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Is a Champions League Spot Beyond Swansea?

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With Manchester United now just a tiny, minuscule speck in the distance for the chasing hoards, everything else in their wake looks fair game.

Pioneer of the mysterious False 7½ Winger and football's cod-philosopher-in-chief, Brendan Rodgers, claimed that fourth place wasn't out of reach for his steadily improving Liverpool side this year. 'We can do it- there's no question about that', he said, in the aftermath of their barnstorming draw at the Etihad earlier this month; with the confidence of a man with an enormous framed picture of themselves hanging in their office.

It's by no means the daftest suggestion you'll hear between now and May - the idea that Liverpool can claw back a twelve (at the time, nine) point deficit on current fourth place incumbents, Spurs, who're not without form in surrendering apparently unsurpassable leads.

But why should we stop there? What of his former employers, Swansea, who're a point ahead of the Merseyside club: why are they not being talked up as potential Champions League chasers? Or West Brom, even, the latest top-half side Rodgers' brigade have failed to wheedle three points from? Should they not be regarded as serious applicants for the continent's most exotic club competition?

Well, the likelihood is perhaps slim, but the point remains that apart from the very highest summit- unshakably occupied by United, who've made it their business to vacuum up the Ws like a Dyson tackling light fluff on an Armenian rug- everything else below looks imminently gettable. Let's not get carried away: second and third is an unrealistic target for the lower-reaches of the top-half, but for everyone else a little further up, a mini-breakdown for Chelsea or Man City and subsequent descent down the table never looks too far away.

Likewise, as much as Spurs and Arsenal both have the capacity to breach those positions in their stead, so too do they have a fondness for self-immolation, which could allow the likes of Everton and Swansea to close in. In short, it all looks terribly open up there.

And what of the League's only Welsh representative; just how have they managed to remain so competitive this season, after bidding adieu to not only their bright young coach but a good portion of the players who made their breakthrough season such a rip-roaring success? Even the very best sides in Europe would be forgiven for taking a few wobbly steps after losing the comparative quality of Caulker, Sinclair, Sigurdsson and Joe Allen.

It's evidence of the deep-grained wellbeing of Huw Jenkins' club, that now, under the guidance of Michael Laudrup, Swansea look an even more formidable outfit. Helped by the directness and goal-happy antics of Fantasy Footballist's wet dream, Michu, the quality of summer recruits, Pablo Hernández, Jonathan de Guzmán and Ki Sung-Yueng, and the blossoming defensive partnership of Ashley Williams and Chico Flores, the Welsh club have managed to score more goals this season and concede less. All despite the exodus of the 2011/12 luminaries and the absence of Michel Vorm for extended spells. The upheaval has been comprehensive and yet the Swans have progressed rather than tread water or drifted backwards.

Of course, a League Cup triumph and a top ten finish would represent another extraordinary season for the Liberty Stadium residents, but with no team side looking entirely convincing at the League's jazzy end, should they be aiming a little higher than mid-table security? Could they break the Top Four? At the current rate it's no more a ridiculous idea than Liverpool doing so.