EPL: Top-four spot is Pool's to lose

SINGAPORE- A brace by Daniel Sturridge and a goal apiece from Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez ensured a 4-0 win and scenes of unbridled joy at Anfield when the party ended yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Even with an injury-hit squad, Everton, who were eyeing a top-four spot themselves, could not have seen this coming.

This was the most emphatic Merseyside Derby victory since 1982 (the Reds won 5-0). But more than the scoreline, it was the polished performance which had the red half of the city purring.

Liverpool, who had their fair share of injuries to contend with, had the panache, the confidence and the guts.

Each time they bulged the Everton net, they seemed to ram home a point.

Catch us if you can, they appeared to be saying to a team with the league's joint-best defensive record until this defeat.

They had thrown down the gauntlet.

The coveted fourth place is theirs to lose now.

This victory keeps them well in the running for Champions League football action which they have been missing out on since the 2009/10 season.

They have widened the gap between themselves and the Toffees to four points.

Everton face a rocky stretch ahead.

The psychological damage of the crushing defeat aside, the potential loss of key player Romelu Lukaku, who was carried off during the game, to a lengthy spell on the sidelines leave them extremely vulnerable.

Only two other teams possess the power and stamina to break Liverpool's hold on fourth place in the table.

But Tottenham, three points behind them before their meeting with Manchester City this morning, must show significant improvements in front of goal before they can be taken seriously.

As of yesterday, they have managed just 29 goals in the league, almost half of what Liverpool managed.

Manchester United cannot be written off, especially after the arrival of Spanish playmaker Juan Mata plugged a glaring hole in the attacking midfield area.

But it remains to be seen if their problems can be plastered over with the addition of one player.

There is also the matter of making up for a six-point difference, no thanks to a woeful first half to the campaign.

AWAY JOY

Liverpool have already negotiated past the tougher half of their league campaign.

Apart from Man United, they don't have an away game against teams in the top eight for the remainder of the season.

The tough matches against the top guns - Arsenal, Spurs, Man City and Chelsea - will come in the comfort of their home where they have won 10 out of 12 times.

And so far, fans have been under the assumption that the Premiership crown is an exclusive plaything for the top three sides - Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea.

With the firepower that Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge can guarantee, Liverpool remain dark horses for the league title.

No wonder Anfield is buzzing.


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