Saturday saw Liverpool take on Arsenal, in a crucial battle to see who would take that vital 4th place and with it a Champions League spot. Liverpool may well have dominated most of the game, but Arsenal came out victorious, after handing Liverpool their first loss at Anfield this season. For Liverpool to now make it to 4th will require not just a near perfect, if not perfect, finish to the season from Liverpool, as well as other teams dropping points.
Being in Europe is great. I don’t care how many Liverpool fans said at the end of last season that not being in Europe could be a blessing in disguise, to me being in more competitions is always better for the club. Even if we only make it to the Europa league, it brings with it a chance for fringe players to get experience, and even for returning stars to get match fitness. It also keeps the Liverpool name out there amongst the European players. That could be the difference between a player joining us, or joining another team in Europe.
Of course this season we have already secured a European place by winning the Carling Cup, however, I would rather we made it in there by virtue of doing well in the League or the FA Cup. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy we won the Carling Cup, but if that’s all we win this season, and we finish 6th or 7th then to me this season is not a success. It would be a good start to potential future success, but not nearly good enough. The downside to just winning the Carling Cup would be a ridiculously early start to the season, with minimal (if any rest) for some players. The Carling Cup puts us in the earlier qualifying rounds for the Europa League, and that means starting well before the EPL restart. A large part of our squad is likely to be at the Euros, although you would think the remaining guys would be able to deal with whatever team we draw in those early rounds. It would, however, probable mean a number of players having a very short break, as about 1 month after finishing a season they would be required to come back to training.
Of course, for it to be a decent season, we would not only win the Carling Cup but the FA Cup too, as well as finishing 4th. That would mean a Champions League spot which not only gives us more finances, but also puts us back in the elite European competition. However, we would now require Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle to drop points and for us to win almost every game. That seems unlikely at this stage, at least until we finally figure out how to hit the back of the net. Against Arsenal, we once again came up against a superb goal keeping performance, but we also wasted so many glorious chances. At the other end van Persie gets two shots and scores with both. What wouldn’t we give for our own van Persie or a new Robbie Fowler to play for us.