With the importance of competing in the top competition in European football greater than ever before, let’s take a closer look at some of the outsiders for fourth place come the end of the season, looking to upset the current Champions League status quo, including Newcastle, Liverpool, and even West Brom.
Everton have started the season in brilliant fashion and currently sit second in the Premier League table. They have found a system that works and they have a fully fit squad of players to choose from. If the key individuals can stay injury free then Everton have a great chance of producing the consistency needed to get fourth place. Remember, David Moyes has already taken his team into Champions League qualification once.
On paper Spurs will be the favourites and there will be many neutrals hoping they pull it off because some of the European nights during Spurs’ first season in the Champions League were awesome. Spurs seem to have turned a corner under the guidance of Andre Villas-Boas as demonstrated by the 3-2 away at Manchester United. Expect AVB to push Spurs very close.
Liverpool may be down in 14th place in the league but some of the football they have been playing over the last two or three games has been majestic. It was only a matter of time before they scored a shed load of goals against a team and Norwich were the victims in their last match as Liverpool scored five. If Brendan Rodgers can get his team to play similar football throughout the season then few teams are going to get close to the Anfield side.
A lot of people will laugh upon reading West Brom as a Champions League contender. However, Chelsea are the only other team in the league with a perfect record at home. If West Brom can maintain solid home form and improve upon their two draws away from home then anything is possible. Steve Clark is one of the most experienced managers in football and his tactics have only failed him once this season.
Fulham struggled during the early stages of last season but Martin Jol has brought in some quality players and Fulham are currently just three points outside fourth place. Fulham have won both home and away this season and they need to start turning defeats into draws to get themselves up the table and in with a chance.
Newcastle have also been on the verge of the Champions League in the recent past and at times last season they looked in total control over fourth place. Newcastle have started slowly but their home form is good with two wins and a draw from three games. They have just awarded manager Alan Pardew an eight-year contract which shows the belief they have in his potential.
Can any of them do it, or even crack the top three?
image: © El Ronzo