Much has been made about Liverpool’s chances of finishing fourth in the league and qualifying for next year’s Champion’s League. Seemingly, every time this is brought up it coincides with a good run of form the club is having; followed by a loss in a match that they were deemed favorites. First being humbled by Aston Villa at home by the score line of 1-3, Liverpool bounced back with a convincing 4-0 victory over Fulham only to be brought back to Earth with 3-1 loss to Stoke City at the Britannia.
Yet during this current run (3 wins, 1 loss, 2 ties), something feels different. Outside of the fact that Liverpool has yet to beat a top ten side this term, Liverpool has seemed to find some consistency. Compared to the first 25 matches last season, Liverpool has improved its’ goal scoring by over 43% (44 this season, compared to 27 last season). It is a breath of fresh air seeing a Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez, break the 20-goal mark in the season for the first time since Fernando Torres in the 2007-2008 season. For the first time since early October, Liverpool has not one, not two, but three senior strikers at their disposal. But with all these positives, can Liverpool close the gap and secure their place among Europe’s best teams?
It is a huge understatement to say that the race for a European place this year is tight. This year we see Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool all shooting for the 4th and 5th spots and with only 13 games left, we are about to enter the home stretch. Liverpool is currently experiencing a run of form that is definitely encouraging. Using the last 5 matches against remaining opponents, we can get a points per fixture against the last 13 opponents.
[table id=167 /]
From this data, we see that Liverpool is left with 57 points. If we interpret this data a little differently giving Liverpool 3 points for any value over 1.5, 1 point for a value that falls in range 1.5-1.0, and no points for values under 1.0, otherwise the “best case” scenario for Liverpool, we see them reach 59 points. On the flip side, if we change this to only give Liverpool 3 points for values over 2, 1 points for values that fall in the range of 1.9-1.4, and no points for values less than 1.4, that leaves Liverpool with 53 points. The average of these three is 56.4 and is shown visually on the graph below.
Although this is a slight improvement on the 52-point finish last year, the numbers are stacked against Liverpool. The ten-year average for 4th place in the English Premier League is 67.8 and 5th place is 62.5. Unfortunately this won’t cut it. When we look at how these teams have been grabbing points in the last 13 matches (looking ahead to the final 13), Tottenham is simply on fire and that will make it difficult for Liverpool to capture fourth.
This leaves fifth place for only one club between Everton, Arsenal, and Liverpool. With Everton and Arsenal having a 6 and 5-point lead, respectively, Liverpool may not capture a European place for next season. But is that the end of the world for Liverpool Football Club? Certainly not.
Brendan Rodgers was brought in as a long-term manager to implement his style on this team in the long run and an improvement over last term’s result will definitely be viewed in a positive light. So chin up Liverpool supporters, it may not happen this year, but the Champion’s League is the light at the end of the tunnel. And the light is getting brighter.