Is this week the biggest of Liverpool's season to date? Do the games against Augsburg and Manchester City mark the first real crunch games of the Jürgen Klopp era? All will not be lost in the event of a Europa League exit and a cup final defeat, but with twelve games to go, Liverpool don't look like making a run for Champions League qualification via the Premier League. Yes, there are games to be won and improvements to make in order to finish the league campaign strongly, but development appears to be the order of the day.
Glory, on the other hand, potentially lies in wait on Sunday. Thursday, however, brings its own prospects. 31 other teams may be still left in the Europa League, but Liverpool have the opportunity to move to the last 16. With such progress, Champions League dreams and a European final remain a prospect for the squad. In his Liverpool Echo column, former Liverpool striker John Aldridge urged Klopp's squad to "keep alive" a return to the land of milk and honey.
The Europa League is massive for Liverpool now and I hope Jurgen Klopp doesn't rest anyone for Wembley against Augsburg on Thursday night. We need to keep momentum going after a couple of decent results. I know people would have wanted an away goal in Germany but we're at home at Anfield, the crowd will be up for it and for me it's a case of respecting your opposition and then going out and beating them.
The Europa League can keep the season going because in the Premier League we're just playing to see how high we can finish. We won't finish top four and the only thing you're going for is to finish above Man United and Everton. If you chop and change you could end up going to Wembley on the back of a bad result.
Hopefully we'll have a win and ideally Man City will lose in Kiev on the back of a bad result in the FA Cup on Sunday and bad league results before that. People are saying their trip to Kiev is a big advantage to Liverpool but it's not that far really, just a few hours on the plane from Manchester. The Liverpool players can't afford to think of Wembley before getting through to the Europa last 16 and keep alive the chance of that Champions League place.
Progression in the Europa League could keep Liverpool's season on track. Whatever happens on Sunday, Liverpool's season will be finished in terms of competing in domestic cup competitions. Pushing to finish as high as possible in the league along with continuing European adventures would ensure that there is plenty to fight for. The prospect of winning a trophy early in the season should sharpen the minds of every member in the squad, and the experience of playing in a cup final less than six months into the Klopp era should be an interesting one.
Liverpool never contested in a final under Brendan Rodgers but were close to doing so last season in both domestic competitions. The only concern is the amount of time players have to rest between Thursday and Sunday, but the absence of FA Cup over the weekend should provide enough time for recuperation and tactical preparation. Apart from international breaks, the week-long gap represents first extended period Klopp will have had as Liverpool manager.
Could there be any sense in resting a few key players for Sunday, considering that Liverpool will have home advantage on Thursday?