A match at home to end the season against one of the league’s worst could be Liverpool’s most important game of the year, a game that, depending on results elsewhere, could see the Reds either claim third or fall all the way to fifth. Liverpool’s players say that they’re looking forward to a meaningful conclusion to 2016-17.
“This will be our biggest game of the season,” said Gini Wijnaldum when asked about their upcoming season finale. “If we win we will be in the Champions League, so the prize is big. If we lose or draw we might miss out. We have a big chance but we have to get a result. We will decide where we finish this season.
“We can make it easy for ourselves if we play well and score goals. It’s down to us. It’s about how we start the game and how concentrated we are. At this stage of the season every game gets bigger and bigger. We knew we had to win [at West Ham]. Now we have to do the same against Middlesbrough.”
Win, and at the very least Liverpool get fourth, with Arsenal getting no say in the matter. Win comfortably, and if Manchester City drop points against West Brom or Watford, Liverpool will be gifted a chance to finish third. Either way, though, Liverpool need a win. They need to end 2016-17 on a high note with a victory.
Doing that would mean Champions League football next season, and with that would come raised hopes and expectations, increased activity in the summer transfer market, and a push to take Liverpool back to an even higher level—to a regular place in Europe’s top competition and to competing for silverware.
“It’s in our own hands,” Wijnaldum added. “It would be a good step for next season for us. Qualifying for the Champions League would just be the start. This is the beginning of something that can go much bigger.”