After the top four changes, Arsenal give Liverpool hope in the Champions League battle

Liverpool still have a difficult road ahead of them to reach the Champions League, but there is reason to believe they can make a remarkable comeback.

They simply couldn’t, could they?

Due to the underwhelming nature of much of Liverpool’s season, the only time they have been in the top four was way back after their opening draw at Fulham. However, that was only due to the fact that it was only the second Premier League game of the entire season, with Arsenal having won at Crystal Palace the night before.

The Reds’ struggles have since been highlighted by their league standing this season, which has seen them drop to 16th after their first three games and then climb back to fifth a few weeks later. They also flitted around the top half of the standings for much of the first half of the season before falling to 10th in early February following the appalling 3-0 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Jurgen Klopp’s team was still floundering in eighth place even after defeating Leeds United 6-1 last month. However, Liverpool have now revived hopes of Champions League qualification that seemed a pipedream just a few weeks ago after that record-breaking victory at Elland Road sparked a run of six straight victories.

It will still be a difficult task, of course. Both Newcastle United, who are in third place with 65 points, and Manchester United, who are in fourth place with 63 points but have one more game remaining, are still in contention.

Aston Villa’s visit to Liverpool is sandwiched between trips to relegation-threatened Leicester City and Southampton. Although all three of Liverpool’s remaining games are winnable, the Reds almost certainly need all possible points to have any chance of finishing in the top four.

After the top four changes, Arsenal give Liverpool hope in the Champions League battle

However, their main competitors are somewhat stumbling as they near the finish line. Newcastle have lost two of their last five games, and United have dropped a staggering 16 points in their last nine Premier League games, including losses last week at Brighton and West Ham United.

While Newcastle have more difficult assignments against struggling Leeds and Leicester as well as a home game against Europe-chasing Brighton, who themselves were in the hunt for the top four until Monday’s appalling 5-1 home loss to Everton, United unquestionably have the easier run-in because none of their remaining four games are against teams with much to play for, and three are at home.

Liverpool, however, can draw encouragement from recent events, as teams have successfully closed gaps in the last three games to finish in the Champions League qualification berths.

Tottenham Hotspur, who were four points behind Arsenal in fourth place with three games remaining last season, were in a situation akin to the Reds’ this season. The next game saw Spurs defeat their neighbors 3-0, so there was obviously some element of control. However, in order for Tottenham to qualify for the Champions League, they needed to defeat Burnley at home and Norwich City on the road. It was still necessary for the Gunners to lose their penultimate match at Newcastle.

The teams above them were brought in by Liverpool the year before. The Reds, who have a game in hand, are currently in sixth place, behind their close rivals West Ham (58 points), Leicester (63 points), and Chelsea (64 points), who have three games left.

In order to surpass the Hammers, Klopp’s team won its final four matches, while Chelsea and Leicester dropped two of their final three. Liverpool came in third place overall.

Prior to Manchester United passing Leicester City in a shootout on the final day of the season to move up to fourth place in 2020, there have been few instances of a late arrival into the Champions League spots. The most notable of these was probably Arsenal passing Tottenham in 2006 after the Spurs team contracted food poisoning before their final-day loss to West Ham. And in 1997, on the final day, Liverpool infamously drew at Sheffield Wednesday, dropping from second to fourth when only the top three teams qualified for the Champions League.

Their chances of placing in the top four may be extremely slim. But Liverpool are more aware than most that qualifying for Europe’s top competition isn’t always as easy as it should be in the final few weeks of the season.

Igbo Kennedy

Igbo Kennedy

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