Liverpool need to beat Aston Villa away – and hope Tottenham slip up on Sunday – to hoist back their Europa League spot for next term.The Reds were in fine form leading up to their home clash with Spurs on Sunday, but Harry Redknapp’s men knew a win at Anfield would land them in prime position to earn a spot in the European chances.
They duly saluted 2-0 to deal Kenny Dalglish’s men a dreadful blow.
Spurs host Birmingham on the final day, and Liverpool need them to either lose (and Reds draw at worst) or draw (and Reds win) to earn back fifth spot on the table and a place in the European second-tier competition next season.
Spurs’ chances of slipping up on the final day will be heightened by a desperate Birmingham side in the midst of a relegation dogfight, sitting just goal difference above the drop zone.
But Dalglish will be well aware that other results are out of their control, and that his side should focus on getting the points at Villa Park to give themselves the best hope of Europa League action.
On face value, the match means little for the Villans, who languish in 13th place – both safe from the depths of relegation and not in sight of the European placings.
But they can climb as high as ninth, results pending, which is important in terms of prize money.
Last season, each Premier League place above 20th was worth an extra 800,000 pounds (eg. 20th place received 800,000 pounds, 19th – 1.6 million, 18th – 2.4 million etc).
Ninth place was worth 9.6 million pounds, while 13th received 6.4 million.
Villa will be a potent opposition for Liverpool, and will be all the more confident with an in-form Darren Bent at their disposal.
The former Sunderland striker netted his 16th and 17th goals respectively this season in their 2-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday, both of which came in the game’s opening 15 minutes.
Villa have also scored in their past seven league clashes, with their most recent scoreless effort coming in their 1-0 derby loss to Wolves in March.
Prior to their defeat to Spurs, Liverpool were also in some scoring form, netting 13 times in three matches, with seven of those credited to Maxi Rodriguez.
On the sidelines for Liverpool are Milan Jovanovic, Martin Kelly, Fabio Aurelio, Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard, while the Villans’ only unavailable player is Jean Makoun.