Liverpool’s remarkable 7-0 victory over Manchester United last weekend sparked renewed hope that the Reds could salvage something from what has been a disappointing season.
The Reds went into the campaign as one of the favourites to win the Premier League, but they have failed miserably to live up to expectations. With several key players underperforming and injuries not helping their cause, Liverpool were widely tipped to miss out on Champions League qualification.
However, the demolition job on United left Jurgen Klopp’s side three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand. The bookmakers reacted to the latest development by cutting Liverpool’s odds to finish in the top four, ranking them as favourites ahead of Tottenham.
With betting sites like Hopa being considered one of the best for Premier League betting, plenty of punters will likely take advantage of the odds of 1.90 they are offering on the Reds to finish fourth. While the bookies fancy Liverpool to overhaul Tottenham on the run-in, not everyone is backing them to achieve the feat.
Despite revelling in the team’s performance against United, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has tipped them to miss out on the Champions League. Carragher cited Tottenham’s easier run of remaining fixtures as the primary reason why the London club will hang onto fourth spot this season.
Closer analysis of the fixture list suggest Carragher may not have delved too deeply into each club’s schedule over the final third of the campaign. Liverpool still have to face Manchester City (A), Chelsea (A) and Arsenal (H) in their remaining fixtures, which suggests they have the tougher run-in.
However, Tottenham have plenty of tricky games to come including Brighton & Hove Albion (H), Newcastle United (A) and Manchester United (H). Both teams also each have seven games against teams in the bottom half of the table, all of which have the potential to be tough given their opponents are battling to survive.
With there likely to be plenty of twists and turns over the coming weeks, the crucial game could be the meeting between Liverpool and Tottenham at Anfield on April 30. The Reds have an impressive recent record against the London side, winning eight and drawing three of their last 11 meetings.
Tottenham’s last league victory over Liverpool was a 4-1 home win in October 2017 and they haven’t triumphed at Anfield since a 2-0 success in May 2011.
You have to go all the way back to August 1993 to find the only other time Tottenham have recorded a Premier League victory at Liverpool. Despite struggling for form before the World Cup break, Liverpool still found time to defeat Tottenham 2-1 in the reverse fixture.
They showed glimpses of their renowned fighting spirit during the early part of the game, racing into a two-goal lead courtesy of Mohamed Salah’s double. Tottenham fought back after the break and halved the deficit through Harry Kane in the 70th minute. They should have snatched a point but came up short. The result demonstrated that Tottenham appear to have a mental block where Liverpool are concerned and that factor could be the difference as the season unfolds.
If Liverpool can stay in touch with Antonio Conte’s side over the next few weeks, the clash at the end of April may be the determining factor in the top four race. Tottenham demonstrated their inability to handle pressure as recently as last weekend, when they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers.
They created plenty of chances during the game but were unable to break down a Wolves side that refused to lie down as they battle to beat the drop. The result highlighted that Tottenham will not find it easy against other struggling teams, making a mockery of them having a supposedly easier run-in.
With Liverpool unlikely to win the Champions League after being mauled by Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 tie, their only hope of qualifying for next season’s competition is via their league position. A quick look at Liverpool’s impressive run at the end of the 2020/21 season highlights why the top four is not beyond them this term.
They won eight and drew two of their final ten matches to secure an unlikely third-place finish behind Manchester City and Man United. With key players rediscovering their form and others returning from injury, Liverpool are perfectly capable of forcing their way into the top four.
Catching Man United for third place is not beyond the realms of possibility, particularly if the Red Devils suffer a hangover from Sunday’s defeat at Anfield. While ending the season without any silverware would be disappointing, securing Champions League qualification would be a reasonable consolation prize for Liverpool.