In the final games of the season, Liverpool still have a chance to make it into the Champions League, but Newcastle has dashed those hopes.
After Thursday’s match between Newcastle United and Brighton, Liverpool’s path to making the Champions League for next season has become a little bit more obvious.
The Reds are only one point behind the top four teams in the Premier League, but with two games remaining, Jürgen Klopp’s team needed either one or both of Newcastle and Manchester United to lose.
Thursday appeared to offer one of the best opportunities for one of Newcastle’s slip-ups as they faced an impressive Brighton team before the weekend.
Deniz Undav’s own goal got Eddie Howe’s team started, and Dan Burn added a goal with a header to make it 2-0. After the break, Undav cut the deficit in half, but Callum Wilson and Bruno Guimares scored late goals to put the Magpies in position to finish in the top four.
Newcastle now only have two games left, compared to Liverpool’s two, and Manchester United’s three.
Aston Villa (H) and Southampton (A) are the two remaining games for Liverpool.
The remaining games for Manchester United are against Bournemouth (A), Chelsea (H), and Fulham (H).
Leicester City (H) and Chelsea (A) are Newcastle’s remaining games.
Liverpool must win both of their remaining games, of course, if they are to have any chance of placing in the top four. Their final two games are advantageous in that regard, though a difficult match at home against Aston Villa has been made a little more difficult by the recent revelation that Klopp will be banned from the sidelines.
But even if Newcastle and Manchester United win those two games, they will still have a firm grip on the top four spots.
Newcastle defeated Brighton, and with a win over Leicester on Monday, they can lock up a spot in the Champions League. You would have to assume that the Magpies have their seat at the top table in Europe all but booked given what Liverpool faced when they faced the Foxes.
So the Reds’ only realistic chance of catching Manchester United is now gone. On Saturday, both teams are in action at the same time, so some Liverpool supporters might keep an eye on what’s happening at Bournemouth while at Anfield.
With two home games remaining in the season, Erik ten Hag’s team does appear to have an easier schedule now that they have ensured their safety. However, you have to wonder how much of a threat Gary O’Neil’s team will pose to United.
The chances of Liverpool finishing in the top four don’t necessarily end with that. With an FA Cup final approaching, players’ thoughts may be shifting to Wembley, which could explain why United have played a little shakily lately.
However, as we head into the weekend, Liverpool’s chances of making the Champions League for the following season appear to be over. Everything hinges on Manchester United’s ability to maintain composure.