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John Aldridge: Why I’m not confident Liverpool will win top four race

Away form is not good enough to compete for Champions League place

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during the Champions League round of 16 match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Tuesday February 21, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.© PA

File photo dated 26-10-2022 of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who admits it made sense not to see his players for two days in the immediate aftermath of last weekend's dismal defeat at Wolves. Issue date: Friday February 10, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read Zac Goodwin/PA Wire.© PA

Liverpool’s Naby Keita is reportedly being monitored by former club RB Leipzig (Mike Egerton/PA)© Mike Egerton

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah missed a penalty during the loss at Bournemouth (Kieran Cleeves/PA)© Kieran Cleeves

Luiz Diaz has been a fantastic addition to the Liverpool squad© AFP via Getty Images

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Diogo Jota of Liverpool is challenged by Manuel Akanji of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City at Anfield on October 16, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)© Manchester City FC via Getty Ima

Leicester, United Kingdom - JULY 30 : Liverpool's Luis Fernando Diaz Marulanda during The FA Community Shield match between Manchester City against Liverpool at King Power Stadium, on 30th July , 2022 at Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kieran Galvin/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)© DeFodi Images via Getty Images

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22: ( THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT ) Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and Jordan Henderson captain of Liverpool with m0 during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on December 22, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)© Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Leicester, United Kingdom - JULY 30 : Liverpool's Luis Fernando Diaz Marulanda during The FA Community Shield match between Manchester City against Liverpool at King Power Stadium, on 30th July , 2022 at Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kieran Galvin/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)© DeFodi Images via Getty Images

John AldridgeSunday World

THE next three games should be make-or-break Liverpool's hopes of salvaging something from this season - but nothing is predictable in this strange season.

An away match against Manchester City is on the agenda of Jurgen Klopp's team next Saturday and the timing of this match is far from ideal.

These two sides have been battling it out for the title for the last few years, so I'm not sure who decided it was a good idea to schedule what could have been a crucial showdown for a lunchtime slot right after the international break.

Neither team would want this match next Saturday, but Liverpool have been dealt a particularly bad hand here as they back that up with games against Chelsea and Arsenal.

And after witnessing their abject performance in defeat at Bournemouth in their last match, I have very little confidence in Klopp's side winning either of the away games against City and Chelsea.

The 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth summed up their misery on the road as they have won just three games away from Anfield in the Premier League all season.

They have scored just 13 goals from their 15 away games and have turned in performances that are impossible to fathom.

We all know what Klopp's team are capable of and we have seen flashes of it at Anfield this season, but I gave up trying to work out what has gone wrong with them long ago.

What happens next is anyone's guess, but we could reach a point of no return very quickly.

If they were to continue their away day misery with defeats against Man City and Chelsea, they could be at the win-or-bust stage by the time they welcome table topping Arsenal to Anfield on April 9th.

That said, it is impossible to pick where this story is going.

Tottenham have had fourth place in their hands for a long time now, but they seem determined to self-implode rather than grasp the nettle.

Manager Antonio Conte had to go after his angry rant following the 3-3 draw at Southampton last weekend, as he threw his entire team under the bus in front of the media.

He clearly wanted out of the job and his press conference rant was an attempt to get sacked, with the decision confirmed on Sunday night and an interim manager put in place.

It means Spurs are a side who could go either way in the final quarter of this season, as their players could turn against Conte or go out and try and prove him wrong.

Newcastle are also in this mix as they have pieced together a strong season under boss Eddie Howe, but they lack a goal scorer to win them tight matches that will cost them.

Liverpool should be out of this battle for a top four finish as their away record this season is on par with teams battling relegation, yet their opponents continue to give them hope despite some alarming warning signs.

If the Liverpool that battered Manchester United 7-0 turn up for the final 12 games of the season, they could get back on track.

Yet if their away side from 2023 continues to stagger through games, they have no chance.

In my mind, Klopp needs to be ruthless from this point forward and only pick players who are hungry to deliver.

Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are among those leaving the club this summer, so I wouldn't have them in the team for these final dozen matches.

Stick with players who have a future at the club as they should have a hunger and desire to play in the Champions League next season.

If Mo Salah is misfiring and Luiz Diaz and Diogo Jota are fit, rotate the forward line and see if a different combination clicks.

This is not a time for sentiment or trying to stand by players as results are needed and a top four finish is a necessity.

With the contenders for fourth place seemingly incapable of finding consistency, a winning run of five or six games for Spurs, Newcastle or Liverpool could be decisive.

And while the visit of Tottenham to Anfield on the final day of April has been highlighted as a potential top four decider, no one can say with any certainty where this story is headed.

If I'm pushed to pick the team that finishes fourth right now, I wouldn't go for Liverpool.

On paper, they should have enough to finish ahead of Spurs and Newcastle, but that counts for nothing this season.

The rot in away matches set in long ago and I don't see Klopp solving it with this set of players.

Never mind the next two away matches against City and an improving Chelsea, as I wouldn't be too confident of Liverpool beating Leeds, West Ham, Leicester or Southampton in their other remaining away games.

They probably need to pick up at least 12 points from those match and win most of their home matches to steal a top four finish and that's a tough ask for this team.

A successful end to this traumatic season could be crucial when it comes to the squad overhaul Klopp clearly needs to instigate this summer.

They are being given every chance by the teams around them in the Premier League to reach that target, but I don't have any confidence in them taking advantage of the open goal they have been presented with.


Man City (a) - April 1st

Chelsea (a) - April 4th

Arsenal (h) - April 9th

Leeds (a) - April 17th

Nottingham Forest (h) - April 22nd

West Ham (a) - April 26th

Tottenham (h) - April 30th

Brentford (h) - May 6th

Leicester (a) - May 13th

Aston Villa (h) - May 20th

Southampton (a) - May 28th


Everton (a) - April 3rd

Brighton (h) - April 8th

Bournemouth (h) - April 15th

Newcastle (a) - April 23rd

Manchester United (h) - April 27th

Liverpool (a) - April 30th

Crystal Palace (h) - May 6th

Aston Villa (a) - May 13th

Brentford (h) - May 20th

Leeds (a) - May 28th


Manchester United (h) - April 2nd

West Ham (a) - April 5th

Brentford (a) - April 8th

Aston Villa (a) - April 15th

Tottenham (h) April 23rd

Everton (a) - April 27th

Southampton (h) - April 30th

Arsenal (h) - May 6th

Leeds (a) - May 13th

Leicester (h) - May 20th

Chelsea (a) - May 28th

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