Is the Top Four Dream Gone for Liverpool?
Mission Impossible just got a lot less possible; perhaps now to the extent that Liverpool’s race has been well and truly run. Run and lost.
Defeats to key rivals Arsenal and Manchester United in consecutive fixtures were both bitter blows that Rodgers would have been desperate to avoid. To further the effect, both hits were landed at a time when it looked like Liverpool had managed to pull themselves up off the canvas.
But wait. Was it not so long ago the reds were dishing out the hits, providing knockout blows to all who they faced? Whilst that is of course true, many would be quick to point out that it is now a full year since the most notable destructions of Arsenal and Everton at Anfield. Forget them, they’re in the past; this would be the attitude of many fans looking at those games, particularly looking at Liverpool’s current position. This attitude is of course correct, as dwelling on past results doesn’t help anybody.
But analysing what followed may well make all the difference.
Taking the Arsenal game from last season as a starting point, the evidence does not look promising for Rodgers and his side. The Arsenal who lost that day in February went on to slide down the table with precarious pace, managing to only just come to a halt within the top 4. To reiterate, after a defeat (that was not dissimilar to what they inflicted upon Liverpool at the weekend) they lost their form and looked a shadow of what they had been earlier on in the season. Looking at that, one can only really see bleak days ahead on Merseyside.
Bleak would be a fairly accurate way of describing football on both sides of Merseyside this season, with the Blues struggling for form even more so than the Reds. However, Everton may offer a faint glimmer of hope.
It would take a depressed Liverpool fan to fail to crack a smile thinking of the 4-0 demolition of Everton last year; but there may be one more reason that brings hope to the Anfield faithful one year on. Following a crushing defeat Everton were left in 5th position as the Reds are now, and they too were in a position where only the most optimistic amongst them dreamt of the Champions League. At this point it is important to remember that I am clutching at perhaps the very last straw: Everton did manage to fight back following their defeat. I am aware they of course did not make it in the end, but they managed to get themselves in a fight that could well have gone the other way.
All it would have taken would have been holding on against Manchester City at home.
That’s gone now though, and Liverpool are now in a more dire position than their rivals were last season. 8 points adrift with only 7 games remaining and it would appear that almost all hope has now faded over the horizon regardless how many comparisons can be drawn with last season. What perhaps hurts the most for Liverpool fans is how close it appeared to be; after months of relentless wins it seemed Liverpool weren’t far from earning salvation from the wilderness of the Europa League places. It appears such salvation was merely a mirage, which has since been shattered by the harsh reality of the situation.
Then again, Liverpool never tend to do things the easy way; and I am certainly not the first to say that. Furthermore, I certainly won’t be alone in dreaming of Liverpool still making Europe’s elite next year. Nevertheless, I can’t help but think that’s all it will ever be from here on in: a dream. But is that not what Liverpool do best?
Make us dream.