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Liverpool's late push for the top four still lacking consistency

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In this craziest of seasons, we currently see a team who was a favourite to be relegated sit five points clear for the Premier League title. While the race for fourth might not be as 'sexy' of a storyline, the importance of clinching a Champions League spot is significant.

A few weeks ago, the four spots seemed to be secured with an iron grip, but recent slip-ups by Man City and Arsenal have potentially left two spots wide open again. Man United and West Ham are hovering with intent, but in this season where almost nothing has gone to script, could we see a team from the lower reaches of the top ten make a push for the coveted spot?

Liverpool are one team that spring to mind. Just this week, James Milner and Jurgen Klopp spoke of the group's willingness to keep fighting for top four. They have a game in hand over City which, if they win, that closes the gap to six points and while that is still quite a deficit, is not insurmountable. A look at Liverpool's fixtures show home clashes against Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton which classify as their "marquee games."

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The Reds have quite rightly been blasted over their inconsistency for a lengthy period of time. However, they have always risen to the big occasion when playing in big games, especially at Anfield. They proved that against City last week and have also claimed victory against Leicester and earned a credible draw against Arsenal.

Admittedly, they have lost to Man United and West Ham at home, but many things have changed since the Hammers defeat, notably the manager and level of commitment from the players, who seemed to be in a malaise in the early part of the season. Their level of play was of a much higher standard against Man United but were undone by a sucker punch from Wayne Rooney in the last 12 minutes.

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What also helps them is a fit squad to pick from which they now have - with the exception of Lucas, who has been ruled out for six weeks with a quad injury.

It has been a long, long time since Klopp has had a selection headache in defence with Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sahko all fit. Likewise, the impressive return to the starting eleven of Jon Flanagan looks likely to keep Alberto Moreno on the substitutes bench.

The same issue lies in attack where Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi are also competing for positions. If you ever want to have a fit squad during the season, then this is the perfect time, with games coming thick and fast.

FBL-ENG-PR-CRYSTAL PALACE-LIVERPOOL

For Liverpool, while they no longer have FA Cup commitments, there is the small matter of a Europa League round of 16 clash with Man United on the horizon. It will be interesting to see if the German decides to rotate his squad during this period.

To reach the goal that Milner and Klopp have talked about, they need to find a resolve in the next two months that they have struggled to find for the past season and a half. It's not always about pretty football, this time of year is about grinding out the results and claiming three points.

Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League

Some may say that all the top four talk regarding Liverpool is 'hypothetical nonsense' and they may be correct. They are just as likely to fall against Southampton or Bournemouth than beat Spurs or Chelsea.

At the end of the day, it's up to the team to prove all the doubters wrong and make a stand.

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Topics:
Premier League
Liverpool
James Milner
Football
Steven Gerrard

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