tuesday, the Foxes are in a great position to qualify for only a second time after winning their shocking Premier League title in the previous 2016 season / 17 reached the quarter-finals.
The Foxes spent most of last season in the top four before being excruciatingly eliminated with two games to go. You need a maximum of four points from the last two games to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.
Man Utd 1-2 Leicester City: Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers is proud of his players
Brendan Rodgers’ side also have an FA Cup final against Chelsea in focus and it could be a double celebration at King Power Stadium this year.
Current form: DOUBLE
Injured players: Andreas Christensen (thigh), Mateo Kovacic (thigh)
Remaining games – home game in international matches (with current position of the opponent): LEICESTER (3rd), Aston Villa (11th)
Chelsea are in great shape to secure a spot in next season’s Champions League. There are still two routes left: a place in the top four or beating Manchester City in the final to win this season’s competition.
That this is the case is due to their improvement and great form as Thomas Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard, who was fired with the ninth blues in the table in January.
Man City 1-2 Chelsea: The players never stopped believing – Thomas Tuchel
Since then, they have won 10 out of 17 league games, although Wednesday’s home defeat to Arsenal will give West Ham and Liverpool hope they could still sneak into the top 4.
The Blues are six points ahead of the Hammers, who have a game in hand, and four points ahead of Liverpool, who have a game in hand. Chelsea remain in the driver’s seat but their position could have been far more comfortable had they beaten the Gunners.
Current form: WDDWW
Injured players: Ben Davies (muscle), Virgil van Dijk (knee), Joe Gomez (knee), Jordan Henderson (hip), Caoimhin Kelleher (stomach), Naby Keita (knock), Joel Matip (ankle), James Milner (knock), Divock Origi (muscle)
Remaining games – home game in international matches (with current position of the opponent): West Brom (19th), Burnley (15th), CRYSTAL PALACE (13th)
Liverpool ended their best Premier League season with a horror show on their own terms.
They were not helped by injuries, particularly in defense, as Lynchpin Virgil van Dijk and his regular partner Joe Gomez went missing for much of the campaign.
You have to fill a four-point gap if you want a chance at the top four, but there are elements that speak for you.
Their form has been picking up lately – they are unbeaten in eight league games – they have a game against many of their rivals and their remaining games are cheap.
Current form: WLLWL
Injured players: Arthur Masuaku (knee), Mark Noble (calf), Angelo Ogbonna (thigh), Declan Rice (knee)
Remaining games – home game in international matches (with current position of the opponent): Brighton (17th), West Brom (19th), SOUTHAMPTON (14th)
The surprise package of the top 4 race. After finishing 16th last season, few had imagined that West Ham would have to push for a place in the Champions League. But they have to push.
They may run out of breath at the worst, however, and Sunday’s home defeat to Everton – shortly after losing to Newcastle and Chelsea – is a heavy blow to their hopes.
They have cheap games – certainly more than Leicester – and influential midfielder Declan Rice is reportedly close to returning.
But it now looks like the Europa League is a more realistic goal, which would be a huge step forward.
Current form: LDWWL
Injured players: Ben Davies (calf)
Remaining games – home game in international matches (with current position of the opponent): WOLVES (12th), WEST BROM (19th), Leicester (3rd)
Now we come to the real outsiders.
Tottenham’s Leeds defeat on Saturday was a blow to their top four hopes. Ryan Mason’s side had to win their last three games and then hope the teams above them lose points.
Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham: Mason disagrees with Kane’s offside decision in case of loss
Their only salvation is that they have a relatively clean health certificate on their roster and they face the foxes on the last day. Your race will likely be held by then, however.
Second in the Champions League two seasons ago, Spurs could end up in the Europa League again or in Uefa’s new third division tournament, the Conference League, or miss European football entirely.
If that latter option were to materialize, next season would be Tottenham’s first season without continental football since 2009-10.
Current form: DWLWD
Injured players: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (knee), James Rodriguez (calf)
Remaining games – home game in international matches (with current position of the opponent): SHEFFIELD UNITED (20th), WOLVES (12th), Manchester City (1st)
Just when we all thought they were absolutely out, they back off.
Losing at West Ham would have put an end to Everton’s top four hopes, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s winner held her by her fingernails.
However, a draw at Aston Villa means they now likely have to win all of the remaining games.