Having won back-to-back away games against Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, Liverpool would have headed into the match against Crystal Palace last weekend with confidence. With Palace struggling for survival in the English top flight and the game being played at Anfield, Liverpool fans would have expected maximum points. The Reds took the lead through Philippe Coutinho in the 24th minute, but ultimately conceded twice thereafter to go down 2-1. Christian Benteke came back to haunt his former club, as he scored both goals for the Eagles. Jurgen Klopp’s side are still in the top four, but having played more matches than Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, the Reds could drop out of the Champions League places in the coming weeks.
A quick glance at Liverpool’s remaining fixtures in the Premier League would suggest that they are capable of winning them all. Watford (away), Southampton (home), West Ham United (away) and Middlesbrough (home) are the final four opponents for the Reds. Watford’s season is virtually over; the Hornets are not going to get relegated and have nothing to play for. Southampton are in a similar situation, while West Ham should pull away further from danger over the next two or so weeks. As for Middlesbrough, by the time Liverpool face them at Anfield on the final day of the season, the North East club could also have been relegated to the Championship.
The problem with Liverpool is that they tend to struggle against teams in the bottom half of the table. While the Reds have a stunning record against the top six teams in the Premier League – they have not lost any of their games against those sides – they appear to fare poorly against teams they should beat comfortably. Jurgen Klopp’s side lost to Swansea City 3-2 at Anfield in January and 2-0 to Hull City away from home in February. The Reds narrowly got the better of Burnley at home in March and dropped two points against Bournemouth earlier this month.
Four Cup Finals
Liverpool are on track to finish above Man United in the Premier League table this season. The Reds are just 4/9 with 888sport to end up above Jose Mourinho’s side, whose chances of having a better season than Liverpool are 6/4. Given that the Reds are three points ahead of the Red Devils and have a much easier run-in, the odds do make sense, but the problem is
that Liverpool are capable of self-destruction. With games against Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to come, United could well finish below Liverpool, but Klopp’s team simply cannot afford to drop points between now and the end of the season.
If Arsenal win their remaining games in hand, then they will end up level on 66 points with Liverpool. This means that the players at Anfield have to step up their game and treat each of their last four league games as cup finals. What started as a very promising campaign is threatening to blow up in smoke. The Kop faithful will be hugely disappointed if there is no Champions League football next season.