Having seen their form getting back on track with a 3rd successive win away from home, Brendan Rodgers was seen confident as he boasted about his team’s chances of being in the top 4 come end of May. With Sturridge returning anytime soon and Steven Gerrard doing his best to finish his Liverpool career on a high, there is a normal belief amongst the Reds’ fans that they will be in the top 4 come end of May.
However, breaking the stereotypes, here are 5 reasons why Liverpool won’t be in the top 4 this season despite all their recent form: –
Daniel Sturridge injury problems
Even though Daniel Sturridge will be returning anytime closer before the end of this month, the recent injury record of the Englishman should have forced Liverpool to strengthen their strike force by spending money available in the bank.
However, with all his recent tactics that have brought Liverpool to contention once again, Brendan Rodgers seem ignorant of the issue that encapsulated the team for the 1st 6 months of this season.
Apart from Daniel Sturridge, all the other 3 strikers have managed a combined 3 goals for the Reds this season
And even if the Northern Irishman wants to spend, the lack of confidence of the Liverpool owners will not allow him to go again in January looking for new and costly recruits. And with all the other three Liverpool strikers managing a total of 3 goals this season, the burden might be to big for Daniel Sturridge alone.
Thus, with the injury record of Daniel Sturridge catalyzed by the presence of out-of-form other 3 strikers, top 4 seems a distant memory for the reds.
Big match mentality
Looking at his winning percentage against the bottom teams in the league, Brendan Rodgers has left behind the likes of Rafael Benitez and Kenny Dalglish in this aspect. However, looking at his winning percentage against the big teams this season, Liverpool are in for a tough battle come the last 4 months of this season.
In 6 matches against the top 7 sides of last season, the Reds have managed just 5 points out of a possible 18.
Looking at their form against the top 7 of last season, the Reds have managed 5 points from a possible 18 in this prospect with a win at White Hart Lane to be a high point of their season so far. With a 3-0 defeat away at Manchester United to a 3-1 defeat at the Etihad followed by a 2-1 hiding by Chelsea at home, Brendan Rodgers’ men have seemed as incapable as any team of handling the pressure of big games so far.
And with the business end of the season approaching with fixtures away at the Emirates and Stamford Bridge awaiting Liverpool’s path, the 5-time European Champions don’t seem well equipped to go for a fight.
Un-characteristic rise of Southampton
For more than 5 years now, the fight for top 4 was somewhat conventional as teams like Arsenal, Liverpool and to some extent, Everton fighting for a glory with Manchester United making a guest appearance last season.
However, with the rise of Southampton that seems so pleasing to the eye for a neutral, this might serve as to be a nightmare for Liverpool if the Saints continue to march on the road of glory like this. While Southampton are obviously the top contenders as evident from the Premier League table for a top 4 spot, there are five other teams that are also hoping to get some piece of cake come end of May.
5 teams for the fourth spot
One of the teams aspiring for a top 4 finish is Tottenham who has been as confident as in the last 5 seasons for a top 4 finish. With Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane leading the Spurs under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs might be a surprise entry into the English elite this season.
One of the many teams that are also in the hunt are West Ham and their credentials are to be severely tested next weekend at the Anfield. However with the way they surprised the Anfield outfit in the last fixture between the sides with a 3-1 win, the Hammers have the ability to surprise.
Thus, with the battle of top 4 as heated as it ever has been, the Reds might fell short in their quest of a back to back Champions League place.
Defensive monsters haven’t gone away
Even though Liverpool’s defense is a topic that has been debated many a time already this season, the defensive monsters are still waiting in the shadows for the Liverpool defenders to make a mistake.
And with a 3-5-2 formation that allows only 3 of them to back the keeper with a sweeper in shape of a defensive midfielder, Liverpool’s defense would be tested severely in the big matches to come and with Europa League posing a distraction, the reds may again fell off the track in the coming months.