Considering that even Tottenham Hotspur are not mathematically safe from relegation is something that virtually sums up a fantastic season of Premier League football that we have had so far. But things are not looking quite done yet for the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool as they continue their never-ending battle of securing a Champions League spot for next season.
Ever since the Arabians took over the throne at Eastlands, success in Europe has been their ultimate priority as they lavishly invested millions on new acquisitions in a bid to transform City into a global European powerhouse.
The impact of that spending has virtually made some real positive impact to be frank when it comes to City's improvement in the league standings. However, things are not quite done yet for Roberto Mancini and his team as they still face a tough fight in the ongoing battle for European spots.
In terms of Liverpool, revitalization has been the only thing on their mind ever since King Kenny was appointed. The lack of vision under Rafael Benitez and the 'unexplainable' poor performances under Roy Hodgson placed Liverpool in a delicate position in the past two seasons and when Dalglish came back, there was literally nothing about Europe or Champions League in their agenda.
Regardless of their initial aspirations during Kenny's early days in his second stint at the club, some very impressive performances with the addition of marvelous signings have seen the Reds re-affirm their status as contenders for European spots. Howbeit, the season is not over yet for Liverpool as they still remain glued to a very fragile position that could even see them miss out on any European spot altogether if things do not go according to their plan.
If ever there was clue on the emphasis on Europe at Anfield, it was certainly administered by Ian Ayre who is the Managing Director of Liverpool Football Club. There were many substantial information in his comments but the one that stood out was his belief regarding John Henry's aim in building a strong foundation.
Foundation is something that has been disregarded in Liverpool's dictionary during the reign of the previous ownership. The back-up plans at Anfield lacked stability and stats prove that they tend to falter when it all mattered.
Nevertheless, Ayre also hinted on the amount of losses they could experience in their revenues if they fail to qualify for Europe this season. He said: "There's no hiding from the fact that if you don't participate in European football, then it is a big hit to your revenues."
Well, lets have a simple look at Spurs. Last week, they announced a 49 percent increase in their revenue since they qualified into the Champions League. From £53.3 Million at this time last year, they have set new heights this season with a staggering increase to £79.8 million.
While Ayre did concede that the rebuilding process will not be an overnight one, these hintful comments might have been indirectly targeted to the coaching staff an Anfield. Dalglish must be aware that even though John Henry's project has been designed to be able to survive and prosper without European football, expectations are high within the club and nothing less than a spot in Europe for next season will be accepted if the KOP legend is to stay at the club.
A little closer inspection into the Premier League table and we will see some very dainty statistics that could prove to be the last laugh for Kenny Dalglish's men. Here is portion of the standings, from the third position to the eighth position as ESPN Soccernet's website shows it:
With only nine games remaining in the Premier League, a gap of 15 points between the 3rd placed Chelsea and the 8th placed Bolton is rather a cause for concern when it comes to the clubs in between it. Even worse, the Reds are perfectly placed for a bizarre conflict to occur for the long-suffering KOP fans.
Three points behind a Champions League spot would sound rather appeasing for anyone at Anfield but to reflect that they are only 2 points away from missing out on Europe altogether is probably abhorrent for the Liverpoolians to digest. If they falter against City, then the Champions League completely goes out of equation but believe us when we say that if the Reds come out triumphant tomorrow, who knows? Suarez and Andy Carroll might even be going against Carles Puyol or even Pepe next season.
Whence, the already intensified match against Manchester City becomes even more pivotal for the Reds as the season reaches it's peak stage. Anyhow, there is a point to remember here. A City win at Anfield would not only blow the Red's Champions League hopes, but it could also result in a dramatic change in momentum for them that could even see Dalglish's men drop out of the Europa League spots as well.
Both sets of troops from Anfield and Eastlands have something to attest as they battle out for that coveted spot in Europe. This demanding clash at Merseyside tomorrow represents a huge message to the world out there. In truth, the team that wins would release a huge statement regarding their obvious intent to compete among the best in Europe next season. And it is this simple and pure fact that makes the clash and all-more-interesting one.
Luck could certainly be counted in football when Liverpool come into the picture. In better words, what can possibly go wrong when a deflated team is brought back to life through exaltation by a former legend of the club itself. And when all hopes on European spots seemed to be vanquishing, King Kenny's arrival pushes them into sudden eminence with a battling process of recrudescence. Well, basically Steven Gerrard's injury has come at the wrong time for a right Liverpool team.
The latter has pretty much been the heart beat of the team and despite Joey Barton's claims over him being the best midfielder in England, not even a mosquito would argue Gerrard's superiority over the widely-controversial Barton. Nevertheless, Dalglish admitted his devastation upon hearing the news but he was equally optimistic about the ability of his side to cope without their major talisman.
"It’s a blow to have anybody out. It's more disappointing to the players than us obviously but we just have to go on with it. With no disrespect to the players that are injured, but the players that are fit are the most important to the club, because they are the ones that can be chosen."
His comments also came after an earlier news on Daniel Agger's injury- which also comes at the wrong time like all the KOP fans would say. Although Dalglish' was certainly idealistic with his comments, Gerrard's absence has seen their lack of creativity in midfield being exposed by clubs with West Bromwich being the apparent one last week.
Against Manchester City, a lot more than only creativity would be needed to overcome a very resilient City side. Roberto Mancini will definitely get his team fired up for this match-up, especially after their five star demolition of Sunderland last week. Despite the contrary, this is a match that the Reds in particular cannot afford to slip up. One defeat can possibly be absolutely deleterious to their European dreams.
Now, it will be a test of character for a very thin Liverpool team. Qualifying for Europe is one thing but proving that they deserve to compete in it is a whole new level. If the Liverpool players can stay committed through Gerrard's absence, then they absolutely deserve to joust against the best in the business.
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|Blackburn Rovers||Apr 29|
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|Manchester United||Apr 30|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Apr 30|