Chelsea have been warned that Liverpool still possess enough quality to comfortably finish in the top four this season despite a slow start. The Reds started the season poorly and had only won two of their first eight games, sitting 10th in the league after losing to Arsenal.
A run of four wins in six has elevated them up to the table and within touching distance of the Champions League places but still behind Tottenham. For Jurgen Klopp’s juggernaut side over the past four years it is quite a slide, and one that has opened up the table for competing teams.
In the chasing pack behind Arsenal and Manchester City are Chelsea, Manchester United, Spurs, Newcastle and Liverpool, with Brighton also in the mix. Due to their brilliance over several years, last season’s Champions League finalists still hold an advantage according to Gabby Agbonlahor. Speaking ahead of the match against Aston Villa the former Villans striker said:
“Liverpool have struggled. To their high standards, they’ve struggled but they can scrape in the Champions League places, get Champions League football next season.”
It’s not just on the field that they are fighting with this group of teams either. In the transfer market there is a similar group of players being sought by Chelsea and Klopp’s team , and at the top of both lists is Jude Bellingham. Following on from his impressive World Cup and outstanding time in Germany with Borussia Dortmund he has become someone that all of Europe’s top clubs want to sign.
It’s likely that he will only move to a team in the Champions League, though, making qualification even more important. And Agbonlahor can see Liverpool making it happen:
“In the summer, can they get a Bellingham? A couple of midfielders and go again next season? I don’t think it will be a problem getting into the Champions League for Liverpool.”
Chelsea don’t have the recent pedigree to match this and confidence in their ability to bounce back may be much lower. But if they wish to sign Bellingham, then there may not be another way to go about it.