Spurs or Liverpool - who could break into the top four?

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Liverpool and Tottenham are currently enjoying good starts to the season – who is better prepared for a run at Champions League football?

It seemed that the season was set up for a shock entry into the top four, with Chelsea and both Manchester clubs changing their manager over the summer, and was periods of transition have taken place, many thought that at least one of Arsenal, Spurs or Liverpool could take advantage and break into the top four.

Manchester United may have had a shaky start under David Moyes, but the usual suspects occupy the top five places, though great credit must go to Southampton for sitting in sixth place at this stage.

So, with Spurs and Liverpool both looking to sneak into the top four, which team is best placed?

The case for Tottenham

Having sold Gareth Bale for £86m, Andre Villas-Boas embarked on an incredible spending spree as he looked to guarantee Champions League football at White Hart Lane.

They have enjoyed a great start to the season, though the shock 3-0 home defeat to West Ham served as a reminder that there is still a long way to go as all the new signings begin to gel. They may have only scored eight goals so far, but they've also only conceded five, and with over half of those coming in the West Ham debacle, Spurs are still a solid outfit defensively. Going forward, Erik Lamela is yet to repay his £30m price tag but with Roberto Soldado bagging his first Premier League goal from open play against Aston Villa on Sunday, there is hope that he can begin to hit the goal trail and fire Spurs into the top four.

The case for Liverpool

With the partnership between Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge beginning to flourish, Liverpool know that they can score with the best teams in the division, but defensive frailties were exposed in the 2-2 draw against ten man Newcastle. The return of playmaker Phillipe Coutinho will serve as a welcome boost, with the Brazilian's absence coincided with disappointing results against Southampton and Newcastle.

The future of Suarez is likely to dictate how successful the Reds are this season, but there is progress being made under Brendan Rodgers and should Suarez stay at the club until the end of the season, then they have every chance of challenging for the final Champions League place.

The case for both

This is ultimately very unlikely, as you'd expect at least three of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United to book Champions' League places, but there is a long way to go yet. With solid home form from Spurs and Liverpool, they can give themselves a platform to stay in touch with the leaders, and with some fortunate results in head-to-head games, they could both squeeze in – but it looks like one will miss out.

The verdict

With a slightly stronger squad and with more money to spend on improvements in January, the edge goes to Tottenham, who are only one point behind Liverpool as things stand. The two sides meet in December, and if both are still in and around the top four, then the winner will gain a slight advantage over the loser, with every point important in the race for the top four.

Whilst we're somewhat accustomed to seeing Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City occupying the top four places win the Premier League, Liverpool and Tottenham are currently enjoying good starts to the season – who is better prepared for a run at Champions League football?

It seemed that the season was set up for a shock entry into the top four, with Chelsea and both Manchester clubs changing their manager over the summer, and was periods of transition have taken place, many thought that at least one of Arsenal, Spurs or Liverpool could take advantage and break into the top four.

Manchester United may have had a shaky start under David Moyes, but the usual suspects occupy the top five places, though great credit must go to Southampton for sitting in sixth place at this stage.

So, with Spurs and Liverpool both looking to sneak into the top four, which team is best placed?

The case for Tottenham

Having sold Gareth Bale for £86m, Andre Villas-Boas embarked on an incredible spending spree as he looked to guarantee Champions League football at White Hart Lane.

They have enjoyed a great start to the season, though the shock 3-0 home defeat to West Ham served as a reminder that there is still a long way to go as all the new signings begin to gel. They may have only scored eight goals so far, but they've also only conceded five, and with over half of those coming in the West Ham debacle, Spurs are still a solid outfit defensively. Going forward, Erik Lamela is yet to repay his £30m price tag but with Roberto Soldado bagging his first Premier League goal from open play against Aston Villa on Sunday, there is hope that he can begin to hit the goal trail and fire Spurs into the top four.

The case for Liverpool

With the partnership between Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge beginning to flourish, Liverpool know that they can score with the best teams in the division, but defensive frailties were exposed in the 2-2 draw against ten man Newcastle. The return of playmaker Phillipe Coutinho will serve as a welcome boost, with the Brazilian's absence coincided with disappointing results against Southampton and Newcastle.

The future of Suarez is likely to dictate how successful the Reds are this season, but there is progress being made under Brendan Rodgers and should Suarez stay at the club until the end of the season, then they have every chance of challenging for the final Champions League place.

The case for both

This is ultimately very unlikely, as you'd expect at least three of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United to book Champions' League places, but there is a long way to go yet. With solid home form from Spurs and Liverpool, they can give themselves a platform to stay in touch with the leaders, and with some fortunate results in head-to-head games, they could both squeeze in – but it looks like one will miss out.

The verdict

With a slightly stronger squad and with more money to spend on improvements in January, the edge goes to Tottenham, who are only one point behind Liverpool as things stand. The two sides meet in December, and if both are still in and around the top four, then the winner will gain a slight advantage over the loser, with every point important in the race for the top four.

images: © Zweifüssler, © kevinzim

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