Jamie Carragher has predicted that Newcastle United, not Liverpool, will finish in the Premier League top four this season.
Looking at the table right now, that looks like the obvious choice. Newcastle sit three points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham in third, with Liverpool 10 points off the pace.
“I’ve got Newcastle [to finish top four]. I just think they are not involved in European football and whenever I watch them play now, the energy – similar to Arsenal – they are the best team defensively in the league,” said the Liverpool legend.
“They are very organised and the energy, even against Palace, they battered them. Of course Tottenham could get them, but I just think with no European football and the home games, the atmosphere [they’ll do it].”
Hopefully not, Carra. But right now it’s hard to see Liverpool making up that gap.
Neville comes to Liverpool defence
Interestingly, Gary Neville came out to defend Liverpool after Carragher’s comments. Having seen Jurgen Klopp’s side ruled out of the running by his punditry colleague, Neville wasn’t so sure.
“Are you ruling your mob [Liverpool] out then?!” asked a surprised Neville. “I don’t think Liverpool will get top four,” replied Carragher.
“They’re only 10 points behind United,” the former Manchester United captain offered. “With a game in hand, it’s nothing.” But Carragher wouldn’t be swayed.
“My point is, you’re talking about points difference and teams playing to where they were last season, but Liverpool are not playing well enough,” said the Scouser.
Of course, we should remember that Carragher is likely speaking as a Liverpool fan, as well as a pundit. Ask any Reds supporter right now whether Klopp will steer his team into the Champions League spots and you’ll probably get the same answer.
As depressing as it is, that’s only logical. As Carra points out, it isn’t merely about the points difference. That alone would make Liverpool outsiders at the moment. But the fact is that the Reds don’t look good enough just now. They don’t have the look of a team capable of overturning that decifict.
With Newcastle and Man United playing well and Manchester City and Arsenal out of sight, it looks a long way back for Liverpool. But still, there’s half a season to play. We’ve come back from worse.