Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher has revealed how he expects the top four to finish this season – with struggling Liverpool faring far better than their current league position suggests.
The Premier League season will break for a six-week long period after next weekend as the Qatar World Cup takes place. Early season pacesetters Arsenal currently hold top spot, winning 10 of their opening 12 games. Mikel Arteta’s side will hope to hold on to that place heading into the break, though with Chelsea away next on the agenda, their credentials will certainly be tested.
Manchester City, the reigning Premier League champions, are breathing down their necks and poised to take advantage of any slip up. Tottenham and Newcastle currently make up the top four.
Manchester United and Chelsea also have aspirations of finishing in the top four after heavy investment over the summer. They currently sit in fifth and sixth.
But it is the form of Liverpool that has most caused surprise. The 2020 Premier League champions look a shadow of their former selves and currently sit in ninth.
Successive defeats to Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest and Leeds have seen speculation gather pace over Jurgen Klopp’s future. And with a new favourite for the hotseat emerging, the German is making a passionate plea over his future.
Carragher, though, has already launched a passionate defence of the German. And the Sky Sports pundit is admaant he remains the right man in charge.
And Klopp himself insists he still has the hunger to turn things around, though this article illustrates just how far he’s slipped down the Premier League managerial rankings.
Carragher backs Liverpool for top four finish
The Reds currently sit eight points adrift of fourth-placed Newcastle. Incredibly, only seven points separate them from the relegation zone, meaning they are nearer the bottom than they are the top.
Despite their struggles so far, Carragher still reckons Liverpool will secure a top-four finish.
Assessing the season so far, Carragher believes City are certainties to finish in the top four and, most probably, as champions.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal – who Carragher admits he loves watching – are also backed to join them. But with Liverpool sneaking into fourth, the pundit reckons another London side, Tottenham, will also make up the top four. That will spell misery for Manchester United, Chelsea and current occupiers, Newcastle.
Explaning his thoughts to the Daily Mirror, Carragher insists good times will return for Liverpool.
“The north London clubs [Arsenal and Tottenham] will both get in it now, I really do believe that,’ he told the Daily Mirror.
“I have loved watching Arsenal, they’ve almost been my favourite team to watch this season.
“I think Liverpool will get in there ahead of Chelsea and Man United and then the two north London clubs will be alongside Man City.
“But I think it will be a fight that goes right down to the wire and as a Liverpool supporter if you offered me fourth now I would bite your hand off.
“I think Liverpool are in a right fight for that and they could easily finish sixth. But I do think Liverpool will stick in there and I do think in that second-half of the season we’ve got to see the Liverpool of old at some stage.
“When Liverpool get back to that it is too much for everybody else in this league, except Man City. But if they don’t get back to that consistency it’s going to be tough for them.”
Top four race will go to the wire
While we expect Manchester City to quickly usurp Arsenal and quickly wrap up the title, the race for a top-four finish is far harder to call.
On current evidence, you would place Liverpool nowhere near the Champions League spots. However, Klopp’s men – in Michael Owen’s words – have been through much worse form before and still come out smiling.
And a return to form in the new year – potentially lifted by some smart January signings – will certainly make for an interesting top-four race.
Arsenal and Tottenham look well placed, as Carragher says, to book their places again. That will leave one space up for grabs with Newcastle, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool scrapping it out.
Of the four, Chelsea perhaps look the most likely given the money spent last summer and the injection Graham Potter has given them.
United are also on the rise and could benefit from a lack of Champions League football.
However, it is Newcastle who have impressed the most. They have a mean defence and a winning mentaility these days. Indeed, Eddie Howe has done a magnificent job in charge. And who’s to say the Magpies cannot last the course? Stranger things have certainly happened.
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