Pair of defeats puts hole in Liverpool’s top four aspirations
That is all it took to undo almost three months of work and put Liverpool on the outside of a top four Premier League finish and a coveted Champions League spot for next season.
Liverpool followed up a disappointing home loss to Manchester United on March 22 with an even more dispirited loss on Saturday against Arsenal at the Emirates. The pair of defeats leaves Liverpool seven points back of fourth-place Manchester City with just seven games remaining. (Although they caught on break today when City lost to Crystal Palace.)
“It’s frustrating that we got ourselves in a position over the last three months, very close, to then come up short in the past two games,” manager Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian. “But I look at Arsenal and their bench, the world class players on the field with big talent and it shows the continual work we have to do.”
There was a common thread that ran through both defeats, dating back to Dec. 14.
Liverpool lost to Manchester United that day, but then went on a 13-match unbeaten streak in league play. That streak ended in the return match against United.
That December day also marked the last time Liverpool conceded a road goal — a streak that was broken against Arsenal as the Gunners found the back of the net four times.
Both losses brought a return of the early season struggles along the defensive back and in goal with Simon Mignolet.
Liverpool’s defense wasn’t helped by the loss of Martin Skrtel – who was serving the first of his three-game suspension — and the club lost another player when midfielder Emre Can picked up two yellow cards.
With just seven games remaining in the season, time is running short for Liverpool. The good news is that among those seven games are just two against teams that are currently in the top half of the table – Chelsea and Stoke.
“After the (Arsenal) game I gave an answer which was logical, mathematics really, in terms of the difficulty we have but it is not certainly a mindset,” Rodgers told The Guardian in discussing his club’s prospects. “Our attitude is to go right to the end. It is going to be difficult for us if the teams above us don’t drop points. We would have to win our seven games but it is certainly something we will go into in order to do that.”
If Rodgers can get the club to move beyond the past two games, and receive some help like they did today from Crystal Palace, fourth place is still a possibility.
After the way things broke during the past two games, having a possibility is not such a bad thing.
(Photo courtesy of The Daily Mail)