Speaking ahead of the club’s meeting with Sheffield United at the weekend, manager Jürgen Klopp spoke candidly about his hopes for the final stretch of the 2020/21 season.
The Reds will hope to push to top four with a set of good results in the final 13 Premier League matches this season, as the side sits sixth, five points behind fifth-placed West Ham United.
The manager did not shy away from the difficulty of the situation his side finds themselves in.
“[It’s a] Big challenge, big challenge of course, that’s how it is. You only have to look at the points; it’s not too far off but already it’s a distance. So that’s all clear. We don’t have to talk too much about that, the only thing we have to do is to try to win as many games as possible. That’s what we do – and then we will see at the end of the season. But, of course, it’s a challenge.”
How many games do they need to win? Well, according to Andrew Beasley, if we assume the other teams continue as they are Liverpool will need at least eight wins out of their final 13 games to hit the top four historical pattern of at least 19 wins (though whether this season maintains historical precedent is unclear).
Beasley suggests that the Reds need to improve from their current rate of 1.60 points per game (ppg) to a whopping 2.23 ppg to reach the 69-point target — a huge jump given the recent form.
Fans will hope the Reds regain their best form — a big ask given the further injury set-backs, but not impossible. At the same time, fans will hope all the other teams in the mix will hit a rough patch, making the hill a bit easier to climb for the injury-laden Reds.
Despite the challenges, Klopp is invested in maintaining a productive atmosphere at the club.
“The atmosphere is right, if I can say it like this. It means it’s appropriate, how it should be. Yes, it’s not the best atmosphere we ever had, but nothing in between us so that’s all fine. We all agree on the things we have to do, but we have good moments as well. It’s a very challenging time for this squad, you can imagine, for different reasons.
“But that’s how it is; in these times you have to show your real face and that’s what the boys do. During the week we work hard, we’re looking forward to the next game, the next chance for us to turn it around, to win a football game and all these kind of things. That’s all we are thinking about. And you need some positivity for that.
“It’s not so easy in these moments, of course, it’s not that everything is clicking and these kind of things. But, again, I’m responsible for the atmosphere and for the mood as well, and I’m in a good mood. I’m not happy about the situation but I’ve said it before: this is a massive challenge and a challenge you can face in different ways. And I prefer to face it in a positive way because I see a lot of good things in this team, I see a lot of promising things in our performances.
“We know we don’t have results and we have to change things, that’s clear as well. But we cannot change things without keeping the good things as well, and that’s what we are trying. We try to influence as much as we can, and the rest we have to accept. That it’s not an easy situation is clear, but I’m pretty sure there are worse situations out there in the world than ours, so we have a positive atmosphere.”
This has not been an easy year for any of us, and a good run of form for the Reds is something we all need: end of season result aside, having good football to watch would be a positive change, as watching the Reds is, at its core, a leisure activity — and it’s been lacking in “fun” for quite some time now.
Of course, there’s always the Champions League to play for as well. Who would bet against a depleted Reds squad pulling off the impossible there?