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Monday, 10 December 2012

Liverpool: Can Rodgers' men finish in top four?


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Liverpool entered the top half of the table for the first time this season following their 2-3 win against West Ham United at Upton Park. The Reds are now just four points behind their Merseyside rivals Everton in fourth place so after a poor start can they go on to end the campaign in the Champions League places?

Everyone at Anfield accepted that this was going to be a transitional season. Brendan Rodgers came in following a successful spell at Swansea City and wanted to implement his philosophy on to the players. It's taken time but Liverpool now look comfortable with how the manager wants them to play.

With the likes of Everton, Spurs and Arsenal all stuttering this season, and the likes of West Brom and Swansea surprising a few pundits with their lofty position, fourth place is well up for grabs. Could Liverpool sneak in there?

Liverpool celebrateEveryone was concerned about where the goals would come from against West Ham with Luis Suarez suspended, but Glen Johnson, Joe Cole and Jonjo Shelvey - we know it was an own goal but let's give him credit for getting in that position - answered the call, proving that Liverpool are not just a one-man team.

Suarez of course has scored almost half of Liverpool's goals this season and Rodgers needs to try and someone in to help him out. Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge and Arsenal's Theo Walcott have been mooted, but while 'm not a huge fan of Sturridge - I think he's more selfish than Suarez - Walcott, with his pace, could be a revelation if he was allowed to play as a striker.

The January transfer window could be a huge one for Liverpool's hopes this season.

Liverpool have a favourable run of games over the festive period. On Saturday they take on struggling Aston Villa, before hosting Fulham. On Boxing Day they travel to Stoke for a real clash of cultures, before travelling to QPR and then hosting Sunderland in the New Year. That's 15 points they could pick up there, although Liverpool haven't won five in a row since the end of the 2008/09 season.

Rodgers' side may well drop points over the festive period. They won't be the only team as the relentless fixture list will take its toll on a number of clubs and players. But most Liverpool fans are starting to see Rodgers' brand of football is bearing fruit at Anfield. That belief and confidence is running through the players and the former Swansea chief's vision could well arrive ahead of schedule.

No-one at Anfield is getting ahead of themselves. They know there is plenty of work left to do, but with teams around them failing to find any sort of consistency they also know that a good run of games could see them back in contention for Champions League football.

For Liverpool to finish in the top four you can get odds of 5/1 at Bet Victor. It is 6/4 for them to end the campaign 5th or 6th, and 5/4 to end between 7th and 10th. However, if you aren't convinced by their recent results and think they will end up in mid-table they are 7/1 to finish 11th to 14th, 66/1 to be 15th to 17th and 250/1 to be relegated.

What do you think? What would your money be on? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth

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