The battle for Merseyside goes to the wire08/05/2012 -
Will Everton or Liverpool finish "best of the rest"?
Liverpool’s impressive demolition of Chelsea tonight cut the gap between the two sides battling for Merseyside supremacy down to only a point.
With both Liverpool and Everton on +8 goal difference, the Blues need to equal or better whatever result their close neighbours can muster on the final day to be sure of the seventh spot, which brings no further prize than local pride.
Their home fixture against Newcastle, who have a Champions League place still to fight for, should provide a much sterner challenge than Liverpool’s trip to Swansea. David Moyes will certainly be ruing two dropped points against Wolves on Sunday.
But Reds fans will be wary of their team's poor showings against the lesser teams this season. Of their 19 matches against the current bottom half of the league Liverpool have won only seven. Add to that the fact they've lost 50% of all away games so far, and the chances of Swansea fans leaving the Liberty Stadium on a sour note seem slim.
Whoever earns the honour of falling behind the worst Chelsea team of the Abramovich era will take home £11.2 million in prize money, with each place dropped meaning a cut of £800,000. What with the club’s well-known financial troubles, Everton’s chairman Bill Kenwright will sleep easier on Sunday night if the Magpies can be shot down at Goodison.
It’s one of the less-remarked-upon similarities between Moyes and Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson that their teams end seasons strongly. In the league, despite losing half of the term’s first 20 games, the Blues lost only two in the following 17.
And for new arrivals like Nikica Jelavic and on-loan Steven Pienaar, the season’s end must come far too soon. Both players are in radiant form, and Evertonians will hope they can carry that on into next season, and that Pienaar will still be in a royal blue shirt.
Fulham are still in with a shout of spoiling the two-way Mersey tussle. But with their trip to Tottenham, who are also vying for fourth spot, and their poor away form, they remain outsiders.
So either way, it looks like a Glaswegian-cum-Scouser will finish the season with their team in seventh berth, but will it be Moyes or Kenny Dalglish whose Scotch tastes extra sweet after the season’s final whistle?