With both Manchester City and Arsenal holding matches in hand, Liverpool could potentially drop down to fourth place even if they beat Middlesbrough FC on Sunday, but victory at Anfield against the already relegated side will guarantee the Reds Champions League football for next season.
“That’s our job to do [and] I really thought the boys did really well,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, speaking to the press after watching his side demolish West Ham United last weekend. “We spoke about it before and said ‘is there really pressure on us or is it only what people will make of it?’, because we always have pressure, we are used to it. We are professional football players or managers. If we always want to win games then we have always this pressure,” said the German, hinting at the need to put in a performance against Boro. “There is still space to enjoy football and I saw a lot of joy. There was a lot of good football in, [what may have seemed] from outside a difficult situation, but we did really well and we helped ourselves with our best tools, with football.”
Despite taking the Hammers to task, the race for a spot in Europe’s elite club competition will still go down to the final day. The permutations are numerous and when you throw Manchester United potentially qualifying for the Champions League if they come out on top against AFC Ajax in the Europe League final, then the waters really get muddied. Regardless, at this point in time, all we can do is worry about ourselves and if we put in the same kind of performance against Middlesbrough as we did against West Ham, we should have no problems.
“Start, not good, end of first half, lucky, but we scored a wonderful goal and learnt extremely [well] from the first half,” mused Klopp. “In the second half we changed a few things, went more direct, created much more difficult-to-defend situations for them, had shots and finishes from everywhere, pretty much. The start of the second half – that was real football. We decided the game, we controlled it, and now we’ve got the three points. Fantastic,” enthused the Reds boss, hoping to see more of the same come Sunday. “Now we have to recover and then prepare to do our best against Middlesbrough again.”