11 games. That's all that's left, with Liverpool out of every cup competition. I've already dismissed Liverpool's league ambitions, but maybe it's worth investigating a little more. With Gareth Bale single-handedly putting West Ham to the sword, as he's been doing to everyone else, that actually puts Chelsea in 4th, 10 points ahead. Arsenal lie 5th in the Europa spot, nine points ahead. What do the fixtures look like for everyone, including Everton and West Brom?
|Arsenal (H)||West Brom (H)||Spurs (A)||Reading (H)||Chelsea (A)||Wigan (A)|
|Liverpool (A)||Fulham (A)||Everton (H)||Arsenal (A)||Swansea (H)||Spurs (H)|
|Fulham (H)||West Ham (H)||Swansea (H)||Man City (H)||Stoke (A)||Southampton (A)|
|Swansea (A)||Southampton (A)||Reading (A)||Stoke (H)||West Ham (A)||Villa (A)|
|Everton (H)||Sunderland (H)||West Brom (A)||Spurs (A)||Arsenal (H)||West Ham (H)|
|Chelsea (A)||Spurs (H)||Norwich (H)||QPR (H)||Man City (A)||Reading (A)|
|Man City (H)||Liverpool (A)||Fulham (A)||Sunderland (A)||Newcastle (H)||Chelsea (H)|
|Wigan (A)||Swansea (H)||Man U (H)||Fulham (H)||Southampton (A)||Newcastle (A)|
|Southampton (H)||Man U (A)||QPR (A)||Liverpool (A)||Wigan (H)||Everton (H)|
|Stoke (A)||Villa (A)||
|West Ham (H)||Norwich (A)||Fulham (A)|
|Sunderland (H)||Everton (H)||Newcastle (A)||Chelsea (A)||Man U (H)||
Well, there are a lot of matches we need to end in a draw, aren't there?
Let's take it in steps and first look at what Liverpool need to do. They're lucky in that Spurs, Chelsea, and Everton come to Anfield. While we'd all love to just see Liverpool win their last 11, we all know that's not going to happen. But I don't think they can afford to drop more than four points, collecting 29 of the last 33. Honestly, that's what it will probably take, and looking at it it isn't totally out of the question. We'll allow for a yip at Newcastle and Southampton, a place where Liverpool haven't always done well.
Maybe instead of hoping for draws, Liverpool should hope that Spurs take all the matches with the other competitors, cementing third for themselves. With 10 points needed to be gained on Chelsea, can we spot where they would drop 15 points (again, with Liverpool only dropping four) to gather only 18 of their 33 left? Losing to Spurs, Liverpool, and Man U is nine of what we need, and none of that is out of the question. But past that you wonder. Villa away in a relegation battle? Everton on the last day of the season when they might have something to play for? Fulham in the west London derby? Those are the most likely, but it's a stretch.
The nine on Arsenal for the Europa spot? Spurs and West Brom away look likely candidates, or they did until West Brom started to fade. Man U at home and Newcastle on the last day of the season are others, but the Magpies may have extricated themselves from trouble by then. But then again, St. James's is not a happy hunting ground for the Gunners. Still need them to drop one or two others. QPR fighting relegation?
Liverpool also have to overhaul their neighbors, but that can be done by matching them and beating them at Anfield. That's so much simpler. West Brom will probably fade away themselves.
Looking at it, it feels unlikely but maybe not as impossible as it was. Especially if Rafa succeeds in causing Chelsea to melt from the inside, which I'm beginning to think was his plan all along.
First, Liverpool need to string some wins together to even make us interested.