Matthew Johnson explains why Liverpool cannot afford to miss out on a golden opportunity to finish in the Champions League places this season.
Heading into the last six games of Liverpool’s season, it’s a nervous and tight fight for Champions League football next season.
With Chelsea, Tottenham and even Manchester City almost certainties it looks like it will come down to Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal who will take that last spot.
It’s now important for Jürgen and the team to treat these remaining fixtures like cup finals (probably not the best use of words considering both Liverpool and Klopp’s recent record in finals!)
Liverpool have Crystal Palace, Southampton and Middlesbrough to play at home as well as trips to West Brom, Watford and West Ham in the remaining games of the 2016/17 season.
On paper, as a Liverpool fan, you’d expect most to be very optimistic. Strangely, with poor results throughout the season against the so called ‘lesser teams’, fans would prefer to play against the top seven teams instead – as Liverpool have the best head to head record in these fixtures.
It is inevitable that the fans and probably Jürgen Klopp won’t mind how the players perform in the remaining games, just that they get the points.
Liverpool’s match away at Stoke City was a ‘scrappy’ win and from a footballing perspective, a game of poor quality but the win was all that mattered. It’s all about staying defensively compact and trusting the attacking players to do their job without leaving ourselves open.
In the last few games, the likes of Coutinho, Firmino and even Origi have taken responsibility in the absence of the season-ending injury to Mané, which they will need to keep up right until the end.
Liverpool as a club this season have shown they have poor mentality and tactical problems. The club is undefeated against the top seven, playing brilliant attacking football and have also been impressive defensively as a team, however, they have let themselves down massively by dropping points against mid-table and relegation threatened clubs hence why the title talk didn’t last long.
Liverpool have conceded 40 goals in total so far this season and have defensively looked error prone and too open at times which has lost the club many unnecessary points (an issue that has been a problem for the last number of years.)
It is known on social media that fans have slated FSG over the last three years who feel they don’t give the manager the money to buy ‘top players’ and don’t offer the big wages to lure them to the club, however, this season they’re simply not to blame if the club fail to finish in the top four.
They may be the underlying problem, but beating and gaining the most points against the ‘big teams’ then failing to perform and get three points against the likes of Burnley, Hull, Bournemouth etc. is not FSG’s fault. Players, Jürgen Klopp and his staff will be held responsible as it’s inexplicable not to mention the decision to not spend in January (when FSG made money available to spend.)
If Liverpool were to miss out on the top four this season, it will be an even tougher job of challenging for it next year which will see them fall shorter in comparison to their rivals.
Arsenal and Manchester United have been below par and have given Liverpool their best chance of finishing in the top four ahead of them.
With Chelsea and Manchester City’s financial power, they’re bound to become even stronger next season, Tottenham are getting better every season, Manchester United and Arsenal are bound to improve so it is quite evident next season looks like it could the toughest season in the Premier League yet.
The club finishing in the top four and earning Champions League football next season will lift the club up another level and will allow them to sign the players to mount a challenge for trophies.
If not, it is unlikely Liverpool will have the financial and luring power to sign these players as well as risk losing Philippe Coutinho who has been linked to Barcelona all season long.
A massive and possibly club changing end to the season looms.