Paul Merson claims Liverpool could still have huge say in title race despite third-place guarantee

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Paul Merson has suggested that, despite being guaranteed to finish third in the Premier League, Liverpool could still hold the key to the outcome of the title race and the identity of the division’s fourth and final Champions League participant for next season.

The Reds go to Aston Villa tonight in a fixture which has nothing but pride resting on it from our point of view, but could have major repercussions on the teams immediately above and beneath them.

If Jurgen Klopp’s side lose, their opponents will clinch fourth place, duly ending Tottenham’s chances of usurping them by the time they play Manchester City on Tuesday, with the champions currently a point behind leaders Arsenal.

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Speaking on Sky Sports, Merson said: “Every Arsenal fan needs Aston Villa to get beaten. If Liverpool can get a result, Tottenham have to stay hungry on Tuesday.

“I know it’s an eight-goal spread at the moment but if [Spurs] went and got a draw, and Liverpool win by two or three goals, then all of a sudden Aston Villa play Palace. No one wants to play Palace at the moment and they [Tottenham] go to Sheffield United and Sheffield United… wow.

“But if Villa get a result [v Liverpool], there’s no way [Tottenham get a result v Man City]. They won’t be playing for anything. I played in those games; they aren’t wanting Arsenal to win the league. 

“The one thing they don’t want is Arsenal to win the league, that’s the one thing, but they have no choice, if Aston Villa get beat, than to stay hungry.”

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Fans of other ‘big 6′ clubs usually aren’t slow to rub it in whenever Liverpool lose, but as Merson explained, both Arsenal and Tottenham supporters have every reason to side with the Reds against Villa tonight.

If we avoid defeat, it maintains Spurs’ hopes of a top-four finish and gives them something to play for against Man City, which theoretically should make it harder for Pep Guardiola’s side to claim victory in north London tomorrow.

A certain section of Gunners fans on social media haven’t exactly been LFC sympathisers when we were still in the title race until last month, but even they may view a win for us at Villa Park as a beneficial result for their team.

Of course, from a Liverpool perspective it’s not for us to worry who’s crowned champions or secures fourth place. We’ll simply go out and try to secure victory for Klopp in his second-last match in charge, regardless of the repercussions that it may have elsewhere.

If nothing else, at least a win for the Reds against Villa would keep it interesting for neutral observers in the terms of the big issues either side of us being settled over the coming week.

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