Flash-forward to the end of January and Liverpool are just 4 points behind their Merseyside rivals who currently sit in 5th. Only Arsenal separate the two clubs and with the Gunners set to face the Reds next Wednesday, Brendan Rodgers’ side has the perfect opportunity to put some serious pressure on the Toffees.
Rodgers has done his best to bring re-inforcements in this January in the form of Daniel Sturridge who has made an impressive start to his Anfield career, netting 3 goals in 3 appearances already.
Rodgers is currently rumoured to be in talks with Inter starlet Philippe Coutinho and holds aspirations to sign his former player at Swansea, Ashley Williams.
Whether or not the Reds’ boss brings in more additions to strengthen the squad, Everton have brought in just free transfer Thomas Hitzelspurger so far and manager David Moyes will consider himself to have done very well should both Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines still be at Goodison Park come February 1st.
Moyes maintains, as he has in previous seasons, that his side will do their utmost to achieve their top four ambitions and, as things stand, you certainly wouldn’t bet against them. However, both Arsenal and Liverpool behind the Toffees have a wealth of experience in pushing on for the top four.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has had a season to forget – he’s been strongly criticized by all sections of the fan base and media for his team’s underwhelming performance in the league and the cups this term.
Rodgers at Liverpool seemed to have the majority of supporters’ backing, even early on when they seemed to be struggling, the fans showed faith and patience with the new boss and his youngsters.
Both Liverpool and Arsenal have a superior goal difference to Everton and I worry for the Blues, especially since Sturridge’s arrival, coupled with the sensational form of Luis Suarez this season.
Everton face a very dangerous and highly underrated West Brom side next in the league, followed by strugglers Aston Villa, and then a tough trip to Old Trafford.
Moyes’ side will undoubtedly fight for every point they can get from those fixtures but I’m sure he’d consider 4 points from those three games sufficient.
The best result for him when Arsenal host Liverpool would be a draw but with both teams high on confidence after their 5-1 and 5-0 wins respectively, both managers will fancy their chances and I’d expect a very open game.
Anything less than all three points at home next Wednesday could see the Toffees slip down and out of the race. The challenging teams behind them will have the momentum going into the latter stages of the season.
Despite Tottenham’s current placing in 4th I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a familiar top four come May, consisting of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and either Liverpool or Arsenal. In fact, I’m inclined to suggest the winner of their head-to-head battle next week may very well win the war for top-four.
image: © kong niffe