Just last week Brendan Rodgers conceded that securing a Top Four finish would be a tall order for Liverpool, not because they weren't up for it but because the points difference between his club and their competitors for Champions League qualification might be too big a gap to close with the remaining number of points to play for. It's not a matter of heart, so much as a matter of math(s), and wanting to end the season on a high by securing a spot in Europe's top club tournament next season doesn't change Liverpool's reliance on other clubs to slip up.
Of course, all of this was said on the back of two sobering losses to Manchester United and Arsenal, and with a win against a dire Newcastle suddenly breathing new life into Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers has perked up a bit when it comes to his team's ambitions.
"We're going to fight right until the very end," Rodgers said in his post-match interview. "We were obviously on a great run and we won 10 out of 13 games, which has given us a chance. We had two disappointing results. But we're a group that is very much learning. There are obviously teams still above us and four points is the difference, but as we saw last year there can be a lot of changes and I still think there will be changes and points dropped in the last six games.
"For us, it's important that we can just focus on getting wins and see where it takes us. I feel that the players and I are very motivated to do the very best that we can. We've shown that we can put wins together consistently. It's a very hungry group that's improving and getting better. We've got important players coming back now, which is good news. We feel we have every chance. Of course, we're looking for other teams to slip up, but we've got to continue winning. If we can do that, we'll give ourselves a chance."
The message is essentially the same as it was last week — it's out of Liverpool's hands, but a string of good results will put them in the best possible position to benefit if others slip up — but without Rodgers pulling out the abacus to run the numbers for those keeping track at home. It speaks to a guts-and-glory approach to the game that most fans can appreciate without lacing it with the awkward sting of reality, which will hopefully set the team up with a positive mindset for their FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa on the weekend.
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