Cleat Geeks

Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton set to miss out on the top four

The race to finish in the top four of the Premier League that looked like it could go down to the wire only a matter of weeks ago is all but over now.

Liverpool’s crushing defeat at Arsenal and Southampton’s loss at Everton all but ended those sides’ hopes before Tottenham failed to break down a resolute Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday.

Manchester United took advantage of the chasing pack’s inability to win over the weekend, seeing off Aston Villa to virtually cement their place at Europe’s top table next season. herre

Much has been made of Raheem Sterling’s contract negotiations at Liverpool in the media recently. In fact some pundits suggested that the 20 year-old’s reported rejection of a $100k a week deal influenced Saturday’s result at Arsenal. Of course, this is ridiculous. The Gunners performed well on the day and took three chances in an eight minute spell before half-time to seal victory and secure Champions League football for an impressive 18th successive year.

In truth, Brendan Rodgers’ sides’ early season form left them with a mountain to climb. Failure to beat Hull and losing to Aston Villa at Anfield, coupled with away defeats to Newcastle and Crystal Palace – all before the end of November – had The Reds languishing in the bottom half of the table for a time.

Prior to their last two matches, Liverpool had won eight of their previous nine games, putting them in contention for a top four spot. A 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United and Saturday’s 4-1 thumping at Arsenal – both rivals for a top four place – has all but killed off Liverpool’s Champions League dreams for next season.

In fact, this season has been something of a damp squib for last year’s League runners-up; exiting the Champions League at the group stage and losing in the semi-finals of the League Cup to Chelsea.

Liverpool have managed a mere 45 goals in the Premier League after 31 games this campaign, compare that with the 101 they netted last season. Losing Luis Suarez’s goals was always going to cost them and Daniel Sturridge’s early season injury was always going to lead to a shorter tally this time around. They have improved a little at the other end, letting in 36 goals so far this season compared to 50 at the end of last season, but that just isn’t enough to negate their blunter attack.

sterlingAs for Sterling, he is the club’s joint top goal scorer this season in all competitions with 10. Six of his 10 goals have come in the league, making him the club’s joint top league goalscorer along with Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. Two strikers Rodgers signed last Summer, Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli have managed just seven between them in all competitions.

Tottenham looked jaded on Sunday as they played out a dire 0-0 draw away to relegation threatened Burnley. Spurs mustered only two shots on target in the whole 90 minutes and never really looked like a team challenging for a top four place.

It has been a long season for the Londoners, who were playing their 50th match of the campaign at Turf Moor. Star striker Harry Kane, who was named as captain against Burnley, has featured in 44 of Spurs’ half century of matches this season, not to mention his first two England caps last week. Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen has turned out no fewer than 41 times for Mauricio Pocchetino’s men and it looked as though those infamous double training sessions earlier in the season were catching up with the pair, who have been so influential for Tottenham this season. kane and eriksen

Both Kane and Eriksen have either scored or set up 47 of Tottenham’s 82 goals this season, which shows the extent of their influence on this side. Tottenham looked flat against a hard working and committed Clarets side desperate to avoid the drop back to the Championship. Spurs look to be running out of steam with seven league games remaining.

Pocchetino’s old side Southampton have outperformed all preseason expectations and the mere suggestion that they were in contention for a top four finish with just eight games to play is a testament to the work Ronald Koeman and his side have put in down at St Mary’s. koem

They sit a point behind both Liverpool and Spurs, who are themselves both seven points behind 4th place Manchester City who take on Crystal Palace on Monday night.

Still, for Southampton Europa League football next season beckons, although they are beginning to suffer from a dip in form at the end of the season. Liverpool have an FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa to look forward to if they can overcome Championship side Blackburn Rovers in a quarter-final replay in midweek. Spurs made it to Wembley earlier in the season but came up short in the League Cup final. Theses achievements suggest that all three club’s can be fairly satisfied this season and that bigger successes might not be too far away.

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