After Liverpool’s opportunity to bag three points away to Manchester United for the first time in almost eight years was halted by protests outside of Old Trafford last weekend, the Reds now return to Anfield in pursuit of just their third home win in five months when they play Southampton.
To say this game is massively important for the Reds is an understatement. Liverpool once again approach a run in the season where every game is a cup final but unlike their title battle against Manchester City in 2019, they now face a battle to try and salvage any hope of getting Champions League qualification next season.
Liverpool currently sit seven points behind fourth place Chelsea with a game in hand and it is imperative they win every game left to have any hope of pipping the Champions League finalists to that fourth spot.
Liverpool Winning Run
This winning run must begin against Southampton on Saturday evening. This is Liverpool’s biggest game of the season so far as fans and the players alike will know that anything less than three points against the Saints, will put an end to Liverpool’s chances of top four. A win for the Reds this weekend holds other importance alongside getting back to the Champions League.
The first four months of 2021 have been Liverpool’s worst run of form in many seasons and a string of losses and draws including breaking negative records at Anfield have done no favours for the confidence of the players or coaching staff. Liverpool need to put some wins behind them and finish the season strong to hopefully boost the confidence of the club and supporters.
If Liverpool fail to put a string of wins together before the end of the season, then they could end up in a position where they fall into UEFA’s new third tier European tournament, the Conference League.
It is quite clear that fans would rather not experience another season in the Europa League but the alternative would look much worse. The Reds now know that winning every game is not just a battle for the Champions League but also Europa League qualification and must hope they can also finish ahead of West Ham who are in good form and have a generous list of games on paper remaining.
Chelsea’s fixture list for the remainder of the season is not as generous but, the Blues are on a hot streak at the moment and it would be to no one's surprise if they finished the season unbeaten. They also have a second avenue in which they can remain in the Champions League next season as they have the opportunity to win the prestigious trophy once again when they play Manchester City on May 29th.
Mentality Monsters Must Return
The injuries of major players for Liverpool has clearly had a massive impact on their performance this season, but as the grind of the season begins the excuses are not enough. As it stands, even with their injury list, the current Premier League champions still have a very impressive starting eleven and with five games remaining Liverpool need to frighten teams again.
But this mentality must continue into next season wherever Liverpool end up. If it is to be the Europa League or the UEFA Conference League, then that is where they deserve to be and they must take their medicine and fight to win that competition as if it was the Champions League. Liverpool cannot step backwards even further next season; they must continue their success and battle for every piece of silverware.
Liverpool legend Graeme Souness has been very vocal in recent years in regards to what breathes success at Anfield and that is winning trophies. Whatever competition it is, obtaining silverware is key. We have seen this with Manchester City and their iron grip on the Carabao Cup the past four seasons.
Liverpool will undoubtedly have their heads filled with ambitions of qualifying for Europe but winning their remaining games is also important for the obvious pride factor. Going from taking Manchester City to the wire in 2019, to winning the Champions League the same season and then finally getting their hands on the Premier League last July, finishing anywhere below that is ultimately a failure.
But there is a chance the Reds can salvage some dignity by fighting to win every remaining game and finishing as high as possible. If Liverpool manage to do this, it will always be a case of too little too late but for the sake of their pride they must regain that never say die monster mentality and show they are still fighters, giving fans something to hope for next season.