Often we use hyperbole to promote the importance of an event, or a article/blog we write. While I might be accused of that, I don’t think this is trying to attempt that.
I honestly do think these next five games will determine our season. We have won our last three PL games. In that run we drew away at Augsburg and won at home to advance in EL. We went 120 minutes vs City before dropping the Cup on penalties. During all that time, with all those different defensive combinations we’ve put forth, we’ve only conceded two goals. All of that after bowing out to West Ham in the FA Cup, giving up a lead vs Sunderland, and defensive letdown at Leicester. So despite those three showings, we’ve returned a majority of our injuries and have now put together a good run. A run that sees us in 7th, three points behind Man U and 5 behind Hammers, with a game in hand on each of them. We are only 6 behind a stumbling City (no game in hand).
Am I putting forth the belief that we can climb three more spots in the table? It is possible. Do I believe we will? At this point, I don’t. The difference from moving from 11th to 6th or 5th is a lot easier than moving from 5th to 4th, much less 7th to 4th.
But it is possible with a strong showing in these next five matches.
10/3 – EL – Man U @ Anfield
postponed – PL – Chelsea
17/3 – EL – @ Man U
20/3 – PL – @ Southampton
2/4 – PL – Spurs @ Anfield
I know that two of those games aren’t in PL and don’t affect our standing in the table. But they could have a very real indirect affect on it. The confidence quotient that would come from sending Man U packing and eliminating their pursuit of silverware and a CL berth would be huge for us, and could destroy them. Especially their youth. While it may make them focus on PL more and be tougher to overcome them in the PL standings, I don’t think that the case. We’ve been shown to be capable of rattling off spells of good form for 5, 10 and even 15 games the last two years. This boost would help. Man U on the other hand has looked poor, and are resting their hopes on the shoulders of youngsters who haven’t been influenced by being around LVG much yet. We’ve all seen how unpredictable and unreliable it is to rely on youngsters over a period of time.
Ride that feel-good factor to wins over Southampton who are secure in their spot in the table and don’t have as much to play for (other than lack of belief revenge), and a win or even a draw versus title chasers Spurs who we’ve seem to have their number in recent times, we will be on fire.
Check our schedule following those matches and it leaves us the rescheduled match versus a resurgent Chelsea (at Anfield), and further home fixtures with Stoke, Watford and relegation battlers Newcastle; as well as trips to potentially relegation battlers Bournemouth and Swansea before ending the season at West Brom.
It is never easy to face a relegation battler who is fighting for their PL lives. But they are down their for a reason and our team, if clicking, will be in good shape.
I do think we need to make that run though in these five games to have a legitimate shot. And finishing May facing Watford and at the Hawthorns isn’t easy considering their physicality and styles. But hopefully with their seasons secure and us having something to play for at that point (people playing for jobs and Europe), we can catch them ‘on the beach’ already and capitalize. Whereas if they were in worse positions they’d definitely put up a battle for safety.
It’s a reach and I honestly wrote off our chances a couple months ago. But hey, a fellow can dream, can’t he?