In the midst of all the King Kenny hysteria, is there room for some balanced dissent? The season might well be saved and thankfully so, but is it really full steam ahead for the Champions League? Do Liverpool really need the extra gruelling games of the Europa?
While the January signings will provide the dressing room with a morale boost and the team with a more positive goal difference, the quest for the Champions League is a doomed one. The defeat of Chelsea has kept any faint hopes alive but it is has come too late to affect the final outcome. Sixth, definitely. Fifth, Maybe. Fourth, never.
Crippling Away Form
Liverpool has been simply abysmal away from Anfield with fans feeling like they have been dragged through Dante’s nine circles of hell rather than every corner of the country.
With a paltry 11 points collected on the road so far – equalled by relegation battlers Birmingham, Wigan and West Ham – Liverpool have suffocated any hope of qualifying for the Champions League.
With Arsenal adding to an ominous away schedule which provides similarly challenging trips to Sunderland and Villa, it’s hard to see where any respite will come from. At the time of writing Man City have double the amount of away points amassed by Liverpool and arsenal even more. Travel sickness is not synonymous with the elite.
As the old football truism goes: you build from the back. Unfortunately Liverpool has failed to heed the warning as a porous defence has cost them dearly. All of the top five have proven harder to penetrate – evident in the fact that they have conceded less goals.
Jamie Carragher has cut a forlorn figure at the heart of defence in recent years and looks to be on the decline. Sporadic form is no foundation and Carragher can hardly be described as a consistent performer; the complete antithesis of the man and the footballer but an insidious hint that retirement looms near.
This has been exacerbated by the limited defensive capabilities of Glen Johnson; the somewhat erratic displays of Kyrgiakos, even if he has shown some improvement; and below par performances from Skrtel.
Whilst the recent signings of Carroll and Suarez may provide the antidote to Liverpool’s ailing front line an ever widening chasm has stood between The Reds and their natural habitat, the top four. All four teams currently residing in the Champions League places have scored more goals – Man United and Arsenal a telling 20 goals better off.
Only by purchasing Carroll has Liverpool obtained a presence at the top of the goal-scoring charts – even if all of his 11 goals were scored whilst playing for Newcastle. Astonishingly, with Torres now at Chelsea, this is the only Liverpool player within the top 40 goal-scorers: Gerrard, Meireles and Kuyt have four goals apiece.
Man United, Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea are virtually a point better off due to having a vastly superior goal difference. With City’s being the worst out of the four at 20, this still leaves Liverpool a daunting 17 goals worse off.
With the scrap for fourth place becoming tighter than it ever has been in the past two years every factor comes into play. Even if Liverpool did manage to miraculously close the gap the pressure is on them to overhaul the teams above them, with the aforementioned four a little more comfortable in the knowledge that Liverpool not only have to match their points total but beat it.
A Points Gap too Far
Six points behind fourth placed Chelsea having played a game more may seem manageable but this is a monumental challenge when the prey is Chelsea. If The Blue’s find themselves nine points ahead with games rapidly dwindling the psychological battle would shift totally in Chelsea’s favour. This is without taking into account their other rivals for fourth place, Spurs, who sit six points ahead and will provide aggressive competition.
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