Liverpool's fate now resting in their neighbours' hands
After a season of free-flowing football and considerable time as table toppers, Liverpool’s fate now rests in the hands of their near neighbours.
As if the gut-wrenching feeling of the defeat to Chelsea at the weekend wasn’t bad enough, both sets of supporters are only too well aware that in order to claim silverware, they are likely to need Roberto Martinez’ men to pull off a huge result this Saturday at Goodison Park.
The question is, are the Toffees up to the challenge?
Rewind a few weeks ago and an Everton victory against City, or at the very least a draw would have been a realistic ambition.
While the Reds were crushing all in their path, the blue half of Merseyside was in full voice. After defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in February, they embarked on run of eight wins in nine games, including a 2-0 defeat of Man United in David Moyes’ final game in charge.
The one blot was a home reversal to Crystal Palace, a huge dent for their Champions League ambitions as the Eagles joined Sunderland as the only sides to leave Goodison with all three points.
A demoralising loss to Southampton last time out looks to have put the final nail in their ambitions of a top-four spot, compounded by Arsenal’s victory last night over Newcastle.
The form has dipped, but the Liverpool faithful will be pinning all their hopes of an upset on Saturday. With good reason too it must be added.
The game will be City’s final away fixture and with their final games at the Etihad fortress against Aston Villa and West Ham, two sides also sliding down the table. Manuel Pellegrini will be confident that a successful trip to Merseyside will all but seal the championship in his first year in charge.
The Toffees have proved something of a bogey side for City in the past and Martinez will have his team primed for a big performance. He will see this test as a true measurement for the progress of his team this season.
Former striker Andy Gray has suggested that some Everton supporters won’t mind tasting given the ramifications of the title race, while Sylvain Distin has said he has been told on the street by a number of fans that they would prefer to miss out on the Champions League if it meant the title won’t return to Anfield for the first time since 1990.
The players one would suspect would be too professional, not to mention have too much pride, to entertain such notions of rolling over for City.
The game pits two exponents of attacking football against each other and it will mark a rare occasion when Liverpool supporters will be in full voice for their cross-town rivals..
The ironic twist of the final stages of the title race will not be lost on anyone on Merseyside this weekend.