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Do you have to beat the Top 4 to bridge gap?

By Ric Wallace :  01/01/2008 :  Comments (27) :
Just writing in after getting back from the match today as I was hearing this discussion on the radio: A gentleman phoned in saying it is impossible for teams like Everton, Villa and Man City to bridge the gap between the Top 4 unless we go out and get results against them.

What is so bemusing is everyone is catching onto this "inferiority" mentality that the so called "Top 4" are trying to force on us. I think they've realised they have stiff competition now just to remain in the 1-4 places and instead of just laughing at the rest of us are trying to play mindgames and we fall for it hook, line and sinker.

One glaringly obvious reason for this theory to be blown out of the water is that, we, Everton, managed to get into that 4th place two seasons ago, admittedly with a poor squad, by only beating Liverpool and Man United at home.

Yet by the same token we beat Arsenal and Liverpool last season and only finished 6th! The whole theory makes no sense.

The fact is, any team that wants to break into the Top 4 has to make sure they take points off the lower teams. The teams in 3-4 don't even take points off their rivals in 1-2 and instead have to concentrate on beating their "lower" opponents to stay in the Top 4. It is only the one or two top teams in the country that season challenging for the title that take and need the points from the Top 4.

They feed you this baloney only to see us lose confidence when we take a knocking against the big boys and we fall away from them. Once a team, say Everton, finish in the Top 4 without beating the top 4 teams we can then re-adjust our goal to take them on.

For now, to finish 4th, it is far more important you take points off the likes of Wigan, scrapping for survival, and Villa, who are our main contenders. It is a hyped up theory by Sky and the media simply to make the games sound more "titanic" to the neutral.

Thankfullly our confidence wasn't knocked after Arsenal and we can get back to hopefully aiming for 4th place if we can continue to get the results. COYB.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
1   Posted 02/01/2008 at 02:16:00

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Well, I can understand the paranoia but, standing back a moment and looking just at the basic mechanics of the League table, it pays no heed to WHO you beat. Just HOW MANY you beat. You are right in that you can do it against the minnows without beating any of the top four.

As far as finishing in the top four is concerned, you generally need to be winning 50% or more of your games. There are exceptions (this season, for example, when there are six teams at or over the 50% mark... and conversely the season we sneaked 4th by winning a paltry 16 games!!!).

We don?t need to beat them... but it sure as hell would be nice!
Martin Cutler
2   Posted 02/01/2008 at 04:58:23

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I think the emphasis right now is that we need to beat the likes of Villa at home and Man City home and away. We need to finish in the top six......if any of the top four, most likely The RS, slip up then top four it might be (regardless of what the media or the hype or the perception, whatever) has to say......I have said this is a fantastic season so far (after a poor start) but there is no doubt that we have to worry about the two teams I’ve mentioned more than we need worry about the top four......there is no mystery about the top four...they are just consistently better over 38 games than the teams below them.
We’re getting there....if Moyes can get the right players this month we should finish on a high note. In fact we could get the double at least! (UEFA and League Cups)
John Andrews
3   Posted 02/01/2008 at 06:35:02

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By continually mentioning the alleged "Top four" everybody is just perpetuating the myth that a top four does exist.
I prefer to believe there is a "Top three". These are the clubs who, by their sheer spending power, have managed to distance themselves from the rest of the league.
Man U and Chelski are in the enviable position of being able to buy their way out of trouble should they wish. However even their position is tenuous should their wealthy owners decide to call it a day.
Arsenal on the other hand seem to unearth players at random whilst, if necessary, have the wherewithal to spend if needed.
The weakest of the alleged top four is the RS who, irrespective of however much they spend, don?t seem to be able to muster a decent team together.
They are the team everybody should be targetting.
Mind you even when they finished outside the top four they still managed to wangle their way into the CL!
Ajay Gopal
4   Posted 02/01/2008 at 08:41:12

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Ric, you only have to look at Liverpool’s record against the "Big Three" to know that you don’t have to beat them to get into the "Big 4". Recently, somebody had posted the RS record in recent years against the top 3, and it was pretty dismal - comparable to our own !

So, you are absolutely right that you just need to beat as many of the rest of the teams to get into the top 4. (of course, that is the aim of at least half a dozen other clubs! ).

But, I am not sure that this is a huge conspiracy by the Big 4 and the media to keep out the rest of the teams. A bit far-fetched, IMHO !
Dave Trudgeon
5   Posted 02/01/2008 at 10:24:19

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Pompey will fall away in Jan because of the ANC.
City aren?t as good as people keep saying and without a large investment I can?t see them staying top 7. They have two good players in an average team, Richards and Elano, thats it. Dunne is decent but slow.
Spurs, even though they have had a bad half season, are capable of going on runs and the team I think will challenge us most is Villa. There's pace through the team and like us they have no real weak link. They have a couple of class players surrounded by good ones.
Ric Wallace
6   Posted 02/01/2008 at 11:00:14

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John, I only mention the "Top Four" as in the current standing of the league table. What else can you call them without being long-winded?

If City where there I would still say Top 4.

I tried to differentiate between finishing into the Top 4 places in the Premiership and beating the so called "Top 4"- the speech marks indicate my sarcasm.
Chris Jones (Wakefield)
7   Posted 02/01/2008 at 11:39:33

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I agree with Micheal. it’s not who you beat, but how many you beat.

I nearly fell off the setee last night when Hansen said on MOTD2 that Spurs were the only side he could envisage ever breaking into the Top4. What is he ON! Come to that, what planet is he on!
Andy Ellams
8   Posted 02/01/2008 at 11:46:28

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Well we are in touching distance of 4th place and we have 1 point from 15 against them this season so what does that tell us.

Results against the top 4 are just a benchmark of how much a team is improving. And in fact I would go as far as saying the top 3 really. They are the established sides and Liverpool are the weak link that other teams should be looking to catch
Gavin Ramejkis
9   Posted 02/01/2008 at 12:00:13

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Chris you should know what planet scarface handballing gobshite Hansen is on - planet denial aka planet RS. Simple mathematics say if you beat every other team bar the top four that gives you 60 points which is top six
Dan Mckie
10   Posted 02/01/2008 at 12:07:45

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Wouldnt beating every other team bar the top 4 give you 90 points Gavin? It would be play 38 win 30 lose 8!
Gavin Ramejkis
11   Posted 02/01/2008 at 12:20:54

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Cheers Dan, still got an addled brain from man flu - 15 other teams play twice win all 30 games gives 30 x 3 = 90 give that man a coconut
Dave Edwards
12   Posted 02/01/2008 at 11:46:50

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I don’t think focussing on win/lose statistics or the supposed membership of the ’Top 4’ is the real issue here. I think it’s whether we feel we are at the stage where we can be seen as consistent contenders for the top 4 and not just a team on a solid run of form who might sneak in there if one of the others (probably the RS) flounder (let’s face it, that’s what happened two years ago!)

I think we have had a great season so far - our squad is the strongest for ages and we have a blend of skill and hard graft this time around. When fully-fit I think we go into every game with a chance to win (home and away) and that’s real progress for us (the last time I felt like that was in the 80s!)

However, we need to be honest with ourselves and realise it is still ’work in progress’. Against the Manure and the Arse we gave it a good go, but unfortunately came up short in the end. Last year it was the same when we gave away a lead against the Manure.

It’s not that we can’t beat these established ’top’ teams on the day (Boro’s home record against such clubs is actually very good in recent years and no one is talking about them being any great shakes) - it’s just that these defeats have to give us a little bit of perspective with regard to our current level and hopefully highlight where we can improve. I personally think we need another creative midfielder (to take the pressure off Cahill and Arteta) and I’m not convinced about the consistency of all our defenders, especially when injuries cause us to shuffle the pack.

So I don’t think it is negative to suggest that whilst we are knocking on the door of the ’top 4’ and at times wedging it open, we are unlikely to consistently make a home there until we can take a few more points off these teams (I also think it’s more a case of the ’Top 3’ + the RS, but as much as it pains me, they are currently perceived as title-chasers by most).

I do agree with the views expressed that our progress is better judged by how well we cope against the likes of Aston Villa, Spurs, West Ham, Portsmouth, Blackburn etc. and our recent away double over the Hammers, and even yesterday’s Boro win with a depleted team, suggest we are now at a level where the next step up is within our grasp with just a little more tinkering with the squad and our tactics over the next few months.

Let’s enjoy our current level and the praise we are finally receiving as the worthy leaders of the so-called ’chasing pack’ and let’s make sure we can see off the media-hyped teams such as Spurs and the Hammers before we get too starry-eyed about the long-term. If we continue to get things right as a team, that next level will come without the need for us to predict or expect it. COYBs
Mick Simo
13   Posted 02/01/2008 at 12:14:46

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What Constitutes a big 4 team though, money, history, success. I know Chelsea have all the money, but big club on that bases makes me laugh. The more people talk about this media driven big 4 the more people believe in it and believe that it can not be gate crashed, if ex blue peter presenters on Sky can convince us that these big 4 are invinciable we might as well all pack up and piss off. We have done it before so why cant we do it again.
Tony McCann
14   Posted 02/01/2008 at 12:25:57

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Who coined this big 4 shit anyway, I will tell you Sky tv, and you what it would’t bother me one bit if sky went bankrupt tommorow, did anyone see Sky sports this morning, first three things on their headlines, manure fans being quite, Some argie with a dumby in his mouth, and then their result, this was followed by Arsenal’s result and then fucking darts yes darts. Cant people see we are being brain washed by these posh middle class pricks.
Andy Ellams
15   Posted 02/01/2008 at 12:33:12

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I think we should make a decision on this site here and now to stop calling them the big 4 and call them the top 4, at least that is currently statistically true
Declan Brown
16   Posted 02/01/2008 at 12:48:39

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I posted these stats before and for this arguement i will do it again. Liverpool’s record against Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea under Rafa Benitez reads as follows:

P21 W3 D4 L14.
1. Liverpool haven’t scored a Premier League GOAL against Utd home or away.
2. Liverpool haven’t scored a Premier League GOAL at Stamford Bridge.
3. Liverpool have only won once against Arsenal in the Premier League in 6/7 games, that was when Arsenal went into freefall last February.
4. Liverpool’s scoring average in those 21 games is well below 1 per game.

Hope this helps, over here in Belfast you come across some very condescending Liverpool fans (especially just before or after Champs League games), and these stats are very good for quietening them down for a while!!!
David Jerman
17   Posted 02/01/2008 at 07:23:35

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Now, quite clearly we're a far better side this year than last - and I think we're making fantastic progress. However, we're sitting in fifth place at the moment, but have only beaten West Ham of the Top 11 teams.

Is that the next step we need - not necessarily to be beating Arsenal and Man Utd, but actually to start beating the likes of Villa, Portsmouth and Blackburn?

Now having said that we've played Villa (6th), Portsmouth (8th), West Ham (10th) and Newcastle (11th) away.....are the home games against these sides the ones that'll define our season? Anyway the whole point of the post was to say that I was surprised that - considering how well we've done - the only team in the Top 11 we've beaten this season is West Ham!

Peter Bollio
18   Posted 02/01/2008 at 13:26:00

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I think the reason they are called the big 4 by Sky bastards is that between them they have won everything for the last 12 years?!
Yes its a sad state of fucking affairs but money rules in the land of sky and asian telly viewers
I hope we can smash into the champs league but realistically I can also see us looking back in 50 years at 1995 as the last year anyone else had a chance..

BTW, Match of the Dday - I'm sick of all them smarmy fucks - Motson the overexcited big 4 arselicking gimp and his terrible chat,
Hansen - occasionally talks sense but mostly thinks he's James Bond with his crap analysis and wonky eyebrows. Lineker is on drugs i guess, Garth Brooks is political correctness gone wrong and should be put down, but worst of all Lawrenson the miserable old cunt on the end of the couch - reminds me of Jabba the Hutt on valium with his saggy neck and old woman's wig
Says it all that they are shown up by the fella off the money show - bring back Saint and Greavsie if they are still alive, or dig them up!
Neil Styles
19   Posted 02/01/2008 at 13:55:57

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Since the dawn of the Premier League, the BSKYB Corporation has been a wonderful outlet for football and more than generous in terms of the monies bestowed upon the 20 top tier sides. However, I feel I am be no means alone when I suggest that Sky should ease up on this Big Four nonesense.

I have listened patiently as Sky's ample collection of pundits has incessantly told us how Liverpool FC are just as likely to win the title as Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal in spite of the fact that the reds are a clearly inferior outfit to those mentioned not only in terms of players and management but most notably in terms of points attained in the last half season.

Both ourselves and Man City have been performing to the same level as the reds (our points total supports this) and yet Sky persist with this 'Liverpool are still challenging' nonsense. If the reds are challenging for the league then so are the blue sides of both Manchester and Merseyside.

Now I'm not suggesting that we are challenging this year but if I, as an Evertonian, am aware of this, then surely the red half of the city should acknowledge the fact that the title is beyond them too.

From my seat I regard the current Liverpool FC side as little more than a glorified cup team with substantial turf to make up if they are to seriously consider themselves in the same class as Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal. Liverpool fans: stop deluding yourselves and accept reality.

Michael Coffey
20   Posted 02/01/2008 at 15:55:42

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A while back there was a thread looking for a better collective name for these four. None of the suggestions seemed to capture their essential nastiness, deluded self-importance and destructive impact on those around them.

Meanwhile, Saddam has gone, the CIA no longer regards Iran as a nuclear threat, and The New York Philharmonic is going on tour in North Korea. All of which leaves a certain collective term looking for new members... Axis of Evil. They meet all the criteria, after all.
James Martin
21   Posted 02/01/2008 at 15:29:51

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The fact is, these so called big clubs have generally been occupying the CL places for as long as any teenager can remember. These same teenagers are the major marketing target for footie merchandise. The CL is where it’s at for money and prestige. The UEFA cup puts you on the map a bit if you win it. Sevilla, for example, made more money from their first five CL group games than both UEFA cup wins combined. You can easily imagine the difference it makes being in that group stage every year, or getting into the semis on a fairly regular basis like Manure. The Spanish league is on it’s winter break at the moment, on the sports section on yesterday’s news they showed the goals from three premier league games. No prizes for guesssing which 3 games they were (it would have been 4 but the Poo are on live tonight).
Of our 13 match unbeaten run, I only saw the Carling cup game at Upton Park because Spanish tv have bought the Carling cup this season. We were on live for the Clattenburg travesty, both Utd games and the recent Arsenal setback. The only prem games I’ve seen against ’non-big clubs’ were the Boro home game and the win at Spurs (coz it was a Monday night or there’d have been no chance).
So when we talk of bridging the gap we have to remember it’s a globalised gap and its constantly growing.
Phil Owen
22   Posted 02/01/2008 at 16:36:54

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The so called Top 4, I believe, is becoming a bit or a myth.
This season is the first signs of a Top 3, followed by a middle 7 or 8 teams, followed by the also rans.
The problem is four teams go into the Champions League so the likes of the BBC and Sky will always talk of a Top 4.

The next issue is who is the 4th place team. Liverpool will always be considered here because Sky and the BBC (especially the BBC) are full of pundits who either played for the RS or dislike Everton.

As posted above on Match of the Day last night (01.01.08) Hansen sat there and stated "Spurs are the only team that can break into the top 4". Hansen is an idiot. Spurs are a shite team who rely on Robbie Keane to bail them out of every match.
I really hope Everton nick the 4th spot this season, just to shut the likes of Hansen and Lawrenson up.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
23   Posted 02/01/2008 at 19:27:58

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"The so called Top 4, I believe, is becoming a bit or a myth."

I wish that were the case but I don?t believe it is.

Assuming Liverpool win their two games in hand, there will be a seven point gap between the top four clubs and the next clutch of clubs below them. That?s pretty significant and it drives home the fact that their spending power alone is giving them a huge advantage.

Any team that can afford to pay £27m for one player (which is I think what Liverpool paid for Torres) and still also buy the likes of Ryan Babel is clearly operating on a different level.

Moyes often bemoans the fact that Everton can?t compete with the top four?s resources and that I think strengthens the argument that there is a big gap between the "have too muches" and the "haves" (with the "have nots" even further down the pecking order!).

I doubt we?ll be able to crack the top four without two or three key acquisitions. Question is, do we have the funds and, if so, will Moyes choose to use them?
Stefan Tosev
24   Posted 02/01/2008 at 20:39:28

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First of all Happy New Year to all Evertonians.

I am not that concerned about the media talk about the so-called "big 4", I am not even bothered about the money they have or the players they can buy, the one thonk I am really concerned is the way they are tolerated by the referees.

I am not British and having grown up in different culture may influence my perspective but I strongly believe that there is referee bias toward them. I have seen it countless of times smaller teams being on the wrong end of terrible decisions, we ourselves have been on the wrong end far too often, however the media darlings almost allways gets the decisions in their favour or if that's not the case they get apology from the officials.

They get away with bad tackles, penalties, divings, referee influence etc. The media pundits allways try to mask this with the cliche that this decisions evens themselves in the long run, however they forget to tell us that in long run only he top 4 are profiting from dodgy decisions.

How many times we have seen it if smaller team suffers from bad decision in a game against "Big 4" that in the very next game against inferior opposition (<4) they get some keen decisions in their favour and all the pundits start bleating about these things evening themselves, when in fact the big boys are clearly in advantage against all other teams.

I belive that these teams are getting at least 7-8 points per season more only because of their names and this for is something to be concerned about.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
25   Posted 02/01/2008 at 22:22:01

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"Assuming Liverpool win their two games in hand..."

Heheh, I was so hoping I’d jinx myself (and therefore Liverpool) by saying that :)
David O'Brien
26   Posted 03/01/2008 at 15:58:13

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There is a great blog on Guardian Unlimited concerning Liverpool's woes. Reading the fan's views, some of them could have been about Everton as recently as last year. I don't like to wallow in RS misery but aha ah ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Brendan McLaughlin
27   Posted 03/01/2008 at 23:27:57

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Yeah very good Lyndon but if Liverpool had won, would you be posting "See, I told you so!"

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