Just when you think they are no longer in conflict, they bring you back.
Just a few days ago it looked like Liverpool were miles away from vying for Champions League places; now a ray of hope has opened. Leicester City’s shock home loss to Newcastle United has started to open things up. Then Leeds United beat Tottenham. And then Liverpool actually scored a second goal at Anfield – although much later than anyone would have liked – to kill the game against Southampton.
Things are still not quite in Liverpool’s favor. Jürgen Klopp’s men have 57 points heading into Sunday’s games, one point behind West Ham after having played the same number of games. Leicester are on 63 points after playing one more game and Chelsea, like the Foxes, having made 35 appearances, are on 64.
Take West Ham first. After facing Everton this afternoon – a huge game for both sides, and a game Liverpool need at least Everton not to lose – the Hammers have Brighton, West Brom and Southampton. All four are winnable games. And win them and West Ham will finish fourth.
Assuming Chelsea will be home and dry when it comes to Liverpool – they have a seven point lead after playing one more game – Leicester are the other side that is captureable. Their last three games are Manchester United, Chelsea (three days after playing them in the FA Cup final) and Tottenham. Difficult, yes. But things are not that simple. Manchester United will face Aston Villa today, then Leicester on Tuesday and Liverpool on Thursday – a frankly ridiculous schedule.
Nor is it a schedule that helps Liverpool. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will almost certainly make changes for Leicester’s game, prioritizing the Old Trafford clash against the Reds two days later. It would give Leicester an easier ride and force Liverpool to face a cooler Manchester United on Thursday.
At this point, winning all four of them is a must for Liverpool. They’ve only had a maximum of three consecutive league wins so far this season, but it will just take five – including last night’s win over Southampton – for them to achieve their only goal at from this moment.
Even ending the season with four more wins, bringing them to 69 points – three more points than Manchester United and Chelsea qualified for the Champions League last season – might not be enough, given that West Ham would end up with 70 points with four. other victories. .
Everton are also still in contention. If they beat West Ham this afternoon they would be two points behind Liverpool, with both sides having four games to play. But they still have Aston Villa, Wolves and Man City to play, plus Sheffield United – a trickier end to the campaign than most.
So Liverpool’s success this season will largely depend on what Manchester United does this week. They have to do their own job and can only focus on that, but if United could pull points away from Leicester and Liverpool can win on Thursday, that would shift the momentum of the top four in favor of the Reds with West Brom (A), Burnley. (A) and Crystal Palace (H) to play.
But given West Ham’s confrontation after today’s game with Everton at London Stadium, it’s just as much for the Toffees to put matters in the hands of Liverpool. If nothing else, that almost sums up this season: Liverpool fans, sometimes this week, must now cheer on Manchester United and Everton in order to achieve their goal.