When Liverpool stumbled against Bournemouth, losing to the then last place team in the Premier League, they knew that they almost certainly needed at least six points from games against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal to keep their top four dreams alive.
Having faced City and Chelsea, they’ve earned one point. In the process, they’ve played one of their games in hand on fourth place Tottenham, who are now seven points ahead. They’re also chasing Man United and Brighton—seven and three points ahead, respectively. Both now have a game in hand on Liverpool.
While fans might cling to hope until the math says it’s impossible, it’s hard to see this stumbling Liverpool side making up the gap on stumbling Spurs, never mind United who also have 50 points to Liverpool’s 43 while having a game in their back pocket.
“A clean sheet away at Chelsea is never easy, even though they’re not in the best moment,” was Jordan Henderson’s response to Tuesday’s nil-nil draw with Chelsea as the captain tried to find a silver lining. “So we’ve got to take that positive and try to build, try to work on the attacking play, and try to finish goals off.
“The inconsistency of the season hasn’t helped us, [but] you’ve just got to keep working, you’ve got to keep digging in. Stay together, staying together as a group is the main thing, and keep working for each other and dig in.
“We got a point today, on another day towards the end of the game you might nick it and that changes momentum and changes confidence within the team. That’s football, you keep going. We’re professionals, we keep fighting, we keep working at the training ground to put things right and see where it takes us.”
On paper, with Chelsea creating around two expected goals worth of chances by most models while Liverpool created around a fifth of a goal of chances, there’s a case that even the point of Tuesday was fortunate and that on most other days it would have been Chelsea nicking a late goal.
Meanwhile, in the bigger picture, Liverpool have averaged 1.54 points per game this season, a 58 point pace. It’s taken at least 65 to get top four every year since 2004-05. United are on pace for 70. Tottenham are on pace for 66. Brighton are on pace for 65.
It seems safe to assume that, at an absolute minimum, one will reach that 65 point mark. To get there and even put themselves in the conversation—though not as favourites even then—Liverpool will need 22 points from their remaining ten games. The math is relatively easy: they need 2.2 points per game.
To get to 22 points, six wins and four draws or seven wins, a draw, and two losses are the minimum permutations. Six or seven wins in ten games, then, is the target—after earning just 12 wins in 28 games so far. Bring on Arsenal, and let’s see where it takes us, then.