It’s February and Leicester City are still top of the English Premier League table. They’re the first and so far only side to reach 50 points. Even if they went on relegation form the rest of the way, earning a point a game on average, they’d end up with 64 points this season. Manchester United, currently sat fifth, are on pace to end up with 63 points.
All of which is to say that even with a complete and total collapse by Leicester, the Foxes would have a quite decent chance of finishing the season in the top four. We’ve reached the stage in the season where, within a few places, where you are in the table now is likely where you’re ending up in a few months. Which segues rather easily into talking about where Liverpool are.
Liverpool, for those who couldn’t work up the effort to check the table following last night’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of league leaders Leicester, are 8th. They have a -4 goal differential and are 11 points behind Arsenal, who have begun their annual Arsenaling and are sat in fourth place behind rivals Tottenham thanks to their own goal differential.
Norwich City in 17th are as close to Liverpool as Liverpool are to the top four. Swansea and Bournemouth in 16th and 15th are closer to Liverpool than Liverpool are to the top four. Liverpool, put simply, are not close to the top four, and it’s far too late for them to make up the gap. Though in reality, it’s been that way for some time now, even if fans haven’t wanted to hear it.
If one take’s those 64 points that Leicester would end up with if they hit relegation form the rest of the way as the absolute minimum it would take to reach the top four, Liverpool need 30 points in their final 14 games after having earned 34 points in 24 to date. Put another way, that’s 2.14 points per game after having earned 1.42 so far this season.
It’s ten wins and no losses. Or nine wins, three draws, and two losses. Or eight wins, six draws, and no losses. Those are the only permutations possible to hit that minimum of 64 points, and realistically one would expect whichever club does end up in fourth will be closer to 70 points than 64. It could be even higher, with Arsenal currently set to end up with 71 points.
If that’s the total, Liverpool need 37 points at 2.64 points per game the rest of the way. Or 12 wins and a draw and a loss. Even West Ham in sixth and Manchester United in fifth are beginning to look difficult to catch, and a finish between 7th and 10th now looks most likely for Jürgen Klopp’s first season in English football. Hopefully it can be a worthwhile learning experience.
Hopefully, too, the next time Liverpool win a game, fans and players don’t again start talking about the top four and can instead keep their focus where it belongs: on the League Cup, Europa League, and FA Cup.