Jurgen Klopp admits it is a tall order for Liverpool to qualify for next season’s Champions League in the knowledge that they face Manchester United on Thursday, insisting that they must win all of their remaining four matches to snatch fourth spot after beating Southampton 2-0. The German has never won as Liverpool boss at Old Trafford since arriving in England back in Octobre 2015.
Goals from Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara gave the Reds a much-needed win against Southampton on Saturday night, though it took until the 90th minute for Thiago to give the hosts breathing room with his first Liverpool goal.
In beating the Saints the soon-to-be-dethroned English championssecured a vital three points which keeps their top-four hopes alive heading into the final two weeks of the campaign.
Liverpool are now six points off fourth-placed Leicester, who were stunned by Newcastle on Friday night, having played one game less than the Foxes after the postponement of their Old Trafford clash with United a week ago.
Klopp, though, is aware it will be a huge challenge for his charges to displace FA Cup finalists Leicester in the top four, with Chelsea looking safe in third.
The Liverpool manager told BT Sport of their top-four prospects: “If we win every game, I think it will be enough. But that’s a big if. We play on Thursday Manchester United.
“I know they play Sunday and Tuesday and they have a tough schedule but if you look at the squad they have, they can make changes, there’s no doubt about that.
“It’s of course not good for them to play three games in a week. It’s absolutely crazy. I really don’t understand that, but it is how it is.
“All the other games, we’ll see if West Brom is fighting for the league [to avoid relegation]. Burnley as well. Probably not, who knows.
“All the teams have their targets, if they reach their targets already then they can play completely without pressure. That’s not nice as well.
“We will have pressure as long as we win. Then we can reach something. If not, then not.”
On goalscorers Mane and Thiago, and the general performance, Klopp continued: “Very important goals. I always love when they all score but they were probably the two who needed it. Massive.
“It was a good performance, a tough game, how Southampton games are. We had to work hard and we did that. We scored a really nice goal, the first one.
“We could have scored before. They had their moments in counter-attacking situations where it was tricky for us. Ali made a really good save that helped us a lot and kept us in the game and in winning ways.
“Second half another big shift, they don’t give up. It got less work for us with time. We had the moment to close the game, that’s the big difference to the other games.
“We had chances in the first half, if we use it, the game looks different. It stayed 1-0 and that keeps them in the game. It was kind of deja vu, ‘it’s 1-0 but it’s not over yet.’
“But they didn’t score in that moment, Ali made a save. Then really nice football piece for the second goal. Really good, job done. It was hard work but we won and that’s what counts.”
Goalscorer Thiago meanwhile reflected: “We are happy with the win. It is always a great moment when you score to help the team. We have to keep fighting until the end with this small chance.
“It is an amazing feeling [to score] but the most important thing is the three points. We keep fighting for a small miracle.
“I think we had chances in the past that didn’t always go for us but the window is open so we try to go through the window.”
While left-back Andy Robertson added: “When you’re in this kind of run of form where we’ve conceded two late goals in the last couple of games, it’s about grinding out results.
“In the last four games, if they do drop points we need to be ready to pounce. We can’t really have any more slip-ups.”
Liverpool’s next match sees them face bitter rivals United in their rearranged match on Thursday (8.15pm) before facing West Brom the following Sunday, by which time the Baggies could already be relegated.
Fixtures with Burnley and Crystal Palace round off the campaign while Leicester take on United on Tuesday before an FA Cup final against Chelsea next Saturday.
After that they face the Blues in the league before ending the season at home to Tottenham, who appear to be out of the top-four picture after losing 3-1 to Leeds United.
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports after the win over Southampton: “This result keeps Liverpool in the hunt. They’re still big outsiders.
“It gives them hope that they can close the gap. Liverpool are a bigger worry for Leicester now than they were before the weekend.”