• Dan Tracey


And then there was one. Just one game of this Premier League season left remaining and as things stand going into it, Liverpool are in the box seat to earn the final Champions League qualification place.

A position that they have cultivated for themselves after events in midweek and after getting the better of Burnley at Turf Moor, they took full advantage of Leicester’s defeat at Stamford Bridge the night before.

The three-nil win that Liverpool recorded is one that sees the Merseyside men leap into fourth place and although Jurgen Klopp’s men had a monumental wobble at the turn of the year, European football is back on the agenda.

Not just any football though, because at a point where their fans were suggesting that an eighth-place finish may have been better for next season, now their fervent support has switched to dining with Europe’s elite once again.

Something that will be the case, if Leicester fail to get a more positive result than that of Liverpool’s. With that said, there is goal difference still ready to be applied and if both teams were to win, a goal haul at the King Power would deprive the Reds of fourth place.

That may be a bit of stretch and to simplify matters slightly, if Liverpool win at the weekend they will not only deprive Leicester of Champions League football next season, but they could also move themselves up to third.

That scenario will come about if Liverpool record a more positive result than that of Chelsea’s and if they were to finish as the best non-Manchester club, it would be a relatively decent campaign after all.

That is, if you remove the context of a Premier League title defence and from that aspect, it is one that has been largely forgettable. However, there have been a number of mitigating circumstances and none more so, than the litany of defensive injuries.

At the same time, that cannot be the only reason for Liverpool’s woes throughout the campaign and with a squad lacking a bit of it usual spark, the summer may see Jurgen Klopp ready to make some necessary changes.

Changes that can be facilitated by entry into next season’s Champions League and as we all know by now, it is far easier to recruit superstar names when not consigned to Thursday night continental action.

Standing in the way of a bumper cash bonanza are Crystal Palace and it will certainly be a rather poignant afternoon for the Eagles, as Roy Hodgson leads the South London outfit into battle for the final time.

While although it is the end of an era for the former England manager, it could also be the end of an era for the club and with as many as 11 players out of contract over the summer, this squad will look considerably different come August.

How Palace look both this weekend and next season is of no real concern to Liverpool and the only thing they will have in mind is making sure they get the better of Selhurst Park outfit. Do that and bar a minor miracle in Leicester that same day, a top four finish will be all theirs.

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