Can the Reds do it? That’s the question bugging every Red right now. I’ve always said the focus is Champions League qualification (top 4), more specifically in recent times automatic qualification (top 3), seeing how the team in 7th might somehow pull off a Champions League victory even more unlikely than Rafa Benitez’s triumph with the Reds in 2005, or even more improbable than the Reds’ title charge this year.
But with Tottenham Hotspur and Tim Sherwood brushed aside and more or less out of the race for the top 4, only Arsenal should be worried right now, with Everton breathing down their neck having a game in hand. To answer the question whether the Reds will do it, let’s look at the last 6 seasons and how the last 6 games panned out for the eventual winners.
2012/13 – Manchester United
With then-defending champions Manchester City faltering under former manager Roberto Mancini, United went into match day 33 on top of the league and sealed the league on the 34th game, where a Robin van Persie hat trick against Aston Villa sealed the title. They only won one of their final four dead rubber games.
2011/12 – Manchester City
Mancini’s Sky Blues lost 1-0 at Arsenal in their 32nd game and started the final stretch of 6 games on 2nd place, behind United. However, they won all of their final 6 games, including a vital 1-0 victory against United in their 36th game to set up their title victory. City went to Newcastle and ground out a 2-0 victory, before that last gasp title winner against relegation-threatened QPR at the Etihad.
2010/11 – Manchester United
The Red Devils entered the final stretch on top of the pile yet again. Though they drew the next game at Newcastle, and also lost 1-0 at Arsenal, Alex Ferguson’s men managed to triumph against Chelsea before clinching the title with a 1-1 draw at Blackburn, with one game to go.
2009/10 – Chelsea
Chelsea faced off with United in a title decider at Old Trafford during the 33rd game of the season, sitting behind the league leaders in second place. Carlo Ancelotti’s men managed to prevail 2-1, overtook Ferguson’s side and never looked back. Though the Blues suffered a minor blip at Spurs, they sandwiched their 2-0 victory at Anfield with thrashings against Stoke (7-0) and Wigan (8-0) to seal the title on the last day ahead of United.
2008/09 – Manchester United
The last time Liverpool got close to the title was during this campaign where United entered the final stretch in 1st place. The Red Devils almost lost the lead but managed a vital come-from-behind victory against Spurs at Old Trafford. Still, United prevailed in the derby on match day 35, and clinched the title with a draw against Arsenal, with a game to spare.
2007/08 – Manchester United
United was 1st when they visited Middlesborough for the 33rd game of the season, but suffered a surprising 2-2 draw. They then secured victory at Arsenal, before almost losing the lead after falling to defeat at Chelsea in the third last game. However, Ferguson’s side won the last two to seal the title ahead of the Blues.
In the last 6 seasons, with the exception of two seasons, the team on top with 6 games to go would go on to win the title. If Liverpool do suffer some blip in this final stretch, to keep on track with recent history, the Reds need to ensure they remain on top by the end of next weekend (meaning prevail at West Ham United) to avoid United’s slip to Chelsea in 2009/10, and ensure they do not lose the momentum in the potential title decider in the 36th game of the season (April 26 against Chelsea) like how United did against City in 2011/12.