Liverpool, kings of the top 6 mini league
Liverpool’s Jekyll and Hyde form in the Premier League threatens to leave them needing to see a doctor if they miss out on the Champions League.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have a better record against other teams in the Premier League’s current top 10 than they do against the bottom 10 and they are the only side in the top flight to average more points vs. top half teams than v Bottom 10.
It was the same old story this week as Liverpool followed up their impressive Merseyside derby victory over Everton by conceding a late equaliser to Bournemouth to see two crucial points slip out of their fingers and give their top four rivals hope that they can be caught.
Bournemouth have taken four points off Liverpool this season with dramatic late comebacks and those four points could come back to haunt Liverpool in the race for Champions League football next season.
If Liverpool were competing in a European Super League you would probably fancy them to win it as they play better against the top sides, but if they were involved in a relegation fight you would fear they would go down.
Champions League no certainty
Liverpool are unbeaten in 15 games against the current top 10 this season, but on the negative side of things Klopp has seen his side lose three times against bottom six teams this season and dropped points to eight of the bottom 10.
Liverpool are currently third in the table and in the box seat to finish in the top and claim a place in the Champions League, but the worry is that most of their remaining fixtures are against sides in the bottom half of the table.
Understandably there has been frustration among fans that Liverpool’s once promising title challenge fizzle out months ago with poor results against the ‘lesser’ teams when usually the outcome of the title comes down the results between those sides battling for the championship crown.
Liverpool have shown they are more than a match for the best the Premier League has to offer, but until Klopp can find an answer and consistency to ensure they perform against all the teams in the league the Reds will find themselves missing out on the major honours.
Mane loss will be a blow
Against the teams at the wrong end of the table Liverpool have all too often displayed familiar frailties which are not in evidence when they come up against the big boys as they seem to raise their game depending on the occasion.
Liverpool are the highest scorers in the Premier League, but that has been undermined as they have the worst defensive record in the top seven.
Liverpool’s run in on paper looks favourable in games they are expected to win, but this season that has when Liverpool have been most vulnerable and their chances have not been helped by the injury to top scorer Sadio Mane.
Mane’s importance to Liverpool cannot be overlooked as the Reds have so far failed to win any of the four league matches that the Senegal attacker has not been involved in so far this season and he will miss the rest of the campaign with a knee problem.
The race for the top four looks like it is going to go down to the wire and Liverpool need to find a solution to beating the bottom half teams otherwise all their hard work and memorable results against their biggest rivals this season will be a distant memory.
Liverpool have been encouraging and infuriating in equal measure this season, but miss out on the top four now and it will be disappointment and frustration for everyone connected to the club.