REUTERS - Liverpool must find a way of winning their three remaining Premier League games to ensure a top-four finish this season and manager Juergen Klopp said he liked the fact that his team were under pressure to end the season on a positive note.
The Merseyside club are third in the table, three points ahead of fourth-placed Manchester City and four infront of manchester United, who both have a game in hand.
However injuries, inconsistent performances and trademark frailties mean it is anyone’s guess whether Klopp’s team will get over the line and qualify for the Champions League.
Liverpool host ninth-placed Southampton on Sunday -- having lost three times and drawn once against them in their last four meetings in all competitions -- and Klopp is banking on home advantage to get past their tricky opponents.
“Fighting for the top four, you pretty much have to win every game,” the German told a news conference on Friday. “I like this kind of pressure. Fighting for something really special is the best pressure you can have.”
”There is positive pressure. We can go for something. We know about the quality of the opponent. Our plan for Sunday is to use Anfield. For some it’s a nervy situation, but we need to be brave, enjoy the game and use the crowd.
“I understand absolutely that people are getting nervous but Anfield is always more than good. What we’re going for is for all of us,” he added.
Liverpool dodged a bullet last Monday by beating Watford 1-0, thanks to an Emre Can wonderful overhead strike, as their main top-four rivals all dropped points, but their recent 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace is still on Klopp’s mind.
”Two weeks ago, after Palace, it was like this,“ Klopp said with a sigh. ”Then one week later, we could have gone into the game at Watford in fifth because of other results.
”Somebody obviously already thought the results were written but that’s not how football is -- nothing is for sure. We didn’t think about it, we only tried to do our job.
“We did it then and now we have to do it again.”
Klopp is optimistic Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who suffered a dead leg against Watford, will be available to face Southampton, but skipper Jordan Henderson is still not back from the foot injury that has kept him out since February.
Liverpool must also visit West Ham United before finishing the season at home to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris